I had a student this year who was born in France. She is an amazingly talented and hardworking girl, and she happened to invite me to several of her dance competitions outside of school. I took her up a couple of her offers, and met her mother, Caroline*. During several of our conversations, Caroline informed me that Sharyl* loved me and that I was doing an awesome job as her teacher (which is always great to hear, and one of the main reasons for why I love my job so much).
In the midst of conversation after hearing that I was considering teaching overseas, she immediately perked up and started extolling the virtues of France. In the end, she offered her place for my use whenever I wanted, which was completely unexpected and completely amazing. After a couple weeks went by, I took her up on the offer, booked a ticket for the next week, and am currently writing this sitting on the train headed to Grenoble after 5 days in Paris. What is my life!?
I experienced SO much and packed so many things into the 5 days-It was AWESOME. I’m sure that I’m going to forget so many things, but I’ll try my best to relay all the juiciest details.
So, let me start from the beginning.
I arrived in Paris at 7 at night after a 10+ hour flight that felt like nothing because I slept the entire time. Great for time travel, terrible for 9 hour time changes. After disembarking, we waited for over an hour to get our passports checked and stamped, which was terrible and made me thankful I had peed on the plane right before (if you don’t know me, I have the bladder of a mouse). I did make some cool friends in line though, and I hope they are having fun on their own European adventures!
After figuring out the whole metro pass system (which consisted of losing money to a broken photo machine and promptly using the next one to take probably the WORST picture of me in my entire life to proudly display on my card all week), I went below ground to take my first of many metro rides in the direction of my hostel. Thankfully, this ride did not require a train change, and I arrived safely, albeit slightly more dirty than when I arrived.
I hauled my 60 lbs of lugguage across the way (note to self: PACK LIGHTER NEXT TIME) and checked into my hostel located near Gare du Nord Metro station. The hostel was actually super nice as far as what I was imagining sharing a room with 7 other strangers would be, and the girls in my room kept to themselves but in a friendly sort of way.
All settled, I set out to explore the small chunk of Paris that I had landed in, and went out in search of food. Since it was going to be my first real meal in the city, I wanted it to be a good one, so I checked out several different menus
before settling on one that I deemed worthy. Trying to be good, I ordered a salad and water (after an appetizer of cheese, obviously), but was sabotaged with my first of many (and I mean MANY) baskets of oh-so-delicious French baguettes. I gleefully stuffed my face with doughy delicious carbs, and had to force myself to finish my salad when it came (which looked ‘off’ since it was topped with cooked green beans and carrots, but which turned out to be surprisingly delicious).
Full and still not being tired even though it was almost 11:30pm (thanks to my ‘morning’ wakeup of 6pm Paris time), I decided to check out the bar below the rooms to try to conjure up a beer-induced sleepiness.
I had been sitting with my beer for maybe 5 minutes when I was approached by a fellow male traveler from Mexico. We sat and chatted for quite a while, and eventually made friends with the (literal) children sitting across the table from us. They challenged us to a game of beer pong, and I squelched my teacher instincts to lecture them on the dangers of alcohol to take them up on it. Being bested by a pair of Canadian 18 years olds (albeit by one cup) is not my proudest moment, but it definitely made my first night in Paris memorable.
At 2am in the morning, I decided that 5pm California time be damned, I needed to wake up at a decent hour the next morning. So, I forced myself up into the top bunk bed I had been assigned, and eventually fell asleep, thus ending my first half-day in a foreign country.
Lessons learned? 1) If you’re going to sleep on your flight, anticipate the consequences and take advantage of the messed up sleep schedule to check out different cool places (not just your sad hostel bar). 2) 18 year olds are surprisingly good at beer pong (or I’m just unsurprisingly terrible). 3) Even the most random vegetables, when mixed together, make a pretty great salad. 4) Everyone has a story; if you ask, they will tell you, and it’s almost always interesting.
PS-this is my first attempt at travel blogging, so please don’t hesitate to give feedback! I have sporadic internet access and zero time, so my updates will be slow but they WILL come. :o)