Friday 28 August 2015

Remembering the not so great trip to Paris...

[11th august]

We left Brighton bright and early, luckily there was a direct train to St Pancreas which is where we were catching the Euro Star. This was a first time for me although I have been to Paris before, which ended in disaster, maybe I should tell the story...

Many moons ago, when I was a college student my mate Sam and I decided to go inter-railing for the summer, for those that don't know, you could buy a 4 week rail pass which allowed you to travel all over Europe.

The start of the trip should have been an indicator of what was going to happen, I met Sam in Birmingham, where she discovered she had left her passport on her bed in Liverpool! We ended up staying over and my Nana's house and her mom posted the passport down. It was this trip that we heard the story of my granddad walking 15 miles to see a dead donkey! He also tried to get Sam (a vegetarian) to eat a ham sandwich, insisting that the pig had been a veggie too!

Eventually we managed to leave the country and we spend the first week city hopping, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin then we found ourselves locked out of a youth hostel at 10pm in a small town in Germany. We walked back to the train station, the choice was a night train to paris or sleep at the station.

We decided on the night train. We pull into Paris first thing in the morning, both of us feeling awful, I felt like I had a migraine and hangover rolled into one. We get off the train and decide we need to change some money - this was pre-Euro days, and then we discover we have been robbed!

No money other than some loose change in various currencies, no passports, we had our rail tickets and I had a credit card. We eventually found the police station to report the crime, it was horrid, the police were horrible, but they said it was a common thing and that we felt awful because the robbers used gas canisters to knock the passengers out before robbing them.

The very unhelpful police told us we needed to go to the British Embassy since we had no passports. We managed to call Sam's mom, who in return called my mom, who promptly cancelled the credit card! Although we didn't know this at the time.

We walked for miles to find the embassy, when we got to 119 on the street that the police had given us, we found ourselves outside a closed Italian restaurant!

We sat on the pavement and just laughed, it would have been that or cried! Luckily 2 lads were walking by and asked if we were ok, we told them our tale and the said they would take us to the embassy but we were in the wrong side of town so it would mean a ride on the metro. We didn't have money for the metro but the lads showed us how to jump the barriers so we didn't have to pay!

We finally made it to the embassy and we said our thank you's and goodbyes to the lads that had helped us. Then we were greeting by a f'ing twonk of all twonks, we had obviously interrupted his Sunday tennis game. You would have though that two 19 year old girls who were stuck with no money and no passport would have gotten some help. The embassy chap was rude and not helpful at all, wouldn't even allow us to use the phone so we could let our parents know we were OK. He gave us an 'official' bit of paper to act as a temporary passport and sent us on our way.

We managed to make our way to Calais, by this time we had eaten or drunk anything since dinner time in Germany 24 hours before. We went to buy ferry tickets with the credit card and that is when we discovered that the card had been cancelled. I managed to call my mom in a panic because at this point we were totally stuck. Luckily between my mom, the ticket lady and the bank, they managed to sort the transaction out but I wasn't able to use the card for anything else. We still had very little money. 

We pooled together what we had got and we had enough to buy a cheap bottle of wine or a sandwich each. We went for the wine! Just as you though the tale was coming to a close, the ferries were stopped because of bad weather. We ended up spending the night at the ferry station. All was not lost, we met a group of lads who took pity on us and fed us lots of beer and kept us amused with their daft antics.

We eventually got on the ferry and we went to the cafe to see if we could buy some food with the bit of change we had left, the waitress felt sorry for us after hearing our tale and gave us both a free meal. Thank you ferry waitress lady, your kindness has never been forgotten!

Once we got to Dover, we had to yomp from the ferry station over to the train station, I don't remember how far it is now but I know it felt like forever! Finally we made it into London and on to trains to take us back home. 

So, that was my previous experience of Paris, not exactly a bundle of fun! So it was with nervous in-trepidation that I headed over there this year. 

Our journey went without any issues. I had booked an apartment with AirBnB so we made our way to the apartment OK, of course, when you arrive in a new country it's always a bit of a challenge to get your head around the transport system. I asked a local or two for help and they were both very kind and obliging, not the rude French stereotype.

We were met at the apartment and shown around, rather a quirky place and at the 5th floor, which to be honest was a bit of a killer! By this time it was late afternoon, so we just had a wander around the neighbourhood, getting the lay of the land as it were and picked up some food for dinner and breakfast. We both collapsed into bed pretty early.

Tomorrow we go adventuring....

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