I'd always wanted to visit Paris, after I'd seen a scene in a cartoon show take place by the Eiffel tower back in the days when I watched cartoon shows. I know this probably sounds cliché, but I wanted to see the place for myself. So with the money I'd saved up from working part-time, my boyfriend and I bought ourselves flight tickets and searched for a budget hotel to stay in. It had seemed like the days we were going to be travelling were still so far away, but it came faster than we'd expected, as time always does. Soon, we were a few days from it, researching places to visit and packing our bags. I think I'm learning to travel light; we only brought along a small cabin luggage and a sling bag among us and it was more than enough.
It didn't all start very well, kicking off with a flight delay that only meant we lost more hours alongside the time difference. We had an overpriced yet measly lunch at the airport and shared a cup of coffee before I fell asleep. I had a leaky nose and the sniffles, and by that night, I felt so worn out I was so afraid I wouldn't be well enough to walk the next day, but thankfully I woke up feeling much better than the day before.
Bus ride from the airport.
Then there was also the worst experience of the trip just a few hours in our arrival at the new city. As we reached the bottom of the stairs after seeing the basilica, a few black guys came to use with some of that colourful string another had as well when he approached us before we went up the stairs. This time, they were more insistent. Attempting to calm us by saying 'don't be scared, don't be scared', the blocked us from walking away and hooked the string on each of our fingers. I knew nothing good was going to come out of this, but I didn't know how to leave too in that moment. They chattered, asking our names and where we were from, to which I just kept silent throughout and never replied, while twisting some braid with the string hooked to my finger. When they were done, they tied the some sort of bracelet around my wrist and tried to turn Wenkai and me away from each other but I made sure I kept my eye on him in case they tried to do anything funny to any of us. Then they demanded money from Wenkai, lying and saying that they would give him change for a 20euro bill. I don't know why he handed it to them, but then they left, satisfied with their success in swindling us.
There was nothing left we could do except to head off. I was so mad, that a few steps later, I struggled to wrench that stupid string bracelet off my hand. It left me with a sore wrist, but I tossed the wretched thing aside on the street. It was the first place we had visited and I had to leave in such anger, making me feel even less well. We had a simple dinner at a kebab place because we could find no other, where I had some pretty good savoury crepe and then headed back to our hotel.
I don't think it's very pleasant when the thing that others choose to constantly remind you is to be careful of pickpockets before you visit a place, and that was what everyone did when they found out that I was visiting Paris. On that first day, I was filled with so much fear, even when I was not in the Metro but just thinking about how I had to be careful and guard my pockets.
On the second day, I decided that it wasn't the way to live or travel. That is, in fear. I decided that yes, I was going to be careful with my pockets, but I also wasn't going to allow fear and one bad experience ruin the whole trip for me. It also took me a few days, but I cooled myself down by telling myself that those people who ripped us off with the money probably needed it more than we did, and it was then only did I find peace with that incident.
The city from the top of Eiffel tower.
Train ride to Chateau Versailles.
My favourite room in Versailles which was filled with chandeliers.
A wild flower Wenkai plucked for me.
Feathery friends roaming the palace grounds.
Spotting the Eiffel tower from street corners.
(the photo above, and the first photo in this post, are four photos stitched together)
When Wenkai went on and on about how we'll have to eat escargots when we were in France, I'd always crinkled up my face and never imagined that I would even touch them. But after I spotted them on the starters section of the menu and we ordered them, they came, smelling like garlic bread and my hand mechanically picked one up. They had a texture like some shell fish, and I loved the marinade they were cooked it so almost half of the plate above was finished by me.
Savouring escargots, which I surprisingly have developed a liking for.
I think it's a European thing, where they can only give you tea when you ask for hot water.
Sometimes, a big group of children would come onto a carriage that we were in, bringing along an orchestra of chatters. This little girl had wide-set eyes but when she smiled, it was really sweet.
Wenkai writing postcards to his family on the little bedside table in the little room we stayed in.
I like how there seems to be a list of people I know I have to send postcards to each time I travel, and that most of them are always the same. I bought 10 postcards this time, two which Wenkai took, and headed to the post office to purchase stamps but everything was in French so I fumbled around the place attempting the machines and having to google how much it costs to send an international postcard with a very weak free wifi signal we could get there if we stepped out of the building, before queueing at the wrong counter waiting for two people before me who were taking quite long and realising that it was another counter that I needed to go to. I think I hardly spoke in Paris, apart from talking to Wenkai, of course. And it was with a handful of English words that I bought ten stamps with, and thinking later that I'd probably bought too many and that I wouldn't use all of them but ended up wishing I had more postcards to send to a couple more people. Haha, oh well. These pictures are for you if you didn't get a postcard :)
Ps. I uploaded quite a lot of my iPhone photos to instagram, so if you haven't seen them, check them out here! Give me a little follow if you like my photos there :)