The time had come to part ways- AGAIN! We packed up our stuff, checking the room over 4 times at least to check we hadn't stashed anything in odd spots over the four days we had called the room our home. Courtney was on her way back to Brighton via hotel shuttle, airport shuttle, plane then good ol Claire meeting her on the other side to drive her the 2 hours home to Brighton. A route we were by now very familiar with. I on the other hand was venturing unchartered waters. I've really started to love traveling to the unknown. It was like an adventure, a challenge for me to see how I would go! I imagine I'm on a show like the amazing race having to navigate my way through a foreign place to successfully get to my destination. I was determined to be an amazing independent traveler and make my way from the Magic Circus Hotel all the way to our hotel in the centre of Paris- Hotel de La Herse d'Or- to meet LANI!
Courtney and I caught the familiar Disneyland shuttle we had been catching twice a day for the LAST time! One thing we wont miss- screaming KIDS. Courtney had gotten weirdly clucky over our time here at Disneyland, pointing out any cute faced child around. Bare in mind we ARE at Disneyland and there were a LOT to point out! But as cute as those faces are my GOSH can they have a set of lungs to scream with! It seemed a parting gift that our last shuttle was FILLED with them in strollers, on laps, in arms EVERYWHERE. Hopefully a reminder to Courtney that yes kids can be little s***s so don't go getting ideas after this time in wonderland :P
So we tracked down the ticket booth to get my way into Paris for only 9 euro. Bargain. The man at the booth was very helpful but talked VERY fast. I just gathered a couple of words and nodded and agreed. He asked where I was from, and responded that I must be here for the weather. It had been the middle of summer and raining- I think NOT. I said it was because of the wine and he laughed SO hard he had to cover his mouth! I definitely made his day and he talk me to drink carefully and have safe travels. Courtney and I said our goodbyes until I get to London in September and I hit my first roadblock. The bloody doors! Everyone else seemed to have magical cards and I couldn't figure out where my tiny ticket would fit into! After some slight assistance from a couple who had also bought a mystery ticket I had made it through and down straight onto the train to take me to the centre of PARIS!
I had made myself comfortable on the train and whipped out my two maps to decipher where I would need to get off. One for the train line and one for the street map. Our hotel was halfway between two stops so I had to commit to one. I made a bold choice and decided to come out at Chatelet and make my way back along the street to our hotel. While I sat analysing my two maps in walk these two men with speakers on a trolley and accordions! They break out into VERY French sounding songs- though I feel any song would sound French on an accordion- and I just couldn't believe it! It was so French! AND I was on my way to PARIS! AND I get to do this for SIX WHOLE MONTHS!!! I'm so f***ing lucky!!!!!!! And that exactly how the song sounded to me in my head. The accordions were sound tracking my current life. They had come onto this exact train to soundtrack my life thoughts! It was perfect.
They came around for some change and I gave generously. And then they were gone. :( I felt used! Played even! I was really getting into that! Hahah but I moved on and focused on trying to figure out how many stops it was til I had to haul my luggage off the train and figure out where in the world I was!
So I reached my destination and with some difficulty managed to emerge out on the street after lugging all my stuff up two flights of stairs! I had come out onto a busy street with amazing shops all around and random signs that only pointed at places id never heard of and provided nothing useful! Then there it was, my hero once again. MACCAS. I raced down to seek the shelter of free wifi and contact Lani. I had run out of my $20 credit from my Australian phone and in situations like these, credit is pretty important. Unless you have good old MacDonalds! Thought seriously, credit?! How did Alix live like this for so long????
I reassured Lani that I was in fact on my way to the hotel and then headed off in the direction I presumed the hotel was. All I had to go on was that it was the opposite direction to the Louvre, which was all the information I could seem to find about where I actually was.. and so I followed my gut and headed off!
Then I realised the street names were actually located on the BUILDINGS and not on the streets, which only really pointed out landmarks. This drastically improved my locating ability and I was on the right track before I knew it. The road in Paris are just INSANE! There seems to be no system there at ALL. All the streets have Zebra crossings but unlike in Australia where that means we get right of way, here you would be on your death bed if you took a step to early (don't worry mum I'm being extra careful).
So after checking my map religiously just to make sure I was on the right track, one guy who I had been in step with for a while asked if I needed any help. Now don't go getting two excited, this man although friendly looked exactly like Pedro out of Napoleon Dynamite and did not resemble the suave French men I saw EVERYWHERE. I know- just my luck right?! But he was really friendly and offered me advice- even thought it was only to keep going straight down the road I was on...which I was already doing... Haha but I had made my first French friend! I told him about where I was from and he told me he learnt French from watching French films so it was also enjoyable and I said I would like to learn Italian. He told me I should learn Latin even thought it is a dead language. We also discussed underground parties in Paris! Considering we only walked together a couple of blocks me and this guy were TIGHT. And then he was heading in the other direction and I had to thank him for his kindness and keep heading straight! Altogether a very positive first French encounter.
All along the streets it is full of Paris paraphernalia and people wanting to sell you things. Though occasionally these hot men in suit pants and navy t-shirts that they filled out with huge muscles would appear. I was starring at one and he started talking at me in French! I explained that I couldn't speak it and walked on. I presume what he said was something about how fab I looked and what I good traveler I am? I can ONLY assume!
I FINALLY arrived in our hotel and met up with LANI!!! It was amazing to see her again and to be together in PARIS. We have honestly been talking non-stop about this since forever and its so crazy that it is finally here! We settled in, got our wifi sorted then headed out to tour the streets with Gina and Kev. Before we knew it two hours had gone by and we hadn't even known it! We just followed out nose and figured out where we were when we need to actually get somewhere. In that time we ate a baguette, crepe, sorbet and had settled into a 3 course meal for 12 euro!!! OOOOOh Paris the city of FOOD! I kid you not we actually spotted people on a NUMBER of occasions just carrying baguettes around with them! That was SURE to me Lani and I tomorrow, after becoming true Parisians.
After stuffing ourselves full to the brim we walked back other the river, of the bridge of love (yuk), through the Louvre, past the Notre Dame and even spotted to Eiffel Tower! What an incredible first few hours in Paris. Lani and I strolled down the streets back to our hotel, spotting all the amazing places we would go shopping tomorrow. Super excited for what tomorrow holds for us in PARIS xx