In January of 2015 I decided to take a trip to Europe all by myself. My first stop was in London, England and after a few days there, I hopped on the train and made my way to Paris, France. I’m going to be completely honest when it comes to this account of my trip. I did not like Paris at all in the beginning. When I first arrived it was very late at night and of course I had not properly prepared myself to be in a country I didn’t know the language.
When I first stepped out of the train station I knew my hostel wasn’t too far off, so I thought I’d be able to just stumble upon it, but I didn’t. There were homeless people all over the sidewalks. I began to go down the street and then turned back around unsure of where I was, trying to read the street signs, and didn’t want to get lost. I guess one of the locals could see that I was visibly upset and confused so he approached me asking if he could help me. I, being relieved that he spoke a little English, told him where I was looking for and that I needed help. He began leading me toward where he thought I needed to go.
The whole time he would go from speak English and then go to French and say inappropriate things. Now in high school I did take French for a couple years, so I knew some broken french and could pick a few words out. He kept telling me how beautiful he thought I was, leading me away from the train station. The whole time he kept asking me if I wanted to go home with him and grabbing my arm as we crossed streets and bright lights of the stores in the area. In the distance I saw the sign for my hostel so I began to go towards it. That is when he began to grab my arm harder and asked and begged me for money. Finally I reached in my pocket and just gave him whatever I had in there, hoping he would leave me alone. But he was still grabbing me and trying to pull me away from the hostel. I finally made it into the lobby, guy still in tow, I was crying and obviously upset and that was when the security guard saw me. I looked at him and he knew exactly what was going on. I remember the guard shouting, first in french, then in English “Is that man with you? Is he with you?!” and I said “NO!” and the mysterious stranger ran out. I never felt more relieved in my life.
I remember everyone at reception looking at me, asking me if I’m okay. I was terrified. I had never experienced anything like that in my life. I guess I just assumed because of the easy and friendly experience I had in London, Paris would be the same. But it was a completely different world there. Now I will say this, I was foolish for not being prepared to come into a city I had never been before and where I didn’t know the language. I shouldn’t have been so quite to trust someone I didn’t know. But I will say this, everyone at the hostel was amazing. They were so kind and were willing to do anything possible to make my trip better after this horrible experience.
That night, after checking in, I went straight to my room and called my parents and Max on the wifi. It is a 6 hour time difference from the east coast of the United States. I cried for pretty much the whole night and just wanted to go home. This wasn’t the Paris that I had seen in the movies (except for probably the movie Taken). The next morning I woke up and was unsure about what I wanted to do for the day. I decided to go down to the reception and sign up for a tour. I didn’t want what happened the night before to bring me down anymore than it already had! I signed up to go see the Palace of Versailles for the next day. The rest of the day I checked out the rest of the hostel, decided to venture outside the hostel in daylight to walk down the street to get some cigarettes. After having lunch and taking a nap I came down to the bar to have a drink and to smoke. That is when I saw the security guard who had helped me the night before. As soon as he saw me he walked towards me and he reassured me that he would walk me anywhere I needed to go outside the hostel. Throughout the rest of my trip, and every night he was on shift and he saw me, he checked up on me and made sure that I was okay. It was very comforting to know I had someone watching my back in a place I knew no one.
On my second full day in Paris I ventured to the Palace of Versailles! It is most famous for being the residence of King Louis XVI of France and his wife Marie Antoinette (LET THEM EAT CAKE!). They were both killed during the French Revolution in 1793.
While I was there I was fortunate enough to make friends with two Kiwi girls (New Zealanders) who were staying at the same hostel as me! After we ventured through the palace and the ground I went along with them to Notre Dame. Amy and Chloe picked up my courage and had me venture the Metro with them.
After our day out in Paris we headed back to the hostel and they invited me to come along with them to Disneyland Paris! I was so happy that my trip was finally turning around!
It was freezing that day. I was pretty sure that we saw snow flakes, but that didn’t stop families bringing there children out to see Mickey!
We had a blast! We rode all of the roller coasters, and even got to see some of the characters! Although I have been to Disneyworld in Orlando and Disneyland in California, they had never been to a huge amusement park! I’m so glad that I got to experience this wonderful place with them!
I also got to see the Eiffel Tower while I was there, but wasn’t able to see the Louvre
The last couple days I relaxed and wondered the streets seeing everything I could find. It was overall a good trip even after what happened at the very beginning. The last evening I was there they had an “American Night Party”. I was the only American there besides one of the bartenders who was from Jersey. They had American flags everywhere, it was quite fun! I met two guys, Rafael from Brazil and Max from Chile, in the smoking lounge. Rafael was one of my 6 roommates at the hostel upstairs. I had a great time hanging out with them for my last evening in Paris.
And, of course, on the day that I am leaving it is a beautifully sunny day!
Back to London I went!