I keep forgetting to write this post. I’m back home now and in between moving to a new flat (yay) and looking for a new job (boo), living out of a backpack already seems so long ago.
Anyway, last stop Paris, which I’ve already been to a few times as a teenager. Since this means I’ve already seen the EiffelSacreDameD’OrsayLouvreVersaillesPompidou de Triomphe I was planning to just spend a couple of days wandering aimlessly and eating croissants. Which would hopefully be cheap because this is my most expensive hostel of the whole trip, including Tokyo.
I stayed in Belleville, just round the corner from the Parc de Belleville which is the highest park in Paris. It’s not much of a climb since the area’s already pretty high in general, but you get a sort of view of the Eiffel tower from here. (On the right, looking less than majestic)
About 5 minutes further down the road is the Pere Lachaise cemetery, which conveniently is probably the only big tourist sight in the city that I hadn’t seen before. Strikes me as a bit of an odd tourist attraction, but it is a mite more fancy than your average cemetery. You can pick up a map of where all the famous people are buried and go searching for the tombs of your favourite artists and politicians (eh, I didn’t care about any of the politicians).
Edith Piaf, from that one song that everyone knows, and apparently a bunch of other stuff too
Jim Morrison – buried in a tiny out of the way grave, which seems to be so popular that it’s the only grave here (that I saw) which is barricaded so you can’t get up close to it. Bit sad really. There’s a tree next to it that’s had to be protected with bamboo fencing because people keep sticking chewing gum to it. Eww.
Speaking of over zealous fans, Oscar Wilde’s spot now has signs asking people to stop kissing it.
Clearly these signs are doing a lot of good.
After I took a photo of this one, an old guy asked me if I knew about Raspail (well, he was French, so I assume from my mostly forgotten French lessons that that was what he said). He told me this is the tomb of a chemist who was imprisoned for political reasons and the figure is the ghost of his wife, who died without being able to see him again. Nice to have a bit of extra knowledge, I just thought it was a cool statue – it appears I have good taste as he also told me that it appears on a Led Zeppelin record cover.
Next day I met Tatum in my form room who invited me out for a walk with her friends to the nearby Parc de Buttes Chaumont. This isn’t as high as the Parc de Belleville, but it’s way bigger and very pretty – a lovely place to wander around in the morning dodging all the joggers and tai chi practitioners. I have painfully few photos, but I did get the waterfall in the middle!
After we’d said goodbye to Katie, who was leaving for Poland that afternoon, I stuck with Tatum for the rest of the day. Neither of us really had plans, so we just walked. And walked. And walked. There was a lot of walking. We ended up by the Moulin Rouge, then decided to head up to Sacre Couer since we were in the area before heading back to our hostel – that added up to about 6 hours of walking!
The first time I ever came to this area, I was about 13 on a school trip and I remember our teachers asking us not to look out of the coach windows until we got closer to the Sacre Couer. I must have had some vague idea that there were naughty things out there, but I handed realised quite how much until I returned this time – I swear every other doorway is a strip club or a sex shop! I love how stubbornly inappropriate that is next to one of the big family friendly tourist draws of Paris.
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the treats of Paris of course! Although we wound up having a very bog standard bistro lunch, we made up for it with almost hourly diversions into bakeries, patisseries and creperies!
For one last hurrah before getting the train to Cherbourg ferry terminal the next day we spent the evening at a tiny pub, drinking cider (of course), and watching a Scottish band we’d met in the hostel play their first international gig.
So, that’s it then. 343 days later I’ve visited 27 countries, amassed almost 6000 photos, probably doubled my Facebook friends and achieved backpack warrior status in the art of packing light.
Today it’s a bit strange to think that that ended over two weeks ago as I’m sitting surrounded by boxes waiting for an employment agency to call me back and a plumber to come round and look at the boiler. But let’s not end this on a depressing note. Yes, the year was amazing, yes, I’m looking forward to my next (albeit somewhat shorter) holiday, but for now let’s focus on all the things I can enjoy being back home – feel free to join in with your own ideas:
Having my own kitchen
My paddle hairbrush
Walking past a taxi stand without being hassled
The smoking ban
Not having to wonder if the water’s safe to drink
Catching up on all the TV I’ve missed
Sleeping on a familiar mattress every night
Buying a block of cheese and being able to refrigerate what I can’t finish
Understanding the local transport
Malteaster bunnies (my local Argos is still selling these in June)
Not being charged conversion fees for taking out money
A skincare routine that I don’t have to fit into a tiny washbag
Heinz baked beans
Being able to flush toilet paper
A computer that actually works with flash websites
More than 4 t-shirts
Proper British sausages
Oh, and people. Being back with my people is quite nice too.
So, how long is it going to take me to save up and do South America next time?
P.S. I have no idea why WordPress is saying I posted this on June 1st. That makes me sound so impressively up to date. Hey look! I finished my blog the very day after I stepped off the ferry. Clearly this is not true. I may be disorganised, but at least I’m honest. It’s actually the 16th. Shame on me.