Let me tell you a story about my third trip to Paris and my first new year’s eve abroad.
It’s quite long so I’m gonna divide it by days.
One year ago I found this trip to Paris, France, and Amberg, Germany for an incredibly cheap price: under 100 euros for 4 days on one of my favorite Czech discount portal. But as my usual problem is – I had no one to go with.
I’m still not feeling like traveling on my own, so I tried to forget it. Until I saw that exact same trip but adapted for new years eve. So I went on a task to tell all of my friends about it and try to convince someone to go with me. But everyone wanted to spend the last day of the year with their family and friends or were working and couldn’t get sick-days anymore. Also, when I mentioned Paris most of them backed off because of the fear of potential terrorist attacks.
I don’t blame them, they all had their reasons.
I mentioned it to my high school roommate, who I haven’t seen in a while and she was all in right away (actually she was a bit upset I didn’t contact her first). She has just quitted her job so she had money, free time and courage to travel with me. So we set everything up and go.
I ordered my discount coupons at this discount portal. They send me back codes and details on how to place a reservation through email addresses. Further on, we communicated through emails about more details and extra payments for the entrance fee of trips we wanted to go to.
We paid 97 euros each for the bus and hotel with breakfast.
It’s been a bus trip – I know this is not for everyone to sit through such a long journey, but for me, it’s no problem as I travel to my university for around 15 hours every month by train. I’m used to getting comfortable and sleep in whatever transportation.
The departure point was from Prague in the evening time and we got to Paris in the morning. We spent 2 days there and then traveled back through Germany and made a stop at Amberg spas, then continued our road trip to Prague.
As I was staying in my home town Snina in the east of Slovakia, and my friend was in Bratislava, I made another trip to her place day before and stayed in Bratislava. I traveled with her to Prague, from Prague to Paris, from Paris to Amberg and from Amberg back to Prague.
It was a lot of time in bus and train but it was worth it.
The hotel was outside of Paris and it was ok – nothing fancy, just simple bed, and bathroom but for one New Years’ Eve night it was more than enough. French breakfast in the morning with typical croissants and coffee was included in the price.
For all extra trips, food, and souvenirs I paid around 50 euros, so the final price for the whole trip was +/- 150euros.
Now get ready for details of each day and our extraordinary experiences:
My train trip started on December 29 and my journey began from Snina to Humenne, from Humenne to Kosice and from Kosice to Bratislava. I left my home at lunch and visited my friend’s place at 10 pm. Everything was ok until the train to Bratislava. For those of you who don’t know, in Slovakia students travel for free, so for 10 hours long trip, I paid absolutely nothing.
Trigger warning: sensitive subject.
Our train cabin was for 6 people and like 3 hours till Bratislava I was sitting on my own until one man came in. He was polite and asked me if space 2 seats from me were empty. I said yes and he asked if he could turn off the lights cuz his head hurts. I said ok, it wasn’t strange at first I just thought he is light-sensitive and I didn’t pay him any more attention.
With my headphones in I kept listening to music and staring out of the window. I kept catching this stranger staring at me through window reflection. Nothing strange yet.
Until I noticed the guy had his jacket over his crotch and kept doing some regular movements.
First thought: He’s wanking.
Second: Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t be sure and you can’t assume the worst about people.
So I didn’t react but my panic attack started to build up. I was hoping it was just some misunderstanding until he moved his jacked bit away and now I was 100% sure he was wanking. He was old, smelled bad, he was wanking and staring at me and I was stuck with him in a dark and empty train. I was terrified. I was panicking and I knew there were not many people on such a late train, train inspector was nowhere to be seen so I was helpless. Honestly didn’t know what to do, I was so scared that if I would scream no one would hear me and it would only trigger the creep to do something worse.
I don’t know if the man was aware I knew what he was doing but he wasn’t stopping. Suddenly he patted the seat in front of me and said something so I pulled my earphone of and he asked if he could take that seat. He was now covered again. I asked why he wanted that seat but he just laughed and sat there anyway. And continued with his job now with a better position to stare at me.
