I think it’s about time I quit procrastinating and get this thing written before I forget what happened. I’ve been home from Paris for almost 2 weeks now. If you’ve been following my various other shenanigans in Europe, this may be a bit of a let down. I didn’t really do anything “exciting” in Paris. I took a lot of pictures and I made a few observations. I’m torn between making this an opinionated piece or a story. I’ve kind of decided to do both in a most random fashion.
I took a 3 hour train ride from Karlsruhe to Paris. A friend of mine lives near Karlsruhe and I went and helped throw a birthday party for his wife. Okay. That’s not entirely true. They threw the party. I just observed. Karlsruhe and the surrounding cities are in the black forest area of Germany (Schwarz Wald). It’s very pretty. He actually lives in Neuenbürg (I believe). As you can see, I’m not always 100% sure of the facts. I think it snowed ten inches the day after I left.
He warned me about the strikes happening in France, but I decided to risk it anyway. I arrived at the Gare de l’Est train station in Paris at about 8:30 PM. It was dark and cold so I decided to forego my rule of attempting to take public transportation and just went to the cab line. It’s the first time in my life I’ve had to wait in line for a cab. Someone told me later that it was because of the strike (that I had to wait in line).
There were already some interesting people in line. A quite attractive woman stood right in front of me. While standing in line I saw movement to my left and a person in a “hoodie” approaching my location…
I didn’t think much of it, but then they started whispering to me in French. I thought it was a guy at first, but when I looked up I realized it was a woman. She wasn’t entirely unattractive, but she had that piercing through the bridge of her nose and those things always make me mentally wince. I don’t know why. Okay, I do know why. I told her I don’t speak French and she translated to English, but not very good. She wanted money for something. I couldn’t determine if she was going to give me favors for a euro of if she wanted a euro for drugs or if she wanted a euro for food. I chose to pretend I didn’t have any euro’s. It was kind of disconcerting thinking, You know, if I met this person in a bar I’d offer to buy her a drink and here she is begging for money. At least I think she was begging. It’s probably good I ignored.
After she left I saw a man, a woman and a woman with a walker cruising down the roadway. They proceeded to go to the front of the cab line. I’m thinking this is just some kind of French law. If you need assistance walking then you go to the front of the line. I’m not real sure about all this, but it was my first observance of inconsiderate French people and considerate French people and a puzzling mystery. The group of 3 went to the front of the line and waited for the next cab.
The next cab arrived and these 3 people had so many bags that they couldn’t get them all in the cab. The lady with the walker was already sitting in the back of the cab so chaos ensued. The man in the party of 3 proceeded to have a heated discussion with the cab driver. Not able to speak French, but just observing the gyrations and the situation I surmised that the cabby was telling him that there was no way he could get all their luggage in the trunk so they’d have to wait for a larger cab. Being that the handicapped woman was already sitting in the back of the cab, she was not budging. Her butt was apparently permanently welded to the seat of the cab that wasn’t big enough for the luggage.
Finally, the guy got out of the cab and removed half the luggage and let the two ladies have the cab (the handicapped lady and the other lady). As soon as he got out (about ten minutes after the fiasco began), a van cab pulled up that could have easily transported them all. I accidentally laughed. The good looking lady in front of me turned around and smiled at me. I have that affect on people. Then the most incredible thing happened.
The two ladies pulled away in their cab and the lone man took the van cab by himself. If I had been able to speak French I would have muttered “stupid inconsiderate moron” loud enough for him to hear. I had been waiting for about 20 minutes at that point.
Finally, it was my turn for a cab. I knew I was quite a ways from my hotel and I was kind of worried that he’d tell me he couldn’t go that far or something. I had the hotel address and I just gave it to him while trying to explain I didn’t speak French. He got the idea and took me away. I’m fairly certain he really spoke very little English. I know French people have the reputation of not speaking English because they don’t want to. But, I don’t see how he could have sat there straight faced as I told him all my good English jokes if he was pretending not to understand.
The hotel I picked was Hotel Median Chatillon. I picked it because of the price and because it was close to a Metro station. I knew I could walk to the Metro station and quickly get to downtown Paris where all the touristy stuff is. When you select a hotel on the Internet and book it, they never tell you that the entire road in front of the hotel is under construction. It made for a very unpleasant environment, but since I had already paid for the week with a non-refundable pre pay kind of thing. I was stuck.
The bed was the hardest bed I’ve ever “attempted” to sleep on.