Day #1 in Paris
I arrived at the Stuttgart train station on schedule for my trip to Paris only to hear an announcement spoken in German and watch people begin to depart the platform. This was a very good visual clue that something was not going as planned. When questioned, a nearby charming German girl, Hanna, told me in English that the train had been canceled. After expressing a look of dismay, she offered to help me. Otherwise, I suppose I’d still be standing on that platform. There were a couple of other guys from Los Angeles, CA who were as lost as I and Hanna also took them under her wing and herded us all to the train ticket area and got us new tickets which took us through Karlsruhe, Germany with a two hour layover. No problem, I’m just glad I had my guardian angel, Hanna, watching over me! It was fun talking to the friendly Americans who couldn’t believe I hadn’t been to a German spa as they’d been to several. They recommended that I go on all nude days as there are fewer people then and no one looks at you anyway. After expressing my skepticism, they assured me that one quickly adjust. We finally boarded another train and soon stopped in Karlsruhe where Hanna and I hung out together at the Karlsruhe train station for two hours. Hanna is only twenty-two and is a student of English/Spanish at a university in Tubingin, near Stuttgart. I enjoyed talking with her about politics and culture while drinking a cold Pils beer. Eventually, the train came which took us on to Paris. Hanna offered me the window seat which I gladly accepted and I throughly enjoyed watching the bucolic French countryside roll past in the afternoon sun. Often, my life seems like a delightful dream. That is until I got to Paris at 9:15pm.
Hanna and I parted ways and things began to go downhill fast. My Airbnb host had previously sent me instructions of how to arrive by train. Little did I know that there is more than one train station and her directions are for departure from another train station. I go to the information center and wait in line finally being told at 9:45 to go downstairs…that’s all, no subway map or anything. I’m looking for RAR 2 or red line, but can’t find it. However, I do find a kind lady who speaks English. She tells me I have to get on the pink line to get to the RAR 2. I purchase a ticket with my debit card after switching the ticket machine to English. She said to follow her. She goes two stops and before getting off tells me to go three more stops and get off at Halles. I get off at Halles at 10:15 and find the RAR 2. But, guess what…it runs in two directions and my instructions do not tell me in which direction to go. I try and ask another person…no English and then another, still no English. Finally I find someone who speaks English and they point me in the right direction and tell me to get off at La Defense. I go several stops on the red line. The train is crowded and the warning the first helper gave me of watching out for pickpockets keeps swirling in my mind. I finally get to La Defense at 10:45 and try to leave the area through a gate, but my ticket no longer works. I try to find a ticket machine going back upstairs, back downstairs and back upstairs again. I try to ask several people, but people don’t speak English or they don’t know. Finally, I go back to the exit from this section and ask another girl. She said the gates at the end were open and I could go on through without a ticket. Now to find line T2 to Suresnes Longchamp. I find another ticket machine and purchase another ticket for 1.90€. Again, I’m not sure which train I should get on because they run in two directions. I find a nice man and he said to follow him that he is getting off at Longchamp. It is now 11:00! I hop on another crowded train and watch carefully until he gets off. Finally, I am at Suresnes Longchamp, but it is dark and the roads are very confusing. I try to follow my google map, but have to backtrack when I see my dot on the Google map is moving in the wrong direction. Finally, I find 3 Rue Chev at 11:30. I push the button and no one answers. I push several times, still no answer. I finally realize this is a school. I go on down the sidewalk a bit and find another 3. I push the button and a man answers! He asked, “What took you so long?”