Christmas Break, Day 1: Arriving in Paris 2006 December 20Posted by @jennyjenjen in Christmas Break, Transportation, Travel.
So, as previously noted, I took a flight from Skavsta Airport to Beauvais airport just outside of Paris. I left at 5:10 in the morning to make it to the airport a few hours before my noon departure, just as instructed for all passengers so that everything can be ironed out without risking missing a flight. I arrived at Beauvais just a little after schedule, and my father’s friend Bertrand was waiting for me. Bertrand and his wonderful family live only 20 km from Beauvais, and he does his flight training there. He offered to take me to a train station from where I would take the RER into Paris and Le Métro to the apartment we were renting in the 20th quarter (20e arrondissement) of Paris. I used Bertrand’s phone to briefly call my parents at the apartment; they had already arrived in Paris.
The ride over to the train station was a little bumpy; I get rather motion-sick, and it had been months since I’d ridden in a car for any longer than ten minutes. It didn’t help that the flight had some interesting turbulence and a bumpy landing. Nor did I get much sleep the night before. I felt a little better with some orange juice and a snack at the train station. We tried calling my parents again, but nobody answered. We assumed everyone was probably sleeping, but since the stop was so close to their house and I had their address, I figured it would not be too difficult to just find my way over there.
I took the train at Persan-Beaumont and rode to Gare du Nord, one of Paris’ largest train stations (if not the largest). Once I got there, I wanted to exchange money, and I had a big bag and backpack with me so I wasn’t exactly having an easy time wandering around the train station. I had managed to lose my ticket in the process. So, rather defeated, I stopped for a short break before buying another ticket and trying to find the number 2 line that would take me to the Père Lachaise stop.
Once I found that line, I accidentally got on the wrong way. By the time this happened, it was getting a little dark outside and I was extremely tired. I had been dragging my luggage all over and it was starting to become tiresome. I got turned around, and finally made it to the stop. Strangely enough, I met a Norwegian guy at the grocery store right near the stop. He wasn’t sure where to find the street I was looking for, but a woman came along – and actually, in concern that the guy was harrassing me, to which I told her, “No, he’s Norwegian, he’s harmless” – and she was able to help me find the street.
By this time, my patience was wearing thin. I had tried calling my parents again, but there was no answer, and when I tried another time, my phone had run out of credit. As I made it to the door of the apartment building and found there was no way for me to figure out how to get inside or let my parents know I was there – not to mention, I was very late and there seemed to be nobody looking for me – I started crying. It reminded me a little of the first time I was pulled over for speeding and burst into tears in front of the cop, who then gave me a warning and let me go on my way.
A nice man was trying to help me out, and with broken French I managed to get him to let me use his mobile phone. I didn’t know how to dial in France, so it wasn’t working. Then a guy in a red coat came up to me and started asking me what was wrong. It was kind of strange, because not only was he speaking to me in English, he had an American accent! I told him that everything was fine, my mother was in an apartment in this building and she would probably come out and see me sometime, but he didn’t need to help me. Turns out that he was the guy who helped maintain the apartment, his name was Don and he knew how to get in an out of the building. As soon as he turned around to enter the code, I heard my mother from the window up above. She came down and Don helped me get my bags up the stairs. I had never been so exhausted in my life, but I was really glad to finally get in.
And, well, it turns out that someone had been looking for me. My dad was spending time between an Internet café talking with Bertrand, trying to figure out my location, and walking over to the Père Lachaise stop to wait for me. My brother was the only person in the apartment when I tried calling, and he was sleeping, so that’s why nobody ever answered. Turns out he didn’t know there was even a phone in the apartment; I guess he couldn’t hear it and was knocked out from jet lag anyway.