Thursday, April 22, 2010
Arrival ~ WTF!
WTF ~ a very common term for, not what you think, but Welcome To France! And the French way of doing things.
But first, thankfully the flight here was tragically uneventful, considering the past week. I was my own worst enemy -- tossing and turning throughout the flight. Actually, I was probably my seat-mate's worst enemy considering. The flight seemed to go on forever, and ever, with no end in sight. What felt like days, was in reality mere minutes.
But on the approach into Charles de Gaulle, having no idea where we were geographically, I spotted out the window what appeared to be a small city full of high rise office buildings. In the early morning light, I was able to spot Le Grande Arch! I couldn't believe it. My first sighting of Paris from the air is one of the buildings I most want to see! And far away in the distance of Le Grande Arch...Le Tour Eiffel. The morning light was so hazy, but you can't confuse Le Tour Eiffel with anything else in the world. I was too awed to think about taking pictures. But those images will remain with me forever.
I had arrived. Finally. For real. No more dreaming about this most beautiful city in the world. In which I have the unique opportunity to live in for nearly five weeks. To completely immerse myself in the culture. To be Parisien for a moment.
Yeah, well, WTF, Welcome To France, as they say. After I finally realized you have to read the teeny-tiny signs that say "taxi," I managed to get in line for one. As we sped our way toward the city (in a Mercedes taxi no less!), and then crawled our way into the city, then manouvered through so not-so-touristy-neighborhoods, the driver tried three times to turn the corner onto my street. It's that small. And I knew the building immediately. I was a little concerned when no one was waiting in the courtyard for me.
Little did I know just how concerned I should be.
I managed the keycode to get into the courtyard. And waited. And waited. Luckily, the post man came by, and in unbelievably bad French I was able to convince him I belonged there. A ground floor neighbor took pity on me and invited me to wait in his apartment (lucky for me, he's a "wine journalist," more on Michel later). And so we waited. And called. And waited. And called some more. And waited some more.
WTF, Welcome To France!
About five hours later, the landlord did show up. With the keys. And now I'm safely ensconed in My Paris Apartment.
I took a little tour of the neighborhood this afternoon. Yes, Montmartre in on a hill. And when you walk down that hill, you must walk back up. But oh, is it worth it! Cafes, patisseries, flowers, boulangeries, tabacs, charcouteries, bistros, everything and anything you could ever want, right there within walking distance.
I stopped for a cafe noisette. And here's what I picked up for dinner.
And a shot of my view. You can't see the steps, they're to the left.
It's just so overwhelming. Every hour Sacre Couer rings her bells. And even the men's shoes clickety-clack on the street.
Coming Up Tomorrow: Tackling The Metro