It was 5 am in the morning, my stuffs were readily packed. I would leave Amsterdam in the next hour, heading to Paris, where my good friend, Coralie, lived there at the moment. Apparently, I didn’t put Paris on my list, until Coralie knew that I was going to Europe.
“Well. So, you’re coming to Amsterdam and you don’t even think come to visit me? C’mon. Get on the train and stay with me in Paris” Coralie is Parisian, but most of her times are spent out of France for her works. I met her during my stay in Congo during my visit to Bombolumene, and we become friends afterwards. But since last year, she decided to return to get her Paris life back.
I came to Paris with less expectation. Even, I could say that I was a bit worried in the same time. The raising of Islamic-phobia and the actions of extremist doing some violence actions in big cities of Europe in the same time made me think twice to put Paris on the list. One of my colleagues even told me, “You should take off your scarf while you’re in Paris, otherwise it will put you in danger situation”. But my headscarf is a part of me. It’s not just a symbol, instead it’s also part of my life. So, I kept going with my headscarf which I am glad with my decision. I didn’t get any uncomfortable situation until I left, even I can say that my stay in Paris was wonderful.
So, here I am. Sitting at Amsterdam Central, waiting for my train taking me to Paris. I was lucky getting a promotion fare for my 1st class seat. It was even cheaper than economic class. The cabin crews were also friendly. The universe was on my side. I was terribly sleepy since I left Amsterdam very early, therefore I just spend most of my time in the train by sleeping.
I arrived at Gare du Nord, Paris train station, at 10 am in the morning. Before catching metro, I bought my Paris Pass for three days, transportation card that I could use for most of transportation systems within the city. My first destination was Coralie’s office to get her apartment key so I could put all my belongings before wandering around the city. I had a bit difficulties to find the building, since my blackberry didn’t provide the google maps for navigation. I just kept walking with my suitcase and a piece of paper with the map on it. One of man sitting on the wheelchair came towards me, I immediately gave him way with my reflects. The path was narrow, so that would be impossible if we passed in the same time. He gave me a very big smile, lifted his hand and said “Merci Beacoup. Et bonne journée a vous“. I just replied shortly ” je vous en prie“
Less than one minute, an old lady came towards me. She saw me walking with the suitcase and the map, then asked me a question in English, “are you looking for something?”
I showed her Coralie’s address and she took me a block away, “this is the building that you’re looking for” . I couldn’t believe my fate. Somebody helped me even when I didn’t even ask. Only minutes after I gave the way to the man sitting in the wheelchair, and this kindhearted lady suddenly appeared. What goes around, comes around.
I was about ringing the bell on the door when I saw text from Coralie, “Nurul. Where are you?”
I texted her back,”J’arrive“
After meeting Coralie for some minutes, I left her office (Coralie gave me the notes to direct me to her apartment) with the keys in my hand. Apparently her apartment located in strategic location, so that didn’t give me any problem to find. But still, I came to the wrong apartment, and the ladies own that apartment showed me Coralie’s building.
I took a rest for sometimes, got a nice shower, I was sweating after walking that far. I left Coralie’s flat and heading to Eiffel Tower that only 2 metro stops away from Coralie’s. And as I expected, it was full of people. Who doesn’t know Eiffel Tower? That’s one of things you must see when you’re in Paris. The tower designed by Gustave Eiffel is not just the symbol of Paris, but also many people linked Eiffel to something romantic, which unfortunately I didn’t feel. Well, still, the tower is beautiful. I even came back in the evening to see it decorated by the lights.
Then, I was still curious when people talked how sexy French’s architecture, how the buildings were fascinating and some of people I’ve known even compared Paris as heaven for architecture photographer. I have no idea how Paris could be so romantic for so many people. Maybe one day, when I come back to Paris with the one I love, I could feel and see the romantic side of Paris 🙂
I continue my trip to Arc de Triomphe, which is located in the same neighborhood, one of the famous of French monuments. When I came there, there was a ceremony and I didn’t have chance to come closer. After taking some photos, I took Metro and headed to Montmartre, the area that are well known where many Parisian’s artists took place to do their art works. But I heard, nowadays, the area become too touristic, and even the artists couldn’t be that easy to live in this neighborhood due to the high rent price. I came too late, when all shops started to close and I couldn’t get any chance to see paintings and souvenirs around.
Anyway, I kept walking up to the hill and arrive at Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre. There are two ways that you can take if you want to get in to the peak, by walking or riding the cable car. I got the first one, but then almost regretted my decision since there were so many people came to approach me to buy some small crafts from them.
The Sacré-Coeur is Roman Catholic basilica that is also known as the most iconic monument in Paris. Consecrated in 1919, the building is dominated by Roman-Byzantine architecture, where visitor could also access the dome to see the 360 degree view of magnificent Paris. Outside the basilica, large garden is also available where people could enjoy some street attractions or just sitting around to see Paris from the top. I got the feeling that Sacré-Coeur gave me more romantic feeling than Eiffel. A short walk from the Sacré-Coeur, I found the district of Abbesses where the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret is located, and I finished my trip for that day.