Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paris - Day One

We arrive in Paris at about 1:00 in the afternoon, after flying overnight from Boston.  So it's actually about 7 AM for us and we haven't slept a wink.  But excitement overtakes us.  We are in Paris.  CDG is a strange airport.  There are moving sidewalks that are more like escalators, going up and down the central core of the airport.  Other than that, it looks pretty much like any airport of any major city.  We collect our luggage, and since we went through passport control in Reykjavik, we just leave like any other EU passenger.   
We neatly avoid the illegal taxi services right outside of baggage claim and proceed to the taxi stand.  After we get all the baggage into the taxi, we give the address of our hotel - Hôtel de Londres Eiffel 1 rue Augereau.  He mumbles a few things in French and off we go.  

There's a middling sense of deprivation.  It's a big city, with high rises and graffiti and trains - then suddenly, you leave La Defense and you are in PARIS.  Beautiful Paris.  The one you've read about, dreamed of, longed for.  Paris. 

The cab driver pulls over the the side of the road and is playing with his GPS.  He keeps checking the address, and it's not making sense to him.  But he keeps telling you (in English) "I'm not lost. I'm not lost."  Bridgete searches on her iPhone and shows him the map.  "Ah," he says.  A turn here, turn there and you are in front of the Hôtel. 

It looks just like the web site.  We obtain our room keys, our French still feeling strange on the tongue.  And we push our luggage into the tiny elevator.  Bridgete has to sit on her suitcase to get us both in!  We laugh and love it all, because WE'RE IN PARIS!  Room cinquante et un (51) is perfectly tiny and charming and french and perfect.  

It's 2:30 and we are meeting with our group at 3:00, so we quickly clean up and try to look presentable.  After a round of introductions and small glass of wine (yum), we head out for a walking tour of our neighborhood and bus tour of Paris.  We've been reminded to always say "Bonjour", "Merci" "S'il Vous Plait"  and try to blend in as best we can.  The French are polite and kind and quiet.  It's true!  This is a major metropolitan city that has been a center of culture and politics and commerce for hundreds, thousands of years, and it feels less crowded and busy and rude than Portland, OR. 

The bus tour is pleasant and we're learning where everything is in relation to one another.  The Eiffel Tower is HUGE!  I've grown used to things not being as grand as I imagine them, but this is grand!  Bridgete is having an hard time staying awake.   We drive to The Louvre and her head pops up a bit, looks around and then her eyes close again.  

At last we stop for dinner – Kir, Salad Nicoisse, Salmon with a lovely Burgundy and Strawberry Soup!  Divine.  We've held off sleep as long as possible.  Our heads hit the pillows and we're out!

1 comment:

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I'm kind of glad I waited to come & read the story until day 5 was posted, I have a feeling its going to be one of those 'have to read it all the way through' type pieces :-) So far I am feeling your sleepy excitement, off to read the rest :-) Yea Paris!