Paris….the Hype and the Reality!

Tuesday 29th June, Wednesday 30th June, Thursday 1st July, Friday 2nd July

Once more….looks like 4 days….but it was actually only two days….ok maybe three cause the first day was not really a rest day!

Day One: Tuesday 29th June

Arrived Pairs by train….to start with the train was late by 40 minutes!!!! The so called fast Eurostar…TGV…was late by 40 minutes….welcome to Paris!

I just had a paper with my hostel address….no directions….no euros….no clue about where I want to go….but I knew I was reaching in daylight so may be able to figure my way out….also a friend of mine who was staying in the same hostel as me was reaching a day before me….i had written to him to come and pick me up but was not sure if he had got my mail but he had..and he was there to pick me!

That evening went in a blur….exchanged money at the station…( A tip for anyone who is changing money in Paris….the guy at Paris Nord charged me 6%!! Which is too much…change the minimum possible and then go out and change) took the train pass…went to the hostel…dropped my bags…picked up the hand bag and was off….i was completely disoriented….ideally I would have liked to go slow the first evening…get my bearings…..explore the city….but the evening one went in a blur….

We first got to the concord…..lots of big statues and old looking buildings…..nice but whatever….maybe cause there was no one to explain the significance…so it did not seem very impressive….

We  then went to the Champs Elyse….atleast to me it was a major disappointment…..it is  street with shops! WTH..so much hype…and all it was is a street with shops!! i was expecting a nice boulevard with trees and all…..at the end of the Champs Elyse was the Arch Dr Triomphe….or atleast that is what I think it was….we saw people at the top….but could not figure out a way to get around the major round about….aparently there is a tunnel that goes under ground etc etc…..we finally got into a train and went to the Eiffle Tower…..and reached there just when it was getting dark around 10…..and boy that was impressive….it is majestic with the lights…and suddenly at 11….the tower starts sparkling..and it is a sight worth seeing…..

Exhausted from the long day….we just lay down on the gardens behind the eiffle tower to enjoy its beauty….:-) and there was soo much excitement around…aprently there was a football match…not france…but one of their favorites….either Portugal or spain won…and youngsters were going mad in the streets and the metros…..loud whistles….po po sounds….groups of people with flags running around….was quite a sight…it was almost like a mini ganpati procession…than god I had company…or it may have been scary! Got to the hostlel post 12…and all the other 3 girls had slept…and it was soooooo damn hot in the room…outside temperature 29 degrees…no fan in the room and balcony closed WHT….! Our room was facing the road and it was nosiy…One of the chicks in the room could not take the noise so she had closed the windows…but is was sooo damn hot….I slept….but it could have been better….

Bottom Line of Day one in Paris: Eiffle Tower is worth seeing in the night!…Baki sab bakwas

Day two Wednesday

We started with visiting the Sacre Coer…A Church….pretty….nice impressive white building on the top of the hill….

After that we decided to join a free walking tour across the city and that was a smart thing to do…it is nice to have somoneone who knows the city to show you around….the tour guide was a cutie university student from Canada Halle who was interested in history and French and so he was here and he spoke good English and was quite humorous…..check out www.neweurpoetours.eu to see if they have a free walking tour in the city you are visiting…!

We walked though St Michels…across the river scene…through the louvere….the gardens the Tuleries….Le Petit Palace..Le Grand Palace.

Among the things what we saw was the French institute which is indeed a very impressive building…whose main job apparently is to find French words for the English words that are invented and give genders to all the object….for those of you who don’t know…every obect (noun) in French has a gender  Le for Male) and La  for Female…

There was an interesting bridge in front of the institute which had locks on it….aparently it is what lovers do to express their love….put a lock with their name on the bridge and throw the key into the river…! The French government removes the locks after after 5 year….cause anyways relationships are not forever!

We did not go to the lovere….but walked around it…pretty impressive structure…..and lots of touts around as our guide had warned us…people would come and ask you to sigh a petition  to save Africa..and then ask you for 20 euros and say you have pledged to give them support…others would ask for money with a written note in English to save bosnia…or some other war torn region…it was weired….there were also a lot of street entertainers in different corners…but unlike the London south bank these were spread out in all tourist places..which was not nice..cause the objective was vey obviously begging/making money..wherhas the street entertainers in London were all there to entertain and by the way get money…not sure if I am able to articulate the difference….but there definitely was a difference…

Overall a nice walk with the guide….then we were on our own…went to some more places….and then I lost my wallet in the mall…L my stupidity…how could I be so dense..in my defense I was bloody tired…and when you are bloody tired…your brain does not work right…L and you do stupid things…

It was time to go to the police station…..Another new experience….I have never been to a police station in India in all my life…..and here I was in France….trying to the French police to help….but they are pretty usless….luckily we met a guy who had come to the police station to complain about his lost ID…and he was a transleter by profession so our life got a little easy….

