My bus ride to Paris was not very good. It was an overnight bus that was completely full with people. Usually, I’m able to get some sleep on the bus but it’s really hard to get some sleep on a bus when the only movement you have to get comfortable is tilting your head to the side onto your shoulder. On part of the ride, I did meet and talked to Wahid, a Tunisian working in Lyon. It was also fortunate because he helped me get on the correct bus at my transfer because I don’t speak French and many of the bus people don’t speak English.
On my first day in Paris, I subsisted exclusively on pastries and crepes. I guess France already has a reputation for having good pastries, so I’m just here to confirm it. They were really good and also really cheap. My favorite was the baguette/roll thingy filled with chocolate chips. The crepe tasted like a crepe. But it was folded up so that you could eat it with your hands, which was cool.
The first touristy thing I did was visit the Catacombs. They only allow a certain amount of people in at a time, so I had to wait over an hour before getting in. And this is considered short. The website says the expected waiting time is 2-3 hours. Like I said in a previous post, I can’t imagine visiting some of these places during peak season. The Catacombs used to be a granite quarry underneath the city that got repurposed as catacombs after the granite mining ended. It was pretty incredible how many bones there were, all stacked very nicely. It was strange because I mostly only saw leg bones (yay anatomy class!). I was wondering where the rest of them were. There was an occasional arm bone, one hip bone, and no vertebrae. Clearly, there were enough bodies where there should have been more variety of bones. Perhaps they were behind all of the leg bones I saw. Or perhaps there were different rooms we didn’t get to see with only arm bones. The Arm Antechamber. Or the Vertebrae Vault. Or the Pelvis Place.
I also briefly saw the Eiffel Tower.
I mostly passed by so I could get a few pictures because I wanted to get to the Arc de Triomphe before it got too late.
In Paris, there are three main sites that you can go to the top of in order to get a view of the city: Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe. Notre Dame is pretty far from everything else, so it doesn’t have as good of a view of the city, but does have the grotesques if you would want to see those. The Eiffel Tower is pretty central, so it has a good view of the city, but I went with the Arc instead. The Arc is pretty close to the Eiffel Tower, so you get a similar view, but I did it because the line is shorter than the Eiffel Tower and this way I’d get a view of the city with the Eiffel Tower in it.
I got to the Arc just a little bit before sunset. I wanted to get there before sunset so I could get some good photos of the city before it got too dark but I could also watch the sunset from there and then see the city at night with the lights on. I thought it was pretty cool. At one point whilst looking around, I saw a man taking a picture of his special lady friend with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Since it was dark, the flash on his phone went off, which made the special lady friend grimace and me laugh.
At the Arc, you can go underneath it and walk around for free, you just have to pay in order to go to the top. So naturally, there are always lots of people at the bottom, walking around and taking pictures. At the apex of the Arc, there is a camera that looks down at the people. In the area you get to after you pay and walk up all the stairs, there is a monitor that shows the feed from this camera. It was fun watching people looking up and taking pictures of the camera without knowing it was there.
The roads around the Arc are a mess. Circumscribing the Arc is a free-for-all roundabout. It’s wide enough to fit like 6 lanes of traffic, but there are no lanes. You just drive in and pray that people let you exit when you need to. Needless to say, there was lots of honking. And two of the streets coming off of the roundabout had no lanes either. They were just these wide streets that cars would haphazardly distribute themselves on. This picture shows part of the roundabout and one of these laneless roads.
I met Will from London that night back at the hostel. He was a recent graduate from high school and waiting to hear back about his university applications. In the gap between now and when school would start, he was doing some goalless traveling. He told me that he had taken a ferry from the UK to the coast of France. After getting to France, he just decided to walk to Paris. I can’t remember where in France he walked from or how long it took, but it sounded like it took several days, if not a week or more, even with some hitchhiking. This is the kind of free-spirited traveling he was planning to do for the next year or so. He thought maybe he’d go to Greece to work and live for part of it but didn’t really know what he’d do in the mean time. I have definitely met people on this trip that I don’t think I would have ever met in Vegas or Provo.