France 2003 - Solo Europe, Part 2
France Travel Blog› entry 19 of 22 › view all entries
Taking the Eurostar from London, the train went under the English Channel, and took me to Paris. Once I got there, the first thing to do, was to buy a Museum Pass and Visitor Card at one of the kiosks. As I hate to ask for directions, and spoke no French at all, I just tried to figure it out myself.
I had a listing of a cheap hotel from someone, and somehow I found it. How I found it, I have no idea. I checked in, and had a very basic, rundown room. The bathroom was nasty, with the hole in the ground as a toilet. And it would have cost a few euros to use the shower. At least I had the room to myself. I decided to spend only 1 night there, as I moved to a hostel in another part of town. It was just too much for me to handle. The hostel was okay, and much to my surprise, there was still room left there, even in the summer.
I was able to do all the usual suspects in this city, like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. But I also visited the Sainte-Chapelle, Orsay, and the Conciergerie, as well as the Holocaust Memorial. Plus walked along the Seine River.
With the Eiffel Tower, I thought it would be more adventurous to walk up the steps instead of taking the elevator, which it was. And it's very confusing and easy to get lost in the Louvre, as I spent an hour just trying to find my way around. Have to admit, it was funny to see people pushing and shoving to get a good view of the "Mona Lisa", even if I got pushed a little myself.
Since I liked the hop-on, hop-off bus in London, I got a day pass for the one in Paris. But this one was a disappointment, having to listen to multiple languages of the same thing, as it passed by each site.
I did take a day trip to Versailles, which did not go okay. First, since it was that day with music and fountains running, the Museum Pass did not cover admission. So I had to pay. Then, the decision to tour the gardens first, which is so freaking huge! There was a lot to see, and I ended up getting lost. It took me a while to find my way back, as I unknowingly walked off the palace property. I was able to find the entrance again, but it was too late to enter the palace. So I never got to go inside. Still, the music and fountains did add a very nice touch to the atmosphere of the place.
I did meet up with a couple people, both of whom knew enough English to show me around a little and hang out.
On the last day, I should have went from the hostel to the airport. What I did instead, was take a boat ride on the Siene, which was okay. But then, I did not realize how far it was to the airport. I took the train back, and the pass that I had, did not cover the airport zone. Another person had the same trouble, and that person ended up jumping the turnstile. I did the same, as I had a flight to catch.
Turned out, I got off at the wrong terminal, and had to take a bus to get to the right one. And not surprisingly, I missed my flight. The airline was able to rebook for me. And this rebooked flight, was delayed by hours, due to mechanical failure.
Still, the wait was not fun, and the food selection at a nearby stand was terrible. I got very annoyed when it did not have nearly everything that was on the menu posted in front, as I am cheap and a picky eater. I felt like getting my pen, and crossing out the things that the stand did not have. Would I have gotten in trouble for that?
The time came, and I got on the flight, taking me back to the US. First to Chicago, then back to Philly. My first time to Europe on my own, and it was a nice time. I hoped this would be the first of many to come. I'm already thinking about my next European adventure.