Thursday, 9th September
I woke up hearing loud conversations and realised the old couple were approaching their destination. We helped them with their luggage when the train stopped. The train moved gently through the country side of Spain. With cottages and dark green trees lining the tracks. The sun was bright but not the piercing kinds and I fell asleep again.
We reached Paris in the afternoon.
G had already found about the Hostel Aloha, (courtesy the Lonely Planet) where we were to stay for the next few days. The station was huge and we had to cross it on an elevator which went at 9kms/hour. It was kind of funny with us balancing our rucksacks and all. We took the subway to reach our proposed hostel and it was not far.
We walked down the streets asking for directions and came across the neat hostel Aloha. We could see the Eiffel Tower from where we were standing and thought it to be a stone throws distance. Well as we would learn later, one could practically see Eiffel Tower from any corner of Paris and still think its nearby.
The hostel had a reception area in the ground floor where they had chairs and a book shelf. A traveler could pick up a book and leave behind one of the books he was carrying. This place looked like a
treasure trove. The hostel has a funny rule. Nobody is allowed inside the rooms between 1130 am and 5 pm. The chatty receptionist with long hair and a hair band helped us with the registrations and gave us the key to our dormitory.
I washed my pair of jeans and put it on the clothesline attached to the window of our room. It felt like home. I could crane my neck and at
an angle could see the Eiffel Tower and felt very happy about it.
Like people on a mission, we set out to explore the city.
We started walking generally towards the Eiffel Tower and asked for directions and everybody pointed south towards the direction of the Eiffel Tower, which anyone could have seen. What seemed a few meters away was turning out to be a few kilometers away. We walked by fruit sellers, souvenir sellers, fancy restaurants, crepe joints, open parks, houses, colorfully attired people, colorful shops, fancy cars, shopping malls, till we finally reached this huge green manicured lawns, where the Eiffel stood proudly for all the visitors to admire the beauty. It was a magnificent view. And over the next few days, this place would become a regular feature in the itinerary. After going round twice around the base of the Eiffel and staring up at the giant structure from every possible location, we parked ourselves in the open clearing.
G started toying with the camera and clicking the tower from various angles, while an apple gave me company. Few hawkers came selling their wares, cold drinks, beer, trinkets, souvenirs and likes.
The peddlers reminded us of India Gate way back home.
As dusk fell, the tower lit up in hues of purple and silver. The flickering lights were quite an sensuously draped the tower and the beacon lights from a distance started crisscrossing the darkening sky. Reluctantly we picked our day packs and started walking around the Tower area. We walked along the Seine river, crossed it somewhere, walked some more in some quiet localities with unreadable and unpronounceable names and as we drifted along the streets, we literally bumped into a maze of traffic and amongst it stood the Arc de Triomphe.
The Triomphe is located at the Place Charles De Gaulle or otherwise called the Place de I'Etoile. This triumphal arc was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806. We stood there for a while, trying to figure how to cross the moving traffic. But we later realised there was a pedestrian underpass, which we had obviously missed. We moved further down the road, we were now facing Champ Elyses. This two km stretch of road is called the most beautiful avenues in the world. What with lined with trees, luxury shops, high end cafe, cinema, cabaret theater. This stretch of road also happens to be the most expensive piece of real estate. Till about 1600 this place was market fields and gardens and only around the late1700 did this place gain its reputation as a fashionable street.
The people on the streets were beautiful, well attired and there was a small rush outside the Lido. We walked in a huge perfumeries outlet and came out after 10 minutes dipped in the most aromatic and delicious perfumes. We continued our walk, inhaling in the events of the charmin evening and reached the Kennedy station. From there we took the metro
for our hostel Aloha.
The dorm that we were staying in had two more guests, one a Japanese and another an American besides us.