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?