Paris. We Meet Again.
Last Saturday was my birthday. What better way was there to celebrate my 26th, than going to the city I loath more than any other one on this planet, so far?
I for one, couldn’t think of a single thing that would top it.
For reasons that make no sense to me now, I decided that I would catch the night bus to Paris. It probably sounded both romantic and adventurous. Unfortunately, it was anything but.
I had envisioned a fairly straightforward journey, where I was blessed with the good fortune of being able to spread out over the two seats and catch enough z’s to be revitalised for the day ahead. What I hadn’t reckoned with, was how unbearably popular the night bus to Paris would be. On top of that, I’d booked with a company that had allocated seating, so I had no choice but to sit up the front, next to a handsome, bearded French gentleman. In ordinary circumstances, I probably would have been thrilled. As it stood, all I wanted was my own bed.
The journey was both fairly uneventful and fairly unpleasant. I did not get much sleep, due to the nattering of the women sitting behind and across the aisle from me and the driver’s insistence of tuning loudly into the Top 40 for the entirety of the trip.
We pulled in half an hour early and disembarked. I gathered both my bag and my wits and made my way to the station, where I collapsed, exhausted into the nearest seat.
After stuffing my face full of a breakfast bar, I stood, determined to make it to my hotel and dump my stuff, before wandering the streets, camera in hand, killing time until my friends arrived/I could have a nap; whichever came first. I walked down to the nearest metro entrance and up to the ticket machine. Unfortunately, it was a machine that existed solely for topping up the Navigo Découverte – the Parisian version of the Oyster Card.
I marched back to the previous station I had been at, with the intention of procuring one of these cards, yet could see no place in which I could purchase it. Instead, I bought a single pass ticket. Back to the station entrance I went. Turned out, it existed solely for bearers of the Navigo card; ordinary folk like me were denied entry. I could see no other entrance to the station, so I gave up, dragging my sorry self back to the bus station.
Here, I collapsed, exhausted and frustrated. It’s the Paris Curse, I told myself. For some reason, the city was out to get me. All I’d ever done was love it, dreamt about visiting it and tortured myself during high school by attending over 200 hours worth of French class (now all forgotten) in order to feed my fantasy. Yet, the city responded to my love and affection by being a complete and utter dick in completely disrespecting my feelings.
An hour later, I was done being a victim and had gathered enough strength to attack my problem head on. I strode out of the station and down the road, passing the previous entrance. Of course, some 100m later and around a corner, was the proper entry, with blessed ticket accepting machines.
“See,” I told myself. “All you have to do is have a little faith and things will work out!”
I triumphantly rode the metro train to my next stop and emerged, victorious, into the morning light. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I realised Google Maps had completely and utterly led me astray and I was about a forty minute walk from where I actually needed to be. On top of that, my phone battery was rapidly dying – I would soon find myself stranded, sans Internet (NOOOOOOO), exhausted, with zero idea of how to get to my hotel.
Impressively, I didn’t lose my cool (possibly because by this point, there was none left). I walked into the nearest café, used my disjointed French to order breakfast and ask if there was a charger available, with which to charge my ridiculous phone. The very helpful lady handed me a croissant and directed me to a charger on the wall.
My phone came back to life and I with it. I sat sipping on thé vert, watching the world go by and calmed myself down. My strength and battery reserves replenished, I was ready for another go. Paris had two up on me at this present point in time, but it was anyone’s game now.
I am sure you are all perched on the edge of your seats, the following questions at the tip of your tongue – “Did LC break the Paris Curse? Did she make it to her hotel? Did the handsome, bearded French man appear, brandishing a box of strawberry tarts and whisk her away for a weekend of lust and love?”
Tune in later on this week to find out!