Friday, August 23rd 2002

I got to Paris at 9am. I got a metro to République, remembered from my trip two years earlier which exit to take, and walked along Boulevard Jules Ferry to the youth hostel I'd stayed in before. The atmosphere of cosy familiarity was abruptly shattered when they turned out to be full. There was an accommodation office next door, but it wasn't open yet, so I bought some food from a nearby shop and sat by the Canal Saint-Martin having breakfast. When they opened, they found me a space in a hostel nearby.

Sometimes when I go back to a place I've been before, I find myself going to exactly the same places, somehow unable to find new things to do. And so it was here. I walked to the Île de la Cité, saw Notre Dame, then walked to Montmartre. Two years ago when I was here it had been grey, rainy and empty. Now it was a hot day and very busy. In the narrow streets below the hill, some small children were ineptly busking. They had accordions, which they obviously had no idea how to play, and they squeezed and pressed buttons randomly. I was disgusted at how stupid they must think tourists would be, if they thought they'd make money this way, and then even more disgusted when I saw someone giving them some change.

As I looked over Paris, my heart wasn't in the travelling any more. Paris was too familiar and too close to home, and I felt like I shouldn't have stopped. I'd been here just two years earlier, so it seemed silly to interrupt my journey virtually on my doorstep to see places I already knew. In slight frustration, I planned an early start the next day to get back home.

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