The 1st thing that fascinated me about Paris was an 11:30pm sunset. In June. I should have thought about it given that I had lived in cities where an 8pm sunset is normal for the summer months. But for some reason I had never imagined it… As a quick detour; 2 years after Paris I met a guy from Finland who told me that 2 times in the year there is either no sunrise or sunset in his country. Like the Sun refuses to shine on one end and on the flip-side, the night doesn’t come. Of cause that experience made it to my bucket list immediately.
Paris was beautiful. I was there on a Contiki tour, European Highlights. A 14 day high impact, low-budget tour of 6 European countries starting in France (Paris). France, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Austria & Netherlands. And yes Amsterdam was insane.
We landed in Paris about lunchtime and made our way to the hotel. Low budget, but it was just for sleep. For 2 nights might I add. The hotel really set our expectations for the rest of the tour on a reasonable plane. At that point I knew we’d be sleeping in bunk beds and cabins and I hardly cared because being there alone was a big deal. Plus I would spend my birthday in Rome a few days later… So big deal.
Perhaps it was because I wasn’t as adventurous as I’ve now become or that I was on an organised tour; the city made me a stranger, a tourist. But I loved it, I vowed to go back when I get a chance. The Arc de Triomphe , the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Moulin Rouge and the Sacré Coeur were some of the places we saw. My favorite thing about Paris apart from getting to the top of the tower was walking on streets embellished with golden ornaments and romantic accents. I couldn’t stop staring.
The hardest thing was definitely all the walking. Man we walked. Everywhere. All day. And I was dumb enough to be breaking into a new pair of All Stars. DON’T DO THAT. Take shoes you’re comfortable with, that you’ve broken into. New shoes were such a mistake and for the days that followed I has sausages for feet.
6 things I found strange about the city:
- Cars park in close proximity to one another. Like really really close. And apparently they are left with lowered park brakes. This is because the city streets have little parking so the cars huddle and one can push back and forth until they snuggle out of a tight spot.
- Everything was golden. I had never seen that before.
- Frogs and snails are a thing. A delicacy. I tried them but that was the end. Surprisingly frogs taste a little like chicken.
- There is some interesting symmetry to observe at the top of the Eiffel Tower. You could cut the city in half and have mirror images.
- People don’t like speaking English over there, so the first challenge to overcome was language. But it’s nothing a smile and a dumb look can’t fix. My favourite line was to say “I promise English isn’t my 1st language too” and we’d take it from there.
- There was lots of bread. Fast food stores were mostly baguette sandwich makers. Which was perfect for a low-budget traveller *points finger at self*
But if I had to put it into words, Paris was delicate and beastly at the same time. My kind of perfect.