Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

France 2008 - Paris, May 13

We get in to Charles deGaulle at about 8 am on the red-eye (there's a reason they call it that) and after a very disorganized shuffle through Customs, we find the train that will take us into downtown Paris. 8 Euro each and you can transfer to the Metro when you get downtown. Every square inch of vertical space beside the tracks is covered in graffiti. Disgruntled youths, perhaps. Certainly not budding artists. We watch the place names go by while we are still above ground and marvel that we are indeed, in France. Le Bourget, Aulnay-sous-Bois, La Plaine Stade de France. There were others but only the local trains stop there and now I don't see them on the map and I didn't write them down.

We change trains to get on the Metro and end up at the Gare de Lyon. Our choice of lightish weight backpacks proves to be a good one. We manage to find the right exit, based on where we think our hotel is and narrowly miss choosing to go in the wrong direction based on street names. For a moment, we thought we had to cross the Seine and it was our skepticism that that should be the case that made us look at the Metro neighbourhood map one more time. There are maps of the 'hood outside each Metro stop and they are handy for getting yourself oriented. It would be more helpful if there was an indication of North on the pavement outside the Metro because there are often multiple exits. I got this idea from a New Yorker who said they had a sort of contest to elicit ideas for improving the subway and that was one of them. It never was implemented, but what a good idea.

We come up from underground and blink in the bright sunlight. Get out the map and stumble the 5 minutes to our hotel on sore and swollen ankles (mine, anyway). Find out that the rooms are not available yet as checkout is 11am and they have to be cleaned which will take until about 1pm. We leave our packs at the Hotel Gare de Lyon and stumble back around the corner to a tiny bistro. By then it is nearing noon and I rationalize that I am so dehydrated and jet-lagged and in need of something sustaining that we order our first beer in Paris. Mmm, beer.
France 2008
We sit and drink beer and observe. There is a Velib stand right down the sidewalk and we watch as some people stop or start from there and many more whiz by on the narrow but busy street. This is our "recover from jet lag" day so we don't have ambitions to see much of Paris before we take off for Arles tomorrow. We finally go back to the hotel where our room is ready and have a shower in one of the world's smallest showers. At least we have a bathroom in our room, I am thankful for that bit of planning and extra splurge. We collapse on the bed and sleep for the next few hours, having set an alarm so we don't sleep too much.

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