I'm starting to realize that if I didn't have to lug this bag around from city to that I could travel all year long. The biggest pain I endure is directly related to the weight and size of my bag. Granted, it's just one backpack but this computer's weight combined with all my possessions for a four week stay can be quite an annoyance to my already exhausted shoulders.
Since that is my only complaint, I pressed on in search 8 Rue de Mai. No, that address in Paris is not one to a couchsurfing house yet to a Holiday Inn...Paris couchsurfing failed me. :( I tried roughly 25-30 different people and nobody had an open spot. Traveling with 3 people in the peak of "couchsurfing season" can make it difficult to find a host that can accommodate but I'll try again in Amsterdam.
Anyway, now that I was leaving London and officially starting my 2nd leg of this adventure, what better way to do it than to rise at 6:00 a.m. and head to the train station. The early hour seemed to be the most inconvenient part of the train ride as the 180 mph train and the short 2hr 15min ride were smoother than a Ray Allen jump shot.
Upon exiting Eurorail Car 18 seat 56 and greeting Paris with a warm smile we found our first struggle; everything is in French. I've always heard that people in Paris all speak English as well and that it's easy for tourists to get around...surprisingly that is not the case. After wandering frantically around the Paris train station trying to find a way to buy some subway passes with only a visa card (needed to get Euros fast, still only had pounds from the UK) we finally found a kiosk, letting out a big sigh of relief from me. Bring on the Paris sunshine!
Our first destination (sure that our hotel wouldn't let us in til a reasonable noonish-2 p.m. time) was the all-empowering Notre Dame (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre-Dame_de_Paris). Notre Dame was free of charge, a huge delight to someone trying to save on a 28-day trip. I looked for Kwazimoto but I don't think he lives there anymore (
Now, on to our hotel. After searcing for roughly 20 min in an area in which we knew it was, we came up empty handed. That's it find a cab and just have him take us there. Found one. He refused to take us there citing, "It is stupid to take a cab because it's so close." So he gives some generic point to the location and drives off. My shoulders hurt from this stupid bag. That's it, let's just eat some lunch. While eating, Aimee pulls out her iPhone and uses her English-French translator (We didn't have internet so we couldn't look it up) and after the waiter drops off my 4 Euro ($5.80) Diet coke Aimee asks him where it is and he points down the street and Aimee found it while I ate some gross shrimp and avocado mixed cocktail.
After dropping our bags off (HOORAY!!!!!) we head on over to the 2nd most amazing thing I've seen (Colliseum #1) the Eiffel Tower. Holy cow that thing is amazing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/30796964@N02/3616876244/) . After spotting the Eiffel we then saw a gold dome/cathedral-looking building and when I asked Doug what it was and he looked at the map and said, "Well, it says Napoleon is buried there." Ok, everyone, it's time to take a detour. Holding back the adrenaline rush of seeing the Eiffel Tower yet going elsewhere wasn't an easy thing to do but please...Napoleon?!?!?
The "shrine" of a dome to Napoleon ( is larger than anyone deserves. Absolutely enormous. His "statue-thing" in the center was kind of odd but my photos will prove that it was a little powerful just looking at it. Ok, ok, I kinda liked it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tumba_de_Napoleon_Bonaparte.jpg). Trying to hold that back. Moving on!
Exiting the dome and heading for that 80-story steel structure off the Saine river and getting that addrenaline rush again (http://www.flickr.com/photos/30796964@N02/3616876244/)...let the camera shutters unload! (Cue Sufan Stevens' "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" - http://blip.fm/~81q3o)
Amazing. there is a park that is roughly a mile long that leads up to the structure so the goosebumps and joy have about 20 more minutes to grow.
After getting to the Eiffel Tower (and nearly falling over at thinking if its history and beauty) Doug and I decide we're gonna stair-it to the mid-level elevator...roughly 35 stories. Bring it on! (and it brought it on...remember, I've been walking now roughly 12 miles a day for the past 7 days and my legs are a lil wobbily). Nonetheless, arriving at the mid-level elevator and paying the very deserved 8 Euro to ride the elevator we got to the top. Breath-taking view. 360 degree view of Paris. A definite must-do in anyone's lifetime. Stayed 20 min. Took more photos and on back down. From there not much else happened except finding a chinese food dinner at a really nice mom-and-pop chinese store. Day 8...success.