Day 8: Paris
I woke up today at 6:55am and said goodbye to everyone from Clemson. I’ve really enjoyed spending time with them and while we didn’t know each other before the trip, I think we all had a really good time and developed good friendships. As soon as they left, I started to realize how much different the rest of my trip would be. I won’t have a tour guide rushing me around, trying to cram as much in as possible. There won’t be any structure and I can travel and see whatever I want for the next 10 weeks, but I’m definitely going to miss hanging out with the Clemson crowd.
I left the hotel in western Paris around 10:00am and walked to the train station. You never realize how much you pack until you’re carrying it on your back. I think I could have gone a little bit smaller with my pack, but it would have been a tight fit with my computer and my camera. I’m also carrying a bottle of wine that I bought in the Loire Valley that I plan to ship back to the States once I get to Belgium. I’m also planning on buying some champagne in Reims so it’s going to be a heavy load the next couple weeks.
I found the train station fine but had some trouble getting my ticket. The kiosks wouldn’t take my card so I had to go up to the information desk and order a book of 10 tickets there. Of course the woman didn’t speak English so I used my best hand gestures to tell her what I wanted (Protip: People in Europe start counting with their thumb). I finally got my book of tickets and then took the metro east towards the business district, switched trains, and then ended at the Hotel de Ville metro stop. I found what looked like my hostel but it was the wrong branch and I had to walk about 3 blocks west towards the correct one. On my way there, I recognized the oldest buildings in Paris that I had seen nearly a week earlier, and about two blocks later I arrived at my first hostel.
I got there around 11:15 am (check-in was by 12:00) and paid for the four nights I am spending here (120 Euros). I didn’t get a chance to see my room yet, because I couldn’t check in until 3:00pm. I placed my bag in the luggage room and then started walking. For only 30 Euros a night, the hostel is in a great location. My walk to Notre Dame took 10 minutes and I’m only 2 blocks away from the Seine River. I walked to the eastern garden of Notre Dame and then grabbed a fromage (cheese) sandwich from a sidewalk café. I did my best to pronounce the French name, but ended up just pointing at what I wanted and saying ‘oui’. She also asked me which flavor beignet I wanted but all I could do is just point – still not that good at the whole French thing. I am finishing my lunch now and about to finish my academic journal. I’ll post another entry at the end of the day.