Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Longest Day of Our Lives: Part 2

Our train ride to Paris reminded me of something I've seen on I Love Lucy.  

When we finally found the train station in Brussels, we were within 15 minutes of the last departure of the day.  The ticket agent told us that we didn't have enough time to buy a ticket, and said that we should just board the train and pay during the ride.  After our day of misinterpretations, we were a bit skeptical...but we were too tired to think extensively, so we just proceeded in the direction of the train.  Our only question was, where do we sit?  We asked an attendant outside the train who seemed annoyed with our ignorance and said, "it really doesn't matter."  We found the first available seat.  Jamie put our small carry-on bags on the rack above us, and we breathed a sigh of relief.  It felt good to have accomplished so much in one day, but it felt even better to finally be resting our legs.  Within a matter of minutes, a Parisian started tapping Jamie on the shoulder and waving her ticket stub at him.  No words were needed, we quickly stepped away from the already assigned seat and walked to another car in search of a place to sit.  We sat down and, again, were soon greeted by an annoyed local who seemed appalled that we had even thought of sitting in his assigned seat.  At this point Jamie asked another agent where we were free to sit, and he was met with the same instructions that we were given when we boarded...which provoked him to stand in the snack-bar car for the duration of the ride.  I, too tired to stand, continued to play musical chairs.  Eventually, we made it to Paris.  

We arrived at Gare du Nord and I was in awe.  I don't know what came over me, but I completely forgot to take a picture.  It was my first experience in a major train station, and the feeling just took my breath away.  I loved the way the trains were all lined up, facing the great clock with Roman numerals.  And then to turn around and see the open air and the city of Paris behind took my breath away.   

And despite the fact that our senses were numb with fatigue, we felt compelled to walk the 3.9 km to our hotel so that we could see and feel the city.  Our ever-willing senses had a hard time figuring out which road to take out of the train station.  We had a map, and directions, but we couldn't find a single street sign.  Jamie was all concerned about locating the sun, but I pulled out my handy-dandy iPhone compass.  (It's never a bad time to remind him of money well spent.)  Once we began walking, in what we believed was the right direction, we saw the street signs...on the sides of the buildings...and we felt like honest-to-goodness tourists...

When we knew that we were headed in the right direction, we were really able to enjoy our stroll.  I was pinching myself...we were finally in Paris!  The people were alive, the weather was beautiful, and we saw all sorts of fun this candy-stand.  :)

And I loved our hotel.  It was compact, but oh so quaint.

The Bastille Best Western.  Where the elevator is so small that we would have had to take separate trips, if we'd had our suitcases.  But we didn't.  So we just embraced our smelliness and rode up in each others arms.  Oh Paris, you city of romance...

And just a few doors down, we found this wonderful restaurant...

After consuming everything above + three baskets of the best French bread we'd ever tasted, we were even more in love with Paris.  

And despite all the sights to be seen, we were delighted to call it a day. 

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