Je suis arrivée!
Got into the Paris airport at 11 AM local time this morning (2 AM pacific time). I had a layover in Amsterdam at 7:30 and was thoroughly disappointed by the amount of viewable English. I was told by my step-father the airport was easy to navigate through. That was a understatement. Not only was the airport well designed, but all the signs were in English! Most only English! I was not expecting that. Not that I want to get lost, but at least give me the “challenge” of reading English under another language on a sign.
Paris to my relief had more French than English =)
I found my luggage and train very easily, but had a rather wierd moment when I went to buy a bottle of water. The man took my money, gave me change and my receipt. Then he walked away. I was very confused, but after 2 minutes of me standing there he realized his mistake, apologized en francais and gave me my l’eau.
When I got on the train I experienced a even more awkward encounter. As the train started, a man walked up and down the aisle laying tiny flyers on the blank seats next to passengers. I read mine and it said he was a refugee with four brothers who needed money. One side was English, the other French. It also had a little heart printed on it and a short blessing. I wondered for a minute how he could afford to print so many flyers and then decided I should save it to paste in my personal journal. I didn’t really have any reason except that it could illustrate the train ride from the airport. I put it in my bag and then realized the man was coming around individually asking ppl for money. He got to me and I declined to give him money as politely as I could. Then he looked around and asked for his flyer back. I’d stolen from a homeless man! Embarrassingly I opened my purse and pulled the little paper out. Luckily only a couple people noticed and observed the entire conversation. The man was very nice about the whole thing, he laughed and muttered something in French which I of course did not understand and walked away. I thought, “Damn, I’m not even in the city yet and I’m already embarrassing myself as a tourist”.
Departing from the train was a bit challenging. First I missed my stop because this family was playing the accordion and singing so loudly I couldn’t hear the announcements. I got off at the next one and was a little confused finding my hotel. The train station was on the wrong side of the street on my map and my mom had kindly put a permanent ink dot where my hotel is located, but it was just one block off. Fortunately I walked in the right direction and found it straightaway.
Inside the hotel I spoke in French to the desk clerk and he in turn responded en francais =) He carefully explained to me when breakfast is served (and some other things I may have missed), gave me my key and directions to my room. I went up to the third floor, which was pretty shady, literally. There were no lights on but the exit signs. I managed to find my room at the end of the hall and passed out for four hours. When I awoke the skies were beginning to darken. I went out to explore for an hour or so: wandering le Jardin du Luxembourg and the street of St Michel. There are cute cafes, bookstores, and street vendors selling crepes everywhere!!
I noticed it was quite dark and there weren’t too many people on the street so I went back to the hotel to wait for Sarah, her sister and their friend. Their plane got in about 40 min ago so hopefully I will see them in the next hour!!