Last night, we arrived to our Airbnb apartment around 10pm. The owner keyed us into the main door from out in the street and directed us to walk to the end of the alley and take the stairs up to the second floor. We didn’t realize it at the time but here, they cover alley ways so it was a bit scary to walk between these two tightly packed buildings, squeeze past dumpsters, and make our way up rickety stairs that lead to a couple of doors that didn’t seem to sturdy. As we attempted to find the right door without any labels or bungees, we struggled to get the key to work and were nervous we were attempting the wrong apartment. We heard the door adjacent to us lock from the inside. We probably scared whoever lives there with all our racket.
The change in pressure apparently triggered a migraine in me and I had a very rough night. I had a splitting headache and threw up a few times before the pain would settle long enough for me to sleep. Once settled in though, our apartment is very cozy. It’s very small as you’d expect from a Paris home but it’s super clean and it seems to be in a safe place despite the terrifying entrance.
As we were getting ready for the day Brian read up on local customs, weather, crime, etc. Some interesting things to note, the French rarely wear shorts unless it’s unusually hot. It’s just not considered dressy enough. Also, pick pocketing is a big deal here. We read that you should never take your phone out on a train unless you want it swiped right from your hands, never carry more than a few dollars in your pocket, and never stop to talk to anyone. I don’t know if this is an exaggeration or not. When I was in Barcelona, which is known for its petty theft, I almost got pick pocketed so I’m inclined to listen to this advice. Also, apparently where we are staying, it’s a dense population of Sri Lankans which I believe was the nationality of the woman who owns our apartment.
Paris is pretty awesome. Today, Brian and I walked over 10 miles of the city. People are very friendly and can tell just from looking at us that we’re American and they don’t seem to mind Speaking English to us. Brian and I keep breaking out into Spanish and it is my hope that like in Spain, people just assume I’m Spanish and that’s why I keep saying Hola and Por Favor!
I love our neighborhood. It’s very busy with people who all seem to just be doing their thing. It feels safe but with just a little bit of sketch to keep us on edge. We’re staying in the Northwest part of the city and began walking west and then south around the center of Paris. We saw so many things so I’ll just list a few. Of course we saw the Eiffel Tower which was way more exciting than I expected. As we sat on the lawn enjoying the day some guys were peddling wine so we bought some crappy French wine for entirely too much. Then the guys got busted by the police for selling it to us and other tourists. As they sat there waiting for their judgement I said “sorry about that guys” and they were like “don’t worry about it. This happens all the time.” It was pretty funny. Brian and I Joked that those guys probably live in the neighborhood where we’re staying. Tonight, after a fantastic French meal, we walked by those guys right down the street from our apartment! So we’re making friends already. Ha!
We saw the arc de Triomphe which is quite impressive to the smaller arcs around the city. And we walked past art museum, the Louvre, which apparently used to be Napoleon’s home! The museum is so large it is said to take 2 weeks to explore it. Considering my attention span lasts about two hours, when we return in two days, I suspect we’ll just be skimming the surface of what the museum has to offer.
We also walked through large parks and went to the Napoleon museum that celebrates all the great French leaders and even had Napoleon’s tomb. It was all quite impressive but it was definitely more Brian’s thing than mine.
We briefly walked through the shopping district but didn’t last long as it wasn’t too inviting. Security guards at every door, super expensive vehicles outside each store that the stores pick customers up in and bring them to the store. I saw a pair of underwear for $400.
I wanted to go to Moulin Rouge but we don’t have the right attire for it. Since we only have clothes basically suitable for hiking, we’re not going to be welcome in several places I would have otherwise wanted to go. It’s not that everyone here is super stylish but there is definitely a higher percentage and certain establishments have a dress code.
Someone tried to scam us today exactly how we read about it. We were sitting on a park bench looking at a map on our phones when a man walked in front of us, picked up a very nice gold ring from the dirt, and tried to give it to Brian. We read that in this scam two men are working together and the man with the ring is the decoy. We both said no and we did not move our hands at all. Mine were in my pockets so I could feel where my items were and that no one was taking them. Brian made a point to not move his hands because often they’ll scare you so you instinctively pat the pocket where your wallet is, notifying them where to aim their pick pocketing. It’s quite amazing what they can do and we were lucky to have spotted that as a scam as it was happening.
For breakfast, we sat outside and people watched as we ate croissants, for lunch Brian found a well rated Morrocan restaurant and for dinner, we found a great French that didn‘t have a dress code. Everyone was so nice to us.
Tomorrow we have tickets to see the catacombs which are tunnels under Paris where millions of bodies have been laid and their skeletons still remain.