So, this is mostly for my own benefit. I've been doing a lot of poking around on various sites trying to figure out what I want to do for accommodations in Paris and London. I've been kind of lucky stumbling across a lot of interesting options, but I'm having trouble deciding what to do.
I started out poking around on CouchSurfing, which is promising but daunting. I don't really have a couch I'm comfortable loaning to strangers, so I feel like the deal is rather lopsided, plus I don't have a way of looking less like a random creeper before hopping off to Europe, unless I go socialize with the Chicago surfers, which, me being me, is kind of a tall order. (I'm easy to find on there, if any of you are on there and similarly without contacts to vouch for you and make you look less like a creeper). Also a solid majority of the people hosting in Europe are male, and I'm not entirely comfortable staying on some strange guy's couch that I found on the internet.
So, some interesting serendipity while reading the NYT late at night led me to AirBnb
(and a couple of other similar sites, but this seems to be the most reasonable one). It's been fantastic for Paris (I think I'm going to be staying here
for at least the first two days I'm in the city), but for some reason Londoners find it okay to charge a minimum of about $30 to stay on their couch
. Dear goodness someone is renting out their floor
for £7 (~$11) a night! I found a couple of decent spots in people's spare rooms, but it's still expensive, so I may end up hostelling it or just couch surfing in London. But the appeal of picking out an actual apartment and living there for a few days just seems fantastic in comparison to a hotel stay, or even hostelling (which, while fun, just brings to mind the image of college dorms and unsecured luggage).
Then there are things like this
, which make me wish I had a travelling partner so I could split the cost and stay there. I mean, how cool would that be, on a barge tethered outside the Louvre? Seriously! I'm actually considering just dealing with it and paying the 90 euro a night to stay by myself because it has the potential to be that cool
. However, this is also something I found via the NYT, which means it's probably already booked into oblivion.
I think, as you can see by the progression of things in this entry, my plans for this trip are getting more and more esoteric. I'm also planning on asking (probably via CS) if anyone in Paris will teach me how to make a baguette properly, because I just can't seem to get it right. Actually, so far my plans are pretty much: get to Paris, put my stuff wherever I'm staying, hop on a Velib bike, look around. I think Sunday night I'm going to Musee D'Orsay, because it's free (it's either that or Monday night, I don't remember which offhand). Check out cafes, poke around in some shops, do a lot of walking. In London things are a little more solid. There are a few museums I want to check out (all random and free, like the Clockmaker's Museum and the Hunterian Museum), and I intend to visit the University, possibly in an attempt to gain admission. Things I am NOT going to do are decide to nip off to Dublin instead of going back to Paris or trek out to Stratford-Upon-Avon and... who knows what I'd do there, but it'd probably involve a seance or a heist. I think I'm also going to try to catch some sort of play/theatre thing/concert in both cities, but I don't know what, where, or how. Other than that, I think I'm just going to wing it.
I'm also weighing the options of similarly renting out my apartment while I'm gone, but chances are fair that my landlord would catch me and I'd get into a lot of trouble (perhaps I could ask them to say they're house-sitting?), and I don't know if I trust strangers not to steal my stuff, even when bound by the internet's arbitrary rules. It'd be an easy way to recoup the costs of staying on the houseboat, though... and most of the rentals I see in Chicago are almost as crazy-expensive as London, so if I put my apartment out, even at $50 a day I'd easily make up most of what I'd be spending on shelter abroad. Decisions, decisions...
(Tangential to this, after looking at the words I used for link text here I started to wonder what you get when you actually search google for things like "this" and "here". Apparently when the internet is being inspecific with its links it is generally trying to Rick Roll you, or educate you on the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or with Urban Dictionary (in the case of "this") or get you to download programs and add-ons (which is overwhelmingly the case for "here").)