A Travellerspoint blog

June 2014

Paris and all of its wonder

Wandering around Paris


I woke up really early because the ticket I purchased for paris was at 9am. I didn't want to miss it so I woke up at 7 to start my walk to the train station.  I got to the station in time and even had enough time to get breakfast. My seat was next to a window seat on the train and i was still pretty tired from waking up so early. I put on an alarm on my phone and fell asleep on the train. When I woke up I was 10 minutes away from hopping off at the station in paris. When I arrived at the station I quickly found my heading towards the hostel and bought a 3 day metro pass for paris. I took the metro and finally after a maze of switching lines and waiting the stops I reached lumiere which was the stop closest to the hostel. I was into what I'm guessing was the shady part of town but the hostel was on a very nice location next to a canal and had a nice view of a bigger section in the canal. I had arrived at the hostel 2 hours prior to my check in time. So i put my pack in a luggage room and went for a walk to see what was around the hostel. I walked along the canal and got some great pictures of the scenery and local grafitti. The canal was very nice and quite and lots of local make a nice meal and bring  the meal just to eat it with friends or family. The locals are very laid back and enjoy the little things in life. After an hour of getting far away from the hostel I decided to walk back. I made it right on time back to the hostel. I checked and put my bag sway in the locker. I decided to see the notre dam the first day to knock out 1 of many scenic points in psris. I took the metro and found my way near the notre dam. I walked by a bar that was very intriguing so i walked in. The bar was called the bar at the end of the world and had all kinds of nerdom inside. Star wars figures, HP love craft wall full of monster sketches and a ton of board games.  Even the drinks and cocktails were geared to gamers and geeks. I would love to have a bar like this back in college station. I took some pictures and went ahead to the notre dam. When I got to it I took my pictures and went ahead to look for and store called Shakespeare and company which is a very old bookstore that has a sense of whimsical vintage vibe. A book lovers dream. Walls full of different books of all shapes send sizes. You could even just take a book and read it in the upstairs reading room all day if you wanted to. I spent a good half hour until I decided to head back to the hostel to eat dinner. My room in the hostel was a 10 bed dorm and had been empty for a but until a guy from Puerto Rico came in. He told me about the other dorm mates amd how the majority of the had all left. He then explained to me why there was a 47 year old man living in hour room. Apparently the man had made his wife very angry and had kicked him out of her house. He moved all of his belonging to the hostel and lived their for 15 days so far. The man he was speaking of finally came into the room and was very weird. He didn't Introduce himself and when I talked to Puerto Rico in Spanish the man was mimic some words in Spanish under his breath. The man got some things from his locker and left. Soon 4 guys from Alabama came to the room and we our our Introductions and we talked about back home for a shile. An hour later a girl from Winnipeg Canada had come into the room thinking it was an all girls dorm and had been very much mistaken.  The next day I would try and tackle all the major spots. I woke up in a panic at 8am.  I failed to realize the day prior we were next to a church and left the windows in the room wide open. We heard the bells like they were inside the room and all woke up and just waited till the Symphony ended. We all pretty much took it as and sign to wake up or else just be worked up every half hour by the bells. I went down to breakfast and felt like i was on a mission i Google mapped my way to the louvre and set out quickly. Soon i was in the train station deciding which to take. I had to make 2 line changes which wasn't too bad. When I had arrived at my stop I exited the metro station and got lost. Luckily I found a "you are here maps and was 5 blocks away from the the louvre. I came from another entrance I didn't intend to go but was surprised to walk through a garden and the garden the exited towards the louvre main entrance.  The line outside next to the pyramid was not long ar all but it was warm today so it got rather hot waiting to get in. Waiting in line I had a great deal of time to take all the outside pictures I wanted. Soon i got inside the pyramid and had a quick security check of my daypack. The level you get in from descends down into a very large underground main area where you buy your tickets and audio tours. The underground hall has 4 entrances each leading to their genre of art and sculptures. After buying my ticket I went towards the entrance leading the Mona lisa. It took rather long to reach the room the painting had been kept in. Due largely to the tourists who all wanted to be in the way taking selfies and blocking everyone's view with ipads.  