Learning The Hard Way

Euro Excursion Day One: Departure to Paris

Now, I’m sad to say that this trip did not have a very happy beginning. Actually, a better way of saying that is our trip had a horrible beginning that made me want to throw everything out the window and not go at all!! But let’s start in the beginning of that fateful day. We got up early to catch our train into Manchester. The train ride is about an hour and twenty minutes and cost a pretty penny. The worst thing about riding trains is that most of the time no one comes to check your ticket! It seriously makes me want to go on a train without purchasing a ticket, just to show them how flawed their system is. It just makes me think I wasted my money when nobody even checks if I’d paid or not. Anyways, we got to the airport and walked over to the section of the airport that we needed to be in. We followed the sign for departure and headed to security. We were using Ryanair, which means we checked in online and had no bags to check. So we never went to the desk, we just headed to security. We walked in past a man, who never checked our tickets or passports, scanned our ticket on the gate to let us in and we went through security. Manchester Airport is very different then any airport I’ve ever been in. You don’t know your gate number until you are boarding. We had to just sit in the giant waiting room area for two hours before our gate opened. We then waited in a line to board the flight. Now here is were the story gets really sad, I hope you have tissues handy or a nice bar of chocolate to eat away your sorrows. When I handed the nice lady my ticket I was denied entrance onto the flight. This is because I am a non EU (European Union) member and didn’t get the stamp I needed on my ticket. We were informed that we would have to buy another ticket and we wouldn’t be refunded the ticket for the plane ride we were not using. OH Ryanair how I hate you so. They are a cheap airline because they like to screw you over. I hope you are enjoying this incredibly negative feedback Ryanair, since you have no email address for me to send you my complaint (trust me when I say I will find an email and I will contact both the airline and the airport)! Ugh, as you can see I’m still really bitter.

In total there was five Americans that were not allowed on the flight do to this missing stamp. A kind airport employee assisted us with getting back into the airport lobby so we could figure out what we wanted to do. So I was freaking out because we had to now buy brand new plane tickets and I was already freaking out about money. We looked around the check in area asking multiple airlines about their prices on flights to Paris, for a positive spin on this very negative situation, I felt kinda like I was in the Amazing Race running around an airport looking for the best flight. We found a flight that was leaving later that evening for £100 and decided it was our best option. We needed to get to Paris that day because we had a hotel that we were paying for whether we were there or not. Two of the other girls choose to fly out on Monday with Ryanair and the other girl choose the same flight as us. This girl, Bethany, ended up being so helpful! She is originally from Cape Cod, but is now teaching English to kids in southern France. We talked for the hours we had to wait for our flight. I don’t remember the name of the organisation that she is working for, but it sounds amazing. She is over in France six month teaching English in multiple primary schools. She is paid about 1000 US dollars a month and her housing is paid for by the company. Bethany was such a nice girl and talking to her made the time go by fast and made the problem seem a bit better. She gave us loads of tips about Paris, what to see and do, plus she helped us understand the metro system.

Eventually we got on the plane and flew to Paris. We landed, went through customs (got a french stamp!) and headed out of the airport to find the train station. We flew into Charles de Gaulle airport which is a lot closer then the airport we were originally going to fly into and it has a train station right inside it. Though getting to the station was a bit of a maze and took us a while walking around and asking for directions before we found our way. At the station we parted way from Bethany, after she showed us where to buy our ticket and how we have to take the RER to the Gare du Nord to take the metro line 5 toward Bobigny Pablo Picasso. Sounds confusing, right? We bought or tickets and headed to the train. We got into the car and there was only like two other people in it, we had our fingers crossed that it was the right train. With that the doors shut and we were on our way into Paris. I started to get anxious when I realized that the train didn’t stop at any of the stations and I didn’t know if we had to press a button to let the driver know you had to get off. With all my years of french I asked the girl sitting in the train if it would stop at the Gare du Nord. When I say I spoke French to her, I meant I tried to speak French and then reverted to asking if she spoke English. Though I did ask that question in French. Through the language barrier we were able to communicate and she said that she too was getting off at that stop and we would follow her lead. Hurray for helpful French people! So we got off at the giant Gare du Nord and went on our merry way to find the metro line we needed. This was also done with the help of the native Parisians. I’ve got to say that the stereotype of the French being rude is totally false! From my experience in the first few hours of being in France we only met nice people, who were all more then willing to assist us. We didn’t even officially ask for direction the second time. Sam just said I don;t understand and the guy walking past asked if we needed help. Talk about amazing people! So we made our way to the metro line and jumped aboard. One thing you should now about the Paris metro is that the line are all colored and number and to tell which way you are headed you look for the last stop in the direction you want to be head, that is what the metro will be labeled as. We learned that from Bethany and would have been really lost if she hadn’t told us that. It was a short metro ride to our hotel and when I say metro I mean subway they just call it the metro. Lucky for us the metro exit was literally a few hundred feet from our hotel. So as soon as we got off we saw it and headed straight to our little Parisian haven. We stayed at the Hotel Le Laumière in the 19th arrondissement. for those who don’t know, Paris is broken up into arrondissement, which are neighborhoods. There are twenty arrondissements and it starts in the center of Paris and then circles around like a snail shell. That is actually how my middle school French teacher described how the arrondissements are laid out. But anyways, we checked in at the front desk and walk up to our sixth floor room. The room was tiny, but efficient. It had everything we needed including the most amazing bed I’ve ever slept on. It was so comfortable that I wanted to take it home with me! Oh I loved that bed. So we got settled in our room and then went outside to do a bit of exploring. Since it was late we just walked up and down the street, taking pictures in the rain. It was a lovely first impression of Paris. After our walk we went back to the hotel and chatted with the man in reception. He was so sweet and helpful, plus I had a conversation with him in French! Hurray for me using my five years of French class knowledge, it finally paid off!! With that we called it a night and headed off to bed in order to prepare our bodies for the excitement of the next day.

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The whole fiasco may have been a blessing in disguise. I just hate the fact that they didn’t give us a refund, but we learned our lesson the hard way. And hey, you have to go through hard times in order to appreciate the good ones. And I’ll spoil the ending of this story right now, the trip was amazing, fantastic, spectacular and all the other wonderful descriptive words.

Until next time…

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