Woke up bright and early, made my way downstairs to check, and yes – breakfast hadn’t started yet. So I gathered my things up and had a quick wash, then walked to Westminster because I knew there was a direct line to Victoria, and also I wanted to see Big Ben and the eye again as I crossed the bridge.
Tube to Victoria, didn’t realise how big the station is there – shaped a quick photo and made my way down the road to the coach station to wait for Swang. He popped up at about half past seven, we got directions to the Europe check-in, ran on down and got our tickets. As I hopped on the bus, Swang went to get food and I listened to the driver get into an argument with a previous passenger.
The driver and his… co-driver(?) were quite short with their responses to our questions, it cane across as rude but I think given they are both French it could just be a language thing (you don’t learn to mitigate speech the same as a native speaker) – but I have heard stories of them being rude to foreigners, so I talked to a couple of friends and got some kinda common sense advice really. Just greet them and be friendly and try to speak French when I can – so I downloaded some apps I used on the trip, as it took from 8 – 4 to get to Paris.
By 9:45 we made it to the port, where the the bus went a through checkpoint and our passports were checked. Eventually we drove into the train and it took us across the water – you’re in complete darkness, so nothing to see, but we were over by about half past 11 into Calais.
Which of course was half past 12 given the time zone change. I immediately noticed a difference in building style as we went through and into the countryside. But it was pretty much just greenery until we got to Paris. Refreshing given the concrete jungle you’re immersed in when you stay in London.
Though we were scheduled to arrive at 5, we stepped off the bus at about 4pm. We bought a pack of ten tickets for the train and a navigated couple of lines to Gare du Nord to get to St. Christopher’s Inn, our backpackers.
Well what a difference to the backpackers in England. Each bed is a little self contained section with a curtain and powerboats, and personal light. It’s also a lot cleaner and there are proper places to lock luggage, which I didn’t have at the Walrus in London. There’s also breakfast!
Downstairs we grabbed a snack at the bar (read: 12 BBQ wings) and waltzed off to a cathedral called Sacré Coeur – it was pretty impressive, and you can go inside for free – but there’s no photography (which is a shame because the mosaic tiles and things would make for excellent photos).
So we left and walked the streets to find food, and came across a little bar/pub where we sat down in the back and had a fantastic time listening to a couple of guys play some excellent guitar and even sing a little. Swang ordered a Bordeaux, expecting a beer, so was shocked to find a wine delivered to our table.
Then sauntered on back to the hostel and I was out for the night. Well, after meeting our room mates, a whole group of Asian-American dudebros. The thrilling conversation included who was the biggest pussy, whether or not the hot water from the basin in our room could cook ramen, and what race has the craziest girls (in case you wanted to know the verdict, I believe they decided on Korean). So, you win some, you lose some.
I don’t really wanna do the wrap up for London now since I plan on going back early (both to see Cathy and Chloe again, to check out some things I’ve missed, and to relieve the stress of traveling back home by being super prepared), but I thought it was excellent. There was lots of things to see and do, like we could have spent the whole day at the market. If I lived there I would have purchased so much more, and I would go there often. The waterfront busking was much more entertaining and professional than back home, and I barely scrapped the surface of what is out there. I think it’s going to be a reoccurring theme that I have enough time in each place as long as I want to fit in as many places as I do. Either I stay longer and visit fewer places, or I leave early. As it is I’ve narrowed my scope to a handful of places during my 40 days here.