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Saturday, 18 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Paris, France





Ah Paris (I say this in the French pronunciation "Pah-ree"), the city of love; where passion, happiness and romance completely consumes you... Is the exact opposite to how I felt when we arrived. I was fucking miserable. As I dragged myself through the train station, throwing strops and tantrums like a 3 year old, all I wanted to do was get to our hostel and go to bed.

Wondering around the train station like two lost sheep, Jack and I tried to figure out where to go, or where to start shall I say. As the Parisian's barged passed us, zigzagging in all sorts of directions, I couldn't concentrate, even the English language seemed foreign. I don't know if it's just me but I'm pretty sure the maps in France make no fucking sense, a sign showing your destination will point in one direction and when you get there, you end up in a bin or walking into a bloody wall... This is not Hogwarts France, platform 9¾ does not exist.

Firing evil looks at Jack and replying with one word answers (as if it was his fault we didn't know where to go), my patience grew thinner and the blisters on my feet grew bigger, so we decided to head to the information centre (probably something we should have done when we first arrived).

Dashing out of the Metro Station, feeling slightly relieved because it's similar to the London Underground, we didn't realise how far away our hostel was, especially because the final tube we needed to get was closed for maintenance, typical! The information centre didn't tell us that back at the station though did they! Luckily we managed to get on another tube, which took us right to our destination, or so I thought. It felt like we were walking for hours to get to our hostel, the roads seemed to go on and on and the sign posts and maps made no bloody sense whatsoever but once we got to the hostel, I was so happy I almost cried. Now all I needed was a hot shower, my pajamas and a good nights sleep to recharge my batteries.

Waking up feeling slightly refreshed, I was ready to explore Paris and everything it had to offer.




Staring up at the Eiffel Tower for the first time in my life, amazed at how tall it was. I wasn't overly impressed with it at first because it's just one big satellite really but there is something really special about seeing a world-famous monument with your own eyes, instead of just on the internet. As Jack and I both tilted our heads, carefully admiring the architecture and all of the finer details, we were interrupted by two women asking us to sign a petition to help the 'deaf and blind' association. Once we signed our names, of course they started asking for money and having seen this 'scam' before in England, I thought fuck this, you're only getting 1 Euro love! Jack thinking the same thing, only had a 2 Euro coin on him but the woman assured him she would give him a Euro back. As he happily handed over the coin, the woman quickly grabbed it and walked off in the opposite direction. As Jack shouted at her to give him his 1 Euro, I couldn't stop laughing! Our moment of awe and admiration for the Eiffel Tower swiftly disappeared as quickly as they did.

As the sun fought it's way through the clouds and Paris grew warmer, everything looked more magical. Walking along the River Seine and making our way to the most famous Notredame in Europe, I was fascinated with every building, every person and every part of the Parisian lifestyle. The excitement of finally stepping upon the streets of Paris took a hold of me, so much so that I involved myself in one of those bloody street games...



I was walking past a bunch of guys crowded around a 'cup and ball' game, you know, the one where a ball is hidden under one of the three cups and as the cups are moved around, you have to guess which cup the ball is under but instead of cups, they had small boxes. I was fascinated with this game for some reason and the energy of the people crowded around, literally like a moth drawn to light and as I mocked the other "players" who were losing money for picking the wrong box, I decided that they were all idiots and I would show them how it's done. So as I carefully watched this guy move around the boxes (my eyes fixed on one box in the particular), the crowd were egging me on to pick a box. As they shouted out words of encouragement and me feeling pretty sure of myself, I quickly pointed to the box I had my eye on but before I could pick it up, I had to hand over some money of course. Reaching in my bag for 10 Euros, the guy was shouting for 50 Euros to match his bet. Feeling pretty proud of my choice and thinking to myself, 'yeah I've got this one bitch,' I handed over 50 Euros without question.

As I lifted up the box and stared at the empty surface below, the huge grin on my face slowly disappeared... Surprise, surprise there was no ball underneath. As the crowd rushed me away, pushing me to move on, I walked away feeling very confused. Trying to contemplate what had just happened Jack interrupted my thought and said, 'For fucks sake Daniela, why did you do that for! It's a scam!" For a moment I thought to myself, 'yeah whatever, you're just saying that because I lost 50 Euros!' but as my happy bubble floated away and my naivety turned into reality, I realised that he was right. What a daft prat! Jack explained how the other "players" had tried to distract him from stopping me playing by asking him questions, and as he tried to back away and shout my name, his voice was blocked out by these "players" who were giving me words of encouragement, or so I thought they were! I'm quite a optimistic person, someone who sees the glass as half full so I just laughed it off but the moral of the story kids is don't laugh at your boyfriend when he gets conned out of 2 Euro because karma will rob you blind.



As the day went on, my brain was exhausted from trying to take in every little detail of Paris. Love Lock Bridge was pretty cool, I admired how couples, friends and individuals had left a part of themselves in Paris so it was only natural that Jack and I did the same thing.

The Notredame was incredible, I was completely blown away with how beautiful it was inside. I would of taken a few pictures but the battery on my camera died so I was pretty pissed off that all I had was my shitty iPhone camera. I read that the Notredame took over 700 years to get to how it is today, which blew my mind and I couldn't stop thinking about all of the generations involved in the creation of this magnificent work of art. I couldn't help but feel slightly jealous that I wasn't a part of something as majestic as this.

Luxembourg Gardens was pretty impressive, decorated with statues and tulips and well-preserved nature. We decided we would have a little picnic here and chug a bottle of white wine (we forgot to buy plastic cups from the shop). As Jack and I wandered through the park, I stopped to admire the true artists of Paris who were either painting or drawing or writing, trying to capture the beauty of the garden or landscape in their own way. It made me feel a little sad inside because I wished that you could do this in Coventry without judgement or fear but unfortunately, my "hometown" is lacking culture and true happiness.



As the sun began to set, croissants turned into cheese and wine into.. more wine, Jack and I lay by the Eiffel Tower to watch it light up, something I've always wanted to do. However, we forgot to bring our coats and the sunset felt like it was taking forever, so our romantic cliche moment in Paris was pretty average but once the Eiffel Tower lit up and came alive, oh my god it was amazing. The golden, bronze monument lit up the sky and complemented Paris perfectly, I could now see why it is the most visited tourist spot in the world.



Walking away feeling pretty pleased with what I had just experienced, I turned around to take one more look at the Tower and as I did, holy shit... It began to glisten and sparkle! I couldn't believe how beautiful it was, I'm surprised my camera could keep up. Jack and I had no idea it did that so it took us by complete surprise, which was even more beautiful.


Wandering through the cobbled streets of Paris at night and breathing in the Parisian air was truly special. Even though the bars and restaurants were still busy, the atmosphere was peaceful and relaxed. Everything looked magical and I felt as if we were living in the 1920's or as character's in The Great Gatsby.



Arriving back at our hostel, after a long day of sightseeing, we said our goodbyes to Pah-ree and I promised myself that I would return here one day but this time, I'd keep my hands in my pocket and walk on the opposite side of the street, away from those bastard con-artists!


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