Nervous Nellie here started falling asleep in the cab to St. Pancras International, where we’re traveling to Paris on the Eurostar. We got there quite early and my anxiety kept bumping up. I had Valium before we left the hotel, but it wasn’t helping me when we got to the station. I had no idea what was going on, where to go, what to do, in this station. We found some seats and we were going to wait until our train was boarding. Then Ernie said – after I ran into a store and spent most of the pounds we had left – that he had to go to the bathroom. It seemed like forever had passed while he was gone while I’m left alone with our bags, worrying about pickpockets. There goes my anxiety again. When he finally got back, I had asked him to throw something away for me, thinking there was a garbage can nearby. This time, there was texting between me and him and Xanax involved. He finally emerged and I felt a little better.
We went to check about our baggage (whether we had to pay more – and were told that we actually packed more like Europeans than Americans! A compliment…?) and then went to a little cafe to have some baguettes and coffee. I know it sounds weird but there wasn’t much they offered that I liked. Time was drawing near to boarding, so I ran off to the bathroom, came back and told Ernie “it’s your turn”. That’s when things (almost) went down the shitter.
I checked my pockets for a second – NO TICKET. Where the fuck did it go??? I was at the cafe and the bathroom – that’s it. So I rushed down to the bathroom again, pushed past the line and checked the stall I believed I was in. Not there. I thought “Oh fuck! It flushed down the toilet!” I came running out of the stall to find a folded up piece of paper on the floor. My ticket! Thank Jebus! I grabbed it, rushed back and told Ernie that he could finally go.
Then it seemed like it was taking forever because it was time to go through the checkpoints before the train. He shortly emerged, I ran out for a smoke and then we got in line. By this time, I had taken another Xanax (don’t abuse drugs, kids.) I was shaking about the whole Eurostar experience and timetables and such. The timing, the train platform number, the amount of people – it was all overwhelming to me. Oh wait. Before we got in line, he said “I have to go to the bathroom again.” Another anxiety provoker.
So we get through all the checkpoint areas well, even though I was freaking out for no reason whatsoever. We found seats and were waiting for it to let us start boarding at around 11:10 am. Then Ernie disappears again. So I wait by the luggage as he goes off. Not even 5 minutes later, they start boarding us. And he’s not back. Out come the Valium (seriously kids, listen to what I said earlier). He appeared after what seemed like forever and we were on our way to the platform. We stowed our luggage and not even 10 minutes after the train starts, I fell asleep. I was totally wide-eyed, awake and aware of everything up to that point because of my anxiety. So I slept through the Chunnel for about half the trip, I guess, because we changed time zones again. I worked on my London journal and – Voila! We were in Paris!.
We deboarded and found the exit. Before we left the building, it’s bathroom time again. So I wait off to the side while he goes in search of a facility. A couple minutes later, I get approached by a woman with a note on some paper about her kids and how sick her husband is, blah, blah, blah. While that may be true, I wasn’t giving her anything. I told her I had no cash (which was a lie) and she left.
Still waiting on Ernie. I get approached by another person. “Bon jour!” “Bon jour.” Then the French came. I said “English” and pointed to myself but I knew what he wanted. He spoke some broken English and I tell him I have no money. He becomes rather persistent but I kept telling him no. He walks away finally, muttering something, no doubt insulting me about being English (well, American). Finally, Ernie shows up and I convince him to take a cab. These drivers are maniacs. In both countries. And my mom thinks my driving is bad…
We found the hotel after finding and showing the address of the place on our phone. It’s on a one-way street and we’re at the end of it. So the driver decides to back the car up the street to appear he’s going the right way. Insane.
We have arrived at the Hotel d’Orsay. Check-in was easy, but we had to wait for our room. Something to drink? Sure, I’ll have some wine. We sit back, have a drink and our room is finally ready. The hotel is nice, but has its quirks. We have to use the key on the inside for the electricity to work and we have to turn it in when we go out – for security purposes.
We got our room and settled in (i.e. – made coffee). We decided to go for a walk. Mind you, by this time, my feet are hurting. Shoes? Laziness? Whatever.
We walk across one of the bridges with all these locks on it. Ernie told me they represented love. I practically begged him to get a lock from one of the vendors, but he insisted we find a nicer one. Where?? I want to put my mark on Paris!
We kept walking over to the Louvre. Man, that place is huge. And we were only walking around the outside of it. Found a rock for Marci at one point. I thought she would appreciate a stone from outside of there. We got something to eat and drink from a vendor – not so bad chocolate cake. We sat for a little while and decided to head to the Arc de Triomphe. I begged Ernie to take a Tuk-tuk (aka a Rickshaw) up the Champs-Élysées. Another little thing off of the list. It was quite interesting. And bumpy.
After visiting the Arc, we found an open Metro station – the one closer was being blocked by police. I insist there was a murder down there.
The Metro is not as nice as the Underground but it does what it’s supposed to do. Took it so we were close to the Eiffel Tower and headed off toward it. We had to walk through the Trocadéro, when this guy came up and gave me two roses. I took them, not realizing he wanted money. I thought he thought I was pretty! Nope nope nope. Got a little scolded but Ernie bought one for me anyway (I had to give the other one back). Oops. And I almost feel down the steps at the square and twisted my ankle right after the whole rose thing.
We walked through Jardins du Trocadéro, which was a beautiful landscaped park/garden. Then, we finally made it to the Tower. Queues were too long, even for the stairs and my feet were really starting to hurt. The rose was holding up just fine, sticking out of my purse until the Eiffel Tower souvenir shop, where i think the bud broke off. It was a tiny store with a bunch of people in it. Got a few souvenirs and off we went, in search of dinner. We found a place nearby called Le Champ de Mars and got to sit at the outermost table to do a lot of people-watching and eye-exploring of what was around us. The food was pretty good – salmon with noodles for me, fois gras and veal for Ernie. And, of course, wine.
We hit a snag at the ATM because I told Ernie we needed to take a taxi, therefore we needed money. My feet just were not up to doing more walking. We managed to get some money and I quickly hailed a taxi (kind of fun to do, actually).
We got back to the hotel and I took off my shoes to find blisters on the bottom of three toes. No wonder I couldn’t take walking anymore. The biggest one, I decided to pop. Well, more like stick a needle and pull several times to drain it. Then I couldn’t leave it like that, so I cut off all the skin around it with my cuticle trimmers. Bad idea. I left the other two alone for now.
Before I went to bed, I headed out to smoke. Instead of using the elevator, I decided to use the stairs. Another bad idea. Between the old rug and my slippers? The old rug won. My foot slipped out, sending one of my slippers flying and me on my ass for a few steps. All I can say is, fuck those steps. I don’t give a shit how long the elevator takes. That’s the only way for me from now on.
Paris has not made a great first impression on me, but I’m keeping an open mind. The day was just crazy, between getting up early to our arrival in Paris to our first exploration of the city. I’m a little homesick (which really wasn’t the case in London), but it will be a new day and we’ll see how it goes. Hope to visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery tomorrow. Until then, I’ll work on not falling again….