Saturday, October 9, 2010

bienvenue a paris, i gotta go!

our flight to paris was delayed by an hour, and in hindsight, i should have taken that as a sign that our time in paris would be... funny.

our air france flight went rather well--the food was great, the choice of films were pretty entertaining. the length of the flight was just right, so i didn't feel restless (like i did when i took KLM to amsterdam from manila).

air france lunch: glazed duck with fresh salad, beef bourguignon, cheese, fresh fruit, cherry tart, and tea

we landed at 630pm, an hour and 20 minutes later than we were supposed to, but since we did have a flight delay, we actually did good time.

charles de gaulle airport was not what i expected it to be--it was huge, but quiet and empty. i wasn't sure if we had just caught it at a time when there's very little traffic, but it seemed a tad hollow to me.

we went to the RER station to get our tickets to the city center. it was a good thing susie was listening to the PA system, or i would have gone ahead and bought tickets to a train line that was being fixed at the moment.

after some confusion, it was established that we were still to buy our tickets in the CDG station, so we had to search for a machine that gave change, or a machine that's solely made to change bills into coins.

the station's information center had printed out little guides in english and french on where we're supposed to go to catch the other train from mitry claye, which connects to the RER as well (the line that takes you from CDG to paris city center). the airport had provided a bus to shuttle people from the airport to far-flung mitry claye, and the ride was looooong.

when we arrived at mitry claye, i was shocked to find a rather small and starting-to-get-run-down station. we were made to carry our bulky suitcases down and up flights of concrete stairs before we reached the dirty train. paris airport authorities didn't come up with a solution to make this convenient for passengers, especially the elderly ones.

we shuffled into the filthy train and found our place, then heard another announcement, in french, over the PA system. next thing i knew, everybody was hurrying out of the train, one parisian shouted expletives at the speaker on the train, and there was a huge commotion as everyone struggled with their suitcases again down another flight of stairs so we could transfer to the next train. as it turns out, the first train that they ushered us into was broken.

so finally, we were on our way to the city. this was around 830pm, i think. we changed metro lines to reach raspail, which is where our hotel was. i was not prepared for the fact that the paris metro is not at all suited to travelers. there were no lifts or escalators, only stairs that seemed to stretch forever. poor susie had to lug two heavy suitcases up and down flights of stairs. thankfully, one guy with a beautiful pair of white leather shoes helped me carry my suitcase down to the platform. and, as i will find out later, the french are actually quite a helpful lot.

we were finally able to check into the hotel at 930pm, tired, but happy and relieved to finally be where we're supposed to be. our receptionist, maia, was the nicest. he let us get settled in first, and gave us helpful tips when we decided to check out the neighborhood after we had everything in order.

so that was how we reached paris. more bloopers came after that, but the city endeared itself to me. :)

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