The bag in the picture contained all that I had for the time I was away. As I stood on the platform staring at it at Amsterdam Centraal I began to reflect on my time away and was anticipating the end of journey. I felt sad. Whilst away I missed people back home, but as the time to go home drew near I wanted to stay away, to keep on exploring and keep on meeting new people and keep on learning about the world and about myself.
Anyway, the feeling passed and I arrived in Paris with nowhere to stay. I did have one tip from my friend Rich who recommended the hotel he always stays at so I went there to see if they had a room. They didn’t seem to have one when I stepped in, and were kind of confused as to why I hadn’t booked anywhere and just turned up out of the blue. But after a few phone calls they managed to fit me in! I think I got pretty lucky.
After settling in I went for a wander around the local area. This was my fifth time in Paris and I had never ever liked it before. Main reasons were that: it was hard to get around, most of the streets were pretty dull, the Metro smelt like piss, and there wasn’t very much to do that wasn’t a tourist trap. Originally I did not plan any time in Paris at all. It was only suppose to be a lay over for my trip to and from London on the Eurostar. I don’t know what it was but I felt that I couldn’t pass by without spending a little time there, and so I tagged on day at the end of my trip in order to spend a day in Paris.
I glad that I did. The incredibly low expectations and there being no pressure whatsoever to see or do anything was just what was needed for me to see the city. Having said that, I did want to see was La Grande Arche de la Defénce. No pressure though, and it was no probably getting there, being as it is on the end of the 1 line on the Metro. I had no other plans and so took my time to take in parts of Paris that I’d never been to before and also ride the Metro for a longer journey than I ever had done before.
La Grande Arche is pretty neat. It’s such an interesting building. Even though it’s set in the business district – La Defénce, I had a pretty good time just hanging around there and looking at it. Everything else seemed dull by comparison.
Afterwards, returning to Central Paris I went to the cinema, a lovely little independent one, to see the Woody Allen documentary. In the whole month of July Paris had a Woody Allen season where cinemas across the city, even the multiplexes, had old Woody Allen films screening – The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and her Sisters, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose, Celebrity, Deconstructing Harry, and many more. But the day that I was there was the very final day and I had missed ALL of it, except the documentary. Gutted. So I went to see that, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. On Radio 4’s Film Programme there was an interview with Woody Allen and also critics who had watched the documentary and said that it’s probably the most comprehensive of all Woody Allen documentaries and there probably won’t be one like it about him ever again. Surely a must for any fan of Woody Allen.
I had also asked the good people at the hotel about vegetarian restaurants. It’s much harder to be a vegetarian in France than in other country in the Europe (apparently. I certainly found that to be the case). Much harder than the UK and Germany. I was recommended a veggie restaurant semi-nearby to the hotel and so I went there. But when I got there…they wouldn’t let me eat there alone. This was the first time I was turned away for being a lone diner! I felt pretty sad about it. For the moment my friends and I parted ways in Barcelona I was very conscious of the fact that I was alone, but this was the only time that I was fully reminded of it, and actually stigmatised for it. Of course I see it from their point of view so I wasn’t angry at them for not letting me eat there, but I can’t say that I wasn’t a little hurt by it. But anyway, I was hungry so I walked on and into the Latin Quarter where, with a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon a Maoz!!! I was so shocked I had to go in there immediately and eat something.
Maoz was a great place to grab a quick vegetarian (vegan!) bite to eat, and not just in Paris. In Barcelona I had some with my friends and also a friendly waitress alerted me to the existence of a Maoz in Amsterdam.
Hunger satisfied I walk down to the bank of the River Seine where a lot of people had gathered with wine, their conversation mood, and a willingness to have some fun. The evening was air was smooth and the atmosphere mellow. It was a good night and I was once again reminded that I was alone. I wished that I had someone to spend the time with.
Previous times I’d been in Paris I had tried to explore it on foot during the daytime. Whether it was the time of year that I went or just bad luck, but all previous times during the day had either been too hot, in the summer, or too cold, in the winter. This night was a lovely night to go walking, and that’s exactly what I did. I don’t remember much of it and it was pretty uneventful. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the walk and actually enjoyed being in Paris.
All in all I had a pretty good time here and I warmed to Paris. The experience made me want, more than ever, to learn French, and also less objectionable to another visit in the future.
Lastly, they journey back to London on the Eurostar. I shared the train with some Olympic athletes, being as it was 2 days before the Opening Ceremony.