I’m in Paris and loving it. It’s one of my new favorite cities! The architecture, the language, shops- boulangeries, fromagerie (cheese), bucheries. It’s beautiful and with all the leaves changing colors makes the city so much more vibrant and colorful. My new goal is to learn french so maybe one day I could live here.
My french is almost non-existent but I have found the stereotype of Parisians being rather snooty and unfriendly to be very far from the truth. My first evening here, I went to the metro station and entered where there was only one ticket machine and it refused my 2 debit cards. I hadn’t had a chance to go to the bank so no EUROS for me. I tried and tried and then looked for someone to ask. Everyone was in a hurry but I approached a woman, “excusi”, parle vouz anglai?” No, but she still helped me. She spoke as much english as I spoke french but she was extremely helpful! We both gave up with the ticket machine and she walked up stairs with me and went to the cashier and spoke in French so I could get a weekly metro ticket. Then, she told me I needed a photo for the metro card. I had some at home (the world is my home-my backpack) and said so and off I was in my attempt to meet up with my couchsurfing host and her friends. I was unsuccessful. I missed them by a few minutes but it was alright. I headed to the eiffel tower, though it was raining. A nice way to start off my trip to Paris.
I think the trick in Paris (or anywhere for that matter), is to simply make an effort in speaking their language. I’m not assuming anyone speaks English and never approach anyone speaking English. Occasionally, I’ve felt the attitude and body language of “yes, I speak English” but do I have to and yet there still helpful. Yet these experiences have been rare. It’s also been in highly touristy areas so they could just be annoyed and tired of everything. I don’t know how people work in the tourism industry, really. I don’t know if I would have the patience.
Couchsurfing has been great. I’m staying with my second host, Celine and she is great. She cooked dinner for me and my friend Marieke who visited for a day and half. Tonight, I’ll join her and a few friends. Hooray. It’s such a great opportunity to interact with Parisians and I would never have this chance if I were staying in a hostel. With my previous host, I went to an indie music venue that has a variety of bands play everynight and it was free. It was awesome!
Marieke and I explored like crazy and walked everywhere since she was here for such a short time and wanted to see Paris. I like the metro but walking has it’s advantages ( until I’ve been on my feet for 8-12 hours). We explored Montemarte and then headed to Notre Dame. It was incredible and amazing to think that I was at the top of the tower and saw the bell tower that Quasimodo rang.
This morning I ate in the cafe where Amelie was filmed and thankfully, it’s not a tourist destination. Marieke and I were the only 2 woman for a while, it was predominately men but it didn’t matter. It could also be bacause it was 8am on a Friday morning. Yesterday, while wandering through Montemarte I stopped to take a photo of a nice fruit and vegetable stand but then a bus got in my way. So I aimed for a different angle and noticed an entire window of Amelie news clippings. Turns out the small market was in the film. It’s wonderful when I stumble upon things and don’t expect it. The benefits of not wandering with a guidebook.
I could go on and on but that would be boring… I’m looking forward to seeing Moulin Rouge on Sunday evening. A good birthday present to myself. I don’t have any expectations about it, so I’ll let you know how it is!