“What an unexpected surprise”
I’ve longed to venture to Paris since I booked my holiday to Florence, I had no idea the weekend that was before me.
I finished art school Friday evening as per usual and went home to have a shower. Then claiming my already packed bag I casually make my way to the train station with a couple of hours to spare, I’ve a habit of always being early.
I sit in the station eating grapes and patiently waiting to get a platform number for my train. A homeless man approached me with his hat out asking for some change, I declined him the change however offer him a grape which to my surprise he accepts on the condition it only be a small one.
Finally getting a platform number around 9 pm I boarded the first of two trains to Paris, next stop Milan.
Milan station is an almost copy of New York Central Station. I have a mere 45 minute stop over, my sight seeing ability in Milan is extremely limited.
I found my Paris bound train easily and upon boarding I find that I’m sharing an overnight cabin with 5 Chinese girls. No sooner had the journey begun and I’m looking for a pillow. I awake at some stage and looking out the window I see Italian writing on signs that we passed, so we hadn’t reached France at this stage.
I awake around 5 am the following morning and get dressed even though we aren’t due to make Paris until 10 am. No sooner had I had something to eat and a coffee am I back laying down anyway.
Finally making Paris I grab my bag and head for the city in front of me. Standing in the station I don’t feel like I’m anywhere special. It is the usual scene, people in a mad rush to get somewhere, hawkers selling wares and those annoying people who try and help you buy tickets or give you directions in exchange for a tip.
Walking out of the station I’m overcome with amazement by the city of Paris. I’ve seen many pictures however it wasn’t a thing like I could have ever imagined. Ancient architecture that still looked as great as the day it was built, coffee and pastry shops everywhere.
I’ve 5 hours to spare before I can check into my accommodation, having previously looked at rural towns in France I know there’s a town called Clermont but an hour away and having worked on a farm at a town in Australia called Clermont some 10 years earlier I plan to take the train there and get a picture with the sign and make a comparison, of which I’d say there are many.
I walk the streets of Paris gob smacked and pausing for coffee and pastries until I find the station I’m looking for. Paris has three train stations perhaps more. By this time I’d lost interest in going to Clermont and decide I will look at going there tomorrow and just go and find my accommodation.
Earlier in the year I’d been to America and my first stop after LA was New Orleans, weaving threw the hustle and bustle of Paris I couldn’t help notice how much the of a mark the French had left in Louisiana and the South in general. The buildings, street lights, grass medium strips in the roads. It’s almost an exact copy.
I finally find where I’m staying however true to form I’m early by an hour or so. The clerk is generous enough though and allows me to leave my bag in the office, whilst I continued to explore Paris before I returned to check in.
I continue on hoping that soon I’ll come into view with the Eiffel Tower. I find some other great cafes, eateries and fruit and vegetable shops around where I’m staying. I happen to stumble upon a book store, selling both new and used books. I still don’t know why but I was drawn to a couple of French novels, the titles I can’t even read nor any of the words, for a mere 0.30 euros though I was willing to take a chance at trying to read them and bought them.
I finally end up at the river Seine and there it is in the distance, the top of the Eiffel Tower. It’s also time for me to check into my hotel, so now having a better idea of which way I need to go I make my way back to fix up my room and have a long overdue shower.
After getting myself organised I head off in search of what I’d travelled 13 hours for, to stand at The Eiffel. A journey within itself, not helped by my constant stopping due to the continual discoveries of other sites.
I’m pulled towards the Louvre, not that I ventured in side, saying I’d have to do it tomorrow with my ample amount of time. Onward I passed through massive gardens pausing for an ice cream and to take photographs Paris to the nth degree.
A lesser exciting yet extremely significant feature of Paris is Princess Diana’s memorial situated above the tunnel in which she met her tragic fate. As it was recently the anniversary of her death there were plenty of people paying their respects at the reef laden memorial.
The tower is growing bigger with every step I take. As I finally make the bridge just prior to the tower I do what every self respecting visitor to Paris would do and I take a selfie with The Eiffel Tower, something I’ll regret though it’ll prove to fuel the next three paragraphs.
As I finish my picture an Indian man approaches me, having been to other tourist attractions around the world I’m expecting the usual spiel of “I take excellent photo for you” in exchange for a modest tip of course.
What happened was in fact worse, not only was this man not a street hawker he was a legitimate tourist and presenting his phone asked if I’d be kind enough to take a photo of him with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I agreed though wanting to keep moving and finish my quest.
He got me to take photo upon photo upon photo. Continually changing his stance, putting glasses on then taking them off, he even had the gal to ask me to get down on one knee so I could get more of him in the picture. I must say I was somewhat humoured by it all even though I was also ticked off to a degree.
I finally reach my destination and stand before it in oar of its beauty.
I consider going to the top to take in the view of Paris and what I imagine is a stretch of France, seeing the line up to the lifts I’m quickly disheartened.
I take up a sitting position on the grass to ponder whether of not I really want to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Laying down on the grass I’m out like a light, two hours have passed by the time I awaken with absolutely no interest in lining up for the lifts.
As I sit I recall a place in Paris called the Moulin Rouge. A quick search on Google Maps reveals where I need to go to get there and with a descending sun on the horizon I decide to make a move.
More amazing city scape is passed, memories of New Orleans and the South in general are lingering close by. I cover some burnt ground and discover some virgin ground on route to my next destination.
A walk up a steep incline finds me at the Moulin Rouge, there was a show about to start and another a few hours later. I had in mind that I’d go home, change and return in time for the last show of the evening. Suffice to say I didn’t make it back nor did I ever make it to Clermont or the Louvre for that matter.
I make it back to where I’m staying have a meal and decide I want a picture of the Eiffel tower at night so I can paint it when I return to Italy or Australia.
With a better understanding of the direction of travel and feet that were by this stage on fire I put my head down and go fourth back to where I first ventured but hours earlier. I take an intertwining route through some less populated streets and photograph the tower from a few lesser seen angles, gaining a more original opportunity for my painting.
Standing at the tower for the second time that day, I think it might of been midnight by this stage. I take the same photos I’d previously taken in another light. At last I’ve gotten all I wanted from Paris.
Almost asleep where I stand, thighs chaffed and feet that feel like cement I make the hardiest journey back to where I’m staying. Taking the back streets in an attempt to get there with less steps it’s around 2 am by the time I fall through the door with little left to give.