David and I are on our third day in Paris, but getting here was already an adventure!
Our first flight left Toronto on Wednesday evening at 7:00pm for Montreal. We left to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, but unfortunately we not only missed the exit (thanks a lot Apple maps), but we got stuck in construction and the traffic simply wasn’t going anywhere.
Obviously I started to panic. I checked the clock: 30 minutes til cut off time… 10 minutes til cut off time… 5 minutes past cut off time…
I called Air Canada. They told me that, luckily, we had already checked in and therefore they would hold the gate for us as long as possible. Had we not checked in, though, we would not have been allowed to check-in at the airport! We would’ve been too late.
Thankfully, my sister-in-law Laura kept her sanity and remained, at least outwardly, calm. While I was sobbing and muttering “well, this is a good start” and David was pulling his hair and repeating “Oh shit”, she said quietly “don’t worry guys, there’s nothing we can do, it will all work out in the end.” If only I could’ve remembered (and believed!) that at the time.
But she was right!
Eventually we got out of the traffic, turned around and high-tailed it down the highway. We threw our bags out of the car at the departures gate at Pearson, screaming, laughing, quick hugs before we raced off to the baggage drop. I know we got a few stares, but I really didn’t care at this point. We managed to drop off our bags, make it through security, and get to our gate with a few minutes to spare!
But if you think that was close, we had even less time in Montreal!
We had gotten off the plane, looked at the electronic sign to indicate which gate we should go to, and walked slowly towards our gate. As David was in the washroom, I was sitting with our things and heard – “Final boarding call for flight AC870 to Paris. All passengers should now be on board.” Well, shit.
We didn’t have to panic long, though, as we were right next to our gate. David heard the announcement and rushed out of the washroom where we collected our remaining carry-on bags, surged forward to our gate, and boarded the plane. We were finally on our way to Paris!
The flight was boring and uneventful. I watched Paddington. And snoozed.
Once we got to CDG in Paris, we got our passports stamped and that was it. Easiest entrance into another country I’ve ever experienced. No questions, nothing. We had a private car waiting for us at the airport, which was a huge relief, though I couldn’t find our driver amidst all the people. I overlooked his sign and had to call the company, but we found each other eventually.
Parisians are crazy drivers. He spent most of the time looking down at his cellphone, weaving in and out of traffic, and generally driving in such a way that I became quite alarmed at times. The intersections are also kind of odd here… I’m not really sure how to describe it, I’ll have to get a video.
Our first day in Paris was pretty exhausting, and quite busy, so we didn’t end up taking any pictures. We walked around looking for a bank, a place to purchase our SIM cards and phone plans, and some food.
The last couple of days have been a little overwhelming, but also good. Everyone has been really nice and helpful. We like our apartment and its location quite a bit – it’s a 30 second walk from a grocery store and a 2 minute walk from the metro station (which connects us to virtually anywhere in Paris!).
We’ve visited a few different grocery stores (FranPrix, Carrefour), taken the metro, and explored a little to the east and west of us. We haven’t seen that much yet, really. We’ve been busy setting up internet, phone, and, well… dealing with a clogged toilet in a country where plungers are unknown.
With that said, here are 10 random things I’ve learned so far:
1) People walk around with baguettes. This morning David and I saw a man dressed in a suit with shiny black shoes, a briefcase… and a baguette.
2) Margarine is very hard to find, if not non-existent. We have had no luck finding it. Though we did find “doux beurre.”
3) Coffee = Espresso. If you want coffee as we know it in Canada it’s called “American Coffee.”
4) Most everyone is very nice and willing to help. People have offered that we go ahead of them at the grocery store, offered to help us find our way in the metro station, and helped us correct our French phrasing!
5) Eggs are not refrigerated.
6) Frosted Flakes are known as “Frosties.”
7) There is peanut butter here, but it’s in the tiniest jar you can imagine.
8) In contrast, Nutella comes in the biggest jars I’ve ever seen. They look like jars restaurants might purchase.
9) Yoghurt often comes in glass jars.
10) Doorknobs are in the center of the door, not on the side. Reminds me of Hobbiton!
In the next few days I’m sure we’ll do a lot more exploring, but in the meantime, here are a few pictures from the last few days.
David and I are going to visit David’s supervisor, who is also in Paris at the moment, for dinner tomorrow night. We’re also going to visit the library in which David will be doing his research on Monday. Busy days!