Sunday, December 21, 2008

Days 111-112: Paris, France + My Favorite Cities

There are two things that one should never do in Paris:

1.) Hail a taxi from a street
2.) Walk home for two hours in the middle of the night from a nightclub

Unfortunately, the two were related, meaning I had the sheer luck of feeling this double-whammy. First, I ended up going on a falsely advertised 12 euro pub crawl, which was to include unlimited amounts of orange vodka shots but in reality included only one free orange vodka shot with each purchased drink, aside from two initial free drinks. Great, what a scam.

In any case, we ended up having a good time and decided to catch a taxi at 2.30 a.m. back home. Alas, we had no such luck. Then we were told that in Paris the taxis stop only in designated areas, so we had to hail them from a certain location. Thanks, locals! Well, once we found that location, it was freezing cold and we knew it would only be a matter of minutes before a taxi wuld stop to pick us up. We got so desperate that we were holding euros in our hands when hailing them, but still no such luck! The cars kept wizzing past us, either not noticing us or not wanting to stop; others already had people inside.

So, for about two hours (until 4.30 a.m.) I walked back "home" with Adam, a great guy I met on the pub crawl that happened to be from my hostel. Perhaps things were not as bad as they could have been, though, as I did find a 10-euro banknote along the way, and we did not catch hypothermia after all, which is possibly due to the recently-consumed alcohol that was still circulating through our bodies. But what a great late-night/early morning walking tour of Paris we had, as we literally covered about a third of Paris... not that we had much of a choice.

Aside from those incidents, though, I finally understood why Paris is the world's number one tourist city. In short, it offers such a wide array of historic and cultural landmarks. The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arche d'Triomphe, and Versailles are just the beginning. There is so much art, history, attractions, and other goodies in Paris that it is impossible to cover them all, ever. What made it worse is that my flight to Vienna on SkyEurope was moved forward without me having a say in it, so I had one full day in Paris. I tried to make the most of it, waking up at 6.30 a.m. to go outside just as the sun was rising and not coming back until late in the evening. Obviously, I did not see all that I wanted to, especially the inside of the Louvre, but I know I will return to Paris quite soon in my life to see it. Luckily, I did go inside the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which is only a bit smaller, and I did have my picture taken in front of the pyramid Louvre entrance.

Paris definitely made it on my Top 10 list of cities (in my Top 5, in fact). The list for my trip, since I know all are curious, is as follows:

1.) St. Petersburg, Russia
2.) Kyoto, Japan
3.) Paris, France
4.) Stockholm, Sweden
5.) Hangzhou, China
6.) Busan, South Korea
7.) Moscow, Russia
8.) Tokyo, Japan
9.) Macau, China Special Administrative Region
10.) Vienna, Austria

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