Where the heck do I catch the taxi??
Paris Travel Blog› entry 2 of 29 › view all entries
The flight was looonng, but the liquor-yeah that was free. Sweet! And to make things even better, I had the entire row to myself, what're the odds? I landed in sunny Heathrow for a quick layover and smiled at my luck of sunshine-a good omen in my mind for the months to come. Turns out, people over here aren't much different than in the States, not that I was surprised. Weird haricuts, good haircuts, loving couples, fighting couples. Seafood smells just as good here (though I'm still alergic). It was comforting to actually see first hand that wherever I am, people are just, well...people! Anyway, it was soon time to board again for Paris. I think the travel bug may be on to me; I felt something on my arm and swatted it away, I'd better be careful! Anyway.
I arrived in paris a day earlier than my group and somehow made my way from Charles de Gaule to my hostel, the Morail-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. Now, this definitely wasn't to say I wasn't going to get lost, by any means-I think that's my destiny! 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.
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. How the hell did it take me this long to figure it out? I blame the liquor they gave me on the plane! 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.
When I got to my room I was tired as all hell, but the excitement wouldnt let me sleep. After settling in I couldn't resist taking a walk outside and snapping a few pictures. 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 I'd never met, and places I'd never dreamt id actually be able to see.
- If you arrive in Charles de Guale, the RER train is super fast and heads for many of the train stations in the middle of Paris, and leaves every 15 minutes-only costs about 8.20 Euros to the center of Paris
- Welcome Centers: can be found in the Gare de Lyon train station (main ticket hall 8AM-6PM), as well as the Gare de Nord (beneath the glass roof in the Ile-de-France zone), and have lots of free info
- Main tourist office: located at 127 av. Des Champs-Elysees, 8e (08-92-68-31-12) but general info can be found at http://en.parisinfo.com
- Paris is divided into the Rive Droite (Right Bank) and Rive Guache (Left Bank)-an amazing 32 bridges connect the two banks, some of which lead to the two islands in the very heart of Paris Ile de la Cite which is the birthplace of the city and where the Notre Dame is located-the "main street," which is the Champs-Elysees, starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends at the place de la Concorde-12 avenues radiate from the Arc, which gave it it's original name of place de l'etoile (etoile means 'star')
- Paris is made up of: 20 arrondissements which are districts that were once cities absorbed by Paris-this means that the last 2 digits of an address, such as "95011" means that the address is located in the 11th district
- Getting around: The Metro is the fastest way of getting around, and runs every day from 6:30 AM-about 1:15 AM, but beware of pick-pockets! Follow correspondence signs to make transfers, NOT the sortie signs, as this will take you to an exit.
- Have fun!