Getting lost is all a part of backpacking so it was natural I would get lost trying to find my hostel after exiting the train station on my first solo day alone in Europe. Little did I know I would spend the entire day getting lost.
Arriving at the hostel some 6-7 hours before check in, I was going to have to explore on all of 3 hours plane sleep. At this stage though sleep was far from my mind, I was in freaking PARIS. Surrounded by the little cobblestone streets of Montmartre, I dumped my belongings at the hostel and headed off following a sign that said Sacre Coeur.
As it was only 9am on a Sunday I had the streets to myself. With the sun shining and the air so still it had the makings of a beautiful day. That was all it took and I was unable to contain the tourist in me any longer, I broke out the camera and began snapping away. Eventually spotting the top of Sacre Coeur I climbed the first of many steps that day.
Arriving at such a tourist attraction so early afforded me little competition in finding the perfect spots to take a picture. Which was just as well because the view laid out in front of me forced me to sit. Not in Paris more than 2 hours and already I was at one of the best vantage point to see the city of love. I must of sat there for a good 30 minutes just taking in everything before I actually began capturing the moment with my camera.
Next I entered the church, dodging the begging women at the door. Then for the second time I was left speechless. Standing just meters inside the door the grand building shines back at you with splendor Such detail in everything you see I had to sit for 10-20 minutes just to take it all in.
After getting my first church visit out of the way I wandered off into the beautiful streets of Montmartre. Finding my way to Pigalle and Moulin Rouge. The movie of the same name has a lot to answer for in building up what I thought the place would look like. Still I was pleased with my ability to find it given I had no map.
The next 2-3 hours I wandered the streets of Montmarte. Up and down the hills and steps as I found more treasures like the Place du Tertre, where portrait artists fill the space between restaurants. Even more of a find were the small gated gardens hidden behind churches and between buildings.
As I took a moment to rest and sit down in one, I realised I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the great weather. Parisians gathered like moths to a flame laying out in the sun. Guys and girls alike bared their all in the hope of obtaining that elusive summer tan.
Glancing down at my watch after such a day I noticed it was time to go and check in for my first even hostel experience. Filled with dread at the thought of being bunked with horrible dorm mates for my first night I checked in and lumbered off with my backpack in toe.
Perhaps I was just lucky (time will tell) but I was bunked down with two girls, one from Canada and the other Spain and a guy from America who was returning home after being expelled from at school in France. All three fun, talkative and full of little stories from where they have been.
The night was spent going out for a Kebab with my unlucky american friend and then chatting away to the girls about where they have travelled and what they intend to visit next.
As my first night abroad ended and I crawled onto the top bunk that would be my bed for the next few days and I couldn’t help but smile at what a great day I had enjoyed. What would tomorrow bring when I actually had a map to lead me places, could it better this first day of aimless wandering?
that’s so cool; it’s finally happened. I loved reading about your posts before you’d left but now that you’re on your trip it’s even better.
We’re only about 50 days behind you so this is making me really excited! Vive la France!
.-= Thom and Sean´s last blog ..How do I want to write about all of ‘this’? =-.
Hey boys. Yes I’ve finally crossed into that backpacker guy I’ve been talking about becoming for so long. I’m really looking forward to what else lies ahead for me.
Welcome to Paris!
Yes, you are lucky, Montmartre is the highest point in Paris and you have the city at your feet! Plus I loooove the Sacre Coeur Basilica (It’s not COUR btw, it’s CŒUR which means Sacred Heart). I love the statues of the angels on the ceiling!
Hope you have a great time in Amsterdam!
.-= Daniel N.´s last blog ..Hanging Prayers =-.
Hey Daniel. Montmartre was beautiful and when I go back I’ll be staying there again. Damn typo’s I wrote the post while travelling and forgot to double check on spelling. I’ve fixed it all now 🙂
Nice story! I hope that my first days of RTW travel (next week!) will be as interesting and that I meet such nice people as you did. Peru, here I come…!
.-= Dave´s last blog ..The mysterious Bavarian Wolpertinger =-.
Thanks Dave. It was a great start that’s for sure. I’ve actually met up with the girl from Spain in Amsterdam and we are going to travel to Berlin together.
Chris, your enthusiasm for everything you see and do during this trip shines through here. It makes me happy for you just reading it. (And okay, I’m living vicariously through you, too!) Sounds like you’re having the time of your life. 🙂
.-= Gray´s last blog ..Shiny Travel Objects: May 2, 2010 =-.
awww thanks a lot Gray. I’ll admit its been pretty darn awesome so far. I’ve had a couple of moments where I’ve been less than impressed with but hey I’m travelling, gotta roll with the punches.
I’m still so new to it all so my enthusiasm is high. Hope its still there after a month or so.
Aimlessly traveling is my favorite way to travel! That is how you can find all the neat little places, like the gardens you talked about that I am sure are not listed in any guide books 🙂
.-= Cailin´s last blog ..Do It While Your Young – Trip Financing Webinar =-.
It really was a great day to just wander about. I completely forgot about having had almost no sleep. I found a great little store to buy a baguette and everything. Very good first day.
I love getting lost. The best part about backpacking is that it affords you the time to just walk aimlessly through a city.
.-= ayngelina´s last blog ..Do not go to Belize City =-.
It was really good Ayngelina. I just wandered about and had a lot of fun. Mind you I swear I walked up and down the same hill about 3 times at one stage.
OMG, I can just feel your excitement in your words, which makes me excited in return!!!!!!! Getting lost is the best way to explore. 🙂
.-= Andi´s last blog ..imgp2629 =-.
Thanks Andi. I truly couldn’t have had a better day given the amount of travel time I had in getting to Paris to begin with.
As time goes on you’ll probably remember the places you discovered without maps much more than the places you visit while using them. Either way, glad to see how excited you are about your experiences!
.-= Earl´s last blog ..Valladolid, Samula and Mother’s Day Songs =-.
Thanks Earl. It’s been great fun and has really opened my eyes to just doing things. I’m far less worried about being somewhere or so forth than I used to be.
I can’t wait to experience my first night away and if mine goes as well as yours I’ll be very happy. It’s easy to see how much your enjoying yourself and it’s great to read!
.-= Poi´s last blog ..Random Traveller #4 =-.
Hey Poi. Given the nerves etc I had on the flight over it was a great relief trust me. A bad first day would really have thrown me off.
Siiiigh. Wish I were with you on your journey, Chris. I can’t wait to get back to Paris.
.-= Candice´s last blog ..Guest Post: Don’t Eat the Spacecakes in Amsterdam =-.
hehe so I guess I just have to bring my journey to Canada huh 🙂