I’m in Paris on my honeymoon. I like Paris. I also like ferrets, and Barret from Final Fantasy VII. I also like rhymes.
I’ve found you at last.
What a magnificent city. What an oddly surreal experience to walk into. I mean this in the most literal sense. When we stepped off the plane, literally, off the plan, there was a set of rejected twins from The Shining standing there and staring at us with beady little eyes and comical Christmas sweaters. They could immediately smell my fear. Fortunately I distracted them with my Canadian prowess, the same I use to avoid errant moose on my way to school, and we made our escape into the airport proper.
One thing that immediately struck me about Paris, and was reinforced after our first half-day of exploration. Parisians love their tunnels. Like, really love their tunnels. There is a set of criss-crossing escalator-like glass tunnels that take weary travelers from their exit gates and lead them towards passport control and, hopefully, their bags.
It was raining when we stepped outside to catch a taxi. Not unexpected given it is mid-December. The poor taxi driver, both fluent in French, Mandarin, and I suspect Swahili, couldn’t understand us and, given the manner in which he spoke French, as if his tongue had been caught in a hand drill, we could barely understand him. Still, we somehow made it to our hotel in Montmarte, the San Francisco Mission of Paris.
We were too early to check in, so we abandoned our bags in the hotel lobby and began our exploration of the area. This is the point in this particular reflection where I tell my family and friends that if you want something illegal, cheap, and made by the tiny fingers of a blind Chinese girl, tell me now. Our neighbourhood is delightfully sketchy and we are now taking bets on who will get stabbed first. On our hour and a half exploration of the area we were offered not one, not two, but, three opportunities to purchase cellphones that magically appeared in the palm of passing strangers. I can only assume their coat pocket have some sort of warp into Cellphone Narnia, and they simply have to dig around a bit before they find one of these totally legally obtained phones to cell to passing strangers.
We first found a place to have our petit dejounner. Given the nature of the neighborhood and my over active imagination, I have determined that this particular café is run by an ex-Algerian mafia enforcer who, despite abandoning his post is deeply respected by the local gang community. He also sells lottery tickets!
Our obviously tenuous grasp of the language was clearly going to make us a target for further cellphone sales, so using my best Canadian smile and embarrassed giggle I ordered a croissant (maybe), a tea (I think), and orange juice (possibly milk). We spent a good amount of time nibbling and watching the world pass by. The police cars do indeed have that lovely “bee-oo-bee-oo-bee-oo” siren, and the moped riding delivery people are clearly king of the streets. Alex and I have agreed that we will never be able to speak unkindly about Calgary drivers given the number of pedestrians we saw nearly mowed down over the course of thirty seconds. Where my inner Dustin Hoffman would have banged on the hood of the car and proclaimed “Oo la la! Je suis (walking in French)”, most pedestrians just shrugged it off, winked at the drivers and continued their attempted cellphone sales.
We briefly visited Gare Du Nord, the Parisian train hub. The architecture was stunning, but my brain was powered down by this point, and the only picture I got was one blurry image of a pigeon. He wasn’t even doing anything. Just being a pigeon. Oh, I’m sorry, pig-e-oen.
After this we returned to the hotel and, with the front staff taking pity on us given the travelers smell we were exhibiting, we were allowed into our room where we promptly collapsed for four and a half hours. Upon waking we realized that A) It was getting a wee bit dark, and B) The lights in our room didn’t work. Honeymoon central, this place. After about a half hour of wandering in near blindness we realized that there is a small device by the door where you insert your room card. In doing so you summon the great power of electricity. However, if you take your card out, you get roughly thirty seconds to run into bed and hide under the covers before the lights go out. Because Paris monsters or something.
After dragging ourselves out of bed and washing away the “I’ve been awake for 24 hours traveling and have seen some things you people wouldn’t believe” stench, we made our way to the Metro and took the train into the center of the city.
This is where Paris really begins, and where this particular update ends because I need to get another stamp on my croissant punchcard or else I will be arrested.