My short break to Paris was spontaneous; I’d lost my iPhone - and subsequently my contacts, Twitter presence and camera, and so the prospect of spending my time off in London seemed intolerable. I flipped a coin (do I/ don’t I?) and booked a Eurostar to Paris, before trawling the Couch Surfing website for a place to sleep that night, as the Eurostar had used up the bulk of my funds. I had a tentative ‘yes’ from a comic book illustrator called Phillipe, which as I pulled into Gare De Nord on a cold dark evening in April left me feeling rather more anxious than it had in sunny familiar London.
I found an internet café and saw that to my good fortune the hesitant response had become a definite couch to surf with an address and directions. I negotiated the Metro to a big wooden door - wide enough to admit a carriage, hauled my suitcase up 5 flights of a spiral stone staircase to the top floor where as instructed I saw a photograph of a small dog. I ignored a niggling concern about stranger danger and knocked on the door.
My new abode had a big open window overlooking the small room crowded with colourful and surreal square photographs, comic books and films. My host and I shared a pizza and got acquainted whilst he explained his passion for both couch surfing and taking photographs with an analogue camera, the Holga - a simple plastic box that captured dreamy unpredictable photos. It seemed to embody spontaneity and fun - I was convinced.
The next morning I set out through the charming old streets of the Bastille and through the Jewish district in the direction of the Lomography camera shop. I meandered through sunlit streets, choosing the most aesthetically pleasing option at each cross road. The freedom of being alone to make every decision based on such whims is intrinsically charming. I bought the Holga and my weekend of wandering took on a new focus as I explored bridges, views and buildings from the Louvre to Monmartre to the Latin Quarter, capturing my journey in pictures. By inadvertently losing touch with the digital I had recaptured the pleasure of simplicity and observation - I defy anyone not to enjoy a carefree day of having nothing much to do on a sunny day in Paris.