In mid 2006 I was in London waiting for the National Express Euro Lines bus to depart to France. I managed to get a fantastic price for the ticket. I left work slightly earlier on the Friday to catch the bus down to London. I then had dinner at the bus depot in London while I waited to board. Finally we left at around 10pm something, as it was an over night bus. It was an exhausting trip. We were supposed to go through the channel tunnel but for some reason the bus driver did not have the correct paper work with him and we were turned away. There were then a frantic couple of hours while the driver phoned back and forth with his colleagues to try to organise for us to take the ferry over instead. During this time, the bus driver managed to park and we all headed off to the sort of ‘services’ area to wait. I was already exhausted by this stage, but I tried to keep myself busy looking around W H Smith book shop.
Eventually we made it onto the ferry. I saw many people around the boat curled up on two to three seats trying to get some sleep. I was travelling by myself though, and so there was no way that I was prepared to let my guard down by falling asleep. I have heard stories from my friends of them having their purses taken or their entire back pack, or worse. So I did what I could to keep awake. I went into the dining area and bought an all day breakfast, and by this time, it must have been about 2am. Then I walked down to look around the duty free shops. Later on I found an arcade area. In it a couple of children were playing games. I found this larger video game that had a dancing platform – ideal, I thought! So I jumped up to the platform and continued jumping, left and right and back and forth to the pop music. By the time I had finished my exercise bout, the boys had left and I was alone in the arcade. I was quite awake by now, which was good, so I went for another walk around the ferry, and ended up down in the duty free again, and this time I bought some chocolates, smarties were an old favourite of mine and I managed to find a bag of extra large smarties! I continued to stay awake until we arrived in Calais and then we were back on the bus again and heading into Paris. I had thought I would stay awake until we arrived to Paris, and I had my camera ready to take photographs of the countryside on the way in. However, to my annoyance, I had in fact fallen asleep, from sheer exhaustion I imagine. By the time I woke up, it was just past 6am, and were just turning into the bus depot in Paris.
Now came the fun part. Finding my way to the YHA youth hostel that I had booked on the internet. I did not have a clue how to get there, and I had no map or any other assistance. Yet I was determined not to take a taxi. So having walked down to the tube station, I looked at the tube maps and then realised I hadn’t even a clue what the name of the suburb was that I needed to go to. So I ended up leaving the tube station and walking back up to the high street. I walked into a pharmacy and took with them the street name of where I was needing to go and they advised me which metro line I needed to take. They were very helpful indeed. So I did make it across to my accommodation. After changing twice by tube, I then had about a 30 to 40 minute walk until I got to my destination. Having found my way there, I picked up a really good map from the YHA that was also free, and with that, I had no problems finding my way back into the city again.
While I was in Paris I met up with an old friend, we had coffee, then I was introduced to a gorgeous little bead shop, we went into a fabulous upmarket bag shop, browsed the book shops, came across a protest, and had an altogether very exciting day. However that was the end of our reunion as she then returned to London. It was still only Saturday and I did not catch the bus back until Sunday night. So on Sunday I took myself back into town again and made my way into the usual tourist traps. I naturally got lost trying to find my way around Paris, on the tube, I was taking the wrong tube line altogether, but it made for interesting detours in which I came across the most unlikely suburbs and original little shops. It was in one of these little shops that I picked up a little present for a friend’s baby. The trip back to London later that night was uneventful, so much so that I cannot remember it!