Last autumn, while the leaves were falling, youngsters were starting school and people were highly romantic, I, as a newly single lady, decided to go to Paris (ha-ha, nice one) for a three days trip. It all began with a detour through the South of Germany, and continued with a 7 hours night bus fare. All good by now…except… We hadn’t booked any hotel. We were very optimistic regarding this matter, given the fact that Paris is full of cheap one star hotels. What didn’t occur to our minds was that Paris is also full of tourists…
Therefore, we arrived in Paris at 6:30 in the morning after a tiring, almost sleepless night on the bus. And just to make things a bit more pleasant, the bus had dropped us in the middle of nowhere. After long “talks” that consisted in vividly mimicking and expressive gestures with the highly cultivated lady from the info point (she didn’t speak anything other than French) we managed to get a map and some metro tickets.
What first hit me when getting out of the metro station in the center of Paris was its unique smell – soft, warm and quite perfumed. I loved the narrow streets with large kitschy lights, the crowds and the angry people swearing in different languages. This mess made quite a brutal impression of reality on me, had I only imagined this city for so long. French are a people of passion and heart. Where there’s passion, there is dirt. A lot of it.
Of course, in this picture-frame, one can only imagine I was not quite that bumped at first for not finding a place to stay. Hours flew by, though, and our bags were starting to feel heavier. Every cheap and medium priced hotel we’d find was fully booked. On the other side, there were the expensive hotels, with prices I couldn’t even imagine before.
And so, we walked, and walked… And by every minute it grew more difficult to continue. Nice, important buildings were starting to lose their importance, and soon enough we were angry- both my friend and I, so we decided to get some rest on a bench. It had been eight hours of search by then, and we hadn’t eaten anything other than some sandwiches. And then, just like in all cheap movies, we decided to take one last chance and ask at one last hotel. Luckily enough, we found a nice two stars hotel run by an old Chinese man and his daughter. They had one last unbooked room, but only for one night. We decided to take it, for approximately 350 €. It was fairly close to Champs-Elysees though, so there was that.
Given the expensive hotel, we had to cut down our expenses quite a lot. We still managed to see the Notre Dame, the Eiffel tower, Versailles, Les Invalides, Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe and pretty much everything important that evening and the second day. We even drank wine and ate cheese in a spectacular and (of course) overpriced restaurant inside Versailles. Who would’ve thought that we would find a very nice cheap sandwich shop in the labyrinth that is Versailles’s Garden? Also, we managed to see everything inside Louvre in 5 hours, despite it being so huge. Of course, we didn’t pay attention to everything – I was particularly interested in the Renascence paintings. Fun fact: because everybody was taking selfies, we didn’t get to see “Mona Lisa” up close. Still, my mind got filled with art and positive thoughts. Therefore, in the second day’s evening we decided that being so low on funds (we’d lived like kings all day) we would sleep by the river Seine (How picturesque, right? Not quite…) .
Of course, but of course, we decided that we should choose a rather remote place of Seine, so as to be left alone. Little did we know… At around 2 o’clock at night, soon after we’d cuddled like penguins to keep each other warm (the humidity was awful), next to us came some junkies who were dressed in a weird way and seemed quite aggressive. We got very frightened, so we moved up the river until we couldn’t see them anymore. There, we took a little nap of an hour or so. What woke us up, was even worse. On the other side of Seine, there were three guys, highly intoxicated, arguing loudly and pushing each other. Things got quite intense, as two of them started smashing the other on a bench. It was horrifying, so my friend and I decided to flee. What could’ve we done? Talk to the police? What police? And so we traveled the streets of Paris during the night wishing our trip would just end already. As I was saying, Paris is full of dirt – of all sort. Soon enough came the daylight, though, and we had to take the bus back home. We were safe and sound.
Everything turned out alright in the end, and I still recall Paris as a very beautiful city, but I advise you: Never travel without booking a place before. I’ve learned my lesson, but this is definitely something you don’t have to experience on your own.
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