Getting Ryan

Don’t you love those movies that begin in the middle or the end and work their way back to the beginning?  Pulp Fiction comes to mind.  Well, we had a Pulp Fiction kind of day in Paris.

As we were taking a bus back to the hotel at 12:30 a.m., we ended up having the only english language conversation with a couple from Boston.  How did we find out they were from Boston?  Ray mentioned that one time he was kicked off a train in Boston because it was late and at the end of  the line (but not quite where Ray wanted to go) and the train just stopped.  When he asked the train driver(?) why he was stopping there, the train driver said, “if you don’t get off this train, I’ll call the authorities” in a proper Bostonian accent.  The nice couple from Boston asked Ray if he had ill feelings about Boston.  Ray assured them that he did not.  By I digress.  The nice couple from Boston told us about their day and how they spent much of it lost in Paris, waiting for a bus that never arrived, going the wrong direction etc.  Their stories immediately put us in a mood of, well, vindication.  Alas, we too had such a day all because of a need for a new pair of shoes, which were told would be on sale.

So, we ended up on the bus in the middle of  the night because we were on the train from Paris going back to the hotel.  Only the train stopped several stations short of the airport and a nice man announced that it was the last station for the day.  Well, deja vu all over again!!!  Because we couldn’t think of how to ask why this was so in francais, we picked up my shoes and waddled off the train to a bus that was waiting for us nearby.  And that’s how we met the nice couple from Boston.

Now, all of that happened after we spent hours trying to find the RER train that stopped before we wanted it to while we were in Paris.  After purchasing the shoes, which I am actually almost mad about because they caused us much grief, we spent literally hours walking around trying to find a place to eat and the RER train.  Why didn’t we just look in our book to find a restaurant?  Well, we left the  book at the hotel.  And that’s not the half of it.  Should I continue?  I risk doing so because you might think we were …well, I’ll leave it at that.

Back to the search for train.  I convinced Ray that we should jump on the Metro (read “let’s try to make this fun”) get off at an unknown station and see what we can find in the way of a restaurant.  So, we approached the man behind the chain linked booth in the Metro (their subway system in Paris) and told him our plans in francais.  He recommended a stop so we bought the tickets and walked to the platform.  Only, we couldn’t exactly remember the stop (it started with an M) and we didn’t know if the approaching train would take us there.  So we went back up and asked for directions.  They gave us directions (in francais) and we went back down to the platform but we couldn’t figure out how to get where we were going.  And the words of Yogi Berra, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else”.  After much nashing of teeth, we decided that by leaving the subway and going literally nowhere, we were better off than the alternative.  So, we spent about 8 euro to wander around the station and leave from the same entrance we had entered, say about 45 minutes earlier.  Getting lost can cost you time.  But I digress.

I mean honestly.  Has anything remotely like that ever happened to you?  Well, if it hasn’t happened to you, it did happen to the nice couple from Boston.  And that made us feel a little better as I mentioned earlier.

Since my “plan” didn’t work out so well, you can imagine Ray’s reaction.  It wasn’t pretty.  So, I then put him in charge.  He found a restaurant on a corner very close to the Hunchback of Nortre Dame’s Bistro.  Well, that not be the exact name of the place but it is very close if my memory serves me well.  Opps, let’s not go there.  So we had a surprisingly good dinner.  Although, I was exhausted, my feel hurt (no I was not wearing my new shoes) and it was hot.  Oh, and it was about 10:30 p.m.  So, I just had a tomato tarte.  And a copious amount of wine.   When we finished eating, we asked for directions, this time in english.  The waitress told us where to go…politely.  We followed her directions and the entrance to the subway had a bright red light which we interrupted to mean “don’t go in”.  So, we wandered around looking for another entrance.  We turned a corner and there it was.  The cathedral sans the hunchback.

We searched and searched and could not find another entrance, so we stopped deux policiers and asked for directions.  They told us to go to the entrance with the red light.  We walked back and went down and it was closed at the bottom by a chain link fence.  Long story short, we asked a shop keeper on the street by the bridge over the Seine where the entrance was.  He told us there had been a problem earlier and they closed the entrance.  Best bet was to walk to another entrance which was the the station that we had tried to ride to earlier for 8 euro.  And that’s how we found the train.

So back to square one.  We had journeyed up to Paris to pick up Ryan who was due to arrive in the dawn’s early light.  So deciding to do the logical thing, we set out a day early with our guides de touristes in hand and a reservation for a room at a Novotel (big hotel chain in Europe) near Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris.  Novotel must be a huge chain because we found not one but three of them near the airport.  And we found the first two before we found the one we were booked at.  After driving in circles in roundabouts (literally), and taking several wrong turns, one which ended us up near a corn field with no hotels in sight, we finally arrived.  And that was how we found our hotel which was perfectly located in the direct line of the flight pattern about 1000 meters from the where all the planes touched down.  But that didn’t matter much because we were in downtown Paris getting lost and didn’t return until 1 a.m.   And the way we returned was on a shuttle from the airport to the hotel which we caught after we arrived at the airport on the bus from the train.  Confused?  So were we!!

Ryan, by the way, arrived and spent most of the day doing Napoleon’s tomb, military museum and looking for a parking place.  Now we’re back in La Ferte recovering and planning the next great adventure which will embark on tomorrow and which will involve the tasting of wine and wandering chateaus.

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