I was petrified and I had enough.
I decided I must get out of there. Thankfully next stop was near. When the train stopped I quickly stood up grabbed all my things and went out of our cabin to the next one with some people in it and sat there. The creepy man wasn’t showing any interest in getting off on that station just kept wanking now without a jacket to cover him up. When I was sitting safely in the next booth I saw that man run out of the cabin and out of the train. I can’t say for sure that the man ran out after me into the town we were just standing in, thinking I was getting off the train but I would not be surprised if that was true.
Luckily my horrible experience was over but I kept shaking all day after that.
I got off in Bratislava where my friend was waiting for me. We took another half hour bus to her place. We had a lot of catching up to do and spend the night there
I woke up in Bratislava and around lunch we were supposed to travel to Prague. We finished packing and went to the train station. Tickets from Bratislava to Prague were quite expensive: 28 euros. But we had to get there somehow. The train to Prague took 4 hours.
In Prague, my other friend who lived there explained to us, how to get to our department point through the Prague subway. We found it easily and we met up at 5 pm.
We traveled through a two-floor bus and our seats were at the top. It was full of young couples or girlfriends like us. It was a great group of people. Our journey was full of funny memories. We were watching movies and this guy kept commenting on everything, but it was funnier than the actual movie.
As I mentioned I am fine with long road trips and I can fall asleep anywhere. But my friend was annoyed by the ride and couldn’t sleep very well. I had a good night’s sleep though and woke up around 6 am at a gas station, where we had an hour-long pause for morning hygiene. I changed my clothes there, washed my teeth, did my make up and was ready to enter Paris.
In like 40 minutes we were in Paris, it was around 8 o’clock in the morning, the sun was setting up and literally no one was out yet. Streets were empty and it looked incredibly peaceful. We took a quick bus trip over the most popular Paris monuments we would visit that day and the next day. Luckily we had a Czech speaking delegate, who explained the historical background of the city and told other cool facts about that beautiful town.
We took off in front of The Luxor Obelisk, where currently stands The Big Wheel. In the dim light of morning, it looked incredible, changing colors to France’s flag colors.
We took a morning walk through an empty Tuileries garden to the Louvre museum.
The Louvre opens at 9 am so we had to wait 15 min in a queue. We got in through a security checkup. This was my second time in Louvre but this check-up got more intense since last time, which is totally understandable after everything France went through last year. A great bonus is that if you’re under 25 years you get free tickets. All we had to do was to show our ID where our birth year is stated and we were in.
We were on our own with a map of the Louvre, which had all the most famous pieces highlighted.
Long story short – we got lost anyway.
Of course we were looking for Mona Lisa but we ended up in different parts with no people just incredible arts. It was magical. We especially enjoyed antique furniture section. Finally, after 2 hours we saw an arrow pointing to where Mona Lisa was. It was very easy to find after that, but to be fair I enjoyed more our lost wander without precise direction as we saw so much beauty.
Mona Lisa’s section was overcrowded by people. It was too hot in there and I felt annoyed by its mainstream nature. But yeah we saw it, took a picture and were out in a minute.
We spend 3 hours in the Louvre and then we met our delegate and travel group, and together we moved through Pont des arts, or more famous as Love lock bridge. The name is a bit ironic as now there are no locks because the bridge started crushing under weight of the love (locks). Luckily I saw the locks years ago.
The next stop was Notre-Dame cathedral. It was overcrowded again. If you’re looking for a historic tour of museums and monuments of Paris, I would recommend different times than New Year’s Eve. We spend 30 minutes in the queue till we got inside, lit a candle and went out.
Security was very well ensured. You could see a small group of soldiers literally everywhere (and they were hot as hell, seriously, what’s the magic of uniforms.)
We met our group and delegate and took the Paris subway to Montmartre.
