Saturday, 4 May 2013

Woke up this morning and it was by far the best rest. The bed was comfy and the temperature was cool. Didn't have to worry about disturbing my bunk mates or climb the bunk bed. Alas I woke up and I was coughing and had running nose.

I rested for a bit and set off to Champs-Elysees de Touile to find Champs Elysees the famous shopping districts. Got out of the station and as usual, I got lost. Paris is big and from my experience yesterday street directions were not good.

So I just started walking and somehow or rather I ended up seeing the Eiffel Tower. It was like a "oh so you're here" moment. Eventually I decided to walk towards it and have lunch at the park nearby. It was a long walk and I finally reached my destination.

There were a few girls who kept coming up to me and asked if I spoke English. I ignored obviously but they just kept coming. And the same ones too. It was a scam I was sure. Something about signing for some handicapped children. And there were blacks on the street who were selling tourist keychains.

After my Eiffel Tower visit I took the bus and alighted at Madeleine station and saw the Opera and Galaries LaFayette by chance. It was so crowded I hated it so I left after taking my photo.

It was about 3.30-4pm and I then hopped on the bus to Musee D'orsay. Went in at 4:45 so I paid €6.50 for it (half priced). Had I waited 15 more mins it would have been free but oh well that extra 15 mins was quite worth it because the impressionist gallery was amazing. And being a fan of the impressionst movement it was really great to go in and see. I didn't know photography wasn't allowed so I blatantly took photos of the paintings. Didn't get caught thankfully.

Finished the museum so I took a bus aka a joy ride back home. Took the right bus in the wrong direction so I ended up making a detour. Reached the end of the stop of the bus and wanted to take a connecting bus home but saw it was four bus stops away so I walked. It was sooner than I thought and I reached home earlier than my bus! Kudos to me!

I think this experience has taught me something. Travel isn't a competiton or a race to tick off all the famous sights. You are the traveller and you dictate your travel story. You don't always have to follow the opinion of a travel book. Travel is about creating adventures and adventures, memories. For example, I took the bus home instead of the subway today and had an interesting adventure today. I saw the poles of the market tents that would be open tomorrow and there you go, there's a place for me to go tomorrow.

Speaking about buses, I think Parisians are skilled drivers. Most have small cars and I can see why. Parking space is so small and I've seen drivers do reverse parallel parking in the narrowest of spaces. Bus drivers drive on narrow roads and trust me, the roads are confusing and messy. Bus drivers have to honk incessantly because of pedestrians who walk everywhere. The honk isn't like a loud, noisy beep but more like a "ring-ding" sound. Go figure. Often you wouldn't know when you can cross because cars and drivers almost never stop for you. You have to start walking and cars will automatically slow down for you. It can be intimidating but you'll get the hang of things. Buses are my preffered way of travel in Paris. You see more things and you can to transfer buses so long as it's within 1.5hs. So you can take bus 69 e.g. and change and take a photo of Eiffel Tower, take 42 to Gare Du Nord e.g. 30 mins later and you use the same ticket. Metro is of course the faster way to travel but I feel unsafe there sometimes. I see even locals clutching their bag tightly on the trains. Sometimes one can get lost underground while making transfers. It's dodgy too because of the tunnels. You never know who's lurking around at the corner.

As I mentioned, the streets don't have clear directions and I got lost yesterday while trying to walk from Notre Dam to Musee Louvre. Unknowingly, I reached the station Palais du Royal and there the Louvre was!

Was free for me because I was under 26 and I saw the Mona Lisa first. She doesn't blow my mind away though and I think its because its a small painting and there were so many people taking her photo. The marriage of cana opposite her was more impressive.

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