Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I think I'm overly medicated, due to a terribly nasty cold, but I teared up involuntarily. ( bad sentence, but I don't feel like fixing it.)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
They were later than they’d meant to be, but not seriously late; not so late that even I would be surprised by it. After all, who would I be to say anything about it? I’m notoriously late all the time. I’m really trying to work on that.
It didn’t matter because our two experienced guides were there to help us through the maze that is the Paris Metro. Angela and Marshall took out their handy metro map, which looked like a Technicolor spider web. We left floor 1 and the bustling Continental terminal and headed downstairs to a wide-open area where there were many people with suitcases waiting around. There wasn’t much movement that I could recall. A great many people looking like they had nowhere to go, yet they were all going somewhere with their luggage in tow. I was trying to absorb everything. I tried noticing what people were doing, but I was just anxious to get out of the airport and into downtown Paris.
The first thing Debbie and I needed to do was to get cash. Our guides told us the best rates of exchange could be found at ATMs and not the machines that said CHANGE. When I left the US I knew the exchange rate for the Euro was 1 Euro for every 1.41 dollars. (Does that make sense fact checkers?) We found an ATM. It felt good to have some “walking around” money because I only had a few dollars on me. Our American money wasn’t any good over there.
Upon getting our money, Angela informed us that she had figured out what train to take to the Austerlitz train station, or somewhere near it. The next thing I knew we were on board a metro car and on our way to the train station. I was so tired I had no idea I’d napped on the way to our next stop. MSH has the proof in his pictures.
When we stepped off the metro, somehow, though, we ended up at Gare de Lyon instead of Gare d’Austerlitz and we had to cross the Seine to get to it. “The Seine!” That’s what my mind screamed when Angela said we had to find the Seine. Actually, she may have said they moved the river on her or the station. One of those two, and had I been taking notes while carrying my book bag and suitcase, I would know this. Alas, I do not. So anyway, we strolled in the direction of the river, but we weren’t quite sure how to get across. Angela then took it upon herself to ask the nearest stranger. Our lucky stranger was found sitting on a nearby bench. I believe he was taking a break after having had a long liquid lunch. As soon as Angela brought him over, you could smell his lunch permeating from his pores. Although drunk, he had a nice French accent while speaking English. He has more than happy to direct us to the train station. Along the way, I somehow discovered that our kind stranger spoke Spanish and we had a brief conversation about his life. It was interesting to hear him open up to a total stranger. He revealed that he was originally from Belgium but he’d lived in Spain for a quite a few years. He was recently separated from his wife, and he’d return to France to spend some time. He didn’t have the chance to tell me why he smelled of alcohol in the middle of the day, but had our walk been longer I’m sure we would have told me. I don’t think it was over his wife. As we neared our destination, I knew I had to at least give him a small tip as a token of appreciation if not for simply telling me a very abbreviated history of his life. I didn’t have any small bills so I decided to give him 10 Euros. It was a pricey tip, but I felt it that I had the money and the story alone was well worth it. I gave him the tip and not a moment later he extended his hand out to MSH and asked him for a tip. He gave our kind stranger a 2 Euro coin. I was appalled. I think he deserved the initial tip, but to ask for extra – it was too much! No?
We made it to the train station and soon we were on our way to Beaugency.