no matter where you go, there you are

Sunday, December 13, 2009

a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step - lao tzu

We land at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport right on time; it's cloudy and the ground is wet. After exiting the plane I make my way first to the bathroom and then to Passport Control. There is a bit of a line, but I don't care as I'm not in any rush; nothing opens in the city til 8:30 or 9 anyway. The process is uneventful of course until I get to the head of the line. A French woman starts yelling and arguing with one of the men in the windows and the woman sharing the booth with him begins to intervene yet her window is open. I go to her and get my passport stamped quickly, thank goodness there are no questions asked. The crazy French lady is scary and I want to get the hell out of there. Yelling is scarier when you have NO idea what is being said. Onto the train station...

After only getting lost a lil bit because the directions signs pointed me in the wrong direction, I make it to the train platform, purchase my ticket and hop on the next train heading toward the city. The ride is uneventful except it does get a little crowded due to the commuters from the suburbs getting on and packing the train.

We arrive at Gare du Nord (North Station) some time later and when I leave the station I'm able to get my bearings well enough.

A short 15-min walk up a slightly inclined street and I enter the doors to Le Village Hostel. It's dead quiet except for the radio they have playing. The gentleman at the desk is kind enough and after a bit of repacking I place my bag in the storage room, pick up a map and head out for the day.

For transportation in Paris my plan was to use the bike system they have called "Velib." For a single-day ticket ($1.50), you have unlimited use of the bikes which you pick up and drop off at hundreds of stations around the city. It's a replacement for the bus or train and as long as you keep the ride under 30 minutes, its a free trip. Because my hostel is right at the bottom of the Sacre Couer, there are a couple of stations right nearby and I head over to one as the first to-do. Yet they do not accept my Visa bank card and I must give up that idea and use the Metro the next 2 days. Oh well...

I find the nearest Metro station very easily and hop on a train headed for the Champs de Mars...not directly, but with a couple of transfers. I arise from the underground at the Hotel des Invalides stop (not where I wanted to be it's close enough) and begin the walk towards the Eiffel Tower. It's still cloudy but I can see it's clearing up fast which is very good. I don't want to pay to go up a tower that I can't see anything from. Passing by cute Parisian children walking to school and delivery men starting their days, I'm wondering where the heck this tower is. I'm very close by, not near any tall buildings and knowing the Eiffel is quite large, why am I not seeing it jutting into the sky? I finally make it to the edge of the Champs de Mars, glance to my right and there it is...the Eiffel Tower.

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