May 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th
I am standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. There is a slight breeze on this chilly night. The city is lit up like a galaxy of stars. A man has just proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes. Everyone around is admiring the beauty of this city at its highest point. In the distance, you can hear music being played as a crowd of people are gathered at the bottom of the tower, preparing for some sort of event. I look into the distance, just trying to soak it all up. I will never want to forget Paris. I love it.
I didn’t have a great first impression of Paris. I barely got any sleep at the airport in Dublin before flying in. I was thrown into a completely foreign country language-wise and managed to find my way onto a subway train called the RER-B, which would take me from the airport. The train smelled of piss. I got lost trying to figure out how to get to my hostel since there are so many damned streets going in all directions. When I got to my hostel, I had to take 6 flights of stairs to get to my room. I was dead tired, it was hot outside, I was pissed off. And since it was only 11 am, I decided to go explore the town a bit. I got lost again, trying to find my to the Basilique du Sacre Couer. There’s a long long flight of stairs leading all the way up. I was dreaming up ways to tell everyone what a shithole Paris was, cursing all the way up the stairs.
Then I got to the top.
I was met by a beautiful church. It was full of tourists which annoyed me because it made me feel like one. ‘I’m not one of them’ I tell myself. ‘I’m a traveller, not a tourist’. I’m an idiot, my apologies. But the view from the Sacre Couer was amazing. I saw Paris sprawled out for miles ahead of me. I saw what a huge city lay in store for me to explore. The church itself was magnificent but that’s because this was my first Parisian church. I haven’t seen anything yet…
I decided to walk back to the hostel and turn in early. I think I made some pasta for dinner. But I really wanted to sleep so I could be fresh for the French Open the next day. All those stairs and walking really helped knock me out all night.
I woke up to a fairly wet day. Knowing that the French Open gets rained on sometimes, I decided to wear my rain jacket instead of my usual fleece. Getting to Roland Garros isn’t hard, took me a while to figure out the metro train system here but it’s really easy when you have a map showing all the lines and connections. For Euro 1.60, you can take the train twice, not counting all the transfers between.
I followed the crowd at the Port d’ Autueil station all the way to the Roland Garros front gates. Once I got in, I immediately went to find out what matches were scheduled for the day (I bought a magazine that had the day’s matches). I decided to check out Marin Cilic, Mikhail Youzhny, Tomas Berdych, and Stanislas Wawrinka play. Watching those guys play was unreal. They hit so hard yet so accurately. I would have to return Cilic’s kick serve by overheading, it jumped THAT high.
After Cilic won the first set, I decided to go check out Youzhny. I was walking toward his court when a guy stopped me and asked if I would answer some questions so I agreed…turns out I was being interviewed by The Tennis Channel! That was awesome…he said I would appear on TV, I don’t know if that’s true or not though. They mainly asked what I bought, what I was planning on buying…I didn’t really buy anything so I think I threw them off a bit since the interviewer’s looked like “Oh…ummm…well…make up anything so we can have something to show…” LOL I tried to make my magazine purchase sound interesting but I also ended up saying “I’ll definitely be getting a T-shirt”. I didn’t though, it was 35 Euro for a t-shirt!
Anyway, once I got done checking out Youhzny, I went back to Court 2 for the Berdych match but the women’s match was still going on so I decided to watch anyway. It started raining though and everyone got out their umbrellas or those with rain jackets/ponchos like myself just sat there. I should’ve gotten an umbrella. So I waited out the rain…when it stopped, an elderly lady and her grandson and daughter sat next to me. Me and the elderly lady, Marie, struck up a conversation. When she found out I was visiting Paris, she started recommending places to visit and eat, it was great. Throughout the rain delays and matches, she was chatting with me and I even got to meet Paul (the grandson) who shared a love for football (his team was Lyon, he was excited I knew the players he named as his favorites). Marie’s daughter, Valerie, didn’t speak English so it was up to Marie to translate for us. Valerie offered me these awesome cookies a couple of times, I ate them up (I later bought a box at a grocery store). There were 3-4 rain delays, stopping matches multiple times, which got annoying. After everything was said and done, after I watched all the tennis I could watch, after parting ways with Marie and her family, I decided to head home. It was about 7:30 pm. Although I didn’t get to see Federer/Nadal/Novak/Roddick/Murray etc. I was happy that I got to attend the French Open, watch some good tennis players, converse with a few locals.
That night, I slept pretty darn good. I had to wake up early the next day to go visit downtown Paris.