I take a test drive with travellerspoint with an old entry from Paris
24.03.2007 - 26.03.2007
30 HOURS IN PARIS
My first thought, right off the plane was ... this is not Paris in the Spring. This is Paris in the Dead of Winter. It is seriously cold, and not in a oh the poor boy from the tropics can't handle it way. This is cold as in dead trees and icy winds. I was squinting on the train ride into the city, hoping to see some signs of green, of new life in the trees, of something, anything, to indicate that warm sunny days were coming.
None were. I missed Paris in the Spring by a few weeks. Oops.
It's also much too cold to type - my fingers are chilled to hit the keyboard. I'll write properly once I find a warmer café. Until then, I'm speaking bad French, seeing the sites, eating lots of crepes, and doing fine.
I don't want to leave, but I fly out tomorrow.
At first Paris on a budget seemed a bit of a mistake. The walk from the train station to the hotel took me through some sketchy neighborhoods. I knew that it was an immigrant area (hence the 35 euros a night), and knew that there must be some reason that the 10e arrondissiment wasn't on the tourist maps. Check for yourself, if you have a tourist map of Paris. There's I through IX, and there's XI and up. They skip X, and pretend it's not even there. There's just a mysterious hole between the Marais and Montmarte.
That hole is where I stay.
So I leave the train station, first time in Paris, dodge a phalanx of Bosnian war widows begging for change, and start wandering in more or less the right direction. I passed through mini-Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, and Senegal. My first impressions were mixed. The North African men were hot, the Turkish sandwich I had decent, and I learned that Paris fashion extends to every neighborhood - every woman in the area looked like Naomi Campbell.
I got lost, and things got sketchy. I stopped in a park to eat my sandwich, but moved on when I realized that the well dressed gentlemen in the park were drug dealers. I crossed the street to avoid a fight on the corner, I saw a man selling teenagers cell phones from his trench coat, and saw what I'm sure was a chop shop behind an open gate.
And it wasn't even noon. I wasn't sure what I was going to do at night.
Though I turned out all right.
And I am too exhausted to type right now. Sorry, I'll try again in the morning. Today I did Versailles, went to the gym, had a few drinks with a guy I met, and then joined an Act-Up Protest against Sarkozy. Sunday I spent eight hours at the Louvre then went to the disco for four. Saturday I wandered the city from Montmarte to Notre Dame and back, stumbled into a March Against Machismo sponsored by the Simone Beauvoir Society, then relaxed in the sauna for a couple hours. I'm frakkin' beat.
I'm surprised how foreign Paris feels. I think I figured it would be like New York; only we'd all be speaking French. And for all those who told me that everyone speaks English here - I'm really curious where exactly you stayed. I've hardly heard a word of English the entire time. It's good - it's forcing me to speak more. Luckily people have been really kind about my accent. People have been far gentler here - which confuses me. I haven't seen much of the famous Parisian attitude.
I could barely walk home last night. I spent all day in the Louvre, and my legs were ready to give out. The Louvre kicked my ass - it was just wonder after wonder after wonder. I tried to leave, but every time I'd approached the door I'd tell myself, one more room. One more exhibit. Then I'll quit. But I kept going back.
The museum finally closed, and I had to leave. I had one last crepe ... and then I heard a beat. I followed it. I had to. And found myself in a strange club with a dance floor on top and catacombs below. Real catacombs, wet and dark and mysterious. Despite all the tough guys and mecs - there was a heavy North African presence at the club - people seemed to be having a good time, and the music was fun. So I danced until I couldn't anymore.
I need to start walking to the train station soon. I'm a mess this morning - I really did push myself a bit hard last night.