This ish is real.

Sitting on a first class TGV train to Paris is the only way to be as it is a city renoun for its sights, history and fashion. Plush seats, fold out tables and reading lights; this night train rides in style. Are we the elites of France? The Bourgeois perhaps? Or are first class tickets leaving after 9 p.m. very cheap?

Bourgeois: The answer is simple.

However, I don't think Paris got the memo, because we plunged into the metropolis' midnight underbelly as soon as we arrived at the train station. There was no red carpet, only possible dangers lurking in every corner. The mood was tense even with 6 of us constantly watching for sinister street urchins.

We waited with luggage tucked ever so gently under our bosoms for the metro. A drunk woman vomits and Laura, who has a weak stomach, can't handle it anymore.

"I can't look it at!" she says, but she can't seem to take her eyes away.

On the metro we form a circle of protection to guard our bags, but nothing can block the ever present aroma of body odor ; a stereotype now validated.

We emerge from the underground maze of tubes to fresh air and slightly dilapdated buildings. Someone pulls out a map and it's certain that we're lost. The locals at a bar look at us with suspicion and murmer.

"We have to keep moving!" I say.

But to where? I don't know.

Je ne sais pas.

Someone offers to walk us to our hostel, but even friendly gestures seem sinister in these streets. Some think we're being marched to our death, but I can't think of that. These streets will eat you alive if you show your fear.

We arrive at the hostel. It looks nothing like the photos, and more like an architect's rendition of a dilapidated building in East Germany pre-1990. We're too tired to complain. Marco finds blood on his mattress.

From my window I can see the lights of the Tour Eiffel. It seemed so far away, but the difference between our arrival experience and Parisian stereotypes is an even further abyss. I'm certain when we're under the tower, or any other tourist destination, that we'll be swept away with Parisian euphoria. But this? This was is much different. This ish is real.