Thursday, February 23 & Friday, February 24: Paris
Thursday before my Italian language class I was talking with the other girls in the room about their plans for the weekend. One friend, Annie, was planning to go to Switzerland through Bus2Alps, a company that plans weekend trips and spring break trips for study abroad students. She was planning to celebrate her 21st birthday that was earlier in the week, while in Switzerland. One of the other girls, Kiersten was flying to Barcelona for the weekend with her friend Celeste. After class I set up with Kiersten that we could meet and figure out transportation together to the airport. Luckily, I had already packed so after class I ran home to grab my bags to then meet them a the corner of the street they live off of. On our walk to the train station I learned that Kiersten was born in my hometown, Grand Rapids! I have been so used to telling people where I am from and no one has heard of it. Most people don't know much about Michigan at all or that we have fresh water beaches or even the shape of the state. Which, to me are pretty basic things about Michigan. Kiersten's friend Celeste actually grew up in Grand Rapids and went to Forest Hills Eastern. So, this may not seem like a big deal but to me it is. To be 4549 miles away from home in a foreign country and to meet someone from Grand Rapids here instead of actually in Grand Rapids blows my mind. Just another coincidence like the four Emmas I have met thus far. Yep. There is a fourth Emma, I met her at Pilates on Wednesday. She is from the Netherlands. When we introduced ourselves at the club she thought I was definitely Dutch like her, with the last name Hoekstra and all. I hope to chat with her more this week at Pilates.
Kiersten, Celeste, and I made it to FLR Airport eventually. After buying two different kinds of bus tickets we got a taxi and split the fare. It was nice to have other people with me. I travelled to Paris and stayed in Paris alone. After my two hour plane ride I split an Uber with my roommates friends who were also going to Paris. I made it to my Airbnb (Airbnb is a app you can use to find accommodation) which was not the nicest, most clean place i've stayed in. It was smaller then my bedroom back in Michigan with keys to a "shower" and keys to a toilet. When I got there the host and I cracked a beer and talked. He wanted me to answer his questions about the U.S. and if he should move there. As a computer scientist it was hard to find work for good pay in France. I said go for it. After a few beers he took off for a night out in Paris. He invited me to tag along and see the Eiffel Tower with him but I stayed behind because I was quite under the weather. Yes, I am sick again, with a different cold. It is the sickest I have been in a while. I think I slept a maximum of 3 hours that night. The next morning I did what I could to get ready for the day. I decided to skip the "shower" haha, it just didn't seem relaxing. The host allowed me to leave my luggage and take a key to come back later for it. So, I found a place to hide it so they next Airbnb guest would not find it.
I had purchased an international plan for outside of Italy so I could use my phone for its map. Best decision I could have made as a solo traveller. I took off towards the Eiffel tower. I got breakfast at Le Champ Mars 5 minutes from the tower. I had green tea and a wonderful sandwich near a window. It was quite peaceful and nice to recuperate after night of no sleep.
Next I went to the Eiffel tower and took everything in. Before I left I bought tickets to do a hop on hop off bus tour for the day. So then I boarded the bus. It was nice to sit and relax for how sick I was. i tried sitting on the top but then decided it wasn't worth it, I was too sick. I got off at 3 stops the first time through and the second time I stayed on the bus the whole two hours, I was cold and achy but my check in at my next Airbnb wasn't until 3. Once I got back to the Eiffel tower I hopped off and walked to get my bag. Sam the other Airbnb guest was already there but he didn't think it was too weird that I had left me stuff and on top of that hid it from him so he would steal anything. Looking back I laugh a little. Then I contacted an Uber that dropped me off at an alley we would probably call china town. It was strange. I found the address of my Airbnb and had been messaging my host all day and even days previous to get ahold of her but she never responded. So, I was homeless. Stranded. Scared. I went to a bar at the end of the alley that had a really neat atmosphere. My cousin Michael would really have enjoyed the place. The bartenders were really friendly. (In France a bar is a place you get alcohol not coffee like in Italy) The girl bartender charged my phone for me and they guy I ordered my drink from took me under his wing. He found me a hotel 2 mins away and checked up on me often. After a call to Josh almost in tears I gathered myself, had one more Moscow mule and headed to the hotel.
There the hotel concierge helped me to contact the Airbnb headquarters to makes sure I got a refund. I ended up getting a refund but I am still concerned about the host, I hope she is okay. She had good reviews on Airbnb. My hotel was double the price of my Airbnb but at this point I was just happy to be safe, have a clean bed to sleep in and a nice shower. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Best Western Aulivia Opera in Paris, I even payed for their breakfast. Glad I did.
This is a long post and I am sorry, usually I keep them short but a lot happened that I want to share.
After a warm shower I threw clothes on and didn't even bother with makeup. I needed food. The concierge recommended Chez Jeannette. There I order a meat dish that was amazing although I am not sure what kind of meat it was. I tried asking but they didn't understand or have words to tell me in English. I was told before the French people were rude or not nice to Americans but people were incredibly kind to me on my trip. I think it was because I was alone and that maybe they couldn't tell what nationality I was. At Chez Jeannette's First a man asked me in French if he could join me, I said no, and then not 3 mins later the two girls next to me asked me to join them. Of course I said yes, it was a great opportunity for many different reasons. One spoke English very well and the other knew enough but it was harder to understand each other so we went through Aurélie. To pronounce her name she said it was like saying "oh really" in English. We got to know each other and then they were so nice as to plan out my next two days in Paris on a napkin for me. I learned how to use an app called Citymapper to help me figure out the metro. I didn't plan to use the metro because it scared me. I thanked them for showing kindness to me and wish them a good night. Aurélie gave me her number if I had any questions and then I went to the hotel. I got there safe and took my meds that I found earlier in the day and went to bed!
Enjoy my pictures from the bus tour!