Day 8: On the train to Amsterdam

Amsterdam Travel Blog

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8:36 am:

Can't believe its been a week already! It feels like I just left. I'm on the train right now to Amsterdam. Its a four hour ride and since I finished my book in Paris I have nothing to do (I couldn't find an English bookstore). Unlike the Eurostar train which requires you to be there an hour later, this train didn't show the boarding station until 15 minutes before departure (and of course all the announcements were in French). I was a bit worried I might miss the train if I couldnt find it in 15 minutes. I can't say I'll be really sad to leave Paris. It was beautiful (in some places) and historic and charming but my experiences weren't as good as in London. Other than that one awesome night in Paris, the rest was just ok. I also got lost way more in Paris than I did in London and my limited French only got me so far. I know this is a stereotype and most of the time isn't true but I did find the French pretty snobby. Everyone helped me when I had a question but it was like it was such a huge burden. Even when I tried hard to converse in French (they could obviously tell I wasn't local) they were pretty cold about it and answered me in English. There were a couple really nice helpful people though so not everyone is like that.
Here's the ten things I learned in Paris:

1. Outside of the touristy places, Paris can be a dump: The areas where all the cool stuff is (Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Champs d'Elysees, etc) are amazing and beautiful but other places (even the train station) can be dirty, smelly and seedy. There seems to be a permanent smell to the city. However, its still a charming place.

2. Watch out for dog crap: (may be the cause to that permanent smell mentioned above). There are stray dogs everywhere and they do their business everywhere. According to statistics, there are a huge number of dog crap-related accidents in Paris.

3. Get a metro map: The metro isn't as easy to use as the London tube and there are more lines so a map is crucial. They also don't announce which stations are approaching so pay attention where you are.

4. Learn some french: not everyone speaks English and knowing some basic words and phrases will be helpful and might get you a friendlier response (not always though)

5. Picnic in the evening on the hill at Sacre Coeur: around 8-ish go to Sacre Coeur with your food and wine. It is full of people just enjoying a summer night. There is live music and a really good atmosphere plus a spectacular view of Paris.

6. Sacre Couer closes: not the church itself but the church yard gets fenced closed and you may need to risk your health jumping over the fence lol

7. Politely avoid the gypsies: These people (almost always women) walk around asking for money (usually with a note saying their 8 children are starving). This is a hoax. They are just after your money. Refuse to answer them or just politely say no. If you're mean to them, you might get a gypsy curse put on you and nobody wants that.

8. Allow at least 3 hours for the Louvre: There are thousands of things to see and you'll need time to appreciate them. Plus the museum is massive and it takes a while to walk through it.

9. Eat Eat Eat!: The food here is excellent (even on a budget if you look for the cheap options). Croissants and baguettes are cheap and delicious (just as good at the grocery stores). Banana nutella crepes are a must have. The cheese is great. Even the hot dogs taste better here. Wine is also cheap at the grocery stores. Note: if you do eat at a restaurant, pick one away from the tourist sights unless you want to pay a fortune.

10. It's not as overwhelming as I initially thought it was: Paris can be an intimidating city. Different language, crazy traffic, huge, confusing streets, gypsies etc. There's a lot that can be frustrating but everything can be accomplished. Just ask for help and try not to get overwhelmed.
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photo by: pearcetoyou