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?