For my last day in Paris, I decided to visit the Sacré-Cœur and the Eiffel Tower. I took the metro to the Sacré-Cœur area and was unpleasantly surprised by what I saw. The area looked like a flea market littered with street performers trying to con people out of their money. After speaking to quite a few people later in the day, I learned that if you get pick pocketed, your possessions were probably being resold in that area. Also, a future warning to anyone going to that area, do not participate in the street games. Conmen host a game where they hide something under one of three cups, move the cups around, and then have you guess which cup has the item under it. You pay however much you want to, and if you get the right answer, you can double your money. If you get it wrong, they keep your money. They are extremely tricky, and it is better off that you just avoid playing.
After getting past the conmen and flea market-looking area, I got to the gate of the church grounds. To get to the actual cathedral, you had to climb up a series of stairs. However, as I was making my way up to the top, I was cornered by three street vendors. They took my hand and started braiding a bracelet onto it. They would not let me leave, and I knew they were going to charge me an insane amount of money for the bracelet. I promptly yelled at them until they let me go. After getting past them, I prayed that no one else would approach me. I finally made it up to the front of the church, and it was beautiful. The building had everything that a cathedral should have, and it was set on one of the highest parts of Paris, so you had a magnificent view of the city below. Once inside, I did not realize that pictures were not allowed, so I managed to snap a couple before a guard yelled at me.
After exiting the church, I decided to walk around the area. I found a sign for a park and decided to follow it. Soon enough, a woman and a teenage girl approached me with a clipboard. They were mouthing words and pointing to their ears. They were trying to get me to pledge money to a “deaf and mute school”. I was trying to get away from them, but they would not let me leave. Thankfully, a stranger saw what was happening and started yelling at the woman. She started yelling back at him when he attempted to kick her (I guess she wasn’t actually deaf and mute), and I made my quick escape. I walked back down the stairs of the Sacre Couer, through the flea market area, and got onto the first metro I could.
In general, I try to avoid really touristy places because I know there will be a lot of street vendors and conmen, but these particular experiences made me angry. It is bad enough that thousands of tourists get preyed on in these big cities, but the fact that they were doing it on church grounds just left a very bad taste in my mouth. It is sad, but I probably won’t be returning to Paris (at least for a long time).
There was one redeeming experience of my day though. In my opinion, the Eiffel Tower lived up to its reputation, and I really enjoyed my time there. I decided to take the stairs all the way up to the top (both because it was cheaper and I needed a work out), and the view was unmatched. It was still very crowded on the platforms, but it wasn’t the kind of crowd that would ruin the experience.
After climbing down, I got dinner in the area before heading back to my hostel. I had to walk around for half an hour before I found a place that was serving dinner (it was pretty early in the evening). Going through my pictures, I realized that this picture of my food was the very last picture I took in Europe. It makes me extremely sad to be done with this series, but I am so thankful for all of the experiences.
But wait! This semester couldn’t end without one last mishap.
I was flying RyanAir, and if you know anything about this airline, they fly out of the most random airports, and they’re usually hard to get to. So, I had to take an hour long bus ride to get to the airport from Paris. The bus station was all the way across Paris, and I had planned to take the Metro there. Unfortunately because my flight was extremely early, I did not realize that the metro was still closed, and I had no way of getting to the bus station. I was just going to splurge on a taxi to get to the bus station when I realized that I was short on cash and had stupidly left my ATM card back in Madrid (with my cousins). I desperately looked for alternatives and I remembered Uber. I tried calling an Uber, but of course technology decided to malfunction. I could not get the app to work for the life of me. I ended up missing my bus, and consequently my flight. I had to buy another flight for later that day. Thankfully, I found a flight from the airport closer to Paris, so I was able to just take the metro straight there (no bus ride needed). After a few hundred dollars down the drain, I found my way back to Madrid. From there, I boarded my flight back to California and said goodbye to Europe.