Saarbrücken to Paris on the night bus; The Louvre; Stuck for a place to stay; The Hotel Brabant, a bit of a dive

I hate overnight buses, I really do. They’re not like trains - it’s impossible to sleep with the upright seats and the person beside you crowding and smelling, and the bus stops every couple of hours for twenty minutes with the lights on and a blaring announcement. We both managed to snatch an hour or two of sleep, but that’s all - we were both exhausted when we reached Paris’ Galliani station at 6am. We knew nothing would be open and we didn’t feel like walking around with our packs on, so we took an hour to sit, clean up and chill out a bit. We wondered aloud where a good place to leave our bags might be, and a nice young girl with a violin named Aida answered us. She told us it was free to leave our bags at the Louvre all day, until it closed - the baggage office is even before the ticket office so you don’t need to buy a ticket for the museum. This is the kind of invaluable information that I really, really wish the bloody guidebooks told you (are you listening, Lonely Planet? Stop including five-star hotel listings and hire some real backpackers again). Knowing this was really good - it meant that our whole day was planned out for us without us having to think at all - something that, afer the past night, we were singularly ill-equipped to do. We’d go to the Louvre, drop our packs, and do the museum. The Louvre’s tickets are good for an entire day so we could leave and come back. Aida came with us for coffee while we all waited for the museum to open.

The Louvre is great. It’s been on my list of places to visit for a long time. I really hadn’t realized the size of the place, though - it’s gigantic and there’s no way you could ever see all of it in one day. We made a valiant effort in two episodes before giving in to museum fatigue and calling it a day. We did see all the highlights, not least of which where definitely the Mona Lisa, the Nike of Samothrace, and Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa. I hadn’t realized, either, just how ornate the interior of the Louvre is. All the ceilings are heavily carved, decorated and in some cases even gilded. Many of the frames of the paintings are ornately carved as well, which is strange for me to see, used as I am to plain, sober frames that don’t distract the viewer from the canvas. It really is a palace inside.

We weren’t sure, when we arrived in Paris, where we’d be staying the night - and when we finished at the museum, we still weren’t sure. We’d thought to stay with our friend Vanessa, who we’d met in Romania, but we weren’t able to reach her. Tourist information was able to find us a place to stay for €48, though - less than a hostel, which surprised me. It was a dump of course - a tiny sixth-floor attic room with cracks in the walls and a filthy carpet, but there were no bugs, which is really all I ask.


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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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