Thursday 10th September
Once I had made the decision to admit defeat I was then presented with a lot of options about what I wanted to do and exactly how I was going to get to Rome. The most obvious, and perhaps cheapest, way would have been to try and organise a flight from as close by as possible to Rome but I decided that would pretty much defeat the object of my original adventure completely so eventually decided to travel by train. There were quite a few places I wanted to go in France and Italy but finances would now not allow me to go to all of them as the train would certainly not be cheap!
I decided pretty quickly to head for Paris and then weigh up my options from there. When I had been looking at various destinations on the SNCF site it was apparent that pretty much anywhere south had to go through Päris anyway and it seemed silly to go into Paris just to get a train straight back out again! The ticket from Soissons to Paris was fairly reasonably priced at €15 too. It only took a couple of hours to get there and I arrived into Paris in the blistering heat at around 4.30pm. I spent almost 2 hours walking around Paris looking for a tourist information office to see if I could find any cheap accomodation anywhere and was pretty much on the point of getting a train straight back out of there!
I then had a moment of clarity in amongst a very stressful day and decided that it would be foolish to just leave as you don't get many chances to visit places like this so opted for the cheapest, dingiest hotel I could find. I found a 1 star hotel - not sure what the star was for, maybe because they had a door? - and checked in. It cost me €42 for the night there which I was not too happy about paying but at least I now had a bed for the night and could go and find somewhere to eat. I decided on a calzone in a restaurant close by but it was shockingly bad and I felt more hungry afterwards than I had done before!
I got hold of another phone card to call my parents again and let them know of the decision I had made and also where I was. They told me they were very proud of how far I had managed to get and that I should not think of it as a failure but rather be happy with what I had achieved. Still, I felt slightly down about the whole thing as it was something that, primarily, I wanted to do for myself and, even if others didn't feel let down, I felt like I had let myself down.
I went back to the hotel room and watched some tennis on Eurosport - thinking about it, maybe that was what the star was for! - before eventually dropping off to sleep at about 2am after a very long, difficult and, ultimately, disappointing day. The adventure, as it was originally intended, was officially over.