Friday, July 8, 2016

Bon jour! Bon soir!

Today was long.

We left our apartment in Oxford around 9:45 and headed to the train station. Snafu. We apparently hadn't bought a ticket for Hollis from Oxford to London, but had bought her one from London to Paris. That was how my day started and it only unfolded from there.

I thought we had redeemed ourselves when snagged an earlier than expected train back to London. We did our transfer dance on over to St. Pancras and even helped some really confused Americans figure out the tube. I told you, I'm officially British.

Then, we jumped in the queue (line) to get through the passport check and security so that we could find a comfy seat to hurry up and wait in. An announcement, a dreaded announcement, boomed over the loudspeaker from a sweet sounding lady who apologized emphatically, first in English, then in French, that our train would in fact be delayed.

You could feel the collective let down of our the entire station.

Sky grabbed us some coffee and we waited, entranced by our phones while the kids nibbled on goodies from the coffee shop and read their books.

The train arrived and we were off, predicted to arrive only 45 minutes late to the Gare du Nord station.

Once there, our first order of business was to figure out Metro cards. Our hope was to pick up some kind of week long pass like we had in London. We quickly found out that Paris is not London in this regard. The kids didn't ride free, for starters.  We also had our first experience with a foreign language, something we have never really had to do before. Being from the United States means you can go your entire life never being exposed to someone who doesn't speak English and never having to learn how to communicate across a language barrier. It is a humbling experience and reminds you how small you are in the scope of things.

With some help, we got our five day passes and meandered to the exit, fumbling through what must be the tiniest subway gates I have ever rushed through. At our destination, expecting to have to present our ticket to exit like we did in London, we were greeted with some agitated Parisiennes who did not find it funny as we tried to figure out where to stick our cards before realizing we could just walk out. The fumbles kept coming.

From there, we walked to our apartment. Despite the train delay, we were on time, but because we were worried, had delayed our check in time. As we followed the directions, they took us to this side street. Those stairs don't look nearly as steep as they are. Notice, there are people sitting there. And a bike at the bottom. They were steep. I promise. And I was carrying a 50lb backpack on my back. Torture. But we made it and our cute little apartment was just right there. One of our windows actually looks out over these steps (for better or worse).

With time to kill, we went into the first set of doors to the apartment then figured once inside we would just wait outside the door. Luck was on our side! The woman waiting to check us in was there early!

Our next fumble came when we went to the grocery store to buy food. We couldn't really communicate with the woman ringing us up. When I bumped into someone, I said sorry, and he didn't respond. Oy. I have a lot to learn. I need to look up some basic French words.

We came home, and have just been hanging out here ever since. It was already 9:30 by the time we ate dinner and the kids were toast.

It gets dark so much later here. It is crazy. Same in London, although I never thought to mention it before now. Sunsets in London were around 9:20. I looked out the window here at realized despite the light, it was 9:50. There is music coming from somewhere outside and bombastic voices are talking to each other and singing loudly in the street below...saying who knows what. This place is already so different from London. I'm excited to see just how different...tomorrow...

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