Arriving in Paris

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Gare du Nord – Northern Station where the Eurostar dropped us off.

Today I arrived in Paris, France, fresh off the Eurostar.

My friend Sarah and I arrived at the station just before 3pm and spent a bit too much time wandering around in the vague direction of our hostel. We hoped we’d come across it by accident and did 180ºs when it felt like we were too far off track. It worked.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a nice woman who informed us that for the first night, we’d be staying in one of their yet-to-be-renovated rooms. As I write this, I’m looking around thinking it’s a good thing they’re renovating. There’s a hole in the wall where the heater comes out, a patch of the old flowery carpet is missing, and we can hear every little detail of the happenings in the bathroom next door. Thankfully, we’ll be relocated to a nicer room tomorrow which we’ll stay in for the rest of our vacation.

After settling in and checking out the area on Google Maps from the safety of our beds, we decided to venture out into the unknown world of Paris…because we were hungry. We walked to the nearest Metro station and back, and then around the area a block or two from the hostel. For some reason, all the restaurants seemed to be closed. After walking for some time, I poked my head into a Bar/Restaurant which was nearly empty but looked open and asked whether they served dinner.

“We open for supper at 19:00” the handsome frenchman behind the bar said.

Oh. Apparently that was true for all restaurants in the area; they open at 7pm. Maybe it’s true for all the restaurants in Paris? I dunno. Anyway, we walked ten feet to the nearest Pâtisserie for a snack. I am not kidding, they are on the corner of every single block. After eating on a bench (and inadvertently feeding pigeons with our crumbs), we walked around until we found our hostel again. It was actually just up the road, but we came from the other direction as a result of ‘exploring the area’ and we got so turned around looking in shops and getting food that we decided to go back the way we came to be safe.

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My humungous Ceasar Salad (and you can kind of see Sarah’s burger and fries, too).

We regrouped at the hostel and at 7 we went back to the Bar/Restaurant for dinner. It was absolutely delicious, as I was told French food would be, and the portions were huge. No complaints! After dinner we went to another Pâtisserie up the street and got something each there. I’ve yet to eat mine. I’m still full from the humungous caesar salad. We walked around a bit more, and it seemed all the restaurants had opened while all the shops had closed. It’s like everyone’s on the same schedule here.

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Pâtisseries – Pastries! These looked amazing, but I went for Pain du Chocolat (Chocolate Bread) instead.

So we once again returned to our hostel room, I took a very long shower, and now we’re tired.
First Impressions of Paris? It’s beautiful. The architecture of every building is different and carefully detailed, and the design of the city is clever. Every block seems to be just one big building. On the bottom are the shops, restaurants, and other services, and above them are several floors of apartments, so they can accommodate a lot of people. There are large wooden doors all over the place where people can enter their apartment buildings. The streets are a bit complicated, like spiderwebs, but once you get a bit used to them (or find a map) they start to make more sense. And I haven’t even seen much of the city yet…

First impressions of Parisians? They’re really nice! If you walk into a shop or restaurant and greet them, they’ll greet you back and smile. They’re really easy-going, from what I can tell. While we sat eating our snacks before dinner, there was a man in a suit just standing around while his dog went all over the place. He went to sniff another dog’s butt and got barked at, and both dog owners just laughed. And one last thing about Parisians: they all have amazing hair. I didn’t see a single Parisian, man or woman, young or old, who didn’t have awesome hair. Maybe I should get mine cut while I’m here? It’s getting a bit long…

That’s all for now. For the next two weeks (give or take), this is what my blog posts are going to look like. Afterwards, we’ll return to our regular blogging schedule.

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