With my first morning in Paris snapping me awake earlier then I had wanted (curse you jetlag) I battled the wake up protocol of the dorm room. Do you wait for others to rise, damn why didn’t I get my toiletries out of my bag last night so I wouldn’t make too much noise, I need to pee but climbing from my squeaky bunk will wake everybody.
After a short while the battle to pee took over and I climbed down and began my morning. Grateful for a shower with hot water I made myself presentable and headed for a breakfast of croissants and cereal.
Discussions last night with my dorm mates lead to my first outing with a new friend. My dorm mate from Spain joined me as I headed off for the Free Walking Tour of Paris. Well almost free as they expect a tip at the end, how much depends on what you thought of their efforts. I saw tips from 5 – 20 Euro but really its up to you.
My guide for the day was Kayla, a Canadian local (I’ve met a lot of Canadians, lots more than Aussies so far) who has been living and studying here. With a flair for talking she proved to be a great host over the next 4 hours as we strolled along the streets of Paris.
Mingling with other tour goers I found some Aussies at last. One was waiting for her Contiki Tour to begin while the other was over from the UK on a holiday from her nannying job. It was nice to have a local too chat with and compare Europe with Australia etc. As the tour progressed I got talking to just about everybody there and also turned into the would be photographer for all of the couples.
Our tour started at Notre Dame and ended at the Obelisk of Luxor. The tour seemed over before it had begun, I guess time really does fly when your enjoying yourself. Learning a few bits of history that may or may not have been true this Canadian girl sure knew how to keep the group enthralled for the entire tour.
One little bit of information that I did find cool was from a bridge we crossed. Not only was it used for some scene out of the Sex and the City Movie, but its also where lovers come to dedicate their love to each other. They bring a padlock and write their name and date on it. Then they lock the padlock to the fence and toss the key off into the river Siene forever sealing their love. Kinda cute when you think about it, pity the city come along and cut all the locks off when they get too many.
Another thing I enjoyed about the tour was the friendliness of everyone. Maybe I just got lucky with the guide and group of people but I’ll be sure to look into the other free tours now and see how they compare. My next one will be in Amsterdam so lets hope it’s not a let down.
As the tour finished up I said au revior to my new friends. Which was some what saddening given over just four hours ago I didn’t know these people and now I would happily share a beer with them. Still I knew there would be more ‘moment’ friends, all would help make up the adventure that I am on. Some I will miss some I defiantly wont and hopefully a few I can call friends forever.
I wasted away the rest of the day re-tracing some of my steps from the tour for more photos and so I could sneak a peak inside Notre Dame. Sitting in the garden behind the great church soaking up the sun before I made for the hostel was the perfect end to another great day.
I just hoped that my good run would continue tomorrow as I had planned even more sights to see.
Nice post Chris – I’m really enjoying reading about your first forays into the hosteling scene.
These free walking tours are such a great way to meet people and get a feel for the city. The one in Munich is cool too if you are heading there anytime soon.
Thank Anna. I’m not going to make Munich at this stage, just Berlin. The free tours have been a great way to orientate myself in a new city.
Mate you’ve not been at it long enough if you’re laying in bed waiting for others to wake up! There is considerate … and then there is realistic! Glad to hear about your first days in Europe though.
Sounds like you enjoyed the ‘free’ walking tour. I’ve been on a couple and have enjoyed them for the most part. I’m not entirely sure, but the way I understand it, the guide has to pay New Europe Tours per each head on the tour. So if they don’t get the tips, it ends up costing them money. Which seems to be a shame to me.
.-= Matt´s last blog ..A Day Trip on New Zealand’s West Coast (Photo Essay) =-.
I hear ya Matt. I’ve very much got over worrying about waking people up now. Especially after my first night here in Berlin where I was awoken to a girl going through 50 thousand plastic bags at 7am.
Yes you have it right. The tour guides pay New Europe and then they make any extra money on top of what they owe. For the most part though the guides have been really great so that helps in the tips department.
I really hope they come out on top as yes it would be a shame to put in so much work and then end up backwards.
Ooh the locks on the bridge are really cool! I’ll have to go find that when I’m in Paris in June. Bon voyage!
.-= Lindsay´s last blog ..Taxicab Confessions of a Goan Taxi Driver =-.
Hey Lindsay. I know how cool of an idea is that. If you wander down the river from Notre Dame you will find it.
Aaww I love that idea with the pad locks! Now I wanna go there even more..! And when I do, I’ll bring the biggest pad lock of all ;P
.-= Sofia – As We Travel´s last blog ..Goodbye Central America – Adventure In Costa Rica & Peru =-.
haha Sofia I think its a really cool idea too. Some of the locks were really funky. I laughed at the one with a combination lock though. Guess they can take back their love if it all goes bad 🙂
I’d have been the same way, Chris “Should I get up? Should I not get up?” I hope those couples reciprocated by taking photos of you too!
.-= Gray´s last blog ..A Solo Traveler Does Family Travel =-.
Hey Gray. Yes they did which I was really glad about. I’m so not enjoying the take your own photo shots thats for sure.
The ‘moment’ friends thing reminded me of the movie Fight Club when Edward Norton refers to friends on trips that he makes as ‘single-serving friends’
.-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..New Brew Tuesday: The Battle of the Modelos =-.
It’s been awhile since I saw Fight Club so I might have to re-watch it to see that bit. It’s true though, unless you swap facebook/twitter they just disappear.
I’ve always wanted to do a walking tour, sounds like the best way to get to know a city. Did you put a lock up mate??? 😉
.-= Andi´s last blog ..imgp2629 =-.
Hey Andi. The walking tours have been a good way to find my way around the city straight up. I’ve tried to do them the first full day I have that way I can go back to see the sites I liked later and meet some new friends to explore with later.
haha I would have loved to put a lock up, alas I had nobody there to share it with.
I think my heart just melted with the padlock explanation. Great job! Looking forward to keeping up with your trip. <3
.-= Erica´s last blog ..Couchsurfing Communities =-.
haha it’s a pretty cool idea huh Erica. Guess they don’t call Paris the city of love for nothing.
I’ll be there this summer and will definitely put on my walkin’ shoes.
.-= Lisa Teller´s last blog ..Travel Photography =-.
Hey Lisa. You need your walking shoes for sure, just don’t take runners. So far I’ve found the best things and sights by walking around.
Sure you might get lost but hey just means you get to see even more things finding your way home.
We think alike as travelers! The free walking tours are a great way to find your way around and then go back and see your favorite sites later. Just got back from Paris and absolutely loved everything mentioned above. Great city, my legs will never be the same after all the stairs. Cheers!