Flashback Friday – Paris Bound

Tracy, Patrick and Me on the Steps of Sacre Coeur, Paris
Tracy, Patrick and Me on the Steps of Sacre Coeur, Paris

Flashback Friday…. Sunday, April 1st, 2001. It was a great start in my backpacking trip since I would be moving away from traveling on my own to traveling with others. I didn’t know how easily it would be to find people to travel with from the bus. All I knew about Busabout is that it would be an easy way to get from one country to another without worrying about how to get there. It took the worry out of that for me; even took the worry out of having to find a hostel for the night.

I received a lot more from Busabout than I was expecting. I met a lot of great people during my travels with them. It started on that Sunday morning as I waited in the lobby of St. Christopher’s in London for the bus to arrive. Paris bound…. The shimmering lights of Paris would be upon me along with making new friends from my first day of travel on the bus. Wouldn’t you know it, before the end of the first day in Paris; I would have made friends with a couple of people from our group; Tracy and Patrick.

How do you think I met them? Did I start talking to them while waiting in the lobby of St. Christopher’s while we were still in London? Did I meet them after we got off the bus in Paris? Inquiring minds want to know. We actually met in the lobby of Hotel Gerando as we waited to check into our room. It happened this way. The tour guide had to break us up into two groups when the first hotel we stopped at didn’t have enough rooms for us. I followed the second group out of the building as we headed towards Hotel Gerando. As you can guess, Tracy and Patrick were part of the same group as me. None of us knew each other; we were the last ones to check in and the only room available was a double and a single. Our guide asked us if we were fine with sharing the room. We were fine with this.

So began the fun times in Paris. It would be the three of us hanging out before we went our separate ways. When it was time to leave Paris, Tracy would be staying behind as Patrick and I headed into Munich. Then Patrick and I would go our separate ways after I stayed one night in Munich before heading to my next destination. I am getting ahead of myself since this is about my first day in Paris on April 1st, 2001.

I can clearly remember our room as if I checked into it yesterday and not years ago. The room was on the first floor off to the side of the reception desk. As you opened the door, the single bed was off to the left and the double was right as you opened the door. The bathroom was off to the side of the double bed with the television closest to the single bed. Speaking of the television, it was interesting to watch something where the actors spoke French and right after they said it in French, it was in English. There wasn’t subtitles so I tried to focus only on the English being spoken.

After we got settled into our room, we decided to head out for the evening since it was too early to go to sleep. You should have seen us that night trying to find our way around the city. We got lost but that was the fun of it; getting lost especially in a country you don’t know your way around with people you met a few minutes earlier when you were checking into your room. At one point, before the evening was over, we forgot the name of our hotel. Not sure what would have happened if we didn’t remember it but we did.

Not sure what we were trying to find but at one point, we had a bottle of wine and a baguette in one hand while we looked over the map in the other hand. Ultimate tourists….. It was fun trying to navigate our way around a new city.

As you can guess, we found a place around the corner from the hotel that sold wine and baguette’s. Thus, began our journey as we wound our way around this amazing city. Throughout the evening, we would stop at a cafe, here and there and have a drink before we started walking again.

Before the end of the evening, we found the Sacre Coeur which has become my favorite place in all of Paris. Even years later, I would take visiting this place over any other place in the city. Upon seeing the Sacre Coeur, we climbed all the way to the top and then sat down on the steps since you can see all of Paris from this vantage point. I loved looking down from the steps and seeing the twinkling lights of the city looking back at me.

Do you know what happened next? We sat there; eating from the baguette and drinking from the bottle of wine and that is where we met Yannis who was visiting from Greece. We talked to him for a while before we headed on our way.

Not sure how late we stayed out; didn’t really care about the time since I wasn’t on a schedule. We did find a few cafes along the way back to our hotel. We struck up a conversation with Liam at one of the cafes we stopped at that night. He was from Paris.

What are your favorite memories of Paris if you have been? Was it the people you met? Was it certain places you saw while there? What is it that you think of when you picture yourself back in the city?


  • christine says:

    Great story. I met a group of people I didn’t know when I was visiting Paris and had a blast as well!
    christine recently posted…Why you should AVOID the Tiger TempleMy Profile

  • Eileen says:

    Lovely story! Those friendships you form on the road are instantaneous and stronger than any else, such a fun experience in Paris.

    • Kim says:

      One thing I did find is that when I went back to Paris during the same three month trip is that it wasn’t the same as when I was there the first time with the friends I met through Busabout. I realized it was the people I met when traveling that helped make those cities memorable.

  • Alli says:

    When I think of Paris I think of the time I was lost and had no idea how to get back to my campsite. I spent the night roaming the city and called someone’s mom from AUSTRALIA to Google the address and let me know, of which I had to write on my arms and legs with lipstick as I had no pen or paper.
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    • Kim says:

      I love stories like this because they are what make traveling fun. Getting out there and getting lost in a city and seeing parts of it you probably wouldn’t have seen if you knew where you were going.

  • Tim says:

    What a great way for this story to come about. A bottle of wine, a baguette, and a map. One of the best ways to make friends on the road.
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  • Haley Pugh says:

    Some of the nicest people I’ve met have been on my travels. I love the randomness and freedom not knowing what happens next!

    • Kim says:

      That is what I am looking forward to the most when I travel and that’s not knowing what to expect next. It could be meeting up with people in the places you stay and hanging out with them while you are in that city. It could be meeting people on the bus or train and heading to the next city with them. It could be doing something on your own. I love the spontaneity that comes with traveling.

  • samiya says:

    Lovely to recall such wonderful travel stories! We have met some of the best people during travels as well!
    samiya recently posted…Weston Park Museum in Sheffield – Perfect for Family Day OutMy Profile

  • Ah, Sacre Coeur! Yes, that was a fun place, though overall since I was pretty much penniless when I visited Paris, and everything was so terribly expensive, my memories of Paris are mixed. Sacre Coeur and that area was fun, though. I remember all the people sitting on the stairs there, late into the night, just having fun.

    Thanks for sharing your memories with us, especially proving that it’s worth doing something unexpected and out of the ordinary.
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    • Kim says:

      Yeah pretty much my first time in Paris was spent doing a lot of walking since I didn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower until much later when I traveled there with my mom. Sometimes wandering around a city is even better then going into some of the well known places there.

  • Loss says:

    I’m heading to Paris in June. I can’t wait!

    Meeting people while traveling is one of my favorite things.
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