Nothing could stop me from going to France…not even stairs.

I left NYC and decided to take a new form of public transportation to Newark airport.  I always seem to do this: hurdle a task at the worst moment.  Taking the PATH to the NJ Transit train to the airport shuttle was the cheapest way but also the most exhausting.  Two words: stairs and suitcase.  I got to the subway with little to no issue.  When I got to the PATH stop things began getting complicated.  I walked in the wrong direction five times, each time included a batch of stairs and a new bruise on my leg.  Only once did someone ask me for help and I clearly needed it (The day I left was the day that began the heat wave…I was a sweaty mess.)  I couldn’t seem to find the PATH so I exited the station completely (again with the stairs) and found it across the street.  Once I made it to the train I realized that I could have skipped the last batch of stairs if I had walked under a passage in the metro area…Lesson learned.   So I rode the PATH train to the end of one line, got off and crossed the platform to board another PATH line which took me to Newark Penn Station.  Here the train took me to the airport where I got off, went up the stairs escalator and took the airport tram to my terminal.  The second part was all easy and clearly marked.  A long trip but if you have the time and money is a factor (total was around $9), I recommend it (maybe with less luggage).

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle I felt like I was in a crazy dream (I had moments of déja vu for much of my visit).  As I walked to the baggage claim I could remember doing the same thing a year before.  I had been so nervous! This time, I was not nervous at all; I felt at home!  After a short appel to “my family” in Dijon telling them I had arrived, I took the RER into Paris’ city center.  After I found a bathroom (I had forgotten about paying for public toilets in France), I lugged my suitcase through Les Halles only to realize that I had arrived in France for Les Soldes!! To avoid buying anything I parked myself by the Seine and read my book until I heard from my friend Orsi who was getting off work early.  When she called, I left my little spot under the bridge and again lugged my bag around the cobblestone streets in sweltering heat.  We caught up quickly at a café and then headed back to her apartment in the 18th district of Paris.  On arrival at her beautiful apartment, I was greeted by a spiral staircase. (OH MON DIEU!)  Orsi lived on the last floor…eight or nine twisting flights up.  If you have ever been to France, you may realize the kind of stairs I’m talking about. (By the way this was not my only encounter with these stairs and my large suitcase on this trip)  Despite all of this, it felt great to be with Orsi, speak French and be back in such an amazing city.  Once Tibo (her husband) got off work, we took bikes down from the 18th to meet up with friends and watch the UEFA soccer games. (You all know how much I love those Vélibs and soccer).

The next morning I was supposed to take the train to Dijon, my real home away from home.  I decided to buy my ticket online so that I wouldn’t rush around in la gare.  Of course, my luck, as I typed in my credit card number into the system, the computer went bonkers and I was told the transaction hadn’t gone through.  So I grabbed my things and quickly left the apartment stumbled down the spiral staircase.  I got to the station, bought a ticket and got on my way.  Only later did I finally connect my phone to wifi and realized the mistake I had made.  There in my inbox was the confirmation e-mail for my SNCF ticket. MERDE!  The transaction did in fact go through back at the apartment, which meant that I had bought two tickets for no reason.  I tried pleading for a refund but was told that the only thing I was able to do was write a letter to SNCF.  So very French and so very ineffective!  I still haven’t heard from them…

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