Monday, August 11, 2014

Picnicking in Paris

Friday 1 August
5am comes really early. I had my bag all packed, so I throw on clothes and sneak out the door. Sorry roommates... I tried to be quiet. 

At the metro at 5:30am, I see a strange mix of people: a group of loud, drunk kids obviously coming from the bar, and others tiredly waiting to go to work looking at them with annoyance. I was kind of envious. 

I was at the bus station by 6, so I only had to wait 15 minutes. There were 2 other people waiting, so I asked if they were going to Paris. They said yes. By 6:20, we're looking at each other with concern. No bus. I'm exhausted, I just want to sit down. At 6:30, a bus pulls up with a small 'Eurolines' paper on the front and I see it says Barcelona - Paris. My other two new friends don't move, but I decide I can't trust their judgement and go to ask to the bus driver. Turns out it IS our bus, but I don't know why it was late. I get on and it's full of sleeping people. I have no idea how long a bus from Barcelona to Lyon takes, but it seemed to have been an exhausting trip so far. After a pit stop at 7am, I fall asleep til 9, which I'm quite impressed with. I normally never can sleep on busses. 

I arrive in Paris at 12:30! I pop on the metro to get to Montparnasse Station. It was so hot I thought I was gonna die. The backpacks on my front and back don't encourage airflow. Let's just say I was sweaty. 

Once in Montparnasse Station, I have to find a specific cafe, and call the reception of my hostel so that someone can come meet me. I do what I'm told and sit down to wait. This is very strange, what kind of hostel is this!? Soon, Mark, my guide, shows up to take me to the hostel. We walk outside of the station, and turn directly into a building. As we go up in the elevator, I can't help but wonder if he's taking me to my death. Maybe this is his apartment and he's going to torture me or something. 

Guys, the hostel is just an apartment with bunk beds in it. Mark checks me in on the computer in the living room, then cleans the bathroom and leaves. I'm left to enjoy the view from this 14th floor flat.

My day had been fairly exhausting thus far, so I wanted to lay in a park, drink wine, and read a book. The best thing about laying in a park is that even though you're being incredibly lazy, it still feels like sightseeing because you're out in the city. At least, this is what I tell myself. After consulting the map, I pack my bag and head towards the Jardin du Luxembourg. It's the closest green space and I don't feel like going far. I arrive and am sadly disappointed because there is no grass-laying allowed! Chairs are placed everywhere for use, however I'm not up for sitting in a chair. I feel like this is a sign that I need to get real touristy, and go to the Eiffel Tower. A quick look at my Paris Metro Map, and I'm off... until I try to change to the 6 line. Conveniently, the only metro line that goes to the Eiffel Tower is currently under construction. Nice work Paris. My bag full of wine, food, and activities is getting heavier on my shoulder, but I leave the station determined to walk to the Eiffel Tower. As I walk out of the metro station into the sunshine, I'm greeted by green, plushy grass along the Esplanade des Invalides! Not one to work harder than I need too, I plop down in the nearest shady area.

 Picnic view: lots of people had my same idea. I'm living the rough life. 

I picked up a raspberry tarte on the way. 

After a nap, half a bottle of wine, some cheese and baguette, and most of my book is read, I feel up to walking to the Eiffel Tower. Also, while lounging, I realized that thinking "Oh I have plenty of time in Paris because I have a week" isn't correct thinking. Take away today and Thursday, which is the day I fly out, and I really only have 5 days to see Paris. Then subtract a day for Versailles, and I only have 4 days! I'm spurred on towards tourist destination #1 and enjoy the view from the Seine on my walk.

Hey look! I made it.

I thought it was really funny how the 'grass' was nearly just dirt because of so many people picnicking, and walking all over it. I had my blanket so I wasn't bothered. From behind the cover my book, I stared at people taking pictures. I saw the jumping picture, kissing the Tower picture, 'look I'm holding the Tower!' picture, and so many more. A woman demanded some stranger take so many pictures because she was on her honeymoon. First her hair was messed up, then the top of the tower wasn't in, then she didn't like her smile. I was dying. Also, it was selfie city, but I couldn't judge because I also took some selfies.

At 10pm, the Eiffel Tower started sparkling. It was magical but also made me realize it was getting really dark and I had to walk back to my hostel. I regretfully packed up my stuff and made my way back.

Back in the hostel I meet my new friends, aka roommates, for the week. Laurel & Carla from New York, Anna from New Zeeland, Uzair from Holland and Alex, Gabby, and Julia from Germany. Alex, Gabby, and Julia just arrived and were sleepy, so they didn't want to go out, but everyone else was game to find something to do. The problem with Paris, if it is a problem, is that there are too many options. We had no idea where to go, or what to do on a Friday night. Michael, my roommate from Lyon, was also in Paris but in a different hostel, so we met up with him at a metro stop in Marais. After asking some random guys where we should go, we head to some club. It was quite an experience.

At 3am we decide it's time to catch a cab to go home. We say goodbye to Michael and are off as soon as we find a taxi that takes 5 people. It was harder than you would think but using rudimentary French we managed.  

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