Paris subway was nothing special – the one in Prague is much nicer. Montmartre’s view was spectacular. It was raining and windy, but the view was worth the cold (except one building that is currently under reconstruction but is right in the front of the view and it kinda disturbs otherwise perfect view). Taking pictures was more complicated than we thought as our hair was a mess. We took a walk in alleys and got some groceries for the next day, as at 1.1. the shops were to be closed due to the holiday. Later on, we got ourselves a dinner (kebab for 5€) and some souvenirs.
We found a lovely candy shop with homemade lollipops so we bought a bunch.
From Montmartre, we went to see Moulin Rouge, took pictures, got a pancake from a local small shop and waited for our bus to take us to our hotel. It was at 6 pm when it started to pour again and we were waiting for our bus, which got stuck in a traffic jam. At that time it was already crowded with people and cars. It finally arrived and took us to our hotel Premiere class outside of Paris. We took 2 hours to have a shower and ready for midnight.
At 10 pm we were heading back to Paris center. At 11 pm we were already under the Eifel tower.
Another fact we didn’t know about Paris was, that all of the fireworks or firecrackers were banned.
But as we learned last year, the town prepared surprise fireworks to show under Arc de Triomphe, so we thought: if it was there last year it probably won’t’s be there again. We hoped that this year the fireworks would be under Eifel tower and that’s where we were standing.
Obviously we were wrong and the fireworks show was again under Arc and we couldn’t see it because the trees were blocking our view. So all those amazing photos of Eifel tower with spectacular fireworks behind it – not really true anymore.
To be fair I was disappointed.
I understand that safety is most important but I was hoping for countdown till midnight at least, but sadly nothing. Thankfully some Russians were counting down for themselves, so I and my friend at least knew, when midnight came. The only thing that happened at midnight was Eiffel tower blinking but that happens at every full hour, so it wasn’t that special. But people were so excited, everyone started popping champagne and screaming a happy new year to each other, so at least the atmosphere there was great.
We weren’t directly under Eiffel, cuz we wanted to have a good view. People around us could consume alcohol, but people from our group who decided to go under Arc de Triomphe said, that police officers were taking every alcoholic beverage. In our place were cops too (on horses) but they weren’t involved in our business at all. Also, streets and roads were closed close to midnight, so if you didn’t get there before, there was no chance for you to get in anymore.
People, who didn’t get to their final destination, were just stopping in the middle of the roads, getting up on their cars and enjoying the view.
Some people managed to sneak firecrackers into the crowd. It was so sad when they went off because people were afraid that something could happen again and firecrackers’ noise was just adding to that fear. If one went of you could see, how everyone was quickly scanning their surroundings for potential danger and calming down after a few minutes. Me included.
I’m probably used to different kinds of New Years’ Eve parties as for example in my hometown, there is always some music playing in town center or live bands, people drinking, laughing and so much noise. Midnight fireworks show at midnight and then the party continues with more music and laughs. But in Paris, it was 00:15 and people were leaving. It was really cold so at 00:30 we were already on the bus to get some warm.
What I liked the most was 1 am Eiffel tower, cuz they turned off the lights and left on just blinking and it was so magical. At 1 am we left by bus back to our hotel.
We woke up at seven, had sweet breakfast and headed to our bus again.
Our morning trip was to visit Versailles. The weather wasn’t the best but at least it wasn’t raining at that time. There were no people at all only our group. I assumed, people were still asleep after New Year’s Eve and due to national holiday, Versaille place wasn’t open, so we weren’t able to see it from the inside.
However, Versaille gardens were open and free. Well, gardens in January generally aren’t that great. Luckily I visited them years ago in summer, so I know what a beauty it is. But seeing such huge place all empty has it’s beauty too.
Versailles’ fountains are worth seeing in any season though. From there we went back to Paris to visit Eiffel tower as it was one of few Paris attractions to be open on 1st January. While we got there it was pouring heavily. We went through another security check and decided to get all the way up to the 3rd and top floor of Eiffel. This was my third time visiting Eiffel and all the time before I went to just the second floor and by step, so this time it was a lift and to the third floor.
There were so many people in the queue but we waited for it through, got rained on completely and finally bought ticked to top floor.
