After a seventeen hour brutal flight full of non air-conditioned cabins, smelly passengers leaning over my middle seat passing socks and sleep masks back and forth, and a Chinese airport luggage handler spitting on my feet for asking him a question... I finally arrived in Paris.
It was early, almost 5 a.m., so I took it slow, changed some money, strolled down toward the metro, and rode a train into the city to Gare du Nord.
Paris is never what you believe it to be. Most people imagine this romantic city with lights and music and handsome men and beautiful fashion, and yes, it's all of that...
But it's also a stinky, smelly, puking, retching, cesspool... a puddle of vomit and urine that stings your nose and eyes...
Full of gypsies and homeless men, ghetto squalor and decay... Paris takes your breath away, yes... but mostly because you are holding your nose.
Still, the colorful people are the best part... and the views. I arrive in Gare du Nord still too early for anything to be open. So I grab a seat at a little streetside cafe and watch the men hose garbage off the streets and a couple of dogs lick wine from a broken bottle on the curb.
Around me there is creaking and yawning and cursing and laughing... Paris is awakening for the day.
Time to wake up too and shake off the travel-webs... it's going to be a beautiful day.