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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sunny Paris

The first draft of this post was originally written in my deteriorating (and soon to be replaced) moleskin notebook as I lounged in the grass beneath the square trees on the south side of the eiffel tower, waiting for DarNat to arrive.

This is what happens when you leave me waiting...

They're late, but despite my impatience to see them, it's impossible to be anything but serene in such a setting (tho it would be the French that could manage it). It's a perfect sunny afternoon, with a gentle breeze keeping the heat comfortable. The hordes of tourists are far enough away that their din is a pleasant sea-like murmur. It is a perfect spring day in Paris -- and that is a wonderful thing indeed.

It's so lovely -- the weather and the city -- that despite a day of delays and frustrations, I've stayed happy and calm -- and this is me we're talking about here.

The Eurostar was, as is the norm with British public transport, delayed due to a broken train. It was fine when it rolled in, but they somehow managed to break it as it sat in the station. But the half-hour delay was as close as it gets to punctuality for this service, so I wasn't too bothered.

After finally arriving at Gare de Nord -- my direct service for some reason had stops in Ashford and Lille -- I buy a carnet of tickets and catch the metro to Bastille to find my pre-booked hostel. They tell me they have no reservation in my name and no beds for the night. I start to feel the anger rising, but it subsides when I think: hell, I'm in Paris in the spring -- c'est la vie, right?

Knowing how the French can be, I've come prepared with a back up list of other hostels in the area. The first is closed. The second is not yet open. The last is full. But it's sunny, and it's Paris, and I'm still happy.

At the last hostel, the receptionist tells me she knows a hostel near Republique which definitely has beds for the night. So I hope back on the metro, but despite her detailed directions can not find the place. I pop into an expensive internet cafe -- three euros for a half hour -- and get a new list of hostels to try. List in hand (in the moleskin, in fact) I head back to Bastille via the metro.

I've spent, at this point, the first three hours of my time in Paris hunting for hostels. Despite this, I'm not frustrated, angry or upset. I keep feeling like I'm about to head that way but then the sunshine and the city change my mind.

Eventually, I find a bed in a hostel near Gare de Lyon. I've twenty minutes before I'm due to meet DarNat at the south east side of the south leg of the tower at 3pm (feels like a spy novel, but then we'd be at Pont Neuf, wouldn't we?) so I cross the Seine and hop on the RER train, arriving right on time.

Looking around the gardens, waiting for DarNat...

I find my spot on the grass under the looming tower, scrawl this entry into my notebook and then lounge in the sunshine, reading a book on civilisation -- feeling very French and very, very happy.

A while later, I hear the sound of someone running up behind me, and Nat nearly tackles me, as she tends to do. And if there's anything better than warm sunny Paris, it's warm sunny Paris with DarNat... and a group of teenagers from Stony Plain? Yeah, we'll see how long the happy feelings continue with a bus full of high schoolers...

Go here for video one and video two, because yes, the digicam is still busted. Time for a new one, I'm afraid...

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Blogger J. Kelly said...

So you do like the French!


Blogger Nicole said...

I like France, yes.



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