I don’t know if I am just a lucky bastard or if it just happened that it’s promo time in Europe when I booked everything transpo related. For the Brussels – Paris leg, I managed to find a GBP4.50 ticket from this company called Megabus. Thinking it was a scam, I immediately searched for feedback online and discovered that they are really just cheap. And so how was the actual ride? We were delayed for 15 minutes and the trip took a total of 5 hours because they had to refuel and wash the bus.
Come on, that’s still a sweet deal. The bus is a double-decker and it was half-empty. I couldn’t have been more comfortable. Besides, how can you complain if you only paid that much? We arrived at Quai Bercy and my Paris adventure started by locating my friend’s office, where he left the key of his flat where I will be staying. We were classmates in Xiamen and he visited me in Manila twice, me hosting him once. It was wrong timing on my part that my stay in Paris coincided with his exams in Montpellier.
I didn’t know that the République stop of the metro where his office is located is Place de la République itself. This one is a rather large plaza with a giant monument at the center, heralding the values that the French Republic holds dear: freedom, equality, and brotherhood. The site has also been used as a commemorative display, a show of solidarity following the recent terror attacks in Paris, with everything from flowers to graffiti calling for peace and a united front against terrorism.
Well, that was a good first stop. I never really thought sightseeing would start as early as getting those keys. It really left a good impression, and I realized how I waited so long for this. Ever since I was a kid I would always choose France when my cousins and I would play video games that had something to do with sports. I identified with the country somehow for no particular reason, and now I am finally here, and I am not disappointed at all.
But I had to catch up on sleep. I also had to continue reviewing for my exams. And so I called it a day and rested for the night. I was really excited the next morning, though, but didn’t know where to start. This is where Wikitravel comes in handy. Paris is divided into almost 20 arrondissements, and they have an article for each one. It is quite helpful because they summarize the main tourist attractions per area in bullet form, along with vital information for each one of them. I ended up with four arrondissements on my list.
For my first day of sightseeing, I decided to stick to the typical touristy Paris itinerary, and it doesn’t get any more touristy than the Eiffel Tower. Located at the 7th arrondissement, this ever popular tower is the star of its area and undeniably a tourist hotbed that would evoke mixed reactions from you. But hey, there’s an Eiffel Tower spot for everyone, if you know where to look! First stop, though, at which metro station should you get off?
There are many possibilities, but I would have to agree with Wikitravel on this one. Choose École Militaire. Once you reach the surface, the school would be the most visually appealing structure to look at in that area: blue dome, French flag on top. Jog towards that building. Admire that building. Focus on that building. Once you have reached the actual façade and taken all the awesomeness in, it’s time to turn your head to the right. That’s a huge park across the street from you, and a familiar tower far back.
Yes, you get off at École Militaire if you want a slow burn kind of feel, a so near yet so far vibe. This is also where you get to snap a panoramic photo of that tower while enjoying a leisurely walk that is supposed to be pleasant if the wind chill wasn’t so effing strong. The weather was plain cuckoo today. My cousin was getting married back in Manila, but I don’t recall us having tikbalang blood for it to rain and be sunny at the same time. And then a rainbow appeared, and you realize that things are not that bad after all.
You have to be strategic when it comes to positioning. If you want a panoramic view, you have to be closer to École Militaire. A selfie with the entire tower in the background is possible halfway across the park. Get anywhere closer and your neck would have to endure some complex acrobatics to get a good shot of you and the tower in one frame, unless you are already contented with just the base as the background. It’s a real challenge, believe me, but pros and amateurs alike will really appreciate this opportunity for photos.
It is possible to get to the top of the tower. I think you need around 20 Euros to do that. There are elevators, and you also have the option of climbing the stairs. Sign an agreement with your legs to make sure that they won’t be hating on you forever. With this kind of weather, my legs just gave me the middle finger, and I was, like, fine, I’m okay with just a selfie. The park is lovely, by the way. I could only imagine how awesome it would be to hang out there during the summer.