Getting lost in Paris may sound romantic
and like a cool experience. But when you
arrive in the city four hours behind
schedule and it’s two o’ clock in the
morning it’s not so cool. Although looking
back on the experience I wouldn’t have
done it any other way. For Paris ended up
being everything I’d hoped for.
I remember the excitement, beauty and awe I was in. But those seem to be the three most common things I remember the most throughout my entire Europe trip last summer. But when your a dreamer in a dream land that seems to happen to you quite often. That and it’s all an absolute blur. Things seem to happen at such an accelerated pace, then before you know it you’re back in your hostel with images replaying over and over again in your head as you try to digest your day.
Driving through the French country side after having just crossed the channel and experienced the Cliffs of Dover in all their glory was something that I had not accounted for when I’d been planning my trip the semester before. In no way had I prepared myself for such incredible beauty. Staring out the bus window I hadn’t even thought about what time it might be when we arrive in Paris after the several delays we’d experienced. Between getting a late start and missing our ferry across the channel we were about 4 hours behind schedule, putting us into the city around one thirty, two o’ clock in the morning.
Even if I had thought about it before I probably wouldn’t have worried about it as much as I should have. It finally hit me as we were driving into the city itself though. I realized that,
A. I had no idea where it was that we were going to be dropped off by the bus.
B. It was late and most public transportation at this point had shut down for the night.
C. How the hell I was going to get to my bed, waiting for me in my hostel somewhere.
It all became real when we were stepping off the bus in the middle of a station that I didn’t even know the name or location of. It didn’t help that all the chatter I heard around me was exclusively French. Yeah I know, big surprise. I managed to make my way out of the station that had homeless lining its walls to the street, where I heard my first bit of hope, English.
I turned and saw an older couple chatting not far away from me. I quickly made my way over to them and pleaded for their help to see if they had any better idea of what to do then I did. Thank goodness they did. They offered to give me a cab ride further into the city to a safer more centralized place, as they were headed to their flat somewhere anyways. I obviously accepted, as it was some sort of forward progress, I just hoped in the right direction was all.
On the ride over Mike, the older gentleman, was telling me of a park close to where they were dropping me off that if need be I could hop the fence of and sleep in until morning. Which didn’t sound like a terrible idea until I saw the 12 foot tall walls fortified with laser turrets, mines, and attack dogs. At least that’s what the huge fence seemed like when I actually saw it and knew there would simple be no “hoping it”.
I ended up finding my way to a McDonald’s after walking aimlessly down a street for about 15 minutes though, and that was enough of a break to see me through to my hostel. First though I needed some food. T’was in the golden arches that I got to have my first French interaction and realize that being in a city that you hardly knew the language of may be a bit more difficult than I thought. But hey bring on the adventure right?
Afterwards I finally found a cab and after a 25 euro ride made it safely to the doorstep of my Woodstock Hostel. Although driving through the city for the first time at night was something I will not soon forget. European cities just look nothing like the ones we have back here in America. For we don’t have the history to add that charm and look to our streets like old European cities do.
Although it was a completely unexpected, and at the time slightly frightening experience, it ended up being one of my fondest Parisian memories. It’s those unexpected, unplanned for adventures in your journey that remind you that you are very much a stranger in a strange, beautiful, and captivating land. They help keep you on your toes and in the wonder that is travel. I was reminded that I could take care of myself in a pinch and figure shit out if I had to.
On the plus side, Paris ended up being an absolutely beautiful city, with an interesting people to match her. I met wonderful friends, tasted exquisite food, and got enriched by a new culture. But I’ll tell about all those things in some other story.
I’ll leave you with this though…
Say and myself atop the Eiffel Tower. The most lovely, interesting, and cool person I had the pleasure of getting to spend two days with in the city. Miss you my friend and I hope our paths cross again one day.