A/N: I’m back! First off, my sincere apologies for going AWOL for over a month, but ever since the end of my exams, I’ve been caught up in plenty of other stuff, personal and family commitments and the like. It also got me thinking, what would I write about after I finished Deinceps Ut Europa? I mean, I could go back and write about all my past travels, but honest to god this is probably the most exciting one out of all those. I’ll figure something out, I reckon, but suggestions will be greatly welcome!
But nevertheless, I give you Paris!
This is going to be a text heavy post, as I was a little wary about taking my phone out in Paris, you’ll see why later on.
No offense meant to any Parisians or French reading this, but from where I come from, the first thing that comes to one’s mind about Paris, after the Eiffel Tower and fashion, is unfortunately pickpockets. It seemed to have evolved into a profession of some sort there, though according to some reports, it still loses out to Barcelona as the pickpocket capital of the world.
Paris was also hit by multiple instances of terror attacks in recent times, and all of France was under a state of emergency. Though this did not quite affect my journey to Paris, the sight of seeing armed soldiers on the platform greeting your arrival made more than a traveller wary.
Arriving at Gare de Lyon near 1 in the afternoon, I immediately sought to buy a data SIM at the train station for navigation before heading out. I did save directions on my Google Maps before departing Geneva, but I’m gonna need the SIM sooner or later, so why not get it before leaving Gare de Lyon in case I had to make a detour somewhere?
Asking around, it appears that the most likely place to have a SIM card is at Relay, a convenience store of sorts. I spent quite some time finding the store itself, and the first Relay that I went into directed me to a second, smaller Relay, stating that they didn’t carry SIM cards in the larger store. Once there, it took me ages to even get served. The staff barely spoke any English, and the only one that did was going off-duty halfway through helping me get a €10 SIM while the rest was inattentive to the point of being rude. The SIM itself had such a long and complicated setup that both parties finally gave up after going at it for over half an hour, and I left without a working SIM.
Referring to the plans that I’ve saved earlier, planned to take an RER A train, with a change to the Line 4 metro to get to my Airbnb. This is all after a good wrestle with the ticket machines, of course. I was debating which ticket to get, the t+ or the Mobilis, or a carnet of t+ tickets. I’ll get to explaining those later. Long story short, I got a t+ ticket, hopped on an RER A train, changed at Chatelet to the Line 4 metro and rode all the way to Saint-Placide, which is the nearest stop to my Airbnb.
Now, my Airbnb was on Rue de Vaugirard. The problem is, the Rue de Vaugirard is the longest street inside Paris’ city walls, 4.3km long to be exact. If you didn’t know exactly where your place is, you’re pretty much screwed three times over. And also, the Saint-Placide exit comes out at quite the clusterduck of streets, so it took me quite a while to hit up the right street and get going.
Finding the exact place wasn’t that hard, it was right on the corner of an intersection, and my host had provided me the password for the keypad unlocking the outer gate. My Airbnb was a loft unit, which means I had to go all the way up to the top of the building. But once I got into the lobby, there it was! The smallest passenger elevator I’ve ever seen, hands down. It barely fit me and my pack, and although there was always the stair option, I didn’t fancy going up 6 floors worth of stairs.
My instructions after exiting the elevator at the 6th floor was to turn right, go through 2 sets of doors and a series of dark and cramped hallways, up a narrow winding staircase before arriving at my unit. Luckily, my hosts Kathleen and Erik were there to meet me, and Erik helped me in figuring out how the SIM I bought previously worked.
They were the best hosts that one could ask for, and certainly the best in my experience so far. On top of that, the unit was bright, airy, clean and modern. What more could one ask for?