Paris, Day One: I Have Arrived

My battery has 40 minutes left on it (I haven’t bought a converter yet) and knowing my computer that really means 20 minutes, or less, so I will be fast and tell you all about my journey from my New York to here, gay Paree, where I am sitting on a tiny bed on the 2nd floor of a somewhat dingy hotel where there’s no hot water until tomorrow but it doesn’t matter because it was cheap and we’re in Paris but I would’ve liked to have showered after my flight. Instead, I soaked in the city and here’s the most iconic of images in my collection so far:

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There was a definite “click” moment when the magic of Paris washed over me and I began to realize how lucky I am to be here. It wasn’t, for certain, the flight over when I sat next to a Parisian woman with a Cindy Crawford birthmark piercing who HACKED the entire flight every 20 seconds a loud cough and, worse, she very often didn’t cover her mouth. I kept shooting her nasty looks (not for the coughing, but for the not covering her mouth) but they must’ve not been very threatening because she kept asking me the time. When the Duty Free cart came around, she bought a giant carton of cigarettes. Then she hacked some more.

I didn’t sleep on the plane like I was supposed to. I tried, I really did, but the hacking made it difficult so I finished a crossword puzzle and read the first 40 pages of Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” It made me excited to get here.

When my plane landed, throngs of people pushed out towards the customs line where you had to show your passport and a yellow piece of paper stating where you’re from and why you’re here. I took David Lebovitz’s advice and ordered a yellow van from a Yellow Van website to pick me. They required that you call them when you land, so I did, and then I got my suitcase and went outside and they weren’t there so I went back inside and called again and then they came. Before that I exchanged money behind a family from Alaska that took FOREVER to finish up their business. The mom was busy asking a thousand questions and the dad was trying to be cordial towards me but I was in a rush because the yellow van was coming. “It’s not me, it’s my yellow van,” I tried to explain.

I also want to mention that back in New York, when I hopped in a cab to JFK, the driver was a little old Chinese woman and she asked me if I wanted the meter or the flat $45 rate and I said “flat rate” and she proceeded to make a left turn onto 5th avenue where cars came at us completely head-on. She’d gone the wrong way down a one-way street and after she struggled to turn the car around I told her to pull over, that I’d forgotten something at my apartment “sorry” and I quickly hailed another cab. That was a story I couldn’t not tell.

But now there’s a ton of stuff to tell you about my day in Paris–I had a Clotilde-recommended lunch and a Time Out recommended dinner, but now there’s only 32 minutes left and I’m nervous if I don’t post this post the computer will turn black and you won’t get to read any of this.

Oh, the “click” moment. I forgot to finish that thought. So off the plane, I was grumpy and tired (though excited to be here) and after carrying my heavy computer-laden backpack and my giant suitcase to the curb and waiting for the yellow van, I climbed in and sunk into the seat exhausted. The ride from Charles de Gaulle into the city is a pretty ugly one, so I was feeling a bit unhappy (“maybe this isn’t what it’s cracked up to be”) but suddenly we entered the city proper and it all became beautiful. The buildings here, the sidewalks, the people, the posters for movies in French, the little old ladies carrying giant loaves of bread down the street, the cheese shops, the restaurants… It all “clicked” and suddenly I was feeling some serious Paris euphoria. I dropped my bags at the hotel and began my big Paris walk which you’ll find out about in the next post. Until then I bit you adieu!

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