Today, I left London.
I miss London a lot but I’m trying to be optimistic about Paris. I got to take a train out of King’s Cross Station (though technically the international wing is called St. Pancras) so I felt like a wizard! The train was actually super short – from London to Paris in less than 3 hours!
Once in Paris, things didn’t go quite as planned. I had to que for a really long time to try and secure my train ticket to Nice for later in the week. I tried in broken French to buy a ticket but kept getting sent back in line to wait for the English-speaking concierge. I thought I had basic French down but I was sadly mistaken.
After I finally got the Nice ticket (yay I won’t be stranded in France!) I made my way to the Metro. It is WAY harder to understand than London’s tube and the language barrier did not help. I think I was spoiled in London and now I’m really nervous for Spain and Portugal. While I was waiting in line to buy my Metro tickets, a young boy came up to me and tried to tell me I could go around the corner to buy tickets. He was really insistent. I refused, thinking it strange, and he eventually walked away. I started looking around the station and noticed a bunch of boys all doing the same thing. They were trying to scam tourists! I saw a couple of them getting money from people in line behind me and persuading others to follow them. Next thing I know, a bunch of policemen come running into the station and begin rounding up the boys. They put them all in the corner and started yelling at them in French. Thank God I didn’t fall for that!
On my way to my Metro line, I stopped to use the bathroom. I had to pay 70 cents (is it called cents?)! You’d think if you have to pay to use the bathroom there might be cashmere hand towels or quadruple-ply toilet paper but nope! Now I need to remember to keep change on me if I plan to pee anywhere outside of my hostel.
Speaking of my hostel…I finally made it there almost 2 hours after arriving in Paris. It was pretty easy to find and they drive you in a van from the concierge desk to your building. But how to get from my building to the Metro, I have no idea! I was surprised that a hostel called “Justabed” actually had a whole lot more than just a bed! My room is pretty big and looks kind of Parisian. The living space is nice, the people are friendly and the bathrooms are huge! I could have done an entire dance routine in my shower stall which is a big improvement on my London hostel’s shower where I had to lift my knee to my chest in order to shave my legs!
I decided I would stay in the area for dinner and the first non-sketchy restaurant I found was…Chinese food! It was hilarious! I tried to order in my horrible French and the lady tried to speak English with a French/Chinese accent. Anyway, the food was decently priced and not as horrible as I had expected. Granted, I hadn’t eaten for a good 8 hours so my taste was questionable at best. I promise to have real Parisian food (read: crepes and/or croissants) tomorrow!
Since dinner I’ve been trying to plan my days here in Paris. But the Metro still baffles me and I’m having a hard time deciding between all the museums and gardens and art galleries. So I’ve decided to write down a few must-sees (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc.) and then just walk around and explore. I think I’ve figured out how to get to the central part of Paris and I’m hoping everything else is in walking distance. Everyone lists off a bunch of wonderful places to see in Paris but besides the obvious ones, I kind of want to discover all the unique areas for myself. I’m not going to bother google-mapping the heck out of a garden I’ve never heard of. If I find it, I find it. If I spend all day eating pastries under the Eiffel Tower – so be it!
Wish me luck! Tomorrow I’m blindly jumping on the Metro and hoping to find my way around Paris. Armed with my practically incomprehensible map of Paris and the phrase book Pamela gave me, I’m hoping that’ll be good enough to get me through the day!
London Round Up:
Best Experience: Tie between seeing the Royal Family and the Harry Potter tour! (Honourable mention: Wicked)
Worst Experience: That musical in the rain was pretty rough, but even that wasn’t too bad.
I wish I had known… how cold it was going to be! I really wish I had thought to bring a big sweater!
What I will miss most about London: understanding the language and the adorable accents! And all the sites of course!
Next time I visit London I want to… stay for a lot longer 😉