Well I am being brought to you today on a train from Paris to Lyon… But if you notice in the tone of my writing I am sitting in FIRST CLASS!!
Out of sheer stupidity, this Aussie tourist was forced into style and comfort because he didn’t realise you needed to book days ahead on the TGV train if you wanted to use a Eurail pass. Masseur-Ticket-Office looked blankly at me when I handed over my pass, and said you can pay a €66 full ticket, a €51 first class surcharge, take 6 hours on local trains… Or travel tomorrow. I had accommodation booked in Lyon and I needed to travel – so I don’t know if Paris won or I did. First class outdoes regular class by heaps (except it costs heaps!)
Any ways, picking up where I left off…
Luck was definitely what I needed coming from a country that speaks only English. While most people have some basic bi-lingual ability, it was far more evident in Paris that you were an outsider if you could only speak English. A lot of hand gesturing and “bonjour”, “ci vous plat” and “merci bocoup” to try and alert my communicant that I had no friggin way of understanding what they were saying.
Paris hasn’t changed since I was here in 2008… Actually everywhere I have been so far looks rather familiar. I spent a day walking around town in very warm weather. It was forecasted to reach 25 degrees, and it definitely did so. Even the evenings were still rather warm. My hostel wasn’t as comfortable as the one in Amsterdam. There was hardly a communal area and most people didn’t hang out. I did meet one Pommy from south of London who was big on League and Union after he had spent six months touring Oz.
Tourists were everywhere at the local sites, but this time it was mostly Americans. They couldn’t get enough of the Eiffel tower or Arc de Triumph. With such good weather, the lines to the big attractions were long. With such people also brought out the local scam artists… Magic tricks for money, looking for donations and “French water for one Euro”.
I like the attractions in Paris and novelty of being a tourist, but it is one city I would not want to live. The metro system requires so many changes, where I was staying on the outskirts in Porte de Bagnolet, I had to take three lines to get into the city. Maybe I’m being pretentious to say the trains themselves, the stations and many streets are quite dirty (compared to other European cities I’ve been to so far).
One thing that would keep me here is definitely the baguettes and chocolate croissants (pain de chocolat)!
Off to Lyon for a few days… Until my Eurail pass runs out. Then back to London.
P.S. I apologise to every French person for my poor spelling – and English speakers for that matter. I will edit my spelling when I am on a computer and not on an iPad that continuously wants to change my words!!!