Getting to Paris, Part 2

Installment 2

So it is 3 a.m. in the morning here in Paris, and I’ve been awake since about 1 a.m. In California, it is only about 6 p.m., so maybe (after a nap) that’s why I am wide awake. Or maybe I’m still thrilled and excited to be here and can’t wait to get started on my day. I did make a good effort to lie still and try to go back to sleep, but I finally gave up.(Thing 1 is sleeping soundly, though.) I was going to try to read up on some of the locations we were going to visit today, but the wifi here is spotty, and my iPad mini doesn’t seem to want to “join” it as easily as my iPhone, but I don’t want to read on my iPhone. (sigh) First World Problems, I know. Hence, I am catching up on my writing.

Anyway, getting to our connecting flight and going through that security checkpoint at Heathrow once we landed was very easy. Once we were through the checkpoint, we had a bit of time to kill before the flight information for our flight to Paris was put on the board. I got Thing 1 and I sandwiches at Starbucks, some water, and a hot chocolate for Thing 1. We leisurely ate it and people watched.

Our flight to Paris was noneventful, thank God! We got to see the northern coast of France and the countryside outside of Paris before we landed.

The English coastline from our plane window
The English coastline from our plane window
The French coastline from our plane window
The French coastline from our plane window

As we landed, we got to see the Eiffel Tower! It is so amazing to see it in person after seeing pictures of it my entire life. Likewise, the same was true when we were landing in London. We flew in over London from the east, so we could see the Thames, as it wound it’s way through the city. From above, we could see major sights like Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. We will be staying very close to that when we make our way back to London on Saturday evening.

So, once we landed, the next milestone to encounter was to discover whether or not our luggage actually made it all the way from home. And . . . it did! We grabbed it, proceeded to get our passports stamped (woo hoo!), and then continued from there on to customs. I was very disappointed (I guess?) to find there was no one present to rifle through my luggage and ask me questions. I’ve read about this happening and taking hours, but no one even checked our luggage tags. Oh well! I know we’re lucky not to have had to be put through the trouble, but I feel somewhat deprived of a “traditional” touristy experience.

Our next stop at the airport was a tourist desk. It was manned by a gentleman named Laurent who spoke English and was very helpful to me in procuring my Paris Museum Pass, and tickets on the train & Métro to the area of Paris in which our hotel is located. Most everyone took the same route we did into Paris. I was worried that we would be bugging other riders lugging around our suitcases, but so many other riders had them, too, that I felt at ease where that was concerned. We did have trouble, though, once we had to change lines. We needed to transfer on to the RER B line, and we needed to proceed through a “sortie” with our ticket and luggage. Thing 1 put his ticket through, it popped up validated, and he went through the turnstile with his suitcase. I tried the same thing, and . . . it wouldn’t let me pass! I got panicked knowing that Thing 1 was on one side of the turnstile, and I was on another. I frantically looked around, and found another kiosk to possibly purchase another ticket and try to get through the turnstile again. I tried initiating a purchase of another ticket, but even though I chose for the machine to assist me in English, the keypad instructions to complete the purchase were in French. I tried to reason out what the instructions were saying, but each time it denied my purchase attempt. I tried three times, each time with a different credit card for the purchase. I don’t know if it denied my purchase attempts because my credit cards prevented the purchase, thinking it was a fraud attempt (even though I notified them before I left that I would be traveling), or if my U. S. credit card was incompatible with the more sophisticated European systems. Probably it was the latter.

Anyway, I started to get anxious knowing Thing 1 was waiting for me. Looking around, I also saw no one manning the station who could assist me! I could have purchased tickets using Euros, which I did have in my wallet, but the kiosk wanted coin Euros and I only had paper Euros. I started sweating and growing a little more panicked, when finally an attendant (who spoke English) showed up who helped me. Yes! Thing 1 and I proceeded to transfer to the next line. It was VERY crowded and NOT air conditioned. And not everyone wore deodorant, and so I contined to sweat, packed in like a sardine with Thing 1 on our Métro train. We traveled a ways down the line closer to the heart of the city. It got a little less crowded as we got closer to the stop we needed. We got off and needed to transfer to one more line. This meant passing through another “sortie” and instantly I grew nervous again. Just like last time, Thing 1 got through with no issues and I was stranded on the other side feeling chagrined and frustrated. I insterted my ticket through the kiosk twice before it inexplicably opened up. Thing 1 yelled at me to go through, so I did, but then we were able to get help at a manned desk on the other side as this station was a huge hub. I did NOT want that to happen again! (We were still dripping in sweat, too.)

Finally, we reached our last stop, the one near our hotel. There were no escalators at this stop so we had to lug our luggage upstairs, causing us to sweat even more. We managed to get to the street, orient ourselves, and walk about a quarter of a mile to our hotel. Check in was swift! We got in the TINY elevator, made it to our room, connected with wifi to let our loved ones know we were settled, and then proceeded to take showers to wash the sweat away. Despite it being nearly 9:45 p.m., it was only JUST beginning to get dark. We knew we needed to get to bed, though, so we enjoyed the view outside our room for just a bit before getting into bed for the night.

A panoramic photo of the view outside our hotel room window. There was a nice park down below!
A panoramic photo of the view outside our hotel room window. There was a nice park down below!

We needed to be up bright and early to visit the Eiffel Tower in the morning. Also on tap for Thursday included getting a “Paris Visitte” Métro pass to make traveling a lot less frustrating, the Musée de l’Armée (including the tomb of Napoleon), the Musée d’Orsay, and (possibly) the Arc de Triomphe. I had originally hoped to vist the Arc de Triomphe once we got settled at our hotel, since it stays open until 11 p.m., but we were just too sweaty and feeling gross to make it happen. So, we’ll get to it soon.

Nevertheless, we are thrilled to be here! I’ll check back in soon!

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