The Sacre Coeur stands proud at the top of the hill. The surrounding area is Monmartre, a creative’s delight, and my favourite part of Paris. After the common touristy hotspots of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and the vicinity of the Louvre, the winding cobbled streets and laidback vibe of Monmartre was where I really fell in love with the city.
Apprehension was the foremost emotion, followed closely and suffocatingly by fear. What had we let ourselves in for? Neither of us were prepared for this. Landing in Johannesburg airport filled me with a mixture of emotions; I had heard many things – mainly bad – and could now only find out for myself if they were true.
When I travelled to Eastern Europe last summer, the Drum and Bass scene in the UK was on the rise. The D ‘n’ B nights at home were often set in dingy, sweaty clubs full of some very interesting characters (who may or may not have been completely ‘with it’), so it was a pleasant surprise to experience this new culture in another part of Europe.
Belgrade is a vibrant city with lots to offer. An array of restaurants and bars lined the pedestrian only main strip which opened up into a large square humming with activity. Thursday nights were evidently a popular night in this city, as groups of dressed up young people wandered up and down the strip searching for the perfect destination.
The mountains faded into the distance behind us as the persistent heat of the morning sun beat down on our backs. We detoured away from the main drag and emerged at the foot of a winding cobbled hill that would lead to the Old Town.
It was a shaky start (literally) as the ferry left the snow covered port behind and made its rocky way across the English Channel. As it was an overnight ride, we had planned to sleep on board for the four hour journey. I had been on ferries before, and had quite pleasant memories, but this time it was different. From the offset it was doomed.
So, last week (bit of an impulse buy) I went to Geneva, Switzerland for twenty four hours. My goal this year is to visit twenty one countries before my twenty first birthday, I have until August and a plan of action.
Outside, the surrounding green hills were dotted with brilliant white posts commemorating the dead. Row after row of them reared up, uniformed in their stance like soliders waiting for battle, all exactly the same. The landscape was bleak. No cars whirred past; no birds tweeted in the blazing midday sun. No sign of life.
Landing in the blistering heat at the Sabihia Gokcen airport on the Asian side of this bi-continental city, I was feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. Wary at first of my shuttle driver as I was certain he didn’t speak a word of English, he soon redeemed himself after stopping at a service station and buying me a welcome bottle of ice cold water. The drive to Istanbul was long, but the ever changing scenery beyond the window kept me occupied.