Back in April, I went to Paris which was the first trip I’ve ever taken without parental supervision and to say it was eventful would be an understatement.
Anyone who knows me would know that Paris has been a dream destination of mine ever since I could remember. I’ve always wanted to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and gaze out to the beautiful city ahead and on the weekend of April the 20th 2018, I ticked off one of the things I’ve always dreamed of doing off of my bucket list.
I went to Paris with my best friend, Jodie, and our adventure really began on Thursday 19th when I picked her up from the train station. We spent the day doing some last minute shopping for Paris (and when I say we, I mean Jodie as I’m pretty organised, if I do say so myself).
It was the start of a pretty hot week in the South East and I knew Paris was going to be slightly hotter. Now, I’m not really one for the heat unless I’m going abroad where there is the ocean or a pool available at any time, but I couldn’t really complain seeing as I knew we could explore without the worry of rain.
At 4:15 Friday morning, my alarm went off and excitement started to build as we made our way to Ebbsfleet to board the Eurostar. The train ride was pretty smooth in itself, the first hour going by at a very slow pace and the next flying by as half way through our journey both Jodie and I realised we didn’t know our pins to our Travel Money Cards. Luckily, after about 40 minutes of going back and forth with our parents and being on the phone with an automated voice service, we figured it out. Little did we know that this was just the beginning.
At about 9:20am, we arrived in Paris. “Finally,” I thought. Now just to find a taxi to take us to our hotel. It turns out we didn’t have to wait very long, as pretty much as soon as we left our platform a guy picked us up and took us down to his car for a ride. The first thing I noticed about this guy’s car was that there was no sign above his car indicating that he was a taxi driver, but he had stated otherwise when he picked us up. My gut instinct is pretty good and I didn’t feel as if though we were in danger so we loaded our suitcases up and climbed in. I realised that I couldn’t see a meter running on the dash and although I’m not someone who takes taxis often considering I drive I didn’t say anything, just happy to be in Paris and on our way to our hotel.
The ride in total took about 35 minutes. No disrespect to the French but their road laws are CRAZY compared to the UK, but I guess that’s part of the culture. It’s about 10am-ish when I spot the front of the hotel we are staying at and all I feel is relief. Taxi guy turns around in his seat. “That’s €99.80.” SAY WHAT?! Relief gone. Jodie looks over at me with wide eyes as we both reluctantly pull out €50 each. Is that the normal price of a taxi in France? The guy drives off, leaving us with our suitcases on the sidewalk. “He didn’t even give us our 20 cents back,” Jodie muttered to me as we started rolling our suitcases towards the hotel entrance which made me chuckle. Yup, we were scammed. I messaged my friend Charlotte, who happens to be French, to ask her if that was normal here to which she confirmed my thoughts, telling me that we were ripped off and to take an Uber in the future or give her a call if we were to ever run into a problem (Thanks Char)!
So that’s how our day started off, but God dammit if I was going to let that falter my mood, I had finally made it to Paris. I told Jodie, who was flopped across our hotel bed, to get dressed because we were going to go exploring. Our hotel was just a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower so we spent the rest of our morning and most of the afternoon lounging at the Champ de Mars, taking in the glorious view of the tower and wandering around the area.
At about quarter to five, we decided to make our way back to the hotel for a quick shower and get changed for dinner. We found a cute little café/restaurant next to our hotel so we decided to eat there before making our way out to the Arc de Triomphe. We ordered in the doorway of the café where we were greeted by a lovely young woman. Round Paris, I generally wore my backpack on my front as I like to check I have everything every 45 minutes being the paranoid person that I am. As I opened my bag to take out my money, the woman told me I could pay after but as it was open I thought I’d take the opportunity to check I had everything. Money? Yup. Phone? Got it. Travel card? Uh-huh. Passport? Yea-wait, no. I remember, when we had come in I had emptied my bag onto our bed to sort through various maps, tickets and receipts so I was pretty certain it was in the room. I told Jodie I had left it there and popped back up. Long story short, I was pretty calm when I had initially walked up there, but after checking the bed, underneath it, my backpack, suitcase (maybe ripping up the carpet slightly) and everywhere possibly else in the room, to say I started to panic was an understatement. I gave Jodie a call saying that I couldn’t find it and she said that our food had just arrived so to come down and eat, chill out, and then she’d come help me tear the room apart. Too late for that.
After ringing my mum, who said she’d FaceTime me when she was home to help look, I reluctantly trudged downstairs and ate with Jodie. We made our way back up to the room, and between me, my mum and best friend we analysed every inch of the suite. Now I’m not going to lie, after the 4thtime of checking my bag and suitcase myself I was pretty sure my passport had been lost or stolen. I asked at the reception if anyone had given anything in after they said nope I was already a hot mess. My mum and Jodie then resorted to looking at the next steps. I was going to have to go the embassy to get an emergency travel document that would allow me to go home. Defeated, we begrudgingly made our way out of the hotel room and into the elevator. On the way down, I sent a silent prayer to God. There was a couple who stared at me weirdly as I stood facing the corner with my head against the mirror but I didn’t care. “Please, Lord, help me.” As we stepped out into the humid air, Jodie said: “Why don’t we check the café, you know, just in case.” I didn’t have much hope but thought that it was worth a try, I didn’t have anything else to lose after all.
