Another retrospective blog, the first part of which can be found here:
My brief voyage to Paris started with an unpleasantly early train to another big city. Barcelona airport is possibly one of the hottest places I’ve ever been. Despite a slight delay I arrived safe and well by the afternoon, and what is perhaps most impressive is I managed to navigate an hour long metro journey, with several changes, without problems. Strong independent city woman points for me.
Once my Air bnb host kindly picked me up from the metro stop and helped me up the EIGHT (!) flights of stairs, I dumped my things and headed for Montmartre. Here I met up with a pal from home, where we ate dinner spitting distance from the sacré cœur. I’d only been in Paris about 5 hours by this point, but already everything felt a world away from Tudela.
Crossing pretty much the whole of Paris with no disasters!
On the second day the heavens opened. A biblical amount of rain did not stop pouring down all day. It was so strange that just the day before I’d been in unbearable Catalunyan heat. In fact, the rain was so bad that while adamantly continuing with my daytime exploring, I involuntarily let out a horrifically girly squeal when a white van gave me an unexpected puddle bath. Adiós new clean Mango jeans.
I managed to dry off while wandering around the Carnavalet museum and generally around the 3rd arrondissement area.
Ooh la la, le Carnavalet
In the evening I met up with a group of Durham-ites, and it was so nice to be able to use Durhamisms, make jokes about the MLAC department and rant about TLRP work and modules with people who were experiencing the same weirdness of being abroad. Even if this did mean having to duck under a banner for a strike that was going on outside the République metro stop; although, I use the word strike lightly. To me it seemed more like a rowdy party, with the amount of music and revelry that was going on.
Bearing in mind that the metro closes at 1.30am, I thought getting to the metro for 12.55 would be just enough time for the 25 minute journey to Mirabeau. However, when I got to the station, the official-looking man in a high-vis informed me that only one line was still running. The others had closed. I used my instincts to try and at least head south, and for once my sense of direction was actually right. I got as far as Châtelet where a kind woman making her journey back that way informed me that I needed to head just round the corner and there would be a night bus service to Mirabeau. Save a bit of waiting around, the journey back was surprisingly non-disastrous.
Having got back rather later than intended, needless to say I didn’t appreciate the knock on the door at 8.30am the following morning. This was far too early and far too soon after waking up to have a comprehensible conversation in any language, let alone one which I had let go slightly. The knocker was wearing an electrician’s uniform and rambled on something about looking at the meter and it only taking a few minutes. After explaining to him that I was just a guest and knew nothing about any meters in the building, I think he said something about only needing a small reading. Reluctantly, bed-head-Alice let him in. He was in the room for all of 10 seconds before saying that he must have made a mistake and apologised for the disturbance. Odd, I thought, but I didn’t debate it for long before nodding off again.
When I woke up properly an hour and a half later, I discovered I had no electricity. Hmm. Not good, I thought. So I messaged my Air BnB host who spent the rest of the day in a fluster trying to contact the electricity company who she said must have turned it off by mistake. In the meantime, I knocked on the neighbour’s door to see if it was just me. I’d already been informed that she was a very pleasant woman called Claudia, and if I should need anything I could refer to her. After confirming that it was just my room which did not have electricity, she offered me a lamp which could be plugged into the socket in the hallway where the electricity was still working. She then added that she was preparing some breakfast and coffee if I wanted some.
If anything I’m slightly grateful for the electricity mishap – it meant that I ended up speaking more French to my host, and without this pretence I would have probably never gone to speak to Claudia. Although over breakfast I discovered that she was Colombian, and she knew I was living in Spain, we continued to speak in French. So draw your situational sociolinguistic conclusions as you will.
When I managed to climb down the dizzying 8 floors, I could see that after 2 days of dreary rain, c’était un miracle! The sun was out. I headed to the recommended Parque de Luxembourg which did not disappoint. I spent a happy few hours there walking round before settling down for a crêpe right by the duck pond. After this I headed for Les Champs Elysées, as I thought one could not go to Paris without seeing it. But the heat dragged me out in just a few minutes after trying to navigate myself around busy traffic and hot flustered city-dwellers. I head back via the metro stop by the Louvre, so I got another wonderful walk around some greenery.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg – très joli
My wonderful day in the sunshine almost made up for the fact that when I returned to my Air BnB, there was still no electricity, and the company wouldn’t be contactable now until after I’d gone. So instead of watching a film and going to bed, I went out for a night time stroll to the Eiffel Tower. Just a 20 minute walk away, I arrived just as it began its evening display of flashing lights. Beautiful, but a little ironic given the situation.
I said my goodbyes the following day over a crepe breakfast my fellow French and Spanish Durhamite Ryan, in a café with an amazing view of the Notre Dame with people-watching opportunities aplenty. We strolled through a flower market and happened upon a random Nesquik art gallery where everything seemed to be made of plasticine… But then again, we were around the Pompidou area of Paris.
After a brief coffee with my home friend, it was time to hit the metro for the last time, back up to Charles de Gaulle airport, and on to my next destination…
To be continued…