Discovering (and stumbling in) Paris
These are the rules of the game. All you have to do is follow the ball. He’ll keep reminding you, “follow the ball, follow the ball, where is the ball?”
Where is the ball?
You just lost 300 euros. Your friend is panicking. You weren’t able to follow the ball. Thrice. It’s weird because some people you watched while playing this street game were able to double their money, if not triple it. And your guesses were, on average, accurate.
But perhaps you just weren’t fast enough to follow which cup he was putting the ball under… Either that, or you forgot to remember when the brochures told you to avoid being swindled in Paris.
Montmartre is one of the known streets in the capital of France. This is because it’s where the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located. Not to mention, it is also the highest point in the city.
It’s your third day in Paris, your second to the last before you board a plane back to cold and freezing Sweden. It has been raining for the past few days (even the Weather Channel warned you about the following week), so the warmth and sunshine that greeted you when you got off at the Beauvais airport was greatly unexpected. Finally, you can wear a dress or a skirt without having to wear uncomfortable tights.
You have gone to Le Tour Eiffel (twice, at night and in the morning), the royal gardens of Chateau de Versailles, and Notre Dame – almost one-third of the tourist traps. And you have just started the latter half of your stay in the City of Love by walking to see the sights overlooking the metropolis.
It’s breathtaking. The city looks so small from the view up there. You can see the rows of townhouses that all look the same. You can easily select a color palette for Paris that will capture its aesthetic. The moment is complemented with a guy playing the keyboard in front of the steps of the basilica. Lots of people are sharing this moment with you – whether they’re tourists taking photos, or sitting down the stairs, or locals who just finished attending mass. You wonder how it has been possible that everywhere you look in France is so cinematic.
As you and your friend are going down Montmartre to board the subway again, on the way to finally see the Arc de Triomphe, your feet suddenly hurt. Why did you wear heeled boots again?
You feel thankful that the street is surrounded by quaint shops of all types of souvenirs. Just right around the corner, you find one that sells shoes. Perfect. There are so many designs that it takes you almost 10 minutes to choose a pair that fits you. The one that you choose is quite unique and classy – it’s half leather, and half velvet. It’s black with an accent of gold lines on its edges. They’re a good buy for 20 euros.
You go back to the busy streets and that’s when the street game conductor captures your attention as well as your friend’s. He is playing with two people – one old man and a lady. The scene enthralls you both and agree to try it out. That’s when you lose track of all of your parents’ and hotel guide’s sermons – be careful, do not be easily fooled.
But, what’s done is done. You and your friend agree to just think as if you were pickpocketed to make yourselves feel better.
You then move on to Charles de Gaulle, where you are met with street dancers after getting off the train. They are surrounded by a crowd and the loud, lively music makes everyone want to watch. You peek for a few minutes and then move on to take photos with the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a bit hard because there are several cars passing by. You have to wait until the stoplight signals them red so you can take a nice shot. Another challenge would be to not include other tourists in your photo.
Going to two of these landmarks takes almost the entire day. Before going back to your hostel in Colonel Fabien, you decide to grab a crepe near the Eiffel Tower. The subway is convenient and routes are easy to understand. You have actually memorized how its PA system announces each of the station. You then decide that the French have the sexiest accent ever. Swedes sound like they’re just gargling.
Finally, you go down at Champ De Mars and the crepe stand is situated right around the corner of the metro’s exit gates. You order the ever-reliant banana and chocolate flavor, while your friend gets a plain chocolate crepe. The both of you eat these while overlooking River Seine. You reflect back on your day and realize how stupid you have been to get fooled by a street game conductor.
You can blame it on the enchanting beauty of Sacré-Cœur and how it made you feel as if you can trust anyone. You can blame it on the confidence that you have gained after roaming around France without a tour guide – just your friend, your maps, your camera, and your 48-hour metro pass.
Or, and this is the best option, you can just suck it up and be thankful for the moment that you are having. Not a lot of people get to travel all on their own, let alone in Europe. So if karma says that what goes around comes around, then just hope that your 300 euros came back to you in the form of exposure to other cultures and lessons that you have learned.
After all, those are the rules of Life’s game.