Departed JFK Thursday night, July 30, arrived in Paris Friday morning, July 31.
It was a particularly brutal redeye for me. I’d woke up early and scrubbed, scoured and laundered my apartment from top to bottom so it would be ready for my apartment-swap guests. Then there was a torrential downpour while we were driving to their airport, which obviously slowed traffic and was a little worrisome. Finally, before I could go in to the airport, I had to say goodbye to someone I’m not going to see again for awhile, so that’s not the nicest way to start a vacation.
It took about 90 minutes to wind my way through international departures security and to the gate (I didn’t even know there was a tarmac tram until that day!). I’d allowed for 2 hours, so I was just a little on edge. Of course as it turns out, there was no hurry needed, because due to the aforementioned downpour, our plane was delayed over an hour, to around 9pm.
Boarding proceeded late but without incident and the flight itself was uneventful. However, it had been an exhausting and difficult day and I was very tired, but absolutely could not rest. I was dyyyying for sleep but suffering shooting back and hip pain no matter how I turned, trapped in my window seat for hours as Mom snoozed. I’ve rarely been so miserable. Maybe slept one hour of the seven. Finally could get out of the seat and took a long stretching and yoga break (which helped immensely but it ain’t sleep). I have never enjoyed yoga poses so much. Yes, for real, I was the white chick in down-dog, low lunge and dancer in the little walled corridor at the center of the plane, and also in seated twist poses in a corner of the bulkhead near some sleeping dudes. I did this for almost an hour and it kept me sane and out of pain. It was absolutely required and honey badger yuppie yogi don’t care.
Arrived around 10am local time. Very complicated movement through Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, with its huge campus of buildings and people movers. Plus, Mom’s luggage was remarkably uncooperative, slowing her down even more than usual. I understood we were officially on “vacation with Mom” pace, not “Amy solo adventuring” pace, but it took us more than 2 hours to get from the arrival gate to the bus station (which is actually attached to the airport), and I think that’s saying something.
We stopped at an ATM for euros for the bus, also hoping to get something substantial to eat before the long ride into the city. Unfortunately – and neither of us even know how this happened — the bus map and 50E note I had clutched in my hand simply vanished into thin air as we were checking out breakfast options. Losing 50E sucks anytime but on an empty stomach, one hour’s sleep, and before coffee? Unspeakable. However, I recognized that I simply didn’t have the mental or physical resources to get angry, so I considered it an offering to the vacation gods and hoped that would be the worst thing to happen to me during all my time in France. (It was, thankfully, and cash is just cash.)
The 351 public bus was a good find in my pre-trip research – most resources tried to point us to a combination of trains, but a single bus ride that takes us directly from the airport to a terminus that is also our actual destination? For under 5E? Yessss. I don’t care if it does take an extra 30 minutes. (This decision was affirmed 100+% as we got to know the Metro system with its many, many stairs and rather complicated entrances/exits. It would have been a hassle for me alone, but with Mom? Noooooo. We had no hesitation to do the same for the trip back to CDG, when we both had even more baggage to carry.)
We arrived at Place de Nation barely awake (yeah, I snoozed on the bus, no choice) and obviously disoriented, but got to our accommodations without incident.
We chose to take it easy the first couple days, just feeling things out a little, arranging our space, figuring out where we were relative to transit options, and timezone-adjusting.
That first day our primary objective was just to stay awake as best we could until after 11, trying to force the time shift as much as possible.
We idly walked several blocks around the main boulevard just to see what was available locally. We wound up taking our dinner at the very nice restaurant/wine bar directly outside the apartment building’s front door. This was where we committed the gauche-est faux pas of the week. The servers here spoke limited but relevant English. After we were seated, I asked for the carte (menu). When the server indicated it was the poster-sized sign near a table nearby, I just thought, “oh, ok, we should go look” and told Mom to get up and take a gander. Then the server pointed out that we were blocking the view of the diners at the table — for whom the carte was specifically position. At no point did he encourage us to return to our seats, that he would bring the carte to us, so we were just being suuuper awkward. I only figured it out as table after table was seated, carte was picked up and brought over, and orders made.
Doh! Let’s blame it on the jetlag, shall we?
And that was our first Friday.