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Thoughts of a wandering soul The "IT WAS TIME" Trip!

Hello Paris!

FRANCE | Sunday, 9 December 2012 | Views [357] | Comments [1]

When I board the Swiss airplane, I see that there's a spare seat between myself and the other passenger in my row. I hope there's not going to be anyone else there.

I hear him speak German to the air hostess so I ask him in German if he speaks English.

"Nein" he says.

Great. I wrack my brains trying to remember more German.

Is it okay if I sleep here, I ask, pointing to the seat.

Yes, of course! He says.

We had somewhat of a chat after that.

I found out he lives in Bangkok and was going up Switzerland for a holiday.

I don't think he was married, but he had a Thai partner who spoke German.

He hadn't felt the need to learn either Thai or more English.

After finding out I was born in India, he told me his brother had a girlfriend or wife who was from Kerala in the South of India. How cool. With the Spanish lady and Indian guy and now German guy and Indian lady, maybe there's hope yet for my Eurasian babies! :-p

Soon after, dinner was served and I lay down and went to sleep. It was my first time in Swiss, so either the seats are smaller than Singapore Airlines or I've grown in size! In any case, I slept pretty much the whole way and woke up just before we landed in Zurich.

I had an hour stopover and it was quite a well laid out airport with pretty clear signs everywhere. The most interesting things by far were these smoking rooms in the airport where people could go in to smoke! They were like smoking lounges for cigarette brands. The first one I saw was a Camel one, and next to my gate was a Winston one. The trip to Paris was very quick, and it seemed like it was mainly business people in their work suits who were flying at that time. The lady next to me was originally from Paris and had lived in London for five years before moving to Zurich. She was in marketing and on her way to Paris for two days of meetings. I swear I need to get into this field!

Getting out of the Paris airport seemed ridiculously complicated but it didn't help that I didn't know where I was going.

Finally I figured out I needed to catch a train and and there would be some changing involved.

Okay, here goes nothing! The first train was an old one, and it was FREEZING!!!!!!

The landscape wasn't too inspiring either. It was old working buildings that looked run down much like the neighborhoods they were in.

Still, they looked beautiful in their own way and so did what they represented. A means for people who couldn't work in flashy offices to make a living.

The train went on for what seemed like ages.

Finally I reached Gare du Nord and needed to change to train line B heading towards what I thought was Nation.

I kept following the signs for line B until it felt I was about to leave the station itself! Finally when I ran out of signs, I asked a lady where this train line was?

Turns out she was catching the same train except heading the other way. She showed me which stop she was getting off at and it was the stop before mine! She said to follow her and we chatted a bit in French before she mentioned she moved from Peru and spoke Spanish! So again I had a mishmashed conversation but it was nice.

When I got to my stop I asked the lady at the counter where my street was and it seemed to take her forever to find it on her machine and then ask the other guy where it was. Turns out it was just outside and the next street to the left. It was near a traffic intersection roundabout kind of thing. After a conversation with the concierge and spending some time trying to figure out what to do I was told my room was ready. So I dropped my bags, rugged up and headed out.

So the first thing I see when I reach the roundabout again is the Moulin Rouge to my left! Really?? This is THE Moulin Rouge? So close? Cool.

I continue on and the next stop that arrests my attention is the 'fromagerie' or, cheese shop.

OMG!!! It seemed like there was every kind of cheese in there!! How was I going to be able to try it all?? After wandering around like a frustrated cat around a fishbowl, I headed off again.

The buildings were awesome and the streets had cobblestones. I took pictures of one set of buildings only to come across the exact same ones a block later.

Plus I was hungry and so wanted to eat something but everything was so big in size! Or pastries! They had some divine looking pastries and not just in special shops, but in every bakery! Amazing!

After finally spying a bakery I went in and saw some half edible sized pizzas. One I understood the ingredients of - 3 cheeses but the other one had mushrooms and something I couldn't figure out. So I asked the lady. Fish she told me. Ah, I'll take the cheese one. It was so good but so rich, still, I felt like I should finish it all.

While I was wandering, I now realised I had no idea where I was.

As I was walking down a street, an Indian guy asked me how I was in Hindi.

I should have kept walking but I made the mistake of turning around.

I asked him in English if he knew where my station was but he didn't.

We exchanged about three sentences, him speaking in Hindi and me in English before he asked if I understood Hindi.

Umm...obviously cause I've just been answering all your questions.

He had been working there for four years but didn't really speak much french.

Then he pointed out his friend who also worked with him and gave him his house security card and turned to walk with me.

No way! You don't have to come with me I told him.

Do you have a mobile number? No.

Are you here with your family? It seemed safest to say yes, and he visibly deflated at that.

Are you married? Was he for real?? I made some unintelligible noise and quickly wandered off.

What the??

I found another lady and asked her where the metro was and she pointed me in the right direction. I finally saw it, but it wasn't a name I recognized.

There was a map near it but it was quite high up. Is everyone so tall here?? I thought to myself while standing on tip toes to try and read it.

While I was performing this balancing act, an old lady came up to me and started exclaiming in French which I didn't understand.

She then pressed a button next to the map which lowered it to my height. Like those sliding ads at the train station. How embarrassing! As I looked, I realised I'd walkedabout 5 or 6 kilometres away from the hotel, and completely bypassed the Sacre Coeur which was plop bang in the middle of my wanderings!

Hmm...how to get back? I studied the map and tried to make sense of where I was and where I was going. With a somewhat plan in my mind, I headed off. The thing about the streets in Paris is that they all seem to merge into each other, especially at any kind of intersection - so you have to be careful that when you continue "straight ahead" you are actually still on the same street.

It also didn't help that the name of the main street near my hotel changed about three times beforehand. So even though it FELT like I was on the right road, the name seemed to suggest otherwise.

I wandered down this other long street and I think I must have been walking through an Afro French community cause there were so many African hairdressing salons there! And clothes shops and restaurants all catering to this market.

Then when I turned on the main road towards my hotel, I noticed I was in Pigalle, which is where one of my friends mentioned I should check out and I saw...sex shops.

Not just one or two, but HUNDREDS of them! Okay, slight exaggeration. But it was pretty much the entire street on both sides that had sex clothes shops, toy shops, show shops, broken up by a supermarket or traffic lights!

Finally made it back to the hotel and even though it was only around 5.30pm, I was tired. So I wrote a little, washed my hair, gave up trying to dry it with the dismally weak hotel hair dryer and then fell asleep around 7.30pm.

Tags: paris, pigalle

Comments

1

Haha, i got propositioned in Paris too. The men must think the place is full of good targets.

  Beth Dec 17, 2012 10:12 PM

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