Sunday, December 5, 2010

Paris, Half and Half

My journey was rather scary, and stressful. I had no clue that the city was so large that most, if not everyone there takes hundreds of underground trains on a daily basis to get to wherever it is they're going. It's no wonder that a trip to Paris should be for at least a week, because you end up spending half the day through dark tunnels in unstable railway carts.

Upon my arrival in Cork Airport, an announcer informed my friend and I that the flight would be delayed for about 10 minutes. No biggie. Slowly as time passed by, there would be another announcement to say that the flight would be delayed another 10 minutes. This continued until the airplane was an hour late. After a sigh of relief (it may have been canceled due to all the snow happening around us), we finally boarded for gay Paris!

The first French I heard was on the plane, which prompted me even more to want to scream up and down that I was finally seeing a historical city, filled with art, music, and amazing food. After 1 hour and 40 minutes, we landed. Getting off the plane was hard at first, because I was somewhat motion sick. Soon after I hit land, there awaited me some slanted escalators surrounded in clear, plastic tubes. To be honest, I don't know how I didn't throw up after the 3rd or 4th one that I had to ride, but eventually I made it out of there.

Charles de Gaulle Airport is a tricky one to figure out. After meandering around for a good 15 minutes, I finally got the guts to go up to the information desk. "Je ne parle pas Francais. Parlez vous anglais?" The lady there smiled and said: "oui." Then I got cracking down to business, asked her how to get to Le Kremlin Bicetre, and she gave me a map to follow. My friend and I stopped at terminal 3, bought a ticket, and then got on the train to terminal 2. We ended up in the wrong part of the station, and one of the workers at the airport was kind enough to point us in the right direction.

Eventually we got off at Denfert Rochereau, which was marked on our map. Sarah and I had to walk from there to Place d'Itale, but since neither of us knew where we were going, I decided to call her friend Ben. We ended up waiting thirty minutes before he called us back to say he was there. So we went outside to try and find him, but without any luck. After frolicking about for 20 minutes out in the freezing cold, Ben told us to look for the lion statue, which we spotted and made our way towards with happy results.

Ben had no clue as to where we were staying. Then he found out that the B&B was right outside Paris, in Le Kremlin Bicetre and he didn't know how to get us there. So we asked for directions in a nearby hotel. After waiting for a good 25 minutes (the receptionist kept getting distracted with phone calls), we were able to get a move on towards our destination.

Time was running out. I had told our hostess that we would arrive between 4pm and 6pm, and by the time we were finished getting directions, it was just past 7. On top of that, the couple that runs the B&B was leaving for the theatre at 8pm, and I wasn't sure if they spoke English (other wise I would of called them). About 5 minutes from the B&B, I got a phone call from our hostess, who did speak English, and I tried asking her if they were at home, but she couldn't understand me. She finally realized what I was saying, and said that they "we're not at the home." In the background, I heard her husband shout: "HOUSE!" and she repeated with: "We're not at the house." It was really cute.

So then we went to a little French restaurant right across the street from where we were staying. There wasn't a whole lot of cuisine on the menu, so Sarah and I split a pig tray that had about 6-8 different meats from one single pig! There was also a sausage that had hooves in it, which was rather bland. Ham was also on the platter, very thinly sliced with lots of salt, which I didn't care for, either. Some of the stuff tasted like beef jerky, and it was alright. The best part of the meal was the French bread, which was simply perfect. Before ordering the meal, the chief came out to help us out. He spoke some English, which was very helpful in the end. I tried asking for Coke, but he misunderstood it as wine, and asked if I wanted red or white. I couldn't help but laugh, and look dumbfounded at Ben. He finally told the Chief that I wanted "Coca." So there you have it: Coke = Coca in France. :)

Ben left, and Sarah and I made our way to the apartment on our own. I stood outside trying to figure out how to get in. I rang a bell, but no one answered. Then someone called my phone, and I picked up to hear Pellay (that's our hostess) saying they were back now and we could come at anytime. I told her we were outside, and the next thing I know, this garage door starts opening up and there she is!

The house was amazing. The garage was small, and the walls were lined with books on shelves. Pellay opened up a very long glass door into the house. The walls were either covered in books or paintings that were created by her husband and other various artists. On the ground floor was the kitchen and livingroom (it was all in the same space), bathroom, toliet (it had it's own separate, connecting room), and a small alcove underneath the stairs with even more wall covered books and an office area. Upstairs was another area with computers and a sewing machine. This branched off into two rooms, our bedroom and theirs.

Our room was the best place I have ever stayed in my entire life. Every square inch of wall spouted fairy tales, art, history, and beyond. An oil painting held up by thin boards on the ceiling hung over our heads as we laid to rest in our feathery soft bed. Next to where we were sleeping was an early 1900s sewing machine, and an old squeaky horn. I slept so well that night, that when I woke, I had no clue where I was and how I got there!

That's part one of my story. I'm so exhausted and tired from my trip, that I will have to tell more later. :)

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