Ah, Paris

January 10, 2014

I arrived in Paris yesterday for the start of a 90-day European odyssey. The first 30 days will be based in Paris because, well, j’aime Paris! I don’t think I’m jaded or take Paris for granted. But, while I love being here I didn’t feel the sense of excitement of arriving in Paris like I did the first couple of times (this is my 7th visit). I think it’s more a having a comfortable feeling about the city. I don’t profess to be an expert on Paris but I know the city pretty well. So it’s a bit like coming home. Which makes me love Paris even more.

That’s not to say there weren’t some hitches along the way. It started immediately on the plane when I thought we were going to turn around from the runway because a passenger insisted on not wearing a seatbelt due to some medical issue. He had a note from his doctor, which caused a lot of back and forth with the flight staff. But it worked and we were off.

I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport around 7:15am. The airport offers a whopping 15 minutes free wifi so I quickly checked my email. Mat, the owner of the apartment where I’m staying, had emailed me asking if I could come there around 10am as he couldn’t meet me at 9, as we had planned. No problem as I hung out at the airport for a little bit, then headed to take the RER to central Paris. Big mistake.

Just as I was going to purchase a ticket, they announced the system had shut down due to electrical problems. That left taking the bus or a taxi. No way was I going to spend a hundred bucks or so on a taxi, so I looked for the Roissy bus. Air France has two buses that go to central Paris, but the Roissy bus would be more direct for the metro line. So back I went to find the pickup point. Which is easier said than done. The signage pretty much sucks. I followed the directions for the bus only to realize as I kept walking, the signs had stopped. So back the other way. Finally, I see a sign that is only visible from that direction, went down and back up and found the waiting area. Just to confirm I’m not an idiot who can’t follow signs, a woman got to the same spot and, to paraphrase, “Good god, I thought I’d never find this. I can’t find anything in this airport!”

Needless to say, with the trains down, the bus was crowded. It didn’t even make a scheduled stop at Terminal 1 (good luck, guys!). About an hour later, the bus arrived at Opera, and on to the metro. I had to make one transfer from line 7 to 7bis and ended at the Buttes Chaumont metro stop in the 19th arrondissement.

Not thinking there was a difference between the two exits, I took one and everyone else took the other. And it wasn’t long before I found out why. Seems the other is an elevator and the one I took had stairs. Okay, no big deal besides carrying my stuff, I can handle a few steps. 72 steps. I get to the top and turn to walk down the corridor where the exit sign showed…72 more steps. Oh crap! No sleep on the plane, my bag strapped to my back, here we go. Up the stairs.

Made it to the top. Took one more turn and…oh, come on this has to be a joke! About another 70 stairs to get to the top (which is where I realized that the other exit below was an elevator), followed by about 25 more to get to the street and sucking wind!

The apartment was about two blocks away and Mat was waiting there for me. I felt bad as it was now 11:30 and he had left work to let me in. Good thing I didn’t pass out on the stairs, although I was still feeling the effects of them. That’s when he told me that metro stop is the steepest in all of Paris. Really, you don’t say? But I had made it!

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