Day #3 Paris, France

April 14th, 2010

I arrived in Paris, France a little bit late, but that was okay. The plane unboarded using those stairs they roll up to the plane and then we walked to a bus that took us to the terminal. Just outside the terminal area, was the baggage claim, then came customs. I didn’t know what to expect, but what happened was weird. Basically, I went up to the customs agent (who was quite cute!), presented my passport, she looked at me, stamped my passport, didn’t ask me any questions and I was on my way! It was the strangest entrance I have ever had into Europe. I made my way into Charles du Gaulle Airport proper and was able to get directions to where to catch the RER train into Paris. I found my way there, bought my ticket, got on the train and proceeded into Paris. Vincent gave me great directions to which trains I needed to take and where I needed to transfer. It was 8.50 Euro for the train ticket, which is not bad, considering how far the airport is from the city center.

I arrived in Voltaire in the 11th Arrondissment around 10a. I found the McDonald’s Vincent told me about and waited around for a bit. I had tried to use a pay phone at the airport, but couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. I always have problems with phones in foreign countries! I had a rough idea of where Vincent’s apartment was so I set off…..in the wrong direction…..three times….before I finally decided to bite the bullet and go into McDonald’s and use their free wi-fi. I got myself a café and some little croissants for about 2.70 Euro, sat down, ate my breakfast and got onto google maps. I realized I had been walking in the complete opposite direction of where I was supposed to be! I face booked Vincent and told him where I was, and then waited a bit before setting off to find his apartment. I found it without any problems, let myself in with the code he gave me and then couldn’t count the floors correctly! I accidentally knocked on the 4th floor door instead of the 6th floor door! Oops. A nice lady with a towel answered and told me I had the wrong place! I really need to learn how to say “I’m sorry!” in French.

I found Vincent’s place, we hugged and I settled in. He left to go visit friends while I took a nap, took a shower, and got caught up on blogging and internet stuff. His connection is much faster and safer than McDonald’s.

After my nap and shower, I was still a little groggy, but we decided to go to the post office so I could ship some things ahead to Spain that I don’t need right now. It was about 26 Euro to ship everything. Kinda spendy, but at the moment I had to bite the bullet and do it. Only problem was I had left the address to the Camino Travel Center at the apartment! Vincent gave me the keys and off I went…..or so I thought. Yep, you guessed it. I got lost…..again. Found the apartment, then I got lost going back to the post office! Talk about a comedy of errors. Let’s just say I know my way around the 11th Arrondissment very well now!
After that fiasco, we made our way to the Bastille and Vincent gave me a walking history of the area. It was very cool. We continued to walk along the Seine River and over to Notre Dame. I have been there before, and it was just as beautiful as the last time. It was weird though, because Mass was going on, yet there were all these tourists wandering around, taking pictures, etc. It was right at the tail end of Mass, but still, I felt very uncomfortable being there and not being a participant.

As soon as we walked outside of Notre Dame, I turned around to take some pictures of the front doors and noticed that one of the statues was “missing” a head (well actually, it was holding it’s head in his hands!) and asked Vincent if he knew who it was. This woman turns around and introduces herself as a tour guide who has five minutes to give a little bit of the history and proceeds to tell us about what we are looking at! It was so awesome and unexpected. She was very sweet and very knowledgeable.

After Notre Dame, we decided it was time to eat and we made our way back towards the Bastille area to find food. Vincent decided to take the Metro for a few stops to save time and give our feet a rest, so we made our way to a Metro station. Vincent is a Metro Train Driver and he loves his job! He took me to the front of the train where the driver sits and introduced me to one of his coworkers and I got to ride the train for two stops standing in the main driver compartment! It was awesome!!!

We stopped at the Bastille station and started looking around for food. We ended up in this place that turned out to be horrible! The service was awful. The food was good. It just took FOREVER for us to get our meal and when Vincent asked TWICE, the food finally came out. At the end of the meal, Vincent expressed his disappointment and they explained to him they were waiting for us to finish our drinks and appetizers (nuts and olives) before putting the food order in! He had a very heated discussion with the manager, trying to get them to comp some of the meal, but to no avail. He said he had never heard of such a practice. I told him it was probably because I was American and the menus were in English if you asked. He didn‘t think so, but consider this a lesson learned.

After dinner, we walked back to the apartment and I settled in for the evening. I got a good solid eight hours of sleep before waking up at 5a. Hence the blogging…..oh and I was able to call my parents too. All in all, this trip is shaping up pretty nicely. The Parisians have redeemed themselves to me!

p.s. I am included in a blog about volunteering here: http://matadorchange.com/20-reasons-to-volunteer Check it out!

From 3Paris
Bicycle Rental ($29/year for unlimited usage)

From 3Paris
Bastille

From 3Paris
Lit a candle for my friend Paige at Notre Dame

From 3Paris
Outside Notre Dame

From 3Paris
Me in front of Notre Dame

From 3Paris
In the driver's cab of a Metro in Paris!

From 3Paris
Vincent & I at the train station