sunnuntai 27. marraskuuta 2016
Breathless in Paris, part I: Going There
I visited Paris briefly in the early October in order to attend the European Golang conference dotGo which was on Monday 10th of October, but I was able to leave on Friday. I had more than two days on my own in the Ville Lumiére. I was excited, but also a bit intimidated, because my French is limited to "pardon", "merci", "vin rouge" and some cuisine vocabulary. The icing on the cake is that my pronounciation is so horrible, that no-one understands me if I try to speak French. There was also a prejudice that the French don't want to speak English, even if they know it. My friends comforted me, that this is not the case, but I was a bit suspicious even after that.
The photographer in me was a bit nervous because France, though it's kind of home of photography and has produced such a fine photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson, has a such a strict privacy laws. I had read things like the excellent piece by Oliver Laurent in the New York Times Protecting the Right to Photograph, or Not to Be Photographed.
So, I was excited and curious to see what Paris would be like.
I took a bus to the railway station of Malmi. Some people do not understand my choice of colour of my luggage. The reason is simple and practical: when there are dozens of pieces of luggage on the conveyor belt, it's really easy to spot mine.
A Pokémon at the station.
Fittingly, even the advertisement on the train was in French.
The relatively new train connection to the airport proved to be effortless again. I wouldn't trust it in case of a blizzard, though. Then I would rather use a bus or a taxi.
The second breakfast at O'Learys'.
I intended to eat my second breakfast at restaurant Fly Inn, but they were renovating, so I opted for O'Learys'. I enjoyed it, and the pint of beer and the robust meal would support me the long travel hours.
The joke is a tad worn out, but it made me smile.
The third breakfast. Visiting the Oak Barrel Irish Pub is the tradition at the Airport of Helsinki for me.
My extra battery died just before the trip, so I had to buy a new one. This model is waterproof and shockproof, which nice, to put it mildly. Note to self, again: when you buy stuff, invest in quality. I've been quite happy with this one.
AY875 from Helsinki to Paris.
I had the rare comfort of sitting alone on my row. At the Paris Aéroport I bought a Paris Visite card which enables unlimited use of public transport including the trip from the airport to the city center. If on budget, consider the alternative ways to use the public transport of Paris, there are several alternatives. But the Paris visite is the easy way, and one also gets discounts on several museums.
The easiest way to go to the city is taking RER B train to Gare du Nord. You know, the place where Manne and Veera met in the Worthless. Gare du Nord is huge by Finnish standards and if I hadn't ever visited big cities like New York or Tōkyō I would have been at a loss. My prejudicies had started to dissolve into nothingness at the airport, and the process continued in the train. I had just started to comprehend the map in the train, when a French lady helped me by advising me how to get from Gare du Nord to Montmartre. She also tried to correct me on the pronounciaton of Mortmartre, but I'm afraid whe was not very successful on that. The importart thing was that I felt I was welcomed to the city.
Barbès-Rochechouart metro station
The first time I really saw Paris was when I climbed out of the Blanche metro station. I had thought I would like to see Moulin Rouge, but I did not expect to see it as the first thing in Paris. It took me a while to locate me, and how to find my hotel, Audran. I started to climb the butte of Montmartre and it seemed, to a foodie, like a candy store. The cheese stores, the bakeries and the charcuteries, it was kind of streetwise Hakaniemen halli.
Eventually I found the small alley called Rue Audran, and my hotel.
Read also part II