The rumors abiut about the painting weren't a lie. The painting was small but so much meaning behind that little 14by14 painting. I took a minute to take it all in and after i took my picture felt accomplished but wanted to see what else the museum had to offer. I went into italian arts and sculptures and saw lots of different pieces and even saw tge Venus de Milo. After of trudging through the museum for 2 hours i decided i needed to find an exit so i could get something to eat. Yeah the museum did have a cafe but the prices were insane. I walked foe another 15 minutes until i found the exit. I even had had a chance to walk through the Egyptian exhibit. Finally at the exit I felt the nice warm air of paris hit my face and and the exit Led me straight to the champ de Ulysses. What a great view from the louvre gardens. The strip must've been 2-3 miles long just to get to it. All the stores in this venue were very high class and was insanely full of tourists. I did buy a tank top on the way to the arch because it was very hot today. I went into a skate shop and bought the top really quick quick and changed my pants into shorts. Now feeling a bit more cooler i proceeded to walk to the arch and take alot of pictures. Once i was satisfied with my photography i wanted wanted to head to to the eiffel tower. This was going to the take take a while but now being in europe for a long time i i have gotten used used to walking insane distances. On the way there i saw alot of poeple standing next tp the Dior store and all super excited for someone. I waited next tp the group and i should've had my camera at the ready but failed. Out came Kim kardashian beautiful as ever and seemed to be glowing. I guess stars do shop all so. After the star encounter i walked for another 20 minutes until finally i I saw I saw the giant structure. Walking next to the Eiffel Tower was awesome. I had been to the tower when I was a wee lad, but forgot the sheer size of this monument. I geeked out over the metal work and rivets and thought why not go up top. You can buy a lift ticket to each floor and then to the top or huff it yo the 2nd level by foot on stairs. I figured why not, when am I ever going to climb this structure ever. I walked to the ticket stand and noticed a peculiar glass box with what seemed like a couple of wine openers, Swiss army nlknives, and knives. Apparently if you had one in your possession security would confiscate it and not return it. I quickly my swiss army knife in the day pack and told security immediately.  They said I had to stash it somewhere or throw it away. First of all that a big negative. This knife means quite a bit especially since it's from my twin and I've had it for a long time. I walked over to a snow cone stand and told the vendor I would pay him 5 euro to hold onto my knife. His reply was that he didn't want money and that he would hold onto it for free. My luck was getting better with trivial things. I left the knife in the care of the ice cream vendor and promised after my hike to the top of the tower I would be hungry and i would buy something. I quickly headed back in line and got into the stair entrance. I recorded the whole thing and let me tell you it was one of the hardest tower climbs I've done to date. I thought the vatican climb was hard but the eiffel tower had way more stairs. I did like the fact that i was walking on riveted stairs and that I could see the inside of one of the legs and saw how much work had to go into building just one. I made it to the first level and took a small break. I walked around to see the view and went ahead to the next flight of never ending stairs. This time I was already nice and warmed up from the first climb so it felt better going up. Finally racing the second level I saw a really long que to get on the elevator and i didn't want to wait until more poeple showed up. I jumped in line and slowly but surely made a circle around the level and made it next to an elevator. I missed the first elevator on purpose to get a window spot to record a small bit of footage. Finally in the elevator the next group of people all huddled up and waited to for ascension. The elevator started and I'm not scared of heights but the idea of an elevator just going so high in an open environment made me giddy inside. Finally we stopped and we greeted by a very nice gust of wind. The view was spectacular. All of paris in plain sight. I could see the arch, louvre, and the notre dame. I took my time to take pictures this time and I also volunteered to take pictures of people. Having a nice camera around your neck and the other tourists immediately think you're a camera man from vogue or national geographic. After taking many pictures I walked Inside the strcuture and learned the towers history. It took me less than 15 minutes to read all the wringing of its history on the wall and decided I need to get in line again to get down. This time the line wasn't that long and I descended pretty quickly. I somehow got lost in the second level and saw that they were building some new enhancements to the tower. Which included a venue to host parties and events, and a new restaurant. I found my way to the exit stairwell and got down pretty easily. When i was back on ground level i walked happily accomplished towards the ice cream stand and purchase a cornetto ice cream and got my knife back. I sat down in ye giant strip of grass that everyone sits at to admire the view. I sat here for about an hour until i great hungry. Under the eiffel tower they have snack stands thar sell sandwiches for a fair price ans are massive (word of warning in france they don't believe in regular mustard they like dijon so everything has a spicy kick to it) I enjoyed my sandwich near the park and decided to wait till the lights turn on. I didn't know I was going to wait for nearly 3 hours. Before the lights came on I hot a nice spot on the opposite side where you can see all of the tower. I saved my spot for a good half hour until the lights came on. The view was awesome and I couldn't have picked a better night to record the lights how as well as take awesome night pictures. When the lights turned off I feel as if everyone had the same idea to walk away from the same spot. Soon i was in a mass of people headed towards the towers legs. Since I was getting such great pictures I made the last mi ute decision to take the metro to the Moulin Rouge. They metro ride was fast and I arrived at the station. So when you think Moulin Rouge you think the movie and nd how magical it looks.....well yes and no. The night hood it's in is like the adult playground. Alot of cinesex and strip clubs everywhere. Also the line to get Into the show with a reservation is insane. I took my pictures quickly quickly and left to avoid any unwanted bad happenings. I took took the metro back and got to the hostel before midnight. Took a shower shower and passed out.

