Okay, let’s start with Paris, as requested by adreamer. Sorry, it's rather epic in length - if anyone needs to go to the toilet, I suggest you go now.
I was in Paris for almost a week in August of 2005 with my newly acquired friend, Flower. After researching obsessively from England I was terrified that these rude and shifty French were bound to tell us that we’d never booked, steal our credit card deposit and chuck our accommodation-less arses out onto the street. I had never particularly wanted to go to France; since childhood I had constantly heard the ‘French are rude’ stereotype and believed it without ever having experienced it. I had a week off from my job in England and Paris just seemed like the easiest place to visit outside of the UK.
We found our hostel and discovered we had been double booked – I was thinking 'Oh, now it begins'. I was wrong though, they apologized and said because they could no longer fit us in the eight bed dorm, they’d put us up in a double room – score. It didn’t matter that our bathroom didn’t have a curtain and could be looked into from an interior courtyard, because it was OUR bathroom, besides, it’s not so hard to shower without the lights on. We were staying in the good half of Montmarte, which is apparently about ten meters from the dodgy half.
On the first day we climbed the Eiffel tower – bad move. Our thighs continued to burn for the next four days. It was breathtaking though, the view, not the climb...well, the climb was but it wasn’t what I was originally referring to. Got it? We didn’t climb to get a more authentic experience, I’m sure the Parisians are intelligent enough to get the elevator, we just wanted to save money. After our climb and gape session we headed to the Sacre Coeur. A hot African guy approached me and asked me to stick out my finger. Never, I repeat, never stick out your finger without asking why. He could have had a machete and just chopped my finger off and then taken it home to add the finishing touches to a zombie made out of random tourists’ body parts, but I didn’t even THINK of that! He made a bracelet and tied it to my wrist, asked me if I had a boyfriend and cheerfully demanded ten euros. I glanced over at Flower who was being bracelet-accosted a meter away. I scraped together five euros and walked away feeling very bitter, Flower had only paid three.
Then we did some other stuff for a couple of days…and amazingly (pathetically) never ate French food for dinner once, we had Chinese, Italian and Pizza Hut…oh the shame.
One night we decided to get dressed up and head out on the town, we went to an Australian bar in which only the bartender was Australian, so it was off to an Irish Pub, where we met some Australians. We were soon befriended by two rather creepy men who informed us that they needed us to help them get into the nightclub next door as they wouldn’t let in men without girls due to sleaze/hot female ratio leaning on the sleaze side. Flower didn’t seem to be half as indignant about this as I was, but it turned out not to matter because try as we might we couldn’t remember their names when questioned by the security guards. So I took the initative, waved goodbye to the creeps and pulled Flower inside on our own. We met boys, we danced with boys, I had an argument with another boy. Boys start arguing with each other. We left.
Discovering the metro had closed we headed over to a city map to try and figure out how to get back to the hostel. Two drunk old men soon approached us and started chatting away in Spanish and throwing in the odd English phrase, such as ‘want sugar daddy?’, two guys on a motorbike then pulled up and began speaking to us urgently, urging us to go with them…on one motorbike I’m not sure how that would have been possible, anyhow, the drunk old men started yelling at the motorcycle men and it turned into this whole big thing. People watching from apartment windows and everything. We had no idea what was going on. Soon the bouncer from the club hears the commotion and comes over to see what’s going on. The sugardaddies start angrily gesturing towards the guys on the motorbike who look guilty and drive quickly away. The security guard all but forces us into a taxi and tells us to go away quickly. After watching that Liam Neelson movie ‘Taken’ last year I am now convinced motorcycle men were trying to kidnap us, but hey, my friends call me paranoid at my most chilled.
We got back to our hostel at 4am and began chatting about the evening when there was a knock at our door. A gorgeous, and I mean stunning boy was there; he asked us if his friends were with us, we looked at him like he was insane and gestured to our tiny room and two single beds, jammed together due to lack of space ‘errrr…no’. ‘Oh’ he just stood there. The manager began to yell at him from down the hall, that we were in a budget hotel not some party place, so we invited him in – the hottie, not the manager. We chatted for awhile, his name was Kenny- half English half African, he’d been living in New Orleans and had some crazy stories about prostitutes biting him and dragging him into bushes and so on, and so forth. His friends arrived and yelled up to us from the interior courtyard…you know, the one that looked into our bathroom; they’d probably all seen us naked. We invited them up and sat around talking. When we were so tired that Kenny’s good looks would no longer substitute for the pure lies he had been spinning all night, we kicked them out.
This was my first trip to Paris. When I discovered that stereotypes are wrong about the French, they’re not so rude, as long as you’re not American…and preferably not English- they genuinely do hate YOU. But, really, if you walk around obnoxiously addressing everyone in English and expecting them to speak your language without even saying ‘excuse me’ in theirs, well, you deserve some snark. Everyone we met was lovely and tried to help us, even when they didn’t speak a word of English. Well, except for one public transport worker who cracked the shits because we couldn’t understand him, and the creepy old guy who flicked a hair tie at flower on the metro – the latter was more amusing than annoying though.
Oh, I left out the Louvre. Well, we went. I enjoyed the cafeteria. When I’m there again at the end of the month I will appreciate it much more that I did when I was eighteen, now being a graduate of History and all….ha, who am I kidding? I’ll walk around for three hours, get bored and head to the café.
My first visit to Paris was so perfect, I am a little concerned the next one won't live up to it.