The Journey Part I
The Journey Part II
The Journey Part III
The Journey Part IV
I should go back a bit from Part IV... I admit I was looking forward to seeing the famous Charles de Gaulle airport, the world's 7th busiest airport I believe. Last time I went to Paris (2005) I had taken the Eurostar from London.
I was sorely disappointed and I later found out why. It was because I was dumped in Terminal 1 which was undergoing renovations. It is also the oldest and smallest terminal. After having seen the amazing Singapore and Kuala Lumpur airports (which are both large, spacious, modern and.. well.. amazing) I was sorely sorely disappointed! I felt sooo claustrophobic.
However, I was happy to find that I literally pushed my trolley out the door and there was my bus. I did not have to go far which I was very thankful for. I'd looked up on the 'net where and how to catch my bus. No metros with this amount of luggage. Also it's nicer catching the bus in this case because you get to see the view out the window!
I caught the Air France bus (Les Cars Air France) from CDG to the Gare de Lyon. For the record, no, you don't need to be an Air France passenger to take the bus.
Once we got to the gare (last stop) the luggage guy waiting at the stop just dumped my suitcase roughly on the road! He couldn't even lift it 10cm onto the kerb for me. I was shocked and disappointed. Parisians.. pfft! ;)
It was about 15°C but felt more like 7. It was extremely windy and therefore cold and after coming from hot and sunny Asia I wasn't exactly prepared. Even though I'd brought and wore my coat it was still.. erm.. cold.
I was faced with climbing a big set of stairs or making a big detour to go up a ramp. The detour it was. As soon as I got into the station I asked the guy where the left luggage place was (I had already looked up online to make sure there WAS one) and quickly found out the name for this is consignes *. He was helpful and told me I could also walk along the platform where there are some escalators (once again a massive detour if I didn't want to take stairs!). I should remind my readers that I had a large 27kg suitcase, a small wheelie case (my Zuca!), and 2 other (tote) bags which all totalled almost 50kg.
I finally found it and that's when my first 'test' began. The machine that gives out change was out of order so I had to get 9.50 euros worth of change.
No problems I thought! I'll just go buy something from the shop and she'll give me change. So I bought a drink. First challenge in France. Getting the shopkeeper to give you change. YOU ARE NOT IN AUSTRALIA ANYMORE, Toto. Hmm...
She wouldn't give me change (saying she needed it) and to go to the café. But, it's kind of hard to be dragging my luggage everywhere and so I was stubborn and refused to move from my spot. So I had to muster up the courage to ask strangers for money (like I was a beggar, except that I wasnt!) Oh Lord. People just ignored me or just told me they didn't have it (without even checking first). I did eventually find a really nice lady who didn't have enough but then asked another stranger for me. So nice. All in all I had to ask 7 people (in my crappy French) before I could get the rip off 9.50 euros for a large locker!
If that wasn't a test of:
• My French language ability
I don't know what is. You have to remember that up until that point I had barely eaten anything and I had just been on a 13 hour flight and a 1 hour bus trip and I was alone and I'm a little girl OK! :P
And with that, I very quickly learnt my first lesson in France. ALWAYS HAVE A LOT OF CHANGE OF VARIOUS DENOMINATIONS IN YOUR PURSE. I always follow this rule and it has helped me in many situations.
So off to the locker I went. Luckily it was big enough for all my bags. Then I had to navigate the huge and disorderly (an under renovation) Gare de Lyon to find my train out of there. All in all it took me over an hour to get the heck out of the station with the money saga and then walking what felt like 2km to get to my actual train platform.
With only 3 hours to spend, I didn't have a plan or an agenda and didn't even know where to go. I'd seen all the main sights during my last trip to Paris so there wasn't anything I HAD to do or see...
I chose to get off at Louvre Rivoli thinking that that was the station for the Louvre. In my disorientated state I made a mistake and in hindsight realised I should've gotten off at the NEXT stop, Palais Royale Musée du Louvre. No big deal.
First stop: La Pâtisserie! I hadn't eaten a proper meal or proper food for so long and with that food poisoning gone I was famished! I was soooo hungry. I saw a patisserie with lots of people going in/out and quickly went in to choose myself something beautiful and delicious looking.
I know I said no photos but I'm feeling more generous now... (see above)
Unfortunately I didn't note down the name nor address of this place.
...to be continued...
* Website to see if a certain station in France SNCF has left luggage lockers (consignes)
The Journey Part VI