Tag Archives: paris

Paris Day 2

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.


The Louvre before sunset

On my second day in Paris I gave up trying to find a constant connection for my devices and decided to knock as much off of my checklist as possible and planned to leave the next day. So I got up early and found my way to the Catacombs. Lis Rock and others were pretty adamant about it too

I had long heard about Paris’ dramatic underground tomb & tunnel system so I made it a point to get to it on this trip. The cost of entry was 8€ + 3€ for the audio guide. The walk through is entirely self paced through an unguided pathway. Any diversions in the tunnels have been gated off to prevent visitors from getting lost. The path has very few modern signs or notes in the tunnels and almost none of them are in English making the audio guide well worth it.

The combination of the calm voices of the audio guide and the long walk wound up being a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the Paris streets. Kinda odd when you consider being surrounded by the remains of thousands of the dead.

After walking up the 83 steps back to the street level I immediately found the gift shop across the street (surprise, surprise). There I picked up some postcards and a bottle of Absinthe. On my way out I decided to ask the gentleman working there where in the area I could get a sandwich. Immediately after I asked I could see the excitement on his face, he then told me that his absolute favorite place in Paris was just three blocks away on a little corner by a roundabout. He quickly jotted down directions and emphasized “best sandwiches in Paris. No tourists.” This was exactly what I wanted to hear.

I took his advice and headed up the block and over to a little place called Le pPin d’Auguste (unfortunately not found on FourSquare) and found there was only one other customer. After she finished ordering I attempted to ask for a sandwich in the crudest most gratingly awful French ever spoken. The girl behind the counter laughed and told me, in English, that normally she wouldn’t have time to make a sandwich from scratch but she would for me since there was no one else around. A few minutes later I was eating the most delicious ham and cheese ever on the best French bread ever. Well done Catacombs gift-shop guy, well done.

After that I needed to recharge mentally and physically so I stopped at a Starbucks, got on Wifi for a bit, and caught up with the world and took suggestions for the evening.

From there I headed back to Notre Dame like the day before. This time I quietly explored the area while mass was in session and I marveled at the amazing stained glass work from the inside. I then relaxed in the plaza for a while and then decided to take the advice of Tim Dreyer on Twitter to check out the Musee de l’Orangerie and see their impressionist collection. With that in mind I used my map and found it to be on the other side of the Louvre courtyard area so I headed off that way. By the time I got there though it was closed, I looked at the signs and checked, and it wasn’t supposed to be for another hour. I don’t know why but they had closed early this evening. Damn. Out of luck and unsure what to do next I headed to the riverside to watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.

Out of ideas for the evening and more exhausted and hungry again I took a walk along the riverside. Eventually I came to the Musee d’Orsay, which was also closed, but I stumbled upon a statue of Thomas Jefferson that caught my eye and a street vendor who was grilling some sausages. I stopped, bought a water and a sausage and just as I went to leave the guy asked me, in very broken english, if I had been to the Tower. Not wanting to get into semantics about when I was there (two years ago), I told him I had. He then handed my a silly purple souvenir Eiffel Tower keychain. I thanked him for his generosity and headed in for the night to work on photos and relax at the hostel as I was getting up early the next morning to head to Munich.

Full photo set.

Little Troubles in Big Paris

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.


When I arrived in Paris via the Eurostar from London, it seemed like everything was going according to plan. I had a restful train ride in which I wrote, edited photos and caught up on that week’s episode of ‘Breaking Bad’. When I got to the station my friend Kirsten was there waiting for me at the gate with a big smile on.

Kirsten is over in Paris for grad school and had moved here just days before my arrival from Chicago. The original plan was for me to stay with her on my arrival and she had anticipated to have an apartment but due to a series of reasons was unable to secure a place beforehand and was staying with someone from her college alumni association. Luckily she had managed to contact me ahead of time and I scrambled in London to find a hostel for Paris.

She needed to pick up her monthly train pass so I took the opportunity to purchase a series of train tickets as well. The next thing on my agenda was to pick up a prepaid SIM card for my phone so I could proceed as planned with the crowd sourcing of the trip. In England there were vending machines at the station so I assumed the situation would be similar in Paris. Not so.

When checked into my hostel I asked the guy at the desk about getting a SIM. I was told that the country has recently cracked down on them, due to anti-terrorism legislation you now need to supply ID and fill out paperwork even to buy even a temporary pre-paid SIM. With little to go on Kirsten and I head off towards the Louvre shopping area to run errands and I figured the guys that the Apple Store would be able to supply more info.

Once there I was able to check in and get my bearings and the staff informed me that there was an Orange store nearby that might be able to solve my problem.

Sure enough, once we arrived at Orange there was a gentlemen who was extremely helpful in getting me setup. For 9,90€ I had what i thought was a working SIM card with 500mb of data in just minutes. We got next-door to the post office and suddenly nothing worked. I popped the SIM card out and plugged it back and suddenly things worked again. Then moments later, they didn’t.

I went back to Orange and eventually discovered that I needed to top up the phone with an additional 10€ to make it work on data, and on top of that, it wouldn’t work until tomorrow anyway.

After a little bit of cross cultural customer service battling I was able to get my money refunded and returned the card. I set out looking for other carriers but soon found myself frustrated and resorting back to a paper city map.

The plan was to catch back up with Kirsten and her friends at a gelato cafe across from Notre Dame around 7. By the time I found myself in the area however I couldn’t locate the cafe in question and spent my time walking up and down the street peering into restaurants for someone I knew before eventually giving up. Tired, hungry and surrounded by expensive food I resorted to the cheapest thing I could find that I knew I could get quickly: Subway.

I tried looking for wifi connections I could use to figure things out but it turns out that the same law that restricted SIM card purchases also restricted open WiFi

Refusing to let the night be a complete bust I trekked back to Notre Dame and spent my time sitting in the courtyard people watching. As I sat there soaking in the incredible architecture, detailed craftsmanship and the camaraderie around me I determined that even though nothing had gone as planned, it didn’t matter, it was still a beautiful night. Also I was eating gelato. Gelato rules.

After some time wandering around I head back towards my hostel and found open WiFi at a bar near the Stalingrad plaza. When I finally got to catch up on tweets, fellow Chicagoan, Elaine noticed I was in Paris and so was she, I then hopped a train and headed her way.

Small photo set posted, more coming soon.

Adventure Awaits…

I have to make this quick as I’m about to hit the road to O’Hare. For the next week I’ll be in Berlin, followed by a 26 hour layover in Paris before returning home. The sole purpose of this excursion for me is to take pictures and get exposure to different culture.  I will be traveling with one of my oldest and dearest friends, miss Aki Braun and we will be spending our time in Berlin living in a collective house with her brother Mouse and his associates.

I will be leaving Berlin earlier than Aki however for my trip to France on the 28th. I arrive in Paris at 9am and I am there until 11 the next morning. I have no place to stay, no contacts in Paris and I don’t speak a word of the native tongue. My hope is to connect with some expatriates in Berlin who, in turn, can connect me with some in France.

Of course i will be chronicling all of this on my twitter and flickr pages.

Gotta run, see you soon!