When we stepped into the café, the woman who had served us was sitting at the table we had eaten at resting on her hand. I gave the room a quick scan before my eyes landed on the floor underneath the seat where Jodie had sat. There sat a little black shiny square which looked a lot like my passport holder. As I got closer my face lit up, is that…“YES!! MY PASSPORT! IT’S HERE!” I must’ve scared the poor woman out of her skin, but I was so over the moon. It was under Jodie’s feet the whole time. How? I have no idea but I wasn’t going to question it, God is good.
An hour later we were up the top of the Arc de Triomphe figuring out what we wanted to do next. After spending an hour and a half looking for my passport in the hotel room I just wanted to continue exploring and the sun was only just starting to set. We decided to head back to the Eiffel Tower, by the time we got back to it, it would be dark and therefore all lit up. I grabbed a crepe and Jodie an ice cream whilst walking along the front of the river Seine where our next fiasco unfolded.
I had made Jodie walk pretty far that evening so we had sat down on a wall just beside some steps to finish off our sugary treats. Jodie was on my left which left me closest to the stairs. A tall-ish guy had walked towards us, phone in hand, and was staring straight at me. Jodie was oblivious, finishing up the last of her ice cream cone and taking in our surroundings in awe, which is what I had been doing prior. He did that head nod thing that guys always seem to do (you know what I’m talking about) and walked down the steps. For some reason, my gut told me to turn around and when I did, I found him sitting on the wall about 10 steps down from us looking straight up at me. I averted my eyes to the Eiffel Tower and then scanned across the night line down to the market stalls behind me to the left whilst I worked out how I was feeling. My gut was twisting and I felt uncomfortable as he leant forward to get a better view. I looked back at him and he made no move to look away before I turned back around. I felt uncomfortable but hadn’t yet alerted Jodie. Maybe I was being paranoid but still, I wanted to move. I stood up.
“Jodie,” I mumbled. “Can we move?”
“Sure, where do you want to go?” she said whilst standing up with her back towards the stairs. I started to slowly inch backwards from the stairs still facing her, aware that we were still insight of this guy.
“Come this way.”
“We could just go down the steps-”
“No, no! Come here,” I said, my eyes over her shoulder. “There’s a guy sitting at the bottom of the steps and I think he’s waiting for us to go down there. Can we move this way?” I pointed in the direction behind me when I saw his head pop up over the wall.
“He’s just come back up and he’s looking at us. Let’s move.”
We started speed walking back down towards where the carousel and food stalls were. Jodie asked if he was still behind us and when I checked he was merely 3 feet away. I pointed him out to her as we zig-zagged back and forth, all while he tailed us. Yes, definitely following us. Finally, we headed towards the benches where rather a big family sat. We sat down and he was just about to sit next Jodie when I spoke up, “What are you doing?! Stop following us!” His eyes went wide as he sat down and absorbed himself in his phone.
As Jodie and I walked off to cross the road I took one last glance back, hoping to be rid of the creep. “Run now,” I said, pulling Jodie with me across the road. He was following us again! Does this guy ever give it a rest? I knew he wouldn’t be able to cross the road immediately to follow us considering how busy it was. We walked down the middle of the road and towards the Eiffel Tower where I knew police and security guards were patrolling.
We finally made it to the queue to get into the Eiffel Tower where security would be checking our bags. Both me and Jodie had calmed down a bit by this point, relieved to have lost our stalker in this crowds but we were still on high alert. Jodie made a habit of asking me “is that him?” every couple of minutes when pointing out different men but I told her no each time. We had almost made it through to get our bags checked when I spotted a familiar face weaving through the line. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said which gained Jodie’s attention. He was looking around as he walked through the barriers, obviously searching for someone and before long we had clocked eyes and he had moved to the adjacent queue. I think it’s important to note here that we were not the subtlest pair, mainly because Jodie had a bright yellow sundress on so it was no surprise that we were spotted. Jodie was mumbling in my ear, asking what we should do as creepy dude and I had a stare off. I was halfway through the door to security when he got checked through and I bolted out, taking Jodie with me. He would have to run all the way round to the West Pillar to get through the exit to find us again so for now, we were safe.
We ran the rest of the way back to the hotel, finally arriving at just gone midnight. I knew we had to have gotten back before he saw us, I mean, everyone who has seen Taken knows how that turned out. The rest of the time we spent in Paris was great, without any hiccups along the way. We only stayed in Paris for 3 days, the first of which being the craziest of them all. For the remaining 48 hours in the beautiful city we went sight-seeing, ate WAY too expensive food and had a blast really (way less interesting than my first day so I’ll spare you the details).
So that was my adventure to Paris last week – April 20thto April 22nd2018. It’s safe to say, I think I fell in love with the city of love. Despite getting scammed, losing my passport and getting stalked I had such an amazing time and that eventful day makes for a pretty great story, I wouldn’t say it has deterred me from visiting the city again. Anyone who knows me anyways must’ve seen it coming that my travels wouldn’t all be smooth sailing, it wouldn’t be a true Georgia Wood experience if it had. It’s good to laugh at yourself and make light of the bad. Jodie and I are safe after all and we had the best time, which is all that matters.
Au revoir Paris, until next time!