On the Eurostar (Day Seven)
Trip Start Aug 16, 2012
32Trip End Oct 01, 2012
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It took around two and a half hours to get from London to Paris' Gare du Nord. That's incredible considering how far apart the two cities are. The train zips you through the English and French countryside as farmland, streams, and small villages whizz by. Seats are spacious and comfortable and luggage is stored up above you or to the side.
I don't think I realized we were going under the channel until about a third of the way in. It just seems like one long tunnel and doesn't take very long to go through. You can tell when you're approaching the surface because you start to feel pressure in your ears from the changing elevation. A couple seconds later, you see sunlight - and realize that you've made it to France!
I got to Paris around 9:00pm local time and went down to the metro station at Gare du Nord. At the ticket office, I purchased a pack of 10 metro tickets (a carnet) for around 13 euros. You only get one ride on the metro per ticket, but it includes any transfers. You will soon find out that you may have to make multiple transfers to get to where you want to go!
Luckily, my hostel was located near Place de la Republique, which is only a couple of stops away on the Orange line. While on the metro, I remember feeling a little overwhelmed by Paris. It was definitely not as clean and orderly as London and the people seemed less familiar. I got off at the my station and walked up the stairs... right into a construction zone!
Apparently, they were renovating the square as much off it was blocked off with fencing and there was even some scaffolding on the giant statue. This made it hard because I couldn't see the street I needed to walk down to get to my hostel. I knew the street signs would be on the sides of buildings so I walked in a circle around the perimeter. Lots of streets lead to this square, but I needed to find the one that would take me northeast towards the Canal St. Martin.
Thinking that I found the right one, I started walking down expecting to come across the canal at some point. I must have walked for 10 minutes until I realized I had been going the wrong way. I had been going in the opposite direction (southwest) along a street with a very similar name. Frustrated at myself, I turned around and started walking the way I came, all the while with my two heavy backpacks in tow.
I eventually found my hostel and my room on the first floor. I walked inside and was pleasantly surprised. Two bunk beds and a nice ensuite bathroom. The street outside is quite noisy with people, motorbikes, and buses going by, but I discovered here that I'm quite a deep sleeper!
One other person was inside the room - Sam from New York City. He had just arrived to Paris as well and was travelling around Europe for a week and a half after visiting his girlfriend's family in Lebanon. He wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower that night, but I was too exhausted. Paris was going to have to wait until morning.