Last Friday was my birthday, and my loving wife, who is the best wife in the whole wide world, gave me the city of Paris for a present. Now that, in anybody's estimate has to be a pretty big present. It was. It needed to be if it was to satisfy my wife's desire to make my birthday special, as I am now so old that every additional year survived is a special achievement in itself. This year, my birthday took me to another age with a zero on the end of it, and as everybody knows, it has to be treated with extra specialness. Of course, this is only because we use the decimal system of counting. If we used – for example - the octal system instead, then my birthday would probably not have seemed so special. But we don't use the octal system, and so it was seen as special, and that is why I found myself boarding a Eurostar train at St Pancras International Station on Birthday morning.
Having never set foot in France before, let alone Paris, I felt rather excited. The irony here is that I do tend to travel rather a lot and have travelled great distances to the far reaches of the planet, but the country right next door, just 20 miles or so across the English Channel is one place I had never been. I have even lived for 3 years in Germany, and travelled around the surrounding countries in the process, but never once crossed the French border.
The journey to Paris seemed very short, but then the train was flashing along the rails faster than I have ever experienced on a train before, and so before I knew it we were pulling into Gare Du Nord Station. Like an excited little child, I followed my wife down into the depths of the Paris Metro, and after holding up the queue at a ticket machine as its operation seemed alien to us, we stepped aboard a crowded train with standing room only.
Presently after several stations, we emerged at “Odeon” Station and into the daylight of a busy Paris street. We got lost trying to find the Hotel which we obviously did manage to find (we didn't sleep on the street, though we saw many people who did), and were greeted by a friendly French (what else?) lady receptionist at our homely, small but comfortable hotel in the Latin Quarter of the city, and just a stone's throw from the Odeon Theatre.
We spent the next two and a half days exploring the City, which was amazing. I will explain some of this amazement in future posts, so watch this space.
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