After eight years I’ve made my second visit to Paris, this time for nearly four days. That’s staying in hotels cracked at last. That was what I was most worried about – staying in a room used by other people, using a bathroom and furniture used by other people and sharing them with my two friends, but I coped. I accepted that I’d have to lower my standards and deal with the consequences when I got back. My friends made all the arrangements and I feared that they’d booked somewhere grotty, but the place was …  tolerable. My friends have their own mental health problems but I don’t think they’ll ever understand my OCD (I need some more understanding, less ill, and vegan,friends to travel with). I was extremely anxious for several days before I went.

On Saturday night I went to London to see The Sisters of Mercy, so I’d had little food or sleep the day before and was too tired to eat when I got back and spent Sunday semi-dazed. I managed to eat during the day but I had to get to Southend Station at 6.20 on Monday morning and the only way I could do that was to stay up all Sunday night so by the time I went out I was too out of it to be all that scared anymore.

The journey passed without incident and we arrived in Paris early Monday afternoon. We made our way straight to the hotel – in Montmartre, how cool is that?! Afterwards we explored Montmartre, visiting the Musée de Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur. I went up the dome of Sacré-Coeur on my own as my friends didn’t feel up to it. It was quite a climb. I didn’t know that I was scared of heights until I did that and I started to regret the fact that we’d already bought tickets for the Eiffel Tower. It was a nerve-wracking experience but I had a good view of Paris from the dome.

The next day started badly when one of my friends had his pocket picked on the Métro. He lost all his money so I had to lend him €100 and we had to be careful with our spending for the rest of our stay. After a pointless visit to the police station we went on to Versailles. By the time we got there the queue was very long and it took us well over an hour to get in. We did the palace but not the gardens as that cost extra, so I’ll have to go back there. On our return to Paris we went to an Indian vegetarian restaurant which had vegan options and helpful staff who were happy to veganize  other dishes. It was the best Indian food I’d ever had and we went back there the next two days.

On Wednesday we went to the Musée d’Orsay, which was fantastic. After about four hours there we walked along the Seine to Notre-Dame, which was glorious but packed. I didn’t go up the towers as you had to pay for that, so I’ll have to go back there as well. After that we strolled around the Latin Quarter and had a look at Saint-Sulpice but didn’t go in. Then it was off to the restaurant and back to the hotel. In the evening we went up the hill to sit on the steps of Sacré-Coeur and watch night fall over Paris and then had another stroll around Montmartre.

On our final day we went to the Eiffel Tower. I was anxious but it wasn’t too bad. I was nowhere near as scared as I had been in the dome of Sacré-Coeur and the view from the top was incredible. Then it was on to the restaurant and then the  station to get the train back to England. I didn’t want to leave.

So here I am back in Southend, depressed and alone again. There’s nothing here for me and I’ve got things to worry about again: One of the taps on my washbasin has worn out and needs replacing; I’ll have to phone my landlord(horror!!!).Will they do anything? If they do I’ll have to let a plumber in(horror!!!). And the new £10 notes containing tallow come out next week. How am I supposed to live if I can’t touch money?

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