I made it. We made it. This years vacation took many turns, and was going to be expensive no matter how we sliced it because we wanted to take advantage of the time A and S give us for Christmas and New Years Day. There was the mention of Tahoe early on, and a winter train trip through Southern Europe (backpacking like we are 20yr olds), and then there was a family house in Whistler, Canada. I worked on the Whistler house and found out that we started that idea waaaay too late. so M knowing how much I love France (and that due to my fall in Vegas and subsequent shoulder surgery – my previous NatGeo trip had been cancelled) threw Paris in the mix- and I was sold. No more options. I had to figure out how to break it to the family without feeling too horribly guilty.
We were going to Paris -10 days. Spending Christmas and New Years in one of the most amazing cities in the world. A city I’ve wanted to visit since my first day in French class with Miss. Annamarie Lee. Miss. Lee taught us in a way that France came alive for me. We cooked French meals, learned and performed French plays, and had French names. She allowed no English in her class and I loved her for that. 7th through 12th grade I studied French, I then took 3-4 quarters in college, and have even taken classes outside of college to keep it alive in my brain.
The trip planning was actually really easy. Once we knew our days, I ventured over to Airbnb to see what was available. (First time Airbnb user – highly recommend it). I actually never looked at hotels, no particular reason, I just didn’t think about it. For 10 days in one place, a hotel can be the most expensive part of your trip – so we wanted something more spacious with laundry and a kitchen, and that’s exactly what we found in the Passey neighborhood very close to the Eifelle Tower. That was another thing, I had no idea what part of the city was a good part, if we’d need a car, or if we were going to be central enough to everything we wanted to see. After the first apartment came back as unavailable, I crossed my fingers that the second one we liked would work – and it did. Emi has been our point of contact, taking care of our reservation and she has been amazing. Whenever I had a question she was quick to respond, she’s very helpful, and provided lots of tips on things to see and do. Side note: She is friends with the owner of the flat who has recently moved to San Francisco to open a French bakery not far from our house. How small is this world!!?!
So with a flat booked, I watched airline prices closely, and I did all I could to avoid a 20+hr trip with 1-2 layovers. I think we ended up doing okay with an 11hr direct flight from SFO for a little over $1k each (remember we are traveling over the holidays) cha ching!
Flight was easy, did a last minute upgrade to economy plus for the legroom, and had to pay for a single piece of extra luggage – and Mr M’s overweight bag. Huuuhmmph. Not MY overweight bag – HIS. so we have a game plan for handling that coming home, and we’ll be working on it while we’re here.
Highlights/lowlights from Day 1:
It was Comedy Central getting our luggage. M says its on the #2 luggage thing, and we waited and waited and waited, nothing came to carousel #2. People were hanging about but none of them I recognized. I asked if it could be at a different carousel and he said, no – they said #2. LOL. So we waited some more, and I finally got up and walked to carousel #3… and low and behold who’s luggage was the only luggage spinning around the carousel all lonely! I swear you have to allow your man to do his thing for only so long – then you just have to step in and get shit done!!
Next was transportation. We were given two options for metro/train (over an hour and a half), and were accosted by multiple taxi drivers (legal and illegal), but we had done some pre work and understood that Uber (our favorite car service) was available in Paris, and it works exactly the same way as in the states. (If you don’t know about Uber – check it out!!) so we called (or we tried to call) cell service, wifi, data roaming – augh!! Finally got a pick up ordered, and our very French speaking driver calls to find out where to pick us up. Well, we don’t know this airport. Signs are in French and some English, and we don’t know where taxis pick up!!! With the help of a shady taxi hustler, we figured out that we were on the wrong level – so another call to the driver and he says 5 mins – meet on departures. We say door 32, he says okay and then calls back to say door 22, and calls again to say door 24. We are shlepping 6 bags between us (one HEAVY as marked by United airlines) but we finally make it to him, and the ride is as Uberliscois as it is at home. He was quiet, allowed us to take in what we are seeing from the airport into the city, and he pointed out major attractions as we passed them.
Next, check in at our flat! We arrived at 11:30am, and Emi was in N France with her family for the holidays, so the housekeeper Christina (who speaks no English) was meeting us, but she was going to be late -12:15 ish. 6 bags, tired, hungry and tired we made our way to the “American Mall” across the street from the flat to maybe find a bite to eat. No such luck, but there’s a Gap, an H&M, and Starbucks! Seriously, did we just fly 11hrs to hear Rihanna on the mall speakers? Come on!! At noon, we walked over and were welcomed into the cutest apartment ever I want to LIVE here forever! We spoke with Emi on the phone and Christina showed us around a bit and she was gone. We had the place to ourselves, luggage put away, and the neighborhood to explore for food!
A short walk around we found lots of cute boutiques, beautiful old world, super classy, nouveau riche architecture, a few pharmacies (just in case), and about four blocks away, we turned the corner and there she was in all her beautiful glory!! The Eiffel Tower!! Stunning, breathtaking, and so beautiful. I had to get closer, so we walked towards the bridge over the river Seine and even closer until we were nearly underneath. We snapped some photos, and some selfies and started our walk to find food before M was going to evaporate into thin air due to hunger. LOL
After lunch, there was a nap (shouldn’t have taken mid day because I’m up now tying this in the wee hours), and another jaunt out for dinner at local restaurant. Everyone has been so accommodating our minimal French – AND they laugh at their minimal English so it works out. One more stop to see the tower lit up at night and a nice walk home on the quiet cobble stone streets of Paris. I’m really here!! And I can’t believe it!!!
Wake up M – it’s time to start day 2!!