Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forget Paris? Paris Forgot Us!

I would like to assume that my visits are widely celebrated by the native citizens of each foreign land that I grace with my presence, but sadly I discovered that this is not always the case. Overconfidence was oozing from my very being as I boarded a plane in Istanbul bound for Paris with my boarding pass in hand, a confirmed reservation booked with a respected airport transport company, and the knowledge that Mariana and I would finally be staying with family. I was even excited to finally have an opportunity to use the 4 years of French that I had taken in high school. One smooth flight later, Mariana and I quickly grabbed our bags, darted through French immigration with ease, and proceeded to our pick up point where our convenient shuttle was no doubt waiting eagerly for our arrival. Then the unfortunate reality of international travel kicked in. Instead of being greeted by our friendly driver, who I imagined would be named something like Jacques, we were greeted by a hoard of chain smoking Parisians that seemed to gravitate to us as we stood outside in the freezing cold. Four angry phone calls in Franglish and one refund of my money later, Mariana and I found ourselves in the back seat of a van heading to the city center to meet her cousin. Yet not even the three hours that I spent in the cold or the awkwardly quiet driver slash euro-techno DJ could push down my excitement of catching up with Mariana’s cousin over a glass of French red wine. Hillary (Mariana’s cousin) had claimed that she lived in a location that could only be described as “EPIC”, but seeing as she is nearly 24 years old and Paris is really expensive, I clearly had my doubts. To my surprise, our driver dropped us off in front of an incredible building that was directly in the city center and within walking distance to every major Parisian landmark. The location, was for lack of a better word, truly “EPIC”. My excitement swelled up inside me once again, at least until I realized that we needed a code to get into the building that Hillary had neglected to inform us about. Without the use of a cell phone or the mental capacity to crack 6 digit codes quickly, I opted to yell out Hillary’s name and see if she answered. Nothing. Mariana and I then opted to ask for help using hand gestures and broken French. Nothing. Twenty minutes later, Mariana took some initiative and began hitting all of the call buttons located outside of the building (none of which had anyone’s name that we recognized) and low and behold Hillary answered on only her second try. Apparently Hillary had thought that we were coming on the following day, so our adventure from the airport could have been much worse had she not been home. Two bottles of deliciously cheap French red wine later all was forgotten and we were happy to finally be in Paris with family. I will chalk this experience up to the Cosmos giving me another not-so-friendly reminder that the World does not in fact revolve around me.

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