Like a lot of people out there, I absolutely love to travel and explore new places. There’s no better feeling than wandering around a city you’ve never been to before to get a feel of the place, admire the different architecture, and get first-hand experience of a different culture.
And because I love nothing better than exploring a city by foot and find some hidden gems, I would always ensure I’ve found a place to stay that was fairly central without breaking my budget. Or making me share a bathroom with strangers. *Shudders*
But for some reason I completely ignored my own instincts when I went to Paris this past April. And that probably attributed to why I didn’t enjoy this trip as much as I might have.
I’d never really considered Paris a ‘must see’ city on my bucket list, but more of a ‘one of these days’ sort of place. Or at least I’d hope to be able to go with someone special once day.
Originally when I was looking to take some much needed time off in the Spring, I had planned on spending a few days splayed out on a Spanish nude beach. But a co-worker had just come back from Paris with his wife (for Valentine’s Day no less), and he kept extolling how amazing the city was that I eventually decided to try something new instead of yet another trip to Spain (went to Spain 5 times last year alone…). He kept raving about how amazing the city was, and how terrific the hotel they’d stayed at was, how easy it was to get around, and so forth.
So out of curiosity, I looked into it and surprisingly found a great Eurostar deal, and the hotel he’d suggested was probably one of the cheapest I’d found (especially when it included breakfast and wasn’t just a single bed). So in the end I figured why the hell not.
Damn I wish I’d gone to the beach as originally planned…
The first mistake was that stupid hotel. Sure, it was clean, the (very) basic breakfast was filling enough, the room fairly comfortable, and the neighbourhood was very quiet … all quite good things in the end. But it basically just felt like any other plain, generic budget hotel chain you could find anywhere in the world, and that was the problem for me. No Parisian feel to it.
Plus it was SOOOOOO far away from central Paris. I ended up spending too much time and money on the stuffy Metro system. And the directions my co-worker had given me took me on a longer and more complicated route to find the place upon arrival.
He clearly didn’t check a map when they went.
There wasn’t much nearby the hotel, and on the Sunday evening literally everything was closed in the area including the restaurants. So I found myself trekking all over just to find a place open to have dinner and buy cigarettes. And because I hadn’t planned on that, I didn’t have any transit tickets with me, so had to walk about 45 minutes to get back to the hotel.
Besides the issues with the hotel, I just didn’t find myself excited about being in Paris itself.
Now I’m not sure if it was my disappointment over the hotel, but I just couldn’t get myself excited to tour around Paris. Sure, I did all the usual things – Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur, the Louvre, and so forth – but none of it got me excited or thrilled that I was in Paris.
It also didn’t help things any that I was having issues with the battery on my mobile, as it kept dying on me mid-afternoon. And this was with me not leaving the hotel until almost noon each day with a full charge.
So more than anything I kept feeling frustrated in Paris. And as my legs were a bit sore, the last thing I’d wanted to do was to wander the streets like I normally would… so I ended up doing a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city and only going to the major tourist points.
And for some reason, the last thing I’d felt like doing each night was trek back into central Paris to go out to one of the gay bars. I’d stopped at one not too far from Notre Dame on my first afternoon there, and I just wasn’t impressed. And this was a place friends of mine had recommended to me.
So moral of the story? Do your own research into where to stay. Go with your gut when picking a location. And go where you truly want to go, not where everyone says you should.
Next – Part 2 of the trip, and the issues I had on my last day.