Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paris Day 1 - WTF

I don't even know where to start.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but so far I'm not really enjoying myself. Perhaps I just got off on the wrong foot and the next three days will be better? I don't want to be negative and I don't want to complain and Im' having a difficult time with that right now. Maybe I'm just underwhelmed. I had high expectations and they are not being met. People here honk a lot. I should have saved up my "I'm going to get hit by a car" thoughts that I've been using in Ireland for France. I believe I'm in imminent danger here, for realz.

I am loving the buildings and the cobbled streets. The decorations and definite "old city" vibe are both enjoyable for me. More than that I want to be having a nice time. I was all excited while waiting in the Dublin airport and then again when we finally started to land (not like the flight was long, but still the excitement had really set in at that point).

Just a morning Guinness. Not mine though.

Today has seen copious amounts of notes and thoughts being jotted onto my iPod. There was some sensory overload happening a few times.

My first order of business once landing was to figure out how best to get to my hostel. I had a rather embarrassing exchange with the woman at the Information booth and she finally suggested that I go to the Tourist Information booth instead. I think that was for the best. Once I awkwardly said, "Uh, hi" to the nice woman after she gave me a very polite string of words en Francais, she switched to English and was very helpful. Turns out the video game museum that I based this weekend excursion on is closed right now because the building it is in is having some construction done on it. I am more in comic disbelief than anger or sadness. I mean yes, I am bummed, but I don't want to be upset about it... so I'm not. Will power!

So I decided that today would be relaxing and getting familiar with the streets around my hostel so I don't get lost, then tomorrow I'll do my Amelie adventure and maybe shop? and then Monday I'll be doing one of those hop on hop off tours that drives around and around to all of the big tourist spots like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Tuesday will be another epic adventure to get to the airport. I say another epic adventure because I had quite the experience getting settled in today and I will explain why.

Let's start at the beginning.

I woke up at 4 am and hit the snooze button four times before waking up at 5 am and deciding I didn't want to deal with bathing. It's worth noting that I went to bed at 2 am. Yes,  2ish hours of sleep before a day of traveling. I'm not upset about it nor do I regret it and I will not be complaining about being tired! I packed the night before and then was in town with friends and it was very nice. There was also partial nudity (not on my part, nor any other female's). That's a story for another day though, I'm talking about Paris here.

So, 5 am, all packed and ready to go. My flight from the Galway airport was at 7:45. I didn't know what to expect so I went with normal airport protocol: get there early. I called a taxi and I was picked up at 5:30 am. We arrived at the airport at 5:45 am. The check in desks did not open until 6:45 am. Woof. Also? Tiniest airport ever. Dave said it was a glorified barn and he wasn't kidding. I sat nodding off while sitting up and listening to my iPod. Once I was checked in and had my boarding pass I wasn't entirely sure where to go, then I realized there was only one place to go. One big room with two doors leading to the tarmac: Gate 1 Gate 2. xD I was very amused. Even though taking the bus to Dublin and flying from Dublin to Paris (as opposed to flying from Galway to Dublin then to Paris which is what I did) would have been cheaper, I'm pretty happy about my decision because I got to look at all of Ireland as we flew from one coast to the other. Just gorgeous.

Commence confused shuffling at the Dublin airport. That place is wacky! I had to leave and then go back in to get my second boarding pass. The woman in front of me for the security screening had a stroller with her and she asked me if I would get her bag from the under carriage because she's pregnant and isn't supposed to lift things. In my attempt to dislodge the heavy and bulky luggage I almost flipped over the stroller, complete with baby in it. So that was cool.

I just remembered I need to find a place that sells shampoo and stuff, hopefully in travel sizes. I don't have any so I couldn't bring any and I didn't think to buy any beforehand. Hmm. Better get this finished so I can go look for supplies before it gets too late.

Outside the door to my room at the hostel.

Anyway, I snoozed a bit near a window and intermittently watched people drink Guinness at 9 am before boarding my plane. Just like with my flight from Galway, my flight in Dublin had me walking on the tarmac to get to the plane. Very strange! The flight went well enough, some very serious turbulence patches and I had the special privilege of sitting directly under the wing so I got to watch it change through the flight. Scary and neat at the same time. When we landed everyone clapped. I was confused? Still not sure what that was about. Possibly because of the turbulence, but I've had worse so who knows.

So yes, I wander through the airport trying to find the information desk and once I have my information, my train ticket, my hop on hop off bus ticket and a map of the city, I head to the Paris train. That went well enough except I felt a little worried the whole ride because I wasn't sure how to make the doors open. The train stopped at every stop, regardless of there being people present, but the doors didn't open unless someone was there. Ground sensors? Door sensors? How do the doors know!? I kept looking around the car that I was in, hoping to catch someone getting off at a stop so I could see if they had to do anything to get the door open. To my immense relief I was able to watch someone and that's when I noticed there's a button on the door. It's fairy inconspicuous if you ask me, and it doesn't say PUSH. So, you know.

