The Channel Tunnel to the Continent

Paris Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 16 › view all entries

I woke hung over but strangely in a very good mood and stumbled my way to Waterloo Station, where I was due to catch a chunnel train to Paris. I proceeded through security to the train, where I was yelled at by the customs official for not realizing that I was at the border into France while still standing in the London station. I proceeded through and into the waiting room, where I bought a multi-day pass for the Paris transit system, which saved me a headache at the station on arrival.

The train ride was uneventful. The above ground portion had lovely but repetitive views, and the chunnel portion was downright dull (you couldn't put up a light every kilometer or something?) I had the poshest chicken salad sandwich ever, what with it being shot through with truffles. Mmmm....the fungus every swine prefers.

I arrived at the Friends Hostel, where I was greeted by rude staff, a room that wreaked of water damage and a general bad stay. Don't stay there, k?

Now, I need to clarify that I didn't really want to go to Paris. Originally I was going to go on this trip with a friend who had to pull out after everything had been booked. He pretty much insisted that we had to go to stay in Paris for a few days, since we were going to be there anyways on our way to Normandy. Not wanting to be an asshole, I said ok.. which ended up leaving me stuck in Paris for a few days. (Those of you who have been following since the beginning, consider this the shadow that was fored.)

Since I'd arrived pretty early in the day, I rushed right back out and headed in the direction of a couple of the bigger tourist attractions, just to get them out of the way.

My first stop was L'Arc de Triomphe. While beautiful an imposing, the constantly circling traffic distracts from the otherwise austere building. Amidst the thronging tourists, an odd French soldier harassed people to take their pictures faster as he possessed saluting beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.of World War I.

My next stop was the Eiffel Tower. Over rated. I can only presume that Eiffel was compensating. Highlights of the visit include the caricaturist who asked to do my caricature because he liked my goatee and thought he could drum up some other business if other people saw him drawing me.

(It worked, he had two people who lined up to get theirs done after mine. It only cost me 10 Euros (he charged then 25.) The other thing that stood out was when two soldiers with assault rifles followed me around briefly. I'd stepped around behind a building to get an odd angled photo, and just after I took the shot, I noticed someone approaching me with a 'hey, you can't be here look'. I walked away, having finished what I was doing anyhow. The man walked over to the soldiers and pointed me out, and they followed me for 3-4 minutes at a distance until they were satisfied that I was just a goofy tourist. It was my own little Jason Bourne moment.

From there, I ended up on Montmartre at Basilique du Sacré-Couer. It was a lovely place, and  I would have enjoyed to climb up further, but the signs everywhere that indicated which parts of the ground were more likely to collapse made me shy away, so I instead strolled through the side streets back down to the main road.

As I walked towards my hostel, I realized that the area seemed sketchy. I stopped in a cafe for dinner. On walking in, I asked in French for a table for one in a smoking section if there was such a thing. The bartender just stared at me. A s second bartender came up and indicated that he would take care of me, and lead me to a seat. I enjoyed a pleasant meal and them left. As I was passing by, the bartender who had served me called out 'Good night, my cousin from Québec'. I guess he recognized the accent of my pseudo-French. I hope he doesn't now think Québecois people speak French like I do.

As I walked from there to my hostel, I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore, as the neon lights on either side of the streets offered erotic things of various sorts. It turns out that my hostel sits just on the outer edge of Quartier Pigalle, Paris' most famous red light district. It was at this point that I realized why the hostel was as cheap as it was.

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Paris Hotels & Accommodations review
Unpleasent area, unpleaseant staff, unpleasent room.
My trepidation began when I got off the subway in front of the hostel and the first thing I saw was two heavily armed police officers roughly searchin… read entire review
photo by: Sweetski