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Published: September 5th 2002
It was in 2002, and me and a friend had decided to backpack round Europe. We got ourselves a couple of rail passes and headed off with the basic plan - start from Paris and head counter-clockwise round Western Europe. Now, you may think that a plan so cunning in it’s simplicity as this one could not possibly go wrong. However, against all odds we managed to mess it up.We got the Eurostar from Waterloo and sat admiring the countryside of France whizzing past. Now perhaps I should warn you, both of us are typical Brits, in that we cannot speak a word of any language other than that of the Queens (And even then we mess it up half the time). We knew that the station we were to get off at in Paris was ‘Gare du Nord’, what we did not realise was that this simply translated into ‘North Station’, and one was to be found in most cities. Imagine how surprised we were when they announced the train arriving there way ahead of schedule. Putting this down to us losing track of time in the excitement of the forthcoming journey, we quickly rushed off and began our exploration of the French capital.
After a short walk from the station we found ourselves in the middle of a huge street market. Great! Sampling the local culture, we proceeded to tour round the stalls, following my map of Paris, in the search for a landmark. The Eiffel tower and ‘Arc de Triomphe’ were being unusually difficult to locate, so we finally went against all our manly instincts and asked for directions. This proved to be more difficult than we first thought. No one spoke English, and seemed to have very puzzled looks upon us producing the map and pointing. Finally someone who spoke English came to our aid, and tried to stifle a laugh whilst gleefully informing us that we were in fact in Lille. LILLE! We promptly returned to the train station, and pleaded our case to the train guard to let us on the next train to Parris with our existing tickets. Taking pity on the foolish British tourists, he caved in and let us on. And once more we were on our way to start our tour of Europe.
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