Wow! It was a crazy start - bad weather held our plane from Pittsburgh to Atlanta in a holding pattern and we ran low on fuel, so we had to land at Greensville, SC and refuel. My connecting flight to Paris was to leave at 4:10. We landed at 3:55 at Terminal B...I had to get off the plane and go to the very end of the airport at terminal E. I RAN like the wind...got there with two minutes to spare, and they had already closed the gates. They gave my seat away. I then got put on standby for a flight that was to leave at 5:30. They said it didn't look good and I may not get to leave until Sunday. At my husband's advice, I turned on the tears (it didn't take much at this point!) The flight they told me was full suddenly had some open seats, and I was able to get on that flight!! Despite the craziness, I got to sit next to some really amazing/interesting people including an 87 year old British woman named Cindy who had lived through WWII in England. She told me about bomb raids and rations...very cool. She reminded me of my gram and at one point I had this overwhelming urge to just put my head on her shoulder (don't worry, I didn't!)
So, I got to Paris around 9:30 this morning, then the next crazy part of my journey ensued. Trying to be fiscally responsible (stop laughing Dad), I chose to take the RER train/metro from Charles de Gaulle to Clichy (8 euros vs 50 euros for a taxi). My bags weighed about 70 lbs total but I figured I could handle a "few" steps just fine. Did you know that it is an unwritten law in Paris that all train stations must have a minimum of 200 steps? In the 3 train stations I was at, there were about a dozen sets of stairs - most of them at least 30 steps steep. My arms still feel like spagetti noodles! I guess I'll be okay without my Wii Fitness for a few days! Blessings to the half a dozen strong Frenchmen who helped me carry my luggage up those million stairs...
Once I arrived to my metro stop in Clichy, I realized I didn't know how to get to the family's home (my European phone that I rented wasn't working...but that's another story!) So there I am, sweating profusely while dragging 70 lbs of luggage wandering the streets asking random strangers, "Parlez vous anglais?" I may as well have been wearing a neon sign above my head "stupid American tourist!" Finally, some kind Frenchman had mercy on my soul and actually walked me to the apartment building (I was only a block away, but it was still really nice of him). I've never been so happy to reach a destination before!
I am sharing a room with a 19 year old girl from Belgium. Her name is Lisa, and she speaks English, thank goodness. The couple who is hosting me is - of all places - in the US right now and will be back on Tuesday. The grandparents are staying with the 2 children and have made me feel very welcome. The grandfather, Pierre, speaks a little English, but that is it. It was a very interesting dinner conversation - lots of hand gesturing on my part! I depended on my roommate to translate a lot (she speaks pretty fluent French). It certainly motivates me to learn French quickly so I can at least participate a bit in some dinnertime conversation.
I spent about 2 hours this afternoon walking around Clichy. There was a huge flea market in the center of town that was very lively. I bought a fresh baguette (yes, it was delicious!) and sat on a park bench and people watched. This park had a pond with a weeping willow and water fountains and lots of ducks swimming. There was a huge playground that made me think of my kids - they would have loved it. The coolest thing was that they had a concrete ping pong table in the middle of the park and people would just wander up and play ping pong!
And I would be remiss if I didn't say "Happy Father's Day" to all you dads out there, but especially to my own dad and to Bill. I love you both! It is actually Father's Day here in France, too...I thought that was only an American/Hallmark thing.
Well, I am here and am safe. My phone is working now and I have internet access in my home so I can easily keep in touch with Bill and the kids. I'm as happy as a clam - I am in Paris!!!!
Bill, Gabby, Will, and Maddie - I love you and miss you tons!!! XOXOXOXOXO