Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 38 - Brussels to Paris

First little event today when I arrived at the train station in Brussels involved a homeless man with a baby in a pram asking me for money. It happened while I was withdrawing cash at the ATM.

I decided to give him 2 Euros. But it didn't stop there. He asked for more, and kept following me around. I feel that I should have given him more, as he pointed to his baby child, but I thought 2 Euros was enough from me and I tried to tell him to appreciate what he got. I didn't know if he understood. But during this trip I was extremely frugal and didn't want to give out too much to strangers.

He didn't follow me around any more. I went to board my train to Tournai at 11:03.

It ran late (because of a trackwork delay, possibly) and consequently didn't make it for the connecting train to Lille. I had to go to the office and request a later seat reservation for the two remaining trains, and luckily I didn't have to fork out any more money.

I remember seeing a Frenchman in the same situation. He cussed when we pulled up just in time to see the other one leave. But I ended up conversing with him on the next train to Lille, and told him where I was from. He seemed very happy to meet an Australian. One thing I really love about travelling is that it makes you an interesting looking character from the perspective of the locals.

We both got off at Lille, and I waited for my train to Paris.

This final leg was going to be a TGV ride.

And so I got to experience high speed rail for the first time. This was the fastest train I had ever been on, and the views washed by incredibly quickly. Journey time to Paris was going to be within the hour.

When I arrived in Paris, and stepped outside, there was a temperature difference. Today was a hot day, of about 30 degrees. I made my way to the metro station and found the way to my hostel at Lamarck Coulaincourt.

The streets around here were beautiful. After leaving my things at the hostel, I was keen to go out for a walk. I ended up accidentally finding the Sacré Cœur Cathedral, which was a majestic site, and from here I admired the good view of the city of Paris and could see the Eiffel Tower. I was pleased.

Then it was back to the hostel for a hot night's sleep.

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