You can survive on bread, water and gummiworms

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
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Trip End Oct 17, 2008


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Flag of France  ,
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I have been walking 7 hours nonstop since this morning to take in everything.  There is just too much to see and even though it's pillaging my wallet, it's worth the money.  If you know the place I have walked from the Arc de Triomphe to well past the Louvre back to the Eiffel Tower and now back to past the Louvre. 

I finally found a hotel (I use that term loosely), and it's a total dive.  For $60 you get a tiny, cramped room that hasn't seen a refurbishment since the Korean War.  You can lay on the bed and touch each wall with your hands and feet.  The bathroom is somewhere down the hall with an unusual toilet that is missing the seat, and the shower two floors below me requires a key from the front desk which is five floors below me.  Do the math to see how many flights of stairs it takes to clean off.  Now I know why Parisians don't all seem to bathe.  All this in Paris for just a mere $60 and it is considered a steal.  I just hope I don't get $60 worth of bedbugs tonight.

The impression I had of Paris in my head before I landed is nowhere near what I have found in reality.  The people are actually quite nice and the streets are not laced with dog crap every two steps.  In fact this is a very clean city.  My first glimpse of Paris was the sunrise reflecting off the Arc de Triomphe and that just set the stage for a great day of wind cooled, chilly air.  It was 42 degrees when I got here and I don't think it's gone above the 60s.  You couldn't ask for a better day to see a big city on foot.

Thirty minutes in line and another $16 out of my ever draining wallet brought me high above Paris, and I can finally strike the Eiffel Tower off my list of places to see.  The tower itself is taller than I imagined and you ride in a rickety elevator up to the 2nd viewing level.  From there you transfer to an equally rickety elevator to the top.  The entire city just sprawls on forever it seems and even a week wouldn't be enough to see it.  I am not a museum person at all so that saves some time for sure since I would rather be out pounding the sidewalks taking in how this city moves.

Blvd. St. Germaine was the highlight of my afternoon because of the old buildings with intricate terra cotta detailing and flower draped balconies.  There was so much street life to watch, and people packed all the sidewalk cafes.  They sit in rows facing the street and everyone is on top of each other.  I found a tiny bakery where I was able to finally break my fast with a $4 1.5 liter bottle of water and a tasty $6 baguette with 3 thin pieces of ham on it.  Basically I paid that much for the equivalent of a 59 cent roll from Publix and three slices of deli ham that would add about 50 more cents.  A pack of gummiworms from the tiny market next door rounded out my meal and I will do it again for dinner.

Paris is a very worthy stop on my world tour and I look forward to another afternoon here after my Tunisia visit.  I am curious how tomorrow morning is going to unfold because the "hotel" is locked from 2am to 7am.  I hope I can get out at 5am to take the subway to the airport bus.  Also, my big bag is in storage at the airport and I have to pick it up at 7:15.  The guy stressed three times if you aren't there to get it at the appointment time, you are just out of luck.  So keep your fingers crossed that I don't get stuck in the hotel and I can get my bag before my 8:45am flight to Tunis.
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