I finally made it to Paris. I spent almost 600 Euro for the ticket. Luckily, I invested in travel insurance. Apparently price gouging is not an issue in Europe. Flights are still grounded from that damn volcano, so naturally train tickets have sky-rocketed. I got to the train station with plenty of time to spare. I wasn't going to miss that train for the world. I asked a man on the platform if I was at the right spot, and he looked at me, looked at my ticket, and then started screaming in German - "scheisse! scheisse!" and then made the hand gesture for cutting off my head. Ok...wrong person to ask. I found a Russian girl with her mother, who assured me that I was in the right place, and, that there are crazy people everywhere. She told me I should probably wait in "sector A". (The platform is divided up into sections- A,B,C, etc.) But when the train came, the last car rode right past me, and I ran as fast as I've ever run in my life. WITH an 80lb pound pack on my back. Well, maybe not 80 lbs, but when you're running that fast, and that train is your last hope of getting out of Dusseldorf, there might as well be thirty cinder blocks tied to my back. I made it, with only a second to spare, and didn't catch my breath until the next stop, 12 minutes later.
Five hours, two Jason Mraz albums, and 3 breath-mints (I was starving!)later, I'm thrown onto a platform of french travellers. I found my way out of the station and just stood for a minute. Now what? How the hell do I get to my hostel? It's not like I can call them up and ask for directions...screw it. I took a taxi.
After checking in at the front desk, I went up to my room to check out my bed. My first impression of hostels was honestly not a very good one. The room was a wreck, and someone had already claimed my bunk. So I went downstairs, complained, and got a new one. They assigned a new bunk to me and I left to find some food. My quest for food was a short one - I ended up grabbing a chicken sandwich at the cafe downstairs. But when I went back to my room, someone had claimed my bunk. Again. This time, they moved me into a completely different room. I put my stuff away and in walked Magdalena - a girl from Germany, here on vacation, and a photographer like myself. We talked for a bit, I 'fessed up to my fear of the subway, and she offered to show me around. Magdalena helped me buy my metro card, and just when I thought I could trust the girl, she throws me in the middle of traffic with my camera to take long-exposure shots of the Arc de Triomphe at night. My results aren't post worthy. However, my shots from the rest of the night are:
Big day of "firsts" for me - first international train ride, metro ride, (the three minutes in Madrid in 2007 doesn't count), first hostel, first hostel shower, and first night in Paris. I'm loving it. Well, not the shower part. The next morning, which is actually today, I took advantage of the free breakfast- cereal with warm milk, about 2 ounces of orange juice, and a baguette with nutella. Today marks the first day of my love affair with Nutella. Delicious. Today, I'm going to knock out all the touristy things.
Ah, the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it was first on my list, but I have to say - not impressed. I didn't stand there in amazement. I was actually kinda annoyed with all the street vendors, tourists, and the freakin' nets all over the tower. Maybe it's because I'm alone. I'm sure it's way more romantic with someone with you. Moving on. Next stop, the Louvre. I got there around 2:00, so the lines weren't bad at all. I did get a little nervous when I saw the x-ray machine...I had just bought disposable razors (and used french for the whole transaction!) and had them in my bag. Apparently they didn't care, and I controlled my urge to slash my name through the antique tapestries in Napoleon's apartment.
The Louvre was absolutely breathtaking. And I MEAN breathtaking. How many times do you see something and you literally gasp. I was moved to tears with how beautiful "Napoleon's Apartment" was. (I do have a short video of it, but can't upload it for some reason...)
After the Louvre, I bought a few trinkets for myself, a few postcards, and sat in a cafe to fill them out. Another baguette and some "white coffee" later, I was ready for more.
Walking towards Notre Dame, a flurry of dandelion seeds took over the city of Paris. They fell like snow, and if I weren't so worried about them getting stuck in my lens, I would have photographed it. I guess some memories only belong in my mind.
I'll leave you with some final images from Notre Dame...it was a quiet and serene moment, and I'm always a sucker for stained glass - I don't think these need explanation. Maybe tomorrow I'll upload the video of the bells ringing.