My trip to Paris was supposed to be only 2-3 days, but I ended up staying 5. I arrived on Monday at 6:30 am via a lay over from Iceland. From the airport, I took a train to a station called “Gare de nord” in the north of the city where my couch hosts lived, a very nice holistic/vegetarian couple named Sylvain and Aurelia. I decided not to contact my hosts so early, so As I FINALLY found the exit to the train station, The first thing I saw down the road to my left was Mcdonald’s. Public restrooms, and free wifi sounds good to me!
The first thing you notice about Paris when you arrive…it’s crazy busy! So many people packed into such a small place, it makes NYC look desolate. What I didn’t know (before I arrived) is that the Gare de nord area is the roughest part of Paris. You have many homeless, junkies, and scammers lurking around the train station. I can’t think of any better way to truly experience a city, than to throw yourself into places you can’t visit on the tourist website. The advantage of being in this area is that, I was able to hang out at Mcdonald’s (and even sleep awhile in there) without anyone paying any attention to me.
I got in contact with a girl on the Paris couchsurfing news feed named Katya. Katya is African/German, she has an afro, and aspires to become an electronica DJ. She has been living in Paris for 6 weeks, I ended up meeting my host Sylvain at 8 pm on Monday and he came to the station to pick me up via bicycle. I then proceeded to rent a bicycle from the street and cycle to Sylvain’s house with my full pack. Cycling in Paris is pretty hardcore, the roads are strange, and the traffic moves fast! I spent two days at Sylvain’s, they cooked for me, and showed me some very cool sights. I spent the next 3 days in a hostel named “Arty” in the south of the city. It was a pretty long walk from the Metro station, and making the trip uphill with full pack, walking too fast…my knee was feeling it for a few days. I decided to be my own doctor, so my first night at the hostel I drank a very large biere and took a few advil, my leg feels great.
I hung out with Katya every day that I was in Paris, we explored the city, had a picnic at the Eiffel tower, ate Lebanese food, and exchanged English and French language. I keep making life long friends here on the road, and it helps remind me that this is what it is all about. Sometimes I am being rained on, sometimes I am stranded at Mcdonald’s, sometimes I don’t know where I’m going to stay for a few hours, sometimes I live on nothing except bread and nutella knock-off, or go 8-10 hours on 1 apple. I am slowly becoming addicted to living out of a bag on the road. My life back home was very predictable, And I constantly lived inside a mind of fear, and worry, and anxiety about life, and problems that were insignificant. I don’t worry on the road, I’m not afraid. I have no choice except to live right now in this moment, because I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow.
Before I started this journey, I imagined myself lounging around all day reading books and relaxing. I have opened a book 1 time since I left 13 days ago. World travel is a lot of work! I’m far too busy to spend my time focused on things I can’t control. Truly though, who really wants to sit around and relax all the time? I spent the last 4 years living that way, and it is for the birds. Today I leave for Orleans to catch a train towards Spain. The drive to Orleans should be a quick one considering the casual speed limit is nearly 100 mph.
In conclusion, Paris is a nice place, and I hope to go back someday soon for sure! Two things, Older French business owners really do hate you if you don’t speak French, and the city is full of people who apparently just piss where ever they feel like it. Occasionally you will walk into a gust of overpowering urine smell. I like to think urine stench has a story to tell, of a classic city with much history to share…or maybe not. Much love everyone!