I was full on assaulted on many sensory levels once I left the train confines and went above ground. Why does so much of the street smell like pee? And why is everyone honking so much? There is no where the car in front of you can go. Don't get me wrong, traffic was an absolute gridlocked mess. I wouldn't be happy either. It was insanity though! Also, I'm pretty sure I walked in/rolled through a shiny new puddle of piss. There were a few guys standing around nearby it and maybe one of them was just too lazy to find a toilet. I'm guessing it was piss because when I passed over it I was hit with very strong... smells.

After finding the Sacre-Coeur on my own I felt very confident that I could find my hostel. I knew that one of the big pulls for it was its spectacularly close proximity to the Sacre-Coeur. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for my butt and legs because wow do these shape-ups work) I went around and around, up and down streets, back and forth reading signs and consulting my map trying desperately to find my hostel. I need a better map. The one I have (that the tourist information booth gave me!) doesn't show all of the street signs. Every time I came to a new cross section and tried to find the name of the street on the map it wasn't there, it just wasn't there. I started to wonder if I had completely mixed up where I was staying with perhaps a hostel that I had looked at but didn't actually book. But then I remembered that I gave the address to the tourist lady and she gave me the map and marked things. I persevered and finally found my hostel. RELIEF. My bunk mates are from Dublin. Funny, right? They weren't in when I arrived but after I returned from wandering the streets they were both there. They leave tomorrow morning so that does not do me much good. Maybe some new people will show up tomorrow afternoon and I will make some friends. I hear that's what hostels are for.

OK, everyone here has a moped thing. It's crazy. I've never seen so many before. I took some pictures I will show you.

Oh, and I passed cafe after cafe while wandering lost through the streets dragging my suitcase and listening to my stomach whine. Once I was ready to jump on some French cuisine I found that I was inexplicably surrounded by NOTHING BUT FABRIC STORES! Today has been so strange.

You know what's a really awesome and beautiful song? Crack the Shutters by Snow Patrol.


I am sad to report that I ended up eating a freaking McDonalds. Although that was an experience in and of itself. People in France speak French. Shocking, I know. Not all French people speak English. This particular American does not speak French. I can read it a tiny bit and recognize a fair amount of nouns but that it is. So there was some pantomiming and charades happening when I made my order. Then she told me my amount and I handed her money and I knew it would be enough to cover it but I had no idea what she said. Numbers were difficult while learning French in high school.

After my very not good tasting meal I decided I was ready to explore a bit. I went to the Sacre-Coeur to take some photos. It's an amazing building with such grand stairs sprawling in front of it. Add to that the fact that it's in Amelie and it had a definite draw for my camera and me. Lots of pictures, which was nice. The weather was good too. Sunny and bright. Too bad I forgot my sunglasses! I had a guy practically accost me attempting to get my attention and get me to buy some string for braiding. He was reaching out to grab me and stop me. I don't know how many times I said "No" before I swung at him to get him to back off. That was a little weird. The street vendor types are very aggressive here.

I'm sitting in the lobby area of my hostel. There's free wifi but it only works in here, which is a bit of a bummer. That's for the best though, I'd feel like a jerk for keeping up my bunk mates with my computer screen and typing noises, but I know I'd do it anyway >.>


5:34 am: taxi: are you kidding me? the driver just told me I could have slept another hour!

5:53 am: Galway airport: yeah he wasn't kidding. My flight isn't until 7:45 and I can't even check in yet. Boo.

7:14 am: Galway airport: I have been informed that the toilet is not working on the Dublin plane. This made me laugh. All in all a very odd experience so far.

This airport has two gates. The security screening felt pretty informal. I didn't have to take off my shoes. I forgot to remove my laptop from my bag (they didn't notice, or they didn't care). My ticket doesn't have a gate number on it. I have a 50-50 chance of getting on the correct plane! haha

7:41 am: plane: Gate 1, tiny plane! Walked on the tarmac to get to it.

9:16 am: Dublin airport: much more airport-y. I didn't see very much of it on my arrival so this is interesting. Food!

9:25 am: Dublin airport: the blueberry muffins look spectacular but I bought a sandwich. More sustenance.

9:34 am: Dublin airport: Holy shit I am actually on my way to Paris. I have wanted to visit France since I was about 8 years old.

11:53 am: airplane: another plane boarded via the tarmac. What's the deal? Also, no boarding order just a free for all! P.S. I was forced to check my roll aboard at the gate >:O

I know I'm on a plane to Paris and therefore this shouldn't be that interesting, but all the same this is the first time I've been fully surrounded by people that are not speaking English. So I am fascinated and startled.

12:40 pm: airplane: I believe I am looking at England/Scotland riht now.

2:36 pm: airplane: penis crop circle in France, no joke.

3:38 pm: train: will you believe that the video game museum is closed because work is being done on La Defense building? The reason I came to Paris! Also everyone is speaking to me in French and I reply with "I'm sorry?" or "Hi" an then they speak English and I feel like a silly foreigner.

4:04 pm: hostel: I am finally here and sadly not in great spirits. I'll see what I can do.

4:34 pm: walking: the hostel I'm staying at is positively surrounded by fabric stores.

I am so hungry I almost fell over in my room. I have been circling the block trying to find a cafe and all I am seeing is fabric and clothing stores. Then I saw a McDonalds. I'm not happy about it but I need to eat something and this is the first food place I've seen.

A white flower. Because some people really like white flowers.


No comments:

Popular Posts

Trying to find something?