Sunday, June 23, 2013

Midnight in Paris, and I Feel Like William Tell

No, I didn't shoot an apple off anyone's head. But I was just pulling mussels from a Léon de Bruxelles, the closest restaurant to my Parisien hotel that I could find open after 11pm.

Anyway, for anyone who thinks traveling around Europe by one's self can be rather daunting, the last couple hours would not serve as an advertisement to the contrary.

Though in some ways, they should, as nothing bad actually happened and I was honestly more annoyed than frazzled.

But I can see where a first-time transcontinental traveler could be a bit intimidated. Heck. even Chicago can't be all that easy to navigate for the uninitiated.

I have arrived in Paris. Actually, I arrived--via Ryan Air from Budapest; remind me to rant at another time about travelers and their carry-on luggage--at an airport called Paris-Beauvais, which required a 1hr15min nonstop bus to get to the outskirts of the city proper. 

We were dropped off in a parking lot. i knew there was a Metro (subway) nearby, which the bus driver was able to point me to--it was still quite a shlep--but otherwise this would've been a "WTF?" moment as I didn't even see any taxis nearby.

This is my fourth time in Paris and I'm familiar with how the Metro lines crisscross, similar to the London Underground. So despite requiring a switch of trains along the way, getting to the Republique stop was no big deal.

But finding my hotel proved to be a pain in the ass. When I had been in Paris for two nights in November 2011, I stayed at the Hotel du Nord et de l'Est.

It's not the most luxurious of places, but it's fine, and its location near Republique is rather convenient. But Republique Is essentially a large memorial oval and all sides of it look the same.

Having booked the same hotel again, I did not have the hotel's address or a map handy (i.e. no Internet access). It's good that I basically remembered where it was, otherwise I would've really been up the creek, but out of the metro station I asked the first person I saw--he was holding a smart phone--if he had Wi-Fi and could look up hotel's address.

Luckily he was a Frenchman who spoke English and though a bit surprised, he was nice enough to do it. But the Google map of Republique was just as confusing as the real thing.

I wound up walking in one direction and then another, asking at a hotel that I knew wasn't mine, being pointed to a hotel called Hotel du Nord, which was in the area but not the correct one, and from there being directed correctly to Hotel du Nord et de l'Est.

Even with a rolling suitcase it wasn't exactly a fun way to spend 40 minutes. 

Just to kind of regain my bearings, I wandered out after checking in, and after stopping into a couple restaurants that were closing for the evening, wound up having some mussels at Léon, which is a chain out of Belgium.

The mussels were pretty tasty and now back at my hotel, I'm going to bed.

I have just one day in Paris and only till about 7 PM at that, but I think I'll go see some art at the Pompidou Center, wander over to the Eiffel Tower, perhaps get to Sacre Coeur and just kind of take it as it comes.

Bon soir.

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