The next day
Today was steampunk day. I was super excited because I had been planning a great venture into paris in search of anything brassy and victorian. First I had breakfast and left towards the Arts De Metiers. I did my research and learned that the museum even did a piece of work on the closest station. When i arrived at the station i immediately geeked out for a good 15 minutes. The metro stop looked like something belonging to 20,000 leagues under the sea. Brass and copper covered the walls. They walls even had portholes with small views of art and steam engines. The roof had what looked like a giants gear connected to a pneumatic steam pump. I also heard music but it might have been a local musician playing nearby. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect beginning of my day. As soon as I went topside I saw the museum open. A statue in the front told me that I was in the right place and the pictures of wood and leather flying machines adorned the walls. When I entered I payed my entrance fee, and was pointed towards the beginning of the museum. It started on the second floor which was weird but that because how crazy big the exhibition was. First was Métiers instruments of measurement and clock designs. I could have stayed in each display for a long time but was on a time crunch because I didn't want to stay in a museum all day. I did record alot of the museum and took pictures of pretty much evrrything. Next is the wood works of fabric makings. It was pretty cool but I don't really care too much about making clothes. For some reason the museum turns into a what's new know thing. It shows you about recycling and how far we have come in technology. Once again cool but not my cup of tea. Now it turned into what I wanted to see. Steam engines, old bycicle powered by steam, the leather glider that i saw online, and gears that to me shouldn't work together but when you read the description on the display mechanically it makes all the sense in the world. The museum even had a gigantic ceiling pendulum which is fun for a while. I actually ended up staying in the museum longer than I had anticipated for. I was inside foe a whopping 4 hours. Time Flys when you are having fun. Next up was supposed to be a ship near the notre dame that sold steampunk attire. When I got to the street I searched for a long time until I gave up on the search. Also it started rain and i had all my rain gear in the hostel. Not wanting to get my pack all and camera anymore more soaked that they already were I took the metro all the way back to my stop in lumiere. Not too soaked I got into my room and saw a new roomate come in. His name is Nelson and he is from Singapore. He works as a movie distributor for MVP productions, long story short he gets sent to film festivals and buys the movie rights to a movie so that Asia can watch them. He actually just came from the Cannes Film festival and had some pretty Interesting pictures. He was asking some questions on what he should do in paris and i was super happy to help out. We sat downstairs were he tried to get wifi and do some work but the wifi was been lagged pretty badly miday. We had a beer and i told him what I had done the day prior. I also told him about the store I was looking for near the notre dame. We even talked about nerdy topics like movies and cartoons. I told him if he had as chance he should check out the bar at the end of the world. Finally we decided to go near the notre dame so that he could take some pictures. Feeling like a tour guide I was pretty happy I had so much knowledge on the metro lines and how much alot of things cost. Me ans nelson had alot I common as far as nerdism goes. We reached the notre dame and took some great pictures. We also went inside to see tge paintings and see how cool it was inside. Nelson got a call from a fiend who was living in paris and asked if i wanted to have dinner with them and I gladly accpeted. It then started to rain and 8 suggested we wait it out by going for a drink at the bar at the end of the world. As soon as we walked in i could see nelson just straight geekin out.  From the game of thrones toys to the godzilla posters on the walls they also have a big devotee wall for cthullu and everything HP lovecraft. Also we arrived during happy hour and the drink names fit the place perfectly. I somehow ordered a serenity drink and nelson ordered a death star. Both were really good. They also had giant beakers full of "Mana", "Health" and Zelda's "poly potion". While drinking and now getting the full effect of the drinks we could not stop talking about movie hits and flops and which movies did not get enough credit. Soon the friend who had invited us to dinner arrived. Her name was Luz and she was a very sweet lady. She made a reservation at a restaurant in front of  the louvre. So hopefully you can kind of grasp how high class this place was going to be. You could only be inside if you had a reservation and everyone inside seemed to know that the dress code was business attire or black tie. Here I was wearing a shirt from amsterdam and was also wearing a backpack. Yes we had stares but we didn't mind. Soon i saw saw the menu and saw how nice this place was. Before we even ordered nelson asked for a rose wine. While tasting it and smelling the aroma he agreed to a accepting the bottle and we all enjoyed it. This wine tasting also came with an interesting lesson in ordering wines and what year you should avoid. I ordered a black squid Ink risotto for starters and then a pork with lentils dish for the main dish. The others also ordered very nice items. We all day happily drinking ans talking about Nelsons latest apprrance at the Cannes Film festival. He then pulled out his camera and showed us he took some selfies with some very interesting people.  He had a picture of him and Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas,  Wesley Snipes, Arnold Schwarzenegger,  and the Russian fighter in one of the Rocky movies. I didn't realize what kind kind of job he had until I saw the pictures. I was sitting next to a near celebrity. Soon an appetizer arrived from the kitchen which consisted of fresh tuna belly on a bed of nori. Probably the softest and tastiest piece of tuna I have ever had. Then the other courses followed and i was in heaven. The risotto cooked to perfection and the pork nice and tender. Now backpacking and living off of cheap street foods make you appreciate the nicer things in life and boy was i happy. Nelson even made a toast during the course towards serendipity. How we all met one by one by chance and for some universal reason connected right away. We finished our meals and sat there talking for ages. Soon though Luz had to go back home and Nelson and i were set on drinking. I suggested the bar next to the hostel. We both said goodbye to Luz and parted ways. We got sidetracked into taking some nice night time pictures of the louvre and rhe city. Now It was getting late and we hopped on the metro. Before we reached lumiere we switched lines lines to head to the Moulin Rouge so he could get his pictures. Somehow we reached the lumiere station and as soon as we did noticed the guards ready to close close station down for the night. It was very late and the bar also closed soon after. It was  time to go to sleep and we made plans for versailles the following day.

