How do you visit one of the world’s most expensive (or the most expensive for all I care) cities without robbing a bank? It’s very easy, really.
First of all: how do you get there? If you decide well in advance, you can take the bus from most European cities, but if you decide last minute, like we always do, it’s too expensive.
Hitchhike! If you have something to defend you with, running shoes, and a cell phone, hitchhiking can be loads of fun! You meet new people, you never forget travelling this way, and your adventure doesn’t just start when you reach you destination, it starts way before that, from the moment you start writing the name of your destination on a cardboard cutout…
A couple of rules still apply: Girls: do NOT wear anything too sexy (trainers and a big smile should do the trick), guys: try not to dress too boho (for obvious reasons). First hitchhike your way to a major gas station with a restaurant of some sort. Start asking people you deem trustworthy if they are going in the direction of the city you want to see. You never get in a car with more people than the number you’re with. We didn’t want to get into vans either, and tried to ask small families, women, and truck drivers (they are thoroughly screened on the crazy-factor). We had a sign but we didn’t want to go and stand at the side of the road, because then you can’t control who’ll stop and if you want to get in with them.
After an hour and a half of “no’s”, we saw a bus driver with an empty bus. “Hey”, we thought, “maybe he’s going to Paris to pick up some people! lets ask!” And so we did. The bus driver barely nodded (we assume he’s not supposed to pick up hitchhikers) and let us on the bus. He went to a town close to Paris. Sebastian, a middle aged man, unhappy in his job but really he was a nice, kind Italian. He loved to chat and even made us some espresso (because no self respecting Italian bus driver would NOT have an espresso machine in his bus (or so he said).
4 hours later we reached the suburbs of Paris (not the nicest place to be), caught a train to the center and reached our destination for less than 5 euro’s each. We took about 7 hours to get there, but we had such a blast on the way we didn’t even care.