France – Day 7 (Saturday, October 8, 2011)

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere, Even at 9:00 AM

DSC00836Being a creature of habit, I never sleep well on a different bed when on travel. I especially don’t sleep well the night before I know I’ll be traveling somewhere, and last night was true to form. I tossed and turned most of the night, and was already awake when the travel alarm clock buzzed at 6:00 AM. Most of the group was bleary-eyed but awake and waiting in the hotel lobby by 7:30, ready to head over to the tram, and then the train station. Paul frantically took his count of those of us in the lobby, and then knocking on hotel room doors to check on the stragglers (one was still packing). A few minutes later, majority rule had us out the door and onto the tram. Unfortunately, there was some confusion at the train station regarding some of our missing travelers,* resulting in four or five of them missing our train. One of the group I sat with purchased some peach cognac from the street fair and opted for sharing it on the way to Paris. Not having had a bite to eat, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do, but it definitely made the long train ride a happier one.

* The debate still goes on about who was where and when.

Parisians…I Still Don’t Like Them

We arrived to a chilly, cloudy Paris and a very busy train station. Compared to Bordeaux’s relaxed setting, Paris’ energy was bustling, frantic and claustrophobic. The last time I went to New York City (November 2010), I took the train, and the energy felt exactly the same as it did here. Between Paris’ reputation for pickpockets and the change in locale, I was feeling more than usually aware of my personal body space, especially regarding my wallet (My passport was safely tucked away in my travel belt). It took a little time for us to negotiate our way through the metro ticket lines (some of our group gave up and just grabbed a taxi). We figured out how to get our hands on two-day metro passes and shuffled off on the subway to the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel a little earlier than expected, and our rooms weren’t ready. They checked our luggage and we all split up to get a bite to eat, explore or do whatever. With Creepy Guy in his usual tagging along, a few of us took a hike up the avenue in search of something for food, opting for a pizza place. The food was okay, but the waiter/owner is a prick who understood our English and refused to speak anything but French. Walking back, we heard people calling down to us, and it was some of the tour group on the roof of the hotel. A few of us bolted up there to find them on the terrace, giving a great view of the city skyline.


The skyline from our hotel during the day…


…and at night.

Happily, we found our missing group members had arrived. For whatever reason, they somehow missed getting on our train, but managed to get on the very next one just 10 minutes later. After a brief amount of exploring around the local area, I decided to just take it easy in the hotel. The week was catching up with me and lack of sleep was dragging me down fast, so I spent the late afternoon on a much comfier bed, attempting to read/check email before exhaustion got the better of me. I woke up much later and met a few of the group for a late bite to eat (we were all on our own in Paris, so we were blissfully free of Creepy Guy now), at another restaurant where the waitress was less-than-thrilled about us not speaking French.

We got back to the hotel and ran into a few more of our crowd, who decided to head up to the terrace after I told them about it, where we took pictures and split a bottle of white wine one of them bought back in Bordeaux. While up there, a few other American guests dropped by and we watched the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle on the hour.

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