Again the great thing about Paris is that if you’re under 25 years you get many discounts. Another security checkup followed and finally, we were waiting for the elevator. We got to the second floor where you need to get to another row for the 3rd-floor lift.
When we were like 20 people away from entering a lift, one Eiffel tower worker comes out and apologized for the inconvenience, but we can’t get to the third floor because of bad weather and they would provide us with a refund of the money we bought for 3rd floor.
But it was pouring cats and dogs out there and the wind was crazy. We barely managed to get a few photos, then went inside and joined forever queue to get down by the lift. I swear we spend half an hour in the queue! When we finally got down and wanted to get our money back, it wasn’t as easy as we expected. We talked to 5 tower workers but each one told us to wait for their coworker.
So we were waiting in heavy rain for another 10 minutes until we gave up and decided that those 4 euros weren’t worth that cold.
Now what followed was our free program.
Our tour group and delegate went to Grévin museum, but as we both already visited that museum we weren’t interested in that trip + it was a bit expensive for our liking.
Later on, our group went boat trip over the Seine but as I hate boat trips (well I’m sick on boats so it’s more like they hate me) we skipped that trip as well. We went to search for Champs-Élysées street on our own. It was very easy to find, with little help from google maps and our poor orientation skills.
We made a stop at McDonald’s, where we went through security check-ups too. Had something to eat, surfed the web and most importantly dried off.
Later on, we went to Arc de Triomphe, took some pictures and went on a search for a lovely french coffee shop for another stop. But our bladders decided otherwise as we really needed to use toilets, so we went to the first pub we saw. But it was nice there too, got coffee and met up with our friends from my hometown, who was in Paris as well. (They just got engaged day before under Eiffel tower.)
At 9 pm we met up with our group and all of us together took our bus to our last and for me the best Paris stop: Tour Montparnasse.
It’s the only skyscraper in the historic part of Paris with the most spectacular view of the city. We went to the top by elevator (like 53 floors) and then a few more floors by stairs to get to a most amazing observation deck with a view like no other. It was 10 pm at that time so it was dark and it wasn’t raining anymore, just really windy. Every building in the entire Paris was lighted up and because of the flat nature of Paris, we could see everything.
It was indescribable.
We could see the Eiffel tower right in front of us. It was much different from the view from Eiffel tower as this view reflected the essence of Paris more. Deck was equipped with red easy chairs and trampolines! Imagine being at the top of a skyscraper and jumping on a trampoline! It must have been amazing, but again because of whether we couldn’t do it.
Later on, we learned that even Slovak TV news talked about strong wind in Paris and Germany, cuz our friends were checking on us if we’re ok – since I was actively posting our trip photos on Instagram. It was a great end to our amazing trip to Paris. We paid for tour Montparnasse an extra 400kc, which is like 15 euros.
After Montparnasse, we said goodbye to Paris and went to our bus and then headed to Germany.
We had a great good night’s sleep mostly because we were tired as hell after all that walking and exploring. We walked around 28km! In the morning we arrived in Amberg, Germany, which is close to borders with the Czech republic.
It was a spa day next.
We paid 5 euros for 1,5 hours in the spas. It was full of water attractions and there were very few people. It was incredibly relaxing to lay down after a long road trip. I honestly had no idea it would be that huge – we spent our whole time there in just one pool getting great water messages and had no intention to move anywhere else. But an hour and a half went by very quickly and we were back on our way to Prague.
We arrived around 3 pm and my friend and I separated our ways there. She went back to Bratislava and I went do Hradec Kralove, where I study and the trip was over
Overall it was incredible. No matter those unpleasant experiences with wank man or bad weather, what cannot be influenced in any way it was a great experience and for my third time there I must say this one was the best one yet.
I’ll share my photos from there in here so after reading all of my babble you’ll get photo evidence as well
I usually travel with travel agencies as it’s much easier if someone plans your day for you, but I bet there is fun in just traveling without planed out direction.
My New Years’ Eve and New Year were incredible and I can only hope that the rest of 2018 would go as nicely.
Thank you for your attention