Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Paris Diaries | How to be a tourist for 4 hours


Day 5.




*He’s got that James Dean, daydream, look in his eye*

5am.

ARGGHHHH

It was pitch black, and Taylor Swift was telling me to get out of bed. I gave myself a mini pep talk about how it was only an hour earlier than the time I usually wake up. But I knew, 5am is night-time and no human should be up at that ungodly hour.

‘Think of the Eiffel Tower’ was the morning’s motto as I shoved myself under the shower.

It was cold, dark, and too early for me to grab breakfast at the hotel. I had four hours to explore, so a route was carefully planned to ensure the least amount of travel time. I jumped on the metro and headed for my first stop, Notre Dame de Paris, it was still pitch black when I got there but the lights were beautiful. I expected the cathedral to be somewhat bigger than it was, but it was beautiful nonetheless and mind blowing to think it’s been standing, in all its Gothic glory, for over 700 years.

I couldn’t take any photos, I knew my camera wouldn’t be any good at night, but I stayed for a while and sat on a bench, soaking up the scenery and wondering if they’d have macaroons by the Eiffel tower.

After another twenty minutes on the underground, I was there. I followed the signs for ‘Tour de Eiffel’ and got slightly concerned that I would miss the turning. No need, I caught a glimpse of iron next to me, looked up to my right and there it was, the big iron giant, looming over my head. I’ve been before, when I was a child, I remember looking at it from the car window in amazement. My face was probably similar today, staring up in awe. I just didn’t expect it to be so gigantic. Armed forces were surrounding the area, causing me to wonder if it was even open. I asked and was told they were happy for me to wander through. So there I was, standing under the Eiffel tower at 6am on December 4th, surrounded by a military unit carrying guns bigger than my body. It was certainly a first.

I stayed for over an hour, wandering around, taking photos and talking to the soldiers on site. They were lovely, and pointed me in the direction of breakfast. It was too early to catch a ride to the top, but it was still a highlight of my trip to see it from the bottom.

After a quick croissant, I jumped back on the train and headed for stop number three, the Arc de Triomphe.  It was an archway on a roundabout, with cars driving chaotically around it. Apparently your insurance is invalid the moment you enter the roundabout by car – which doesn’t surprise me. Parisian people drive like they have moments to live, a great attitude to have but I certainly wouldn’t like to be the passenger.

I was back at my hotel room for 9am; I got in a few hours of work before heading to the airport – taking a pit stop at Gare du Nord to grab a coffee with Ettore, my Italian ex-housemate who had just arrived in Paris for the weekend.  Being in the same city on the same day wasn’t planned, but I like to think of it as divine intervention (I missed him).

Then there was a train to Charles de Gaulle airport, a plane to London Luton, a train into Kings Cross and another train out to Yorkshire. I arrived at 11pm and slept most of the weekend. It was such an exhausting week, but it was one hell of an adventure... Paris, I’ll be back, hopefully next time I won’t have to work so much!





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