A Travellerspoint blog

No I am not French

Oui, Merci, and that's all I know

View Post-College Eurotrip on atbrady's travel map.

We were the only ones left in our hostel room of those that were there on our first night. It was a brief slumber however, as we had to wake up at 6:30 to get to the train station for our 8:30 train ride to Paris. Breakfast starts at 7:00 at the Generator, so we were able to grab a quick bowl of bran before setting off to the train station. Luckily, we were familiar with the train station because it was right next door to the station we arrived at from the airport just 3 days ago. It was about a twenty five minute walk with all of our gear to Kings Cross St. Pancras. I thought I packed light, but trekking around for that long with both with my backpack and duffel bag makes me reconsider each thing I packed. I probably could have packed even lighter.

Getting on the train was more or less like getting on an airplane at home with metal detectors and x-ray machines. I would love to tell you all that the British and French country-sides are beautiful and that it was cool going through the chunnel, but I slept the entire way. Before I even got off the train I hit the first rough patches of the Parisian part of the trip. At the beginning and end of each train car, there is a set of shelves where people can put their baggage. When I got off the train, my duffel was not where I left it. I looked around on the different shelves but it was nowhere to be found. I was happy that I had at least kept my backpack that held all of my valuables under my seat. My duffel simply held my clothes and I would have simply bought a few shirts in a souvenir shop. Luckily, after a few frantic minutes, I found my duffel in an overhead compartment. Apparently someone had moved it for some reason. Disaster was averted, but it was only a sign of more trouble to come.

Learning from our mistakes in London, we left the train station to find a bank just across the street that offered a significantly better exchange rate. However, they apparently have tight security in French banks because there were double doors, the second of which would not open until the first was closed and you pressed a button. I had been safe with Hunter who spoke basic French, but after he went through the doors, the security guard tried to talk to me and needless to say I was completely lost. The button wasn’t working for me and I was trapped between the doors before finally being let through. After heading back to the terminal and buying a map, we took the subway to a stop that was only about a block from our hotel. This seemingly simple task also proved difficult for me. When exiting the subway, you apparently have to lift a latch in order for the doors to open. As the first one in line to get off the subway, it took me a second to realize that the doors were not opening and I needed to pull the latch and I proceeded to press it down, probably annoying a few Parisians for what was probably a few seconds but seemed like forever. In a new city that speaks a language you are altogether unfamiliar with, such simple things are much more difficult that you might think. For this reason, I would highly recommend making London the first stop on any European trip to at least eliminate the language barrier.

My first thoughts of Paris were that it was exactly what you might expect. Our hotel, the Hotel Mon Reve (Hotel of my Dreams, I believe) is on Rue de Felix Faure which is a Parisian street straight out of a novel, with cafes lining the street and spilling over onto the sidewalks. We dropped off our things at the hotel but had another hour until check in, so we went down the street for Lunch, grabbing a few sandwiches on stereotypical French rolls and taking them to a nearby park. Europeans sure do love their bread. I feel like we can’t eat a meal without it. We returned to the hotel and quickly threw our things into what most would call a small hotel room, but what seems like a palace after spending the last three nights in a hostel room that was about as big but with six beds instead of two. I’ve never before been so happy to have a private bathroom.

Posted by atbrady 12:49 Archived in France Tagged train_travel

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