May 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th
It was time to check out today. I didn’t have any other place lined up so I decided to visit M.I.J.E. Hostel to see if they had a bed for the night. I had to meet Jerry (the South Korean guy) at 9 am and I woke up at 7:45 am so I was really pressed for time (good job Ken, for snoozing).
I did snag a single room for €50 (ouch!!) but had no choice, I didn’t want to take the time scouring other locations and I’ve heard good things about this place so I took it. It would give me some private time/space to read/write. I’ve been with roommates since the trip began and sometimes a little space at the end of the day is nice. That’s one thing I miss about home…having a HOME.
I ran all the way to Notre Dame (after taking a few trains) and ended up there around 9:20 am. Jerry was not to be seen. I knew he’d leave but I stayed on to eat breakfast (some cookies and water) and fed all these pidgeons. I decided to head to the Louvre and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I ran into Jerry while touring Paris?” Nah, it’s not gonna happen. Too many tourists, the city’s too big, the attractions are too big, the chances are minimal.
Off to the monster of a museum they call the Louvre. People tell me it takes a whole day to explore because the place is ginourmous and damn were they right. We’re talking acres here. I was really sick of it after the first two hours. Nothing but endless rooms of sculptures, old antiquities. After a while, they all begin to look alike so I breezed past all of them, trying to find my way to the paintings.
There were a bunch of massive massive paintings in addition to normal sized ones. I didn’t quite get to appreciate them all because again, I was breezing through them without stopping to look closely. I wanted to get to the Mona Lisa, like all the tourists. The bloody thing was so unimpressive to be honest. It was small, enclosed in a glass case, surrounded by barriers. Leonardo Da Vinci did a lot better things than this piece of work if you ask me. Screw her supposed “mysterious smile”, I bet the lady in the picture was just smirking at all the tourists looking at her, thinking to herself “What a bunch of suckers!”.
As I was trying to find the exit, guess who I run into? Jerry! My God, the chance of that happening was laughable. I explained my side of the story on why I didn’t show up. Then this oldish Asian lady walks up and Jerry jokingly said she was his girlfriend. Turns out she’s a copy-painter at the Louvre, a Korean-French artist (At the Louvre, you’ll see several artists parked in the galleries, copying the original paintings). When she left, he went like “I’m going to f*** her”. I was thinking “Uhhh, I hardly know you and you’re making creeper jokes like this?” Plus this pervert Korean guy was in his 30s maybe? The lady must’ve been in her 50s and looked very homely, not even a MILF…bloody Korean fella. I hope he was joking. I was too creeped out by him in general so I said goodbye politely and that I had to go visit some other places while he had coffee with the painter.
I was way too tired from all the walking. I went back to the hostel to rest until later that evening when I would go visit the Eiffel Tower and Arc d’ Triomphe. I wanted to watch Paris at the top at night anyway.
There are many kids staying at the hostel. It is noisy as they run up and down the halls, banging doors shut, screaming, playing, talking in French. I realized how great it must be to grow up in Paris. Every museum I’ve been too, there are always a few groups of kids and their teachers. All the kids would be sitting down in front of a piece of art and an art teacher would explain it to them. Field trips must be wonderful with so much culture in this city. How many American kids can say “Yeah we went to the Louvre for a field trip”?
I open my eyes. It was an hour or so later. The sound of the kids is gone. I lay in my bed in my small hostel room, half asleep. Tonight was my last night, I better make it count, so I head out. As I turn the corner of Rue de Fourcy, I am met by the sounds of a band playing some fun energetic style of music with their tubas, trumpets, drums. A crowd gathers and we listen to them play. It was so much fun. I think they were students, just having fun on a Friday night, entertaining the Rue de St. Paul crowd.
Anyway, I go check out the Arc D’ Triomphe, then walked toward the Eiffel Tower. I chose to climb up the stairs to the 1st and 2nd floors since there was hardly a line for that option (the line for the lift option was really long). It’s cheaper too. It’s not an easy climb as there are so many steps but I get a nice view on the 1st and then the 2nd floors. From here, the wait to the top is about 2 hours. I had to deal with the line to get a ticket for the lift up (everyone has to use a lift in the final ascent) and then there was a long line to the lift itself…but it was perfect timing since it was very dark by the time I actually got to the top and the city was lit up. Beautiful beautiful Paris.
I get downstairs and there’s a huge gathering of people in the streets. Everyone’s on roller blades and it must be some roller blade marathon or something. At the stroke of midnight, everyone blades off.
On the way back to the hostel, in the subway, there was a group of drunk French students singing away. I shoot some video and one of them comes up to me and asks me where I’m from etc. Turns out they are from one of the biggest party schools in France. Everyone gets on the train and you would think they’d be quiet and proper on it…nope, they start singing loudly again. Pretty funny group.
The next day, I still didn’t know if I wanted to go to Brugge or Brussels. I’ve been buying bus tickets at the last minute and not having any hostel reservations in advance in the next country. I’ve been lucky in that I could secure hostels the day I get to a country but in more popular cities, it won’t be so easy. I decided from here on out, I should try to plot my course a bit more and also plan a few days in advance.
Ok, Brussels it is.