Going out in Paris is not the same as going out in Vancouver.

Paris is alive at 5 am. My night out with friends was great but the most interesting part of the night was the cab ride home. Everywhere I’ve ever lived has a bedtime. There is a time, early in the morning, when the city is asleep. The streets are empty and quiet. It’s a time when you can have your city to yourself. But you’re never alone in Paris. 

Falling in and out of a drunken sleep in the cab, I could feel how alive the city still was. Bar windows were still bright, with the young and drunk spilling out onto the curb, smoking their cigarettes in the shadow of their friends still at the bar. Cabbies and their cars buzzed around the streets, picking up the steady flow of stumbling twenty-somethings. Couples walked in and out of the street lamp light, hand in hand, occasionally stopping in a doorway or at street corner to kiss.

I was falling sleep but the city wasn’t. 

In the hotels and office buildings, teams of mop and broom carrying workers cleaned away the nights messes so the city could waked up refreshed. But really the city never fell asleep — it just stopped home for a quick shower and toothbrushing before heading back out.

I arrived at my hostel, tiptoed past my sleeping roommates to brush my teeth and wash the night off of my face. I crawled into my bunk, but only momentarily. My head hit the pillow for just a moment before my alarm blared and I was up and off again, this time to Nice.