"I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring" – David Bowie

Posted by egarciafreites 04:18 Archived in France Tagged tower paris walking eiffel arts backpacking louvre notre dame steampunk Comments (0)

lyon and rest

Rest stop in lyon and hiking for a church


Lyon to me was supposed to be just rest ans catching up. But patty had gave me a mission to see some sights that i didn't even think of checking out. One was the foruvrie then the park dotore and last was a restaurant that served an amazing lyonaise salad. I woke up late in nice and wanted to catch the train quickly and head to lyon fast. When I got to the train station their was some kind of political March going on and it was very lively and loud. I headed inside to get a ticket using my eurail pass but somehow there was only 1 train that day and it was already almost fully booked. Because it was almost full I had to pay 35 euro to get a ticket. I have the Eurail pass but eurail only buys so many seats in a train after all the seats are taken you are pretty much at the fate of the ticketeers graces. I waited for the train and noticed alot of men wearing what looked liked Robin Hood hats with feathers and lots of medals. Every hat was different and had all kinds of decorations. I realized the hats were for french veterans who had served. My train to lyon was a bullet train and was going to be a fast ride. I quickly grabbed my seat and put my backpack in the luggage rack. I put on my head phones and dozed off. The hours went by and I just woke up in time for the train to stop. I followed the instructions that hostel world gave me in the confirmation email for the hostel. It was a but hard to find the street at first but rereading the email I realized the hostel is next to the canal which is fairly big and can't be missed. Soon i had ruched Cool and Bed. This hostel was very nice and had the lounge/kitchen and bar are very close to each other. I was pretty tired from my trip and needed to desperately do laundry. Luckily the hostel had laundry available but it was way different than the other hostels. You paid 5 euro and the receptionist did your laundry for you. So you don't waste any time not seeing lyon on living life. I took the opportunity to catch up in some much needed sleep and blog writing. My room had 16 beds but no one was in the room. The room was Egyptian themed and had graffiti paint all over the walls. My bed was a bottom bunk but the bunks here had been fitted with 2 outlets and a mini light. That was a lot of cool bonuses for how little I was already paying. I wrote my blog and dozed in and out of perpetual slumber. While in a small nap I heard someone enter the room and saw an Asian girl put her bags on the tip bunk of my rack. She was very quite and noticed my gaze on her. She quickly put away whatever she bought and said in a quite tone "good bye". I soon woke up and had the feeling she wanted to talk and be sociable. An hour went buy and i had wanted to go buy some pasta and sauce to make a quick and cheap dinner. I walked to the local Carrefour store and bought rotinni pasta and some sauce.  I also picked up a baguette and some orange juice. After making my purchase I walked back to the hostel and went into the room. The girl from earlier was there and I greeted her an asked her name. She was from Beijing had been in france or study accouting and was in lyon for a small vacation before she returned back home to start working. Her english was pretty good and she was very lively when I asked her anything. She explained that it was hard for her to talk to anyone because she felt rat some people do not have the patience to speak to someone that doesn't speak a local perfectly. I assured her I had alot of foreign friends and had lived and visited alot of foreign countries sp a language barrier was kids play for me. She then asked what I was doing in europe and i replied I was backpacking. She was very eager to see what kind of pack I had and what kind of transportation I was using to get around europe.  I explained to her the Eurail pass and how many liters my backpack was and how much it could way. Soon another roomate overheard our conversation and had joined in. This time it was another girl born in Beijing but had lived in Canada for the majority of her life. We all chatted for an hour about travelling and what there was too see in lyon. After that I went to cook my dinner. The kitchen was being used by an aussie guy who was bycicling europe and another Canadian girl. Soon i got my stove burner hot and cooked the pasta. I sat down to eat and was joined by a guy from Taiwan.  He was backpacking europe on an extremly tight budget and explained that you could live off of 6 euro a day for food. Up until this point the idea of living super frugal like that hadn't occurred to me and I thought maybe I should try and save on some things. We were joined later by the girls from earlier and the group was eager to hear about my travels so far and my stories from the navy. I usually try not to gloat about my navy career to anyone because to me it's old news ans really overplayed, but poeple love sea stories.  