Having left Cork, I flew to Paris with a stop in London. Changing airports opened my eyes to two revealing facts. First of all, 221 B in Baker Street is not at all as it looks on Sherlock. Secondly, an advertisement in the underground claims that a 3 £ donation can supply a family with clean water for a week. What on earth am I paying for then?
My first day in the city of love — on my own — was enough to find the hostel, get comfortable and go for an evening walk to the Sacré-Cœur and the Moulin Rouge, which had so long a queue that I couldn’t be bothered to visit it. Along that street, there were also those most annoying men insisting on me entering the cabarets to see French charms who failed to understand I meant it when I said I wasn’t interested.The following day was all about visiting the city of light [Paris is the city of everything] on foot. My route included the Bastilla Square, the Pompidou Centre — especially its huge library —, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Orsay, the Hôtel national des Invalides, the Eiffel Tower — where I run into some identically gorgeous square triplets —, the Trocadéro, the triumphal arch, the Champs-Élysées and the Louvre. Of course, I didn’t have time to go into those places; but I’d rather know my way around the city than see paintings and sculptures. After the walking, there was still time to enjoy a concert with different French groups in the city centre.
On the way to take the train to Le Mans to visit my blond French friend, a street full of second-hand book shops stole my heart; the Luxembourg Gardens were awesome as well. The French guy picked me up at the station and took me to McDonald’s that evening, where a worker asked me ‘Do you speak English?’, ‘Yes.’, ‘I don’t.’ Fortunately, my French is not perfect but good enough.
Apart from showing me the beauties of the city, my friend also took me to a fancy dress party where I could only speak his language to celebrate a girl’s birthday. So, his cousin, he and I — or a priest, a banana and a vampire — showed up to a fancy dress party that actually wasn’t… At least everybody realised there was a Catalan and an obvious topic to start a conversation with him.