The Other Red, White, and Blue

07.04.2011While most of you are cooking out and enjoying family, preparing to watch the celebratory fireworks dedicated to remembering the founding of our nation, I was doing something a little different. Read: Getting lost in Paris. And I don’t mean lost in that figurative way where you’re actually just so caught up in everything that you kind of lose yourself. No, I mean genuinely lost, as in “I’m in a foreign country and I don’t know how to get where I need to go, and oh yeah, I don’t really know where I am either.” Let me take you through the epic story of how I ended up in Angers. I met Margie and her family at the Cincinnati airport around 3:30 p.m. yesterday. We got on the plane at 5 p.m. So far, so good. I spread out across my two seats (since the plane was basically empty I had room to breathe) and attempted to sleep, getting in a few hours (in 45-minute intervals) in an attempt to acclimate my body to the time-shift. I even got through the crying baby, which was totally inevitable during prime sleeping hours. And then we landed in Paris at 7:35 a.m. Paris time, and I thought, Hey this isn’t so bad at all. And then, Margie and I stepped out into the airport and my dreams of a seamless trip were abruptly shattered. Talk about culture-shock. Imagine everyone speaking a language you sort-of know and add that to the stress of traveling. We saw a giant line of people waiting to buy train tickets, but we asked the Info desk people just to make sure that was the right line. It wasn’t. So we went to the correct line for the TGV only to be told that the train we wanted (10:28 a.m.) was sold out. Great. So then we were sent back to the GIANT line to get a Metro ticket to Paris, and were interrupted by a man saying that the Paris train would be free and downstairs. So, we got on the Metro to Paris, getting off at the Gare du Nord, like the train attendant told us to do, in order to catch the TGV to Angers there. Well, after speaking to another nice Info desk man, we got on another Metro to Montparnasse-Bienvenue. Then, we talked to yet ANOTHER Info desk woman who gave us a slip of paper with directions to the TGV station. We stood outside for a little bit, with a month’s worth of luggage each that we’d been hauling this whole time, a little unsure of where to go. And then, the angels smiled upon us and Nicola called. We had been trying to call her since we had missed the first train, but we were dialing the number wrong and couldn’t get through. Finally, though, she called us and told us how to get to the train station and we finally bought our TGV tickets to Angers. That didn’t go without a hitch, though, because let’s face it, that was the kind of day we were having. There were only two trains to Angers left for the whole day, and our choices were the 3:00 train, but we wouldn’t have seats and would therefore be standing for an hour and a half; or, the 5:30 train which would mean waiting even longer. We decided time was more important than a seat, so we got our tickets for the 3:00 and headed to the terminal to wait…for two more hours. Luckily, we ran into Kristen and Alisa who had also been running around Paris and somehow ended up on our train. I was so glad to be on that train I couldn’t even handle it. We even met a girl who’s doing the same program as us, but she’s from Halifax, Canada. And get this—She works for Breakaway Tours, the company the sponsors Dayton 2 Daytona! How crazy is that? So we talked to her for a while and found out that she’s backpacking through Europe all summer, doing the Angers program in the middle. Finally, after what seemed like forever (at 4:36 p.m.), we made it to the train station at Angers St. Laud and met up with the other girls, Nicola, and our homestay families. I can tell I’m going to love Dominique and Rachid a lot. They have been so incredibly sweet and are making me learn French quickly! More details about them later, but for now, I just want to say thank goodness that that awful tour of Paris is over. Next time, I’m going to plan a little better. At least I speak some French though…because that really could have been terrible. Anyway, I’m about to fall asleep. So, I’m safe, everyone. It was definitely an adventure of a day.