2002.10.05 Paris: Day One

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Paris 2002

We flew in over Ireland and Great Britain, I believe i noted the time as 6:05AM (Paris time) at the moment the in-flight display showed the little image of our plane intersecting with the westernmost shores of Ireland. Our fastest ground speed throughout the flight (that i'd noted) was around 623mph. Our highest altitude for the flight was around 39,000ft.

Flying in over France as dawn broke, i noticed a very solid cloud layer beneath us. It looked like a nearly infinite purple, red, and grey coating of undulating spray insulation.

We landed at Charles de Gaulle only a few minutes after the in-flight display's arrival time estimates and nearly 20 minutes earlier than the officially given arrival time (which, after taxiing to the terminal made it very nearly accurate despite the fact that we'd taken off from Newark more than 10 minutes late).

After arrival, I managed to find my way to the baggage claim area, but still had to wait 20 minutes before my bag sheepishly crawled it's way down the luggage belt.

Having only gotten a total of maybe 2.5 hours (interrupted) sleep, and only 5 hours the night before, I was quite tired. I dragged myself out into the arrival area where I was sure I'd find the gate that had been pre-arranged as a meeting spot with one of my sister's friends who was flying in 10 minutes earlier on a flight from DC.

I walked around for 20 minutes before finally admitting that the gate numbers made no sense and searching out help.

Being in a foreign city, on your first international trip, and not speaking the native language is not really a social confidence booster. The information I received was that I was at the wrong terminal for the meeting gate, and that i'd have to take a bus to Terminal 1.I was not told (or didn't understand) how or where to catch this bus, so I spent another 20 minutes or more trying to flag it down as it passed me (several times) where i was standing in the wrong place.

I finally bit the bullet and asked another stranger (first, if they spoke english) where exactly I needed to be to catch Ligne 1.

I found the appropriate place to stand, and boarded the bus for Terminal 1. Once there I quickly located the meeting gate, fully aware of the fact that I was now nearly 2 hours behind schedule. I made several half-hearted attempts to find my sister's friend (we'll call her "Laura," since that's her name), having only a poor picture of her that my sister had sent. I attempted to have the info desk page her, but they said they couldn't do that. After a few more passes through the area of the meeting gate, I bought a phone card, dug out Sara's home number, and made the call for a rescue party.

Andrew (my sis's fiance) found me (after his hour-long walk & bus ride to the airport), made his own quick check around the Terminal for Laura (since she'd still not called him as of the time he left the house), and then we hopped the bus into Paris.

Walking from the bus stop to their house, Andrew & I talked about all sorts of strange things as he pointed out landmarks or other things of interest that were visible from our route–the Arc de Triomphe being the first & most noticeable.

At Andrew & Sara's "very bourgeois" apartment, I eagerly plopped my tired ass on the sofa and agreed to whatever ideas for "things to do later" that he threw at me. At that point, i was in a daze and just happy to be stationary and sitting on something comfortable.

Having to go run errands, Andrew left me at the apt. to recoup and catch a short nap. I think I got about an hour in, and while I felt very zombie-like when initally waking up, I felt very refreshed and ready-to-go once I was lucid again.

We walked down to the nearest Metro station (one block away) and he kindly purchased me a 10-pack of tickets ("un carnet du dix" or something like that). Then we stepped on down into my first ever subway. Paris' metro seems very clean and new, as they apparently keep a good schedule of equipment replacement and station remodelling. We took the Metro to St. Michel, where we were to meet Paulo & Luigi. There's a large sculpture/fountain there that was, apparently through some great effort, grafittied all the way up on St. Michel's chest.

[map]Once Paulo and Luigi arrived, we walked down to the Jardin du Luxembourg. Being a beautiful sunny day, there were many people in the Garden, which was large and quite beautiful itself. After the Garden, we walked up and around looking for a nice cafe where we could sit and have a drink. I believe we finally found one near Odéon. We settled for a while and drank and talked. Once we had finalized the evening's plans and were ready to head out, we boarded the Metro and took it most of the way home.

Luigi, an Italian, had agreed to cook for us, so we stopped at a grocery for whatever ingredients Andrew & Sara didn't have on hand in the house. It was actually a rather large grocery, which Luigi & Andrew pointed out is somewhat unusual in Paris–a city where street vendors set up nearly everywhere to sell fruits, vegetables, and fresh fish. After provisioning ourselves, we walked back to the apt where we chilled out for a while before Luigi got started on dinner. Having the rare (for me, anyway) opportunity to observe a native Italian preparing a pasta dish, I watched, questioned, and learned. Needless to say, the finished meal ("bowtie" pasta with onions, courgettes (zucchini), tomato, and tuna) was quite tasty. We also had a bottle of Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix en Provence–a rose.

After dinner, Paulo showed back up (having split from the gang earlier to "get some work done") and we discussed where to go for drinks. We ended up Metroing to the Champs Élysées and walking down from the Arc de Triomphe to Rue Washington looking for a reasonable bar/cafe with outdoor seating. Finding nothing there and getting further and further from the apartment (we figured we'd be walking home) we worked our way back to the Champs Élysées, then further west. We ended up finally going south again, towards the Seine, and walked for a while down Av. Montaign–a particularly "posh" (the word of the evening) street where the richer socialites come to avoid the general Parisian rabble (Luigi thoroughly enjoyed explaning this aspect of Av. Montaign to me, and pointing out the extremely well dressed doormen–a.k.a. bouncers–guarding some of the places we passed). On this street, you couldn't get in certain clubs unless you were already well known there (or, i assume unless you heavily greased a palm or two), a salad might cost you 32 Euros, and where an outfit with a feathery, jewel-encrusted purse costs 1,300€, the shoes are 500€, and the dress is 3,000€.

We did eventually find a place to sit, talk, and drink, and a shot of Jameson's cost 8€.

[map]After drinks, we headed home.

While i was writing this, my sis showed up–post bachelorette party–with crazy makeup on her face ("it's a bachelorette ritual thing"); a tight, revealing, and rather gaudy blouse; and the smell of wine heavy on her breath. Apparently, they'd spent their evening at a strip club, which Paulo had taken great pleasure in teasing Andrew about earlier in the evening.

It's now 4:35 am Paris time, 9/22. I've had maybe 8 hours sleep in the last 36 hours… it's way past bed-time.

Oh, final thought on Day One–Andrew, Paulo, and Luigi were all suitably impressed with my post international flight stamina. I think they all expected me to shut down no later than 10:00PM.


there's day one. after this inital feeling of being the conqueror of jetlag, i proceeded to get proven wrong over the following days.

- 08:10 pm :: permalink :: 1 comment
categories ::  Family - Happy/Love - Travel

One Response to “Paris:”

bipolar – cute little quip pinged:

ve realized were fewer and farther between than I'd have hoped) here's a brief recap: 05/22/2000 :: bipolar launched 07/26/2000 :: embarked on my chosen career 10/03/2002 :: the winds of change: aka, i had met sara, my wife-to-be 10/05/2002 ::first trip to paris12/23/2002 :: first direct mention of sara in a post, having attempted to avoid the blogger cliche' of writing about every aspect of your fledgling relationship. 03/17/2003 :: found out i was going to be an uncle

# April 9, 2007,

Nate said:

Gad… you drank the water didn't you? I told you they have additives to make you pretentious…

# October 10, 2002,