London to Paris: The Adventure Begins

Paris Travel Blog

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Jade & I got up nice & early although I had plenty of time to get ready. I felt quite sick on my way to get the eurostar. Perhaps it was the heat on the tube? I was also quite hungry...but maybe it was just the nerves. I had a burger with Jade & felt much better, our goodbye was slightly rushed as I was waiting for the platform number to come up in the departures lounge before checking in...but I almost missed check-in & security! Woops.

The eurostar train didn't look much from the outside, or the inside...it wasn't as modern, clean, or roomy as I expected. There were lots of people speaking in French & other foreign languages, which was to be expected, but quite intimidating. I had a window seat & sat next to me was a British office worker reading a copy of the Independent.

Going up & down tunnels my ears popped a lot. The sky was a lovely yellow grey & the sun was already quite low. I passed factories & a lot of power cables & electricity masts...boggy farms that looked like marshes, green hills...definitely not the London I have known & grown to love. It was only 10 minutes in, maybe we weren't even in London anymore? Goodbye England!

Gliding through the dark I wondered how this line was even built under the sea. Why is there no leaking? ;) My carriage was fairly quiet, the man next to me was now snoozing with his head down. We were 40 minutes into the journey. I read my book & daydreamed about writing. I was quite uncomfortable, my waist pouch was irritating & there wasn't enough arm & leg room. Too hot with all these bodies! After one hour of travelling & gliding through the dark, I jumped with a start to fresh light. It was clear we were now in a different country, nothing but thick grey fog and a stark grey sky. It even felt different, although a lot of it was quite the same as what we had gone through in England.

It grew darker but I knew we were close to the city centre as I noticed a big jumbo jet taking off nearby. I felt it was a reflection of myself, taking off on this great journey! Arriving at the Gare du Nord station, I immediately said 'shit.' What do I do now!? I went to the loos to sort myself out before ordering a carnet (10 tickets) for the metro. I asked in French but forgot to say please. Must remember my manors. It's quite scary when all I've heard is that people are generally quite rude to you in France if you speak to them in English. I asked in English where I should catch the metro to if I wanted to go see the Moulin Rouge, I knew it was in the same vicinity as my hostel. The woman circled twice on a map she handed me & off I went. Very exciting!

I found the metro in Paris much easier to navigate than the tube in London. I remember thinking everybody looks so French, although I'm not sure how exactlly. I was sat behind the loudest screaming baby ever, which unsettled me again. The metro is more spacious too. I was nervous, but I couldn't help but smile. I was finally here after all the hard work & saving! Why though? Why was I here? I could go home & have an easy life, but that moment lasted a milisecond. After one tube change I exited at Pigalle (although it turned out Blanche was closer) & let my great sense of direction take me (we'll discuss this 'great' sense later). The first shop I past smelt divine & had beautiful pastries & treats in the window. I walked along past so many sex shops, seedy clubs & sex themed museums. I noticed a rotating windmill in lights of red ahead on my right, that must be it! As I got nearer I crossed over to the middle of the road to get a better view. There was the windy platform that Jade told me about, people stood on it with their scarves blowing posing for photographs. A man & his son asked me to take a photo on their phone, I took three & in return got two crap ones on my camera of myself. Lesson 1 learnt about independent travel - people will always take shit photos of you in front of iconic places, even if you ask the man with the fancy camera & the tripod. I stood for a while admiring the building from one of my favourite movies, it looked great at night time!

I walked back through the sex district to the metro & was attempted to be handed a card by a dodgy looking woman, 'no merci' I replied. It was probably for a strip club, just my thing! I thought I recognised a couple of faces in the crowd & my heart skipped a beat - one my cousin, another my mum. Is that normal? The metro is far less hot & busy than the tube, but there's more clattering & banging, especially going around corners.

Montmartre, the area I stayed, looked very pretty still illuminated with Christmas lights. I found my hostel 'le Montclair Montmartre' with ease. I was so exhausted I couldn't be bothered to force a 'bonjour' so I gave my best 'hiya' in true blue Yorkshire accent. The reception guy wasn't very friendly, which I could have done with really as it was my first time alone in a foreign country. I was directed to my six-bed dorm - a sink, free bedding, no lockers, tiny communal showers that I didn't use. Paul from Philadelphia was on the bunk below mine, he was short, a bit geeky but nice. We awkwardly made conversation as I made my bed - back to basics! Kelly - a chatty blonde from the gold coast of Australia soon joined us & we all chatted about our plans. They talked a lot about where they'd been so far, which I can't contribte to yet. Another American guy that had a Zac Efron vibe came in, but soon left. Paul & Kelly were both leaving for other destinations in the morning. I felt a bit lost. I was sort of scared to venture back out but my stomach was screaming for attention.

I was too intimidated to eat alone for the first night, so I strolled around the block & bought some water, pan au chocolat & sables milk chocolate biscuits from a G20 - they are so good! I daren't speak a word of English to the French, why had this fear been drummed into my head? I gave a quick 'bonjour' & 'merci' followed by a jumbled up 'au revoir' to the sales girl. She babbled to me in French, but I assumed she was telling me how much I owed. I sauntered back to the hostel & watched Anthony Bourdain in Beirut with Paul & Kelly. Eventually I decided it was normal to feel slightly withdrawn & unsociable on your first night. Got to try be realistic!

jethanad says:
:) I have learned to savor those alone moments in a new city, nothing happens but gives me time to sort everything out
Posted on: Aug 13, 2014
AussieMel82 says:
Tom your account of your first time travelling alone brings up so emotion...I literally felt sad for you reading this. It reminds me of my first time travelling when I was eighteen.
Posted on: Feb 24, 2014
sylviandavid says:
Thank you for being human & feeling what I would feel on a trip like this...
Posted on: Mar 04, 2013
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Paris Hostels review
Average hostel in a good location
I stayed at Le Montclair Montmartre for one night on the first night of my RTW trip. Feeling tired, exhausted & nervous, I was hoping for a warm frie… read entire review
Paris
photo by: Sweetski