France you see so many policemen on the road…on horses…yeah…we actually saw some on horses…on bikes…on cars..on boats and yet the crime is quite high..they seem to be patrolling the streets but nothing seems to be coming out of it…this guy we met at the police station told us that the police ar quite  corrupt here and they are quite secure in their jobs…once you are in…you cannot be thrown out….now that sounded similar to India…

Anyways….we put the incident behind us….lukily my passport was not in that….lost quite a bit of money but it could have been worse…I also lost a travelers cheque….i though it would be easy to get it back…but the guys are American express are such a pain….i was made to wait on two separate occasions on hold for 45 minutes each…finally the next day I get to them…they interrogate me worse then the police and then say we will have to check and see if we can process your claim…WTH….it seems to be a money making strategy for them…if someone looses a travelers cheque…it is good for American express…they block it and they get to keep the money…but it is pathetic customer service….they will not survive too long with this attitude…the guy in the claims office actually had the audacity to tell me we are reviewing your claim as a favor…WTH…

Sorry…jumped a little bit….very upset with American express so needed to vent it out…..

Back to the rest of the evening….we put the incident behind us…counted our blessings and moved on to the Eiffle tower again….this time to climb up to the top….we had timed our visit such that we get both the day and night view of the city….so it was perfect…;.if you go to Paris…you HAVE to climb up to the top of Eiffle tower…it is beautiful…both the evening and night view has its own charm…and try to see both….!

Back to the hostel…..bloody tired…sholders hurt because of the bag….feet are throbbing because of all the walking….crazy…should not attempt to do soo much in one day….we were actually out from 9 in the morning to 12 in the night…..and we would have not sat for more than 3 hours in the entire day…and I am not exaggerating….the previous few days in London have been similar…and Switerland was no resting vacation….can you even begin to imagine how exhausted we would be….

Had a nice hot water bath….hot water really relaxes the body…so could go to sleep…but it was sooooo damn hot…30 degrees…no fan..no air con….WTH…but tired as I was I slept….and decided not to get up early and chill the next day as I was going to be on my own!

Day Three Thursday

My last day in Paris…my day in Paris alone…was overall quite nice…..yes it was screwed up by the guys at American Express….who made me wait on call for about an hour and a half….and the SUN…it was too bloody hot…..33 degree….and the sun stays bright till 10 in the night…..crazy…

Every time I would crib about how hot it was….people would say.,…..but you are from India…..it is hot there also……yeah babies I am from India…and it is hot there…but I DON’T walk around in the sun the in ther afternoon….and when I come back home…or go to work…I have AIR CONDITINING…..here we don’t even have a god damn fan…WTH!!

My objective for the day was not to use the Metro…and use the buses as much as possible….i have a day pass..so I could go anywhere…using the buses you get a feel of the city…the metro may be better in getting you one place to the other…but all u see is tunnels and it is not fun!

So that was a smart decision for the day….i took the buses…got lost a few times…walked on the river scene….sat wherever my heart desired…..got into random buses which took me to parts I have never seen and heard of….visited the Notre Dame….beautiful structure…..pity I could not go inside……by the time I got there it had closed down for the evening….walked around Latin Quarter….saw all the shops….took a ride across Moulin rouge….interesting….the whole area was a redlight area….but somehow it was not too creepy….maybe cause I was there in dusk…and the creepy people would come out after dark….but I was paranoid…wanted to get back to familiar territory as soon as possible….!

Overall a nice day…chilled out….i quite enjoyed being on my own and exploring the city…which was quite surprising for me….i always though I NEED company…but that was not the case…maybe cause it was just one day!

Lesson learnt when in a new city….take the bus..you see a lot more of the city!

Overall Impressions of Pairs

Not too good..not a city I would want to visit again…expect maybe to go into the Notre dame….the city was quite dirty…there were places we walked by which smelled strongly  of Urine….what hits you most is the number of Blacks that you see around…they are all over the place….like the Indians/Asians are all over London…

The meto system is damn confusing….and the trains are quite old…some of the trains you have to open by hand and even the doors are not automatic….there is a station on an average almost every 45 seconds….and it is HOT……

Overall I enjoyed my trip…but my lesson from the trip is that next time you want to travel alone…learn the language…it is much more fun….all the old ladies I met in the buses…were quite cute and would smile etc,…but I could not make conversation….cause I don’t know French…!

I got only the tourity aspect of Paris….did not get a local falvour at all….cause I did not know the language…and I did not know anyone in Paris who would tell me what Paris really is like to live in…

Bottom Line….Paris is very very hyped as one of the most beautiful cities in the world…yes it is nice from the top of the Eiffel tower….but any city would look nice from that high up!

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