Yesterday began the exploring of Europe as I left London and took a train across the sea. Ok well technically it was under the sea but who’s that picky? (Answer, my dad.) I got up at my 0400 alarm and realized, I had too much time until departure, so I sat on my bed for 20 minutes before finishing my packing and leaving around 0450 for my 0540 train. After clearing security and passport control, in literally 10 minutes, I had about 40 minutes to wait until my departure, or so I thought. Turned out that there was a mechanical failure with the brakes on one of the coaches so we had to get a new train. At 0610 we were finally boarded and ready to depart.
Originally there was a gentleman next to me that smelled as if he bathed in cologne, but thankfully he moved to a set of unoccupied seats. I was worried that he was gonna come back as, contrary to my original beliefs, we had two more pickup stops at other UK locations. After this we headed towards mainland Europe at high speeds. For about 20 minutes we traveled under the English Channel before emerging in the land of the French. And it apparently took us an hour and 20 minutes to cross the English Channel… oh wait, we changed time zones. 30 minutes later I arrived a Paris Nord.
Having arrived in Paris there was a language barrier which I’ve experienced before but I knew some of the language so I was actually ahead of my normal. I finally figured out where to store my extra bag and exited the station. Here I just began walking, aiming at the Eiffel Tower but not necessarily heading there. As I walked I stopped for breakfast at a crêperie, Krep, and ordered a crêpe with strawberry jam. It was magnifique. After that the first tourist destination I reached was actually the Louvre. I didn’t enter but I did see the glass pyramid. I then began walking through Jardin des Tuileries, taking my time as I took pictures and admired the fountain.
Seeing the tower, I pointed myself in that direction and FaceTimed my mother good morning. As I walked I saw many fine Parisians and continued along the Seine. I also passed many good looking restaurantes and cafes but decided I wanted to get to the tower instead. Once at the tower I was utterly confused for a bit and then indecisive. Eventually I was through security and had purchased my ticket to the summit. There were a lot of people and I’m surprised it only took me 2 hours to get to the top. Once at the top though, it was all worth it. The views were breath taking and the rain didn’t stop anyone, though I was very happy to have brought my coat as it was also quite chilly and blustery.
I spent a good amount of time taking different photos and trying to take some selfies, an art in which I’m not well practiced. I do, however, like to take pictures and as such I probably have a couple hundred photos from the tower itself. After my descent I exited the tower plaza and decided to partake in a nice helping of soft serve ice cream. An even better decision was to get the pistachio. Pistachio pudding has always been my favorite flavor and this ice cream was top notch as well. Sadly it was gone way too fast for the €4 that the tourists, like me, get suckered into paying.
After, I actually found my way to a little bakery where I bought a macaroon. Sadly, I am not positive on the name but I think it was Bonon. It was quite a scrumptious little treat that also had pistachio in it, I need the french flavor scheme back home. I then found my way to the Arc de Triomphe and Le Champs Élysée but I avoided that street as I could afford nothing there anyway. For dinner I found a historic place and French restaurante named the Bouillon Chartier. I had grated carrots in a vinaigrette, duck confit with baby potatoes, mushrooms “a la Provençal,” pont l’évêque (a cheese) and prunes in wine with vanilla ice cream. Oh and I had a 33 centilitre Pepsi. I was so full it was ridiculous but I thought it fairly well priced at 22€80.
After that I picked up a bottle of wine for ma mere (my mother) and headed to the train station. At this point my phone is on power save mode with only 6% battery remaining. When I do make it to the train station, it looks nothing like I thought I remembered. After wandering for a bit I found an agent and asked if I was in the right place… yeah no, I was in Paris Est and I needed Paris Nord. Good thing I arrived an hour and 20 minutes early. Finally at Gare du Nord I retrieved the bag I had left there earlier that day and found my platform. I boarded the train and went backwords all the way to Belgium (I was facing away from the direction of travel when seated). You’d think this the end of my adventure…
But no!!! In Belgium I needed to take an intercity train to Lier where my friend lives and the train I was going to take dissapeared, I was on the platform, the notice for it was up and then it wasnt and that train was shut down for the night. So after some phone calls, questions and a bit of feeling like an idiot, Lilly and company met me at a different station a bit farther from there home. I’m hoping the rest of my stay in Belgium is as eventful as last night, but in a much better way. Until tomorrow.
Martin “Mixy” McNichols
Until we meet again