08.11.2010 - 08.11.2010
Day 54 Monday 8 November – Paris and more Rain
Cold this morning but at least it isn't raining – yet! We head off in the direction of the Gare du Nord (main station), to look for a market we passed yesterday, to check on EuroStar check-in procedures and to pick up on the HoHo bus.
We find the market, but guess what ?? Open from Tuesday to Sunday. What's today ?? Our lucky day, it is CLOSED.
We walk back to the station and find the EuroStar area, we'll have to be there at least 30 minutes before departure and need to check through French and British Immigration and Customs. We collect 'Landing Cards' and enquire about luggage, same as the other Euro trains, take it with you.
Back on the street we make our way to the HoHo stop and are greated by a blast of wet Arctic wind. Decide to spend 10 € on some folding umbrellas to have with us on the HoHo. Jenny's was faulty when she opened it so it was exchanged, mine looked OK. Back at the HoHo stop we discuss our options, stay here and be battered by the wind or head back to the hotel.
We opt to return to the hotel and use a pair of the remaining Metro tickets. We start at the main station, travel one stop on line 4, switch to line 2 and travel two stops then switch to line 12 and travel one stop. It all works, we travel in the correct direction and make the required connections. The Metro service is great, lots of stations, frequent trains and most are not too crowded. Even for us foreigners the directions are not too difficult to follow.
On the surface it is a different thing. We (more correctly I) get lost. First the umbrellas are blown inside out, mine rips and Jenny's won't collapse, so we ditch them. The we seem to walk in circles and find the relationship between the street names shown and the names listed on our map bear only a passing relationship. You'd have to be here a while to appreciate the different abbreviations used and to understand why the same proper name can be used for a boulevard, a street and a lane.
With no sun to provide a sense of direction and no visable landmarks we resort to asking locals for directions. Most are helpful, some shrug their shoulders, others ignore you.
The combined effects of the weather, the chaotic layout of the streets, squares and alleys and the mountains of garbage still strewn across the footpaths leave me with a VERY negative opinion of “Gay Paris”. It is a place I won't be visiting again in a hurry.