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Tom’s European Vacation (Part 1): Paris

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Years passed (or at least one did) and Europe beckoned…  By the way – for those that missed the previous posts, years didn’t just simply pass – as they often do; and I suppose they did in a way – but, to be more accurate, in this particular situation years passed between my previous exploits abroad and today – or rather the moment in which I decided to go to Europe. That was a moment – I remember it well; although not much happened at the particular moment…  perhaps I just went to a travel agent.

Anyway…

I was drawn to the continent – it beckoned with the long pointy part of Denmark; so I went to Paris. Nothing much grabbed my fancy at the outset; I booked a cheap hotel using the wonderful http://www.laterooms.co.uk which furnished me with a seemingly very respectable hotel in the centre of Paris – a brief walk from Gare du Nord.

DSC00452Simple really – how could I go wrong, nice looking hotel near the station…  those that travel may already know the error of my ways (an error I managed to repeat all across Europe), but for those that have yet to be enlightened to the ‘raw facts’ with regard to travellers I will continue writing as the innocent that I am. So, there I was, in Paris – a brief walk, following my map printed from the website, thinking to myself:

“Travel is so easy today, one day I’m sitting at work booking a trip to Paris, the next I’m actually here…”DSC00449

The first sight I see? Obvious:

So – ok, it’s the famous Moulin Rouge nothing too worrying about that. Indeed it is still the den of inequity that it ever was – except now it’s all sanitised (I should think – I couldn’t actually afford the £80 entrance fee so continued onto my hotel). The hotel was pleasant enough and the area seemed comfortable – with restaurants and cafes strewn all over the place. Knowing, as I did, that the Basillica

was only a 10 minute walk away it seemed like I was in the heart of the tourist area…

DSC00517Which, perhaps I was. On the other hand perhaps I was close to the railway station and, therefore, not too far away from the very centre of the red light district. Having worked in Amsterdam years ago (I was a Software Engineer before you jump to any conclusions) my expectation of a red-light district is exactly that: lots and lots of red lights. A beacon to all who have lost their way, red lights and scantily clad women in windows – you know where you areDSC00497 in Amsterdam. In Paris, however, things are a little less obvious – you can just as simply walk through an old wooden doorway to find yourself in a beautifully old fashioned bar with excellent service as you can enter an establishment that seems almost to be a carbon copy except for the overly attentive female clientele – who, after some thought, you realise aren’t buying drinks.

So, in summary, even the catholic church overseeing the whole experience doesn’t stop any of it happening – but then ‘it’ isn’t illegal in France so the boundaries of right and wrong are blurred once more.

Favourite phrases: I need calcium. Must drink some more milk.

Best Memory: finally finding my hotel after I had been lost for some two or three hours in a series of streets that all looked the same. (Admittedly I relaxed for about an hour in a bar somewhere before returning, so it wasn’t quite as bad as I make out)…

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