So, last time I left off after my time in London ended. This was pretty uneventful. I took a ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, and then from there I caught a train to Brussels. This is the part where things started to go a bit wrong. Due to my lack of knowledge of train stations and the Brussels public transit network, I was lost in the city for hours. At the start, I had nails that were in very nice condition, but by the end they were broken, torn stubs. I ruin my nails when I’m stressed.
I think Brussels is the first time I experienced culture shock, but I’ll skip over that part of the journey, as it’s not very interesting.
Eventually, after hours of buses, trains, and walking, I managed to locate my hostel. It was an alright hostel, and it was there that I met one of my roommates, Kate, a women from South Korea. Kate had also arrived that day (after also getting lost), so we bonded and spent the next day together exploring the city. This included a couple of museums, finding the famous “Pissing boy” statue, and getting lured into having lunch at a restaurant that promised us free champagne if we ate there.
We had both decided to only spend two nights in Brussels, and so, as we were both heading to Paris, caught a train together and eventually made it to France. Kate was only spending a night there before she caught a flight to Spain, and so afterwards, we said our goodbyes.
The following week, I spent a very awesome time seeing the sites, checking out museums, including the Louvre (the Mona Lisa is a lot smaller than I expected), and just generally enjoying the city. During my time in Paris, I got to go to the top of the Effiel tower, explored Notre Dame, went to a couple museums (I can’t remember the name of the one that wasn’t the Louvre…), visited the statue of St. Michel, and walked along the river at night as the entire city was lit up (Gorgeous!). It was also a very tasty place as far as food went. I didn’t venture as far as to try escargot, but a hot crepe, smothered in Nutella, with amaretto ice cream and powdered sugar, utter heaven.
While in Paris, I took a day trip to Versailles, which was gorgeous. I didn’t get to see the gardens because I had got out there later than I had planned, and the closing times they had posted on their site were different than the ones they had when I got there, but the palace was absolutely stunning.
It was a really great week, and a great city. By this time it was also easier, because my culture shock was going away, and enough people spoke enough English that I was able to get by. The French I WAS able to use wasn’t too shabby either. It’s something I might seriously take up again when I return.
I saw Kate once more before I left Paris, she was flying home out of Paris and had returned from Spain the night before I left. We had some (really cheap & terrible) champagne that night, and then said a second set of goodbyes. The following morning, I was on a train heading for Madrid.
Hostels I stayed at were:
Brussels – HI (YHA) Generation Europe. Alright hostel. Bit out of the way of a lot of things and Internet was spotty.
Paris – Hostel Arty. Also an alright hostel. No lockers in rooms to actually store your stuff, and this one was a decent metro trip away from the sites. But it was quiet and pleasant. Lack of plugins in the rooms though.
Recommendations: The louvre, of course. I rode to the top of the Effiel tower, which was cool, although maybe not something I’d do again. Do try and see one of the nightly light shows though. They happen after dark, at every hour, for maybe 5-10 minutes. Versailles is something I’d see again, and see it all, not just the palace.