Paris Pt 2 – Breathing at the Basilica

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Continued from Part 1

When it was all said and done, I was unsurprisingly happy when my last day in Paris arrived.  Usually when I got to the end of a holiday, the last thing I’d want to do is to go home but this time I was counting down the hours.

In fact at one point earlier in the trip, I’d actually looked at changing my train ticket to an earlier one, but it was way too expensive.

Unfortunately for me, I’d been ‘smart’ about my bookings and ensured I had a late train back to London.  Which meant after I’d checked out of the hotel, I had the entire afternoon and early evening to kill.

How silly of me.  LOL

But unbeknownst to me, the worst part of that entire trip had yet to happen as I made my way to the train station to stow my luggage, and walked to the area of Montmartre.

I’d decided to use my last afternoon to spend the afternoon exploring the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre.  It’s a gorgeous church and has amazing views once you climb the hill at Montmartre.

And amazing it was.  The hill up to the church wasn’t too bad, and at least there were steps and benches you could stop for a breather as you make your way to the top.  Plus it was the first truly sunny day whilst I’d been in Paris, so there were loads of people out and sitting on the grassy hill enjoying the rare April sunshine.

It was all lovely and bright, and even a street-hawker’s attempt to get some money out of me didn’t change things.  The church inside was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the climb up the hill.

What wasn’t so great was my own stupid decision to climb the 300+ stairs to the top of the church for the stunning 360 degree views of the city.  I’d been warned by friends not to do this, but I figured why not since I was already in Paris and I may not get an opportunity to do this again.

For an overweight smoker, that was not a great idea. A really bad, almost dangerous idea.

To get to the top, you had to walk up an enclosed, narrow, winding staircase which had barely any windows and nowhere to stop to catch your breath.  I obviously didn’t run up the stairs and was trying to pace myself, but about half of the way up I started to have chest pains and difficulty breathing.

I expected to be winded after the stairs, but not that.

By the time I’d reached a brief outer walkway before the last of the stairs to the top, I literally couldn’t breath and sounded worse than the most extreme asthmatic.  And the pains in my chest had me scared shitless that I was going to have a heart attack while in Paris.  Alone.

The people behind me caught up to me about 15 minutes later, and they checked to see if I was ok and had water, as they could hear me all the way down the stairs.

After a rest, I eventually made my way up the final narrow stairway (I had to squeeze my fat ass through in a few spots) to the top of the basilica and stayed there for at least a good half hour totally ignoring the views while I tried to catch my breath.  At one point a kind older gentleman there with his adult daughter started to rub my back to help me with my breathing… not sure if it helped or if he was just trying to hit on me.  LOL

Once I taken my prerequisite pictures of the view (amazing.. but not worth that agony), I slowly made my way down the stairs (separate staircase) and spent the next hour on the hill near the church catching my breath.  And downing a couple bottles of water in the process.

And that pain in my chest?  It lingered with me for a couple of days after I’d returned to London making me wonder if I had done some sort of damage to my heart or lungs…and gave me a really good scare.

Which of course was also a catalyst for me to try to quit smoking again by going back to the vape (it’s been almost 3 months now), so at least one good thing came out of it.

Now if only I could get my fat ass to the gym. 😉

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