Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. Seneca
The decision to go to Paris for a few days was made on a whim. I was getting bored with my daily routine and wanted to break it even if it was for a little while. One thing that I learned about myself so far is that I don’t get along very well with any kind of routine, I need constant change to be able to go on with my life. Any new experience invigorates me like a bucket with fresh cold water would invigorate a thirsty camel that crosses the desert. After all, isn’t this life like a huge desert we’re crossing more or less chasing our own Fata Morgana, dreams and ambitions which seem so within reach for a while but which are moving away or just disappear as we approach them?
When you really want something, it happens
One morning I woke up realising that if I swap two of my shifts I’d have six days off in a row. So I started to text to some of my colleagues to see if someone is willing to swap shifts with me and that was it. It took me longer to find the cheapest way to get there with accommodation included. I was thrilled that was even possible. Finally, I chose to travel by train, Eurostar, and it costed me only £436 or so, roundabout trip + 4 nights at a 3 star hotel in Paris, close to Gare du Nord. Hotel Magenta 38 was pretty close to the Gare and incredible clean (much cleaner than York Hotel in Weston Super Mare, anyway) although the room was rather small with no nice view. But hey, that was last minute reservation, what did I expect?
I only had half of day to pack stuff and explore some blogs about things to do in Paris. Not that one really needs to read about Paris, its overwhelming attractions are in all the movies and history books. I didn’t pack a lot of stuff, just few cloths, no books to read, no laptop, no magazines, wanted to travel as light as possible, just me and my thoughts, sensations and feelings, free from any influence, with nothing to stay in the way of all the new stimulus I was just about to experience. I simply didn’t want to decipher the reality through somebody else’s perspective handed to me via any media channels about what Paris should make me feel. After all, it was a dream coming true and didn’t want to spoil it with any prefabricated thoughts.
From London to Paris by train
The first leg of the journey was from Bristol to London, St Pancras International station. Never been to St Pancras before and I was sooo eager to get there and wander around a little, like about 3 hours to spend till my departure to Paris.
The journey from London to Paris took 3 hours and a half in a very modern fast Eurostar train. It was my first time traveling with it and I can say Eurostar First Class deserves its stars, very comfortable chairs, a tasty dinner and a strong yet delicate glass of red wine. Coffee too. It felt amazing and like a thousand light years away from my previous lifestyle – just a day before.
Paris, first impression (did not last longer, though)
However, when arriving at the Gare du Nord, just outside the station I had the strange impression that I came back from my astral trip to the very place I left two years ago: Bucharest. The hot streets, the atmosphere, the people staying at the corners begging and urging you to buy their cheap stuff, the hot suffocating air barely could breath. Wow, then it is true we can travel back in time and teleport ourselves somewhere else? Am I really in Paris? Then suddenly I remember some historians calling Bucharest “the little Paris” and start to laugh. Well, never imagined something like that, always thought they were speaking metaphorically.
Nonetheless, the next day, Paris unfolded in its unique splendor starting early in the morning. Wrapped around the old mystical Seine river, The City Of Light is splitted between the right bank, north of Seine and left bank, south of Seine. Follow the river and you’ll see most of the iconic places if this amazing city. On the Left Bank you may contemplate The Eiffel Tower, take a walk in Jardin de Luxembourg, visit the Palace, see Sorbonne and wander around The Latin Quarter. On a hill overlooking the Right Bank is the famous Montmartre district.
First day – Jardin des Tuileries and a little of Louvre (on the outside)
From Magenta 38 hotel to Louvre is a 45 minutes pleasure walk mostly on some pretty interesting narrow streets full of cafes and little clothing shops. Fancy hats and dresses smiled at me behind the windows, but I’m not in a mood to admire the last French fashion trends as I am preoccupied to find the right directions to the Louvre. When I arrived about an hour later, the view took away my breath: Louvre Palace was impressive, way more than in the photos. I felt overwhelmed by the importance of the momentum: this palace was once the home of kings, French kings, that means my all time kings favorites. Because French aristocracy is the best in the world, let’s say the truth. They were the ones who came up with: Noblesse oblige, n’est pas?
Friday morning and there were a lot of tourists waiting to enter the Louvre Museum already. Maybe hundreds. I decided the first minutes that I’m not going to spend half of day queuing for a ticket, especially knowing that Louvre is so big that you literally need nearly a year to admire all the art that is there. So, I headed instead to the Jardin des Tuileries and walk imaging I was a countess walking slowly though the garden hoping to meet king Louis-any-number by chance before my servants call me for dinner. I missed Louis for some reason, but I’ve met a nice tall French computer nerd that was passing by Tuileries Garden and stopped to feed the ducks. Talkative like all Latin descendents, he informed me about the best way to travel out and about in Paris: by Batobus.