Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The City of Lights

I made it! After two delays, a gate change, getting lost out of the metro in search of the hotel, lugging 95 lbs of baggage up two of the most narrow flights of stairs I have ever seen in my life, and being judged immediately by the concierge, all on less than four hours of sleep, I made it.

Everything was smooth sailing when I left the Portland Airport at 8:45 on Monday morning, it wasn't until we neared Philadelphia that my travel plans experienced some kinks. We had to circle the airport for 30 minutes while air traffic control found us a runway to land at, and once landed we sat another 15 minutes while gate control found us a gate to park at. Likewise, once at the gate we waited another 15 minutes for someone with a key to come open the gate for us! Keep in mind I only had an hour to catch my connecting flight to Paris, some people had even less time to catch their flights so the mood was pretty stressful. The captain was funny however, apologizing that when he announced our arrival should be on time, he forgot to take into account that we were flying into Philadelphia, which is apparently one of the worst airports in the States.

So I get off the plane and book it to my next gate. When I get there, the flight info on the screen is for Dublin, Ireland. No! I couldn't have missed it already! So I check the screen of all departures and it says my flight is just leaving out of another gate. Seriously? Who changed it? Philadelphia really is the worst airport ever. I even heard the stewardesses talking about how this airport had the worst lost luggage numbers of any airport in the US! Anyway, by some combination of irony, luck, and Philadelphia truly sucking, my flight was delayed and had not even started boarding yet. I eventually made it from that godawful airport to Paris!

After surprising myself with how much French I've retained and buying my train ticket into the city, I made it to my metro stop. After getting out into the street and walking a little ways I thought I better consult my map. What doesn't stick out more than a sweaty, smelly American with two huge suitcases and a confused look while glaring at a map of Paris. This turned into my first encounter with a true Parisian and it was great. This little old man walked up in the only way little old men do that just makes you want to know their life story and said, "Vous etes perdu?" (Are you lost?) Again surprising myself with my French I told him where I was going and he just as promptly told me how to get there. Thank you kind old man for saving me hours of frustration!

The hotel, as I mentioned before, is small. 95 lbs. Two flights of stairs. No elevator. Could I get any more tired and sweaty? Indeed, it seems I could. After making it the concierge, who was one flight up the man simply looked at me and shook his head. "Do you really need all zat for a couple of nights?" he asks. "Well actually, monsieur, I am moving here to teach English and I'm only in Paris for a couple of days." It was annoying to be getting judged that quickly, but he must hate his life, dealing with annoying tourists day in and day out.

The room turned out to be pretty small with only a sink and bidet in room with a common bathroom in the stairway, which takes the term "W.C." (water closet, or, "bathroom" in French) a little too seriously as I nearly had to stand on the toilet to turn around and close the door. It also costs money to shower here. How much? I'm not quite sure since the price on the door is still in francs. There are, however, two redeeming qualities of this hotel: first, it is super close to everything and second, free WiFi.

Once I took a nap I washed myself off and decided to go out into the city and explore. After getting some much needed food at Monoprix (a supermarket akin to Freddy's) I headed towards Notre Dame where being a tourist isn't so bad because no one can really pick you out next to all the Asians and true "Amurikens." I took a walk through the Latin Quarter and saw a couple churches that were just beautiful. If there is one thing about Europe I had to pick as my favorite, it's the churches. They are amazing. The history, the art, the faith. They are truly individual wonders in their own right. I even saw the tomb of St Genevieve, patron saint of Paris. I will post pictures soon, once I figure out the best way to do that.

So that's it for now, more to come soon of my adventures in Paris!

1 comment:

  1. :) you can use picassa's "post to blog" feature... it's pretty handy. Or you can make a picassa album and post a link here to that. I think picassa works really well with blogspot.