a toast to myself for arriving alive...

Paris Travel Blog

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i arrived in paris a day earlier than my group and somehow made my way from charles de gaule to my hostel-it was the moment i finally made it to the front door after about an hour on a train, not having any clue how to buy my train ticket, much less get to my hostel and which train stop to get off at, that i knew i could conquer anything that came my way. everyone was right when they told me people in france won't speak english, even if they know it. i feel like God sent me an angel though when i met a sweet girl from UCSB who was studying in Paris but happened to be on my flight after my layover in London. just my luck she was originally from france and spoke the language flawlessly. i really don't know what i would have done without her translating for me and helping me figure out where to go.

and contrary to the belief that ALL french are rude and hate americans, i had a few french men help me up the stairs with two 100 pound bags (all the stuff i'd need for 4 months, dont worry i dont normally pack that much), although in the back of my mind i was worried one of them might start running with my bags and leave me empty handed. imagine how embarassed i was though when i thanked them graciously for their help with a smile and a sincere 'graci'...DUH this wasn't italy! when i finally got up the stairs and saw my first real glimpse of paris i was overwhelmed by the lights and the amount of people milling around with luggage at 11 PM; it seemed like the whole world was in Paris that night; i couldn't count the lanuages i heard.

as i'm normally the girl to book cheap hotels sometimes farther away from convenient, i just assumed my hostel must be hard to find and far away, so i tried to hail a cab. i failed, horribly. terribly confused at why no cab would stop for me, i finally noticed a pattern of cabs and a lack of people getting picked up on the street. following the crowd after trying to talk to a cabbie who, in french and hand motions, apptempted to show me where to go, i was more than relieved to find a line of more than 60 travelers getting in cabs all lined up in a special area just for then-there must have been at least 50 cabs in this operation, far more than ive ever seen in my life or since then. turns out, all my efforts of catching a cab were in vain, as i was told in broked english that my hostel was just a block away-but i can now say that i now know how to get a cab in paris :-) when finally in my hostel, i squeezed in an almost unconceivably tiny elevator i basically had to sit on my suitcases to fit in. i was tired as all hell, but the excitement wouldnt let me sleep and i couldn't stop smiling-proud of myself i'd actually made it alive and with all my bags, and excited with the reality finally setting in that i had this big 4 month adventure ahead of my with people id never met, and places i'd never dreampt id be able to see...i couldn't wait for the next day to meet the people in my program!

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photo by: lasersurge