Paris. The City of Love. The City of Lights. Two million people in Paris proper with ten million in the entire metropolitan area. 72 million tourists come to Paris each year, and right now, Matthew Kyhnn is one of them.
I will say, as an American who speaks only English, its not exactly an easy place to be. After spending ten months in English speaking Scotland, you quickly forget how stressful, frustrating, and bewildering it is to try and navigate and survive in a city the size of Paris where literally no one speaks English.
Brian and I arrived in Paris with zero plans as far as accommodation. Always a good decision. After a couple hours of wandering the city’s streets and subways, we finally found a hostel we had looked up online. Unfortunately, we also found they were full and had no bed available. The French bloke working the front desk offered no help in finding an alternative place to stay. He simply pointed two ways out of the hostel, and told us, “If you walk towards the canal, you may find a hostel, but I don’t know if they’ll have rooms.” Fun. As it turns out, we ended up checking into a dodgy one star hotel. We had no toilet – no toilet as in, no toilet in the entire ‘hotel.’ Also, we had to pay E3 extra each for a shower. Either way, it was a place to sleep. First impressions of Paris weren’t too good.
We spent yesterday exploring the city on our own and with a walking tour. We ended up back at the hostel where said unhelpful French bloke worked the next morning. As it turns out, the hostel was again full, but they held our bags for the day. While we were there, we met an ex-pat American lady who worked for the hostel and led tours. She was lovely and took us on a very informative and laid back tour of the city.
We ended up checking into a new hostel last night. It was the first time since I’ve again left traveling where I’ve had to opportunity to sit down with other fellow travelers and just, hang out. Over a couple bottles of wine we exchanged stories, discussed our travels, and really just had the craic. It was brilliant. Very refreshing.
Yesterday ended with Brian and I sitting at the base of the Eiffel Tower and drinking a bottle of wine. An epic way to spend an evening. When I think of Europe, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Eiffel Tower. It was a stunning sight – illuminated in blue sparkling every hour on the hour (to the tune of E2,000 a day).
I realized again last night how lucky I am to be where I’m at in my life. I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way, seen so many sights, and learned so much about myself. I’m not ready for this portion of my life to finish, but sooner or later I’m afraid it will. It will have most definitely been a journey I’ll never forget.