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arrivée à Paris

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post #44
bio: raquel
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10/14/2002
12:27

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I overslept in London the day before our departure for Paris and missed my tour of the Globe theater, and our big chance to do laundry*.

EJ and his roomate Wendy have a washer/dryer combo machine that I assumed I could master with my genius technical savvy. Anyone who has seen my photos from my trip all printed with the date in red on the face of every picture can easily determine the falacy of my assumption.

So you know how this story is going to go. I can't make the dryer part work to save my life. We are ready to pack and all of our laundry is wet and spread across every radiator in the apartment. We wake up at 5 to shove our wet clothes in our bags and take off for the Eurostar. My friend EJ railing about how he was "Madamed" by a convience store guy the previous day.

"Madam? I can't believe he called me Madam!" He says chain smoking and dragging my suitcases.

"I am far too young to be a Madam. I am most obviously a Madamoiselle!"

We arrive at the Eurostar with dislocated shoulders and raw bleeding palms from EJ's designer shopping bags. The guards waved us around the security screening which makes us feel well, insecure. Then the gate. I ask which gate our train is leaving from. Gate 21. We follow the signs to Gate 21. There are three Gate #21s.

This will foreshadow the lack of logic we will encounter in airports, metros, and transportation venues throughout the trip. Mind you we are still in an English speaking country.

Somehow we get onto the correct train.

It is a beautiful day in London. Blue sky beautiful countryside...we go into the tunnel. I turn to EJ.

"So what's the difference between this and the Chunnel?"

"Darling, the only difference between this and the Chunnel is that this IS the Chunnel."

And it hits us. Any moment we will be in Paris. We furiously begin to devour our Paris guides (Time Out, Let's Go, Eyewitness, Paris Par Arondismont) and strategize what we wanted to accomplish on our Parisian jaunt. We talk about making a list. This as we all know, is the first step towards actually making a list. And the train shoots out of the tunnel and into a dreary, grey Paris. We don't care we are so excited. Paree! Nous sommes arrivés!

Three Metro transfers later begging the whole way for my arms to be amputated, we get off the train at the Moulin Rouge and find we are staying in the red light district. Or at least the seedy part of Monmartre. We find Hotel Hippodrome, a fine 2 star on Rue Forest around the corner from Amelie's workplace in the movie, which EJ swears was recreated on a sound stage, and check in.

We go up to our room, and a large maid with thick eye makeup and a pink apron was still cleaning it. I proceeded to scare the merde out of her with a cheerful Bonjour! And she tells us to come back later. Dix minute. We quickly learned the following:

Exchange rate for time:
10 minutes US = 30 minutes FR
30 minutes US = 90 minutes FR
and so on increasing exponentially...

We leave our bags at the front desk and head out to explore the hood. EJ pales as we exit and I yell "Danke!" to the Concierge. My first experiment speaking French to a native.

*"Raquel Went to France and All She Blogged About Was Her Stinking Laundry" T-shirts will be available soon on a website near you.

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