After about and hour or so i decided to call it a night and go to bed. I washed my dishes and brushed my teeth and had a great night sleep. When I woke up I saw some girls in straight pajama dresses at breakfast, some girls that travel dont care abiut ehat they wear. The breakfast was cereal, baguettes with Nutella and jam and orange juice or milk. After devouring my breakfast I got the map from the front desk. I mapped out where the park, church, and good spots might be. I began my walk with my day pack and baguette at the ready and walked for what seemed like half an hour to get to the city center. I saw the sign for the church on a staircase that seemed to go on forever. Patty had warned me about the hike i preceeded to start the climb. It took me roughly 24 minutes to reach the top and see the church. The view was pretty worth it and had the breeze up the too was very welcoming. I took a quick break to take good pictures ans take in the scenery. I went into the church and admired all the art and sculptures. I could take pictures because it's a church and i could possibly annoy the people who do go to that church to pray. Soon i left and walked down the summit towards the parks direction. I ran into another church and a really cool street full of restaurants and stores that made no sense in what they sold. One of those stores was a pirate's candy store. Which look like a ripoff of the cartoon show flapjack. Alot of cool food stores and jewelry stores. I looked on the map to see how far away the park was and kept on walking. The park was actually very far and I was beginning to lose faith in finding it. Soon though i reached the giant golden gated entrance.  The park was amazing. Prefect green cut grass. No stray leaves on the green and the lake was picturesque. I walked to the left side and came upon a family of 20 ducks full of males, females, and baby chicks. at first I stood there taking pictures of then at a distance but the chicks walked right up to me to ehat I was holding in my hand. I got a very nice recorded closeup of a Chick that was very curious. The animals here I'm guessing relied alot on the locals for food and had become used to human contact. Every time I walked by a pigeon, duck, or squirrel they all looked and waited for any kind of food. I began to see that the park went in a circle so i figured I would end back at the gate. The park on the back was full of spots were you can sit and eat or read a book and not be bothered by anything.  Lyon knows how to take care of its parks and keep the poeple happy. There was a lot of flowers and fountains everywhere.  I could probably come here everyday if I lived here. I finally made the giant circle around and was happy because I was beginning to get hungry. I walked back to the city center and wanted to try tge magical salad patty told me about. It took me alot longer to find the restaurant. When I found it the place had closed for the day. So i settled for a kebab. It was getting late anf sunlight was beginning to be scarce. I felt as If the walk back was super long and I would never reach the hostel. I reached it softer an hour of walking and took a shower and fell sleep soon. When I woke up the next day I was very lazy and tired from from the previous dsy. Today I just wanted to explore and get ready for my trip to Paris. I walked the city center I wandered into an absinthe store. The shop owner was very informative on the history of absinthe and the laws and controversy that follow it. It was ilegal not not too long ago but had been legalized just recently. His store felt like an apothecary and had an old vibe to it. I asked for any hints to some hole in in the in the wall spots and he showed me a door that goes under a big portion in in the city called a traboull. I had a new sense of enthusiasm now and ventured into the dark passage. It was alot shorter than I previously thought but still enjoyed it. On the other side I found a medieval boutique that that also sold steampunk gear. I geeked out for 20 minutes and looked at everything inside. I had the funds and luggage I would've probably bought a full costume.  I wandered around for hours until I decided to climb the mountain again to see the Roman ruins that had also been up next to the church. I saw tge ruins and took my last pictures In lyon. I walked back to the hostel to repack my bag and get and get ready for paris the next day.

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list" - Susan Sontag

Posted by egarciafreites 04:12 Archived in France Tagged churches parks rest hostel lyon Comments (0)

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