As promised before, more details from my first encounter with Paris:
Friday, 28 Oct, 10 pm: I board an overnight Eurolines bus from Frankfurt/Main, which is meant to be fun. The highlights of my journey are (in order of decreasing importance): hitting an old French lady in my sleep, waking up and finding out the lady was material and sitting next to me on the bus (oops), passport check at the French/German border, French customs officer trying to tear out the long expired US visa from my passport, pretending to be asleep and snoring to avoid further old ladies landing next to me.
Saturday, 29 Oct, 6 am: Arrival in Paris International Bus Station (Gallieni). It is actually well out of the city centre. The bus comes in one hour early, and I must wait for my friend Inna to collect my mortal remains at 7 am. In the meantime, I take my Adidas luggage bag for a walk around, but there is not much to see.
Saturday, 29 Oct, 7 am: Inna comes in, looking so French I can hardly recognise her at first. Embraces, hellos, kisses, etc – we have not seen each other since September and would normally have to wait for another year until our encounter. Inna looks very tired, poor thing, but still fresh enough with me as a background. Never mind the looks – I am hyper and ready to discover Paris!
Saturday, 29 Oct, 9 am: Bags are dropped, showers are paid duty, and hot cocoa does its job – we are out in the city! Tour Eiffel is the first in line, and the view is stunning. I know it is the most typical sight one knows from France. I am also aware that France is the most visited country in the world, but it is my very own, personal first time! I spend half an hour taking pictures. Little do I know how many more will still come.
Saturday, 29 Oct, 2 pm: After a grand walking tour courtesy of Inna, we head home for some lunch. The walking tour followed the route Tour Eiffel – along the Seine – Invalides – Louvre – L’Ile de la Cite – Notre Dame de Paris – Champs d’Elysees. Inna is almost dead, but I insist on continuing. Sighing, she agrees. I guess I am not getting another visit invitation.
Saturday, 29 Oct, 7 pm: We are standing on top of the hill housing Basilique Sacre Coeur. At my feet, ladies and gentlemen, there is PARIS at its best, glowing with mild sunset, swarming with tourists, breezing with the smell of baguettes! Tonight, just tonight, I am allowed to be stereotypical. Behind our shoulders today, we have left Bois de Boulogne, Avenue Foch, and walking all the way to Sacre Coeur. I have stopped asking my dear Inna how she is doing and selfishly think everyone could benefit from some exercise. Next stop – Moulin Rouge, through the infamous area of Clichy. The streets are full of sex shops… I try not to look.
Saturday, 29 Oct, 9 pm: We arrive home, having stopped at Trocadero to take pictures of the Tour Eiffel lit by thousands of artificial lights. At the beginning of every hour, the tower begins blinking beautifully, arousing exclamations of tourists. The view is incredible, and I take some of the best pictures of my journey. Vive la France!
The end of Day 1. Day 2 will never follow, by the way.