Wednesday, July 14

First morning in Paris

Paris is one of those cities you never forget. It feels so wonderful and old and splendid. Far to splendid for the likes of me but whatever. I was here and they could just deal with me.

One thing to note, if you are a traveler heading into Paris do not do what I did and show up without a reservation or knowing anything about where you are going to stay for the night. Especially in summer. I always enjoy a good adventure but I think my knack for finding good luck is the only thing that got me through this trip so very unscathed.

Stepping off the overnight train I wandered aimlessly through the station, getting my barrings. The best deal, if you are staying in the city for several days, is to purchase the metro pass then add a 1 week credit to it. It'll give you limitless travel on the Metro for a full week without the pain of little tickets. Give yourself thirty minutes or so for purchasing though because the pass requires photo id. You can get your photo taken in one of those little photo booths right at the station which will print out a whole sheet of photos on sticker paper for about $5.

Then I was on the metro and on my way into the center of the city.

I ran into a bit of a hurdle almost immediately when I became confused by my extremely bad map and my lack of any knowledge of French so I go off several blocks early and was completely lost in a residential area of paris on the south east side of the river. It was awesome.

There should be a blues song for the 20-something traveler, wandering through a strange city, looking for free wi-fi. Though to more accurately fit my my mood at the time perhaps an perhaps an indi metal would have be more appropriate.

I enjoyed a nice long wander through the streets and parks and across the river. I passed several little pubs and shops that looked so interesting I swore to myself I would come find them again but I never did.

My surprise then, when I stepped around a corner and find myself surrounded by tourists and walking west on Champs-Élysées was quite enormous. I felt a bit bashed about by the dichotomy between the peace that had surrounded me and my big blue backpack all through the rest of Paris's small shops and lovely signage that melds perfectly into the whole ambiance of the city and the Champs-Élysées which feels quite a bit more like walking through downtown New York.

To further my surreal experience, the first shop I happened to walk by down this swarming thoroughfare was an enormous glass corner shop for Iran Air. I felt such a strange sense of relief seeing it. I knew that everyone would greet me as the same strange annoying American as any of the other French citizen would but at least I speak more Farsi than I do French. It was a centering point for me. That this other culture who had welcomed me in the past was here as well and maybe I wasn't as completely lost as I felt. I felt an urge to go inside and hug someone or got buy a ticket straight to Tehran.

But ahead I could see another familiar sign. A Starbuck's welcoming green lady with her arms outstretched. Promising one and all beneath her frightening corporate shadow that here they are sure to find caffeine and wifi.

It cost me almost $10 but I got my first medium latte in over a month. It was delicious caffeinated heaven.

My luck was to continue though for to my surprise who should be online but Aydin. And he was in Paris too. And I would be more than welcome to stay with him for a few days. Living situation solved.

And it was only 11am.

No comments:

Post a Comment