After our last visit to Paris in 2015, Ron and I knew that we needed to return. We just had no idea it would be so soon. When my supervisor let me know that roundtrip tickets to Europe hit an incredible low back in November, I quickly opted to take a break and book tickets. (She did the same thing.)
I was so excited I started my planning right away, even though the trip was in 7 months. Those months flew by and before I knew it Ron and I had our bags packed and were at the Portland airport. We couldn’t believe it when we got to the airport and there was hardly anyone traveling that morning. We breezed through security and I was very excited, this was on omen for a great trip. Notice no lines in the lines to the left and really the only people you see are security. Pretty smooth Portland!
We also departed on our journey on May 4th. So I had to wear comfortable travel clothes that were appropriate for the day — May the Fourth be with you!
We got situated on the plane to Seattle. At SEA we transferred to our big plane that would take us all the way to CDG. Now, last time we flew we were stuck in the back of the plane right next to the bathrooms – both legs. Ugh. It was misery for us both. This time we got near the front of the plane, yes!, but also were in the center two seats, which had seats right next to each side of them so we were bundled in without much space. Ron seemed fine, but I had a little man sitting next to me who apparently liked to take up his space plus some. So I found myself making my shoulders tighter and tighter during the flight as he had elbow creep. He was lucky I was going to Paris and not coming from Paris. I was excited about my upcoming journey and nice. On the way back I was exhausted and would have stuck my elbow in his eye.
I don’t know about you, but Ron and I find the food service on international flights to be EXTREMELY generous. Like too much. So many service runs. That is very nice, but when Ron thinks it is too much, you know it is a lot. Also, we didn’t figure out until the flight home that alcohol was free on these flights. Can’t wait until our next international flight, it is going to be fun!
Although our intention was to sleep on the way to Paris we didn’t. We opted to watch movies. They were also free. So we got caught up on some new releases.
When we got off the plane in Paris we were flabbergasted by the line through passport control. What in the holy fuck?! The line zig-zagged through the sectioned off lines, but then made squirrelly lines through the terminal. I mean, THROUGH THE TERMINAL! We queued up, but it was slow. Then more flights started coming in. And more. Pretty soon it was chaos. Lines started forming in all directions like an octopus on an acid trip. Also, no rhyme or reason as to the movement of the lines. Of course, in true Nalley style, our line was the slowest moving. In fact, by the time we were about 15 minutes from getting our passports stamped, all the lines around us were gone. This included flights that had just arrived. We had been waiting THREE HOURS to go through passport control.
I would like to tell CDG security that you will really have to improve these processes before 2024 when you host the Olympics or it is going to be an international incident. Also — I would like to give you the bird for the bullshit waiting time that we had to endure when many other passengers didn’t have to wait a fraction of the time we (or others in our line) did. And no, our line wasn’t for Americans and the other lines were for Europeans, thanks for thinking that. It was just a giant cluster fuck.
From the airport all things were pretty good. Except my credit cards were not accepted in the train ticket dispenser. (Didn’t have a problem basically catching the cards on fire through the rest of Paris however.) Luckily I had Euro in my pocket and paid another traveler the cash to buy the tickets for Ron and I to get to our destination in Paris.
We took the RER into the city, transferred to the Metro that took us right next to our apartment for the week. We climbed the five flights of stairs like the exhausted travelers that we were, met our designated key holder at the apartment, exchanged pleasantries and promptly took a nap.
After a couple of hours we awoke, showered and then started to explore our neighborhood.
It was amazing!!
We were in the Saint Denis neighborhood. This is the arch that signifies your entrance into the neighborhood.
There is another one just like it a couple of streets over for Saint Martin. They are pretty dang impressive aren’t they?
We decided to eat at a little Syrian joint recommended by my friend, Frances, who also said it was a recommend of Anthony Bourdain. It was good and cheap (13 Euro total). Starting the eating off right in France!
Then we went to a hipster cocktail bar called Le Syndicat. Ron loved the ambiance here for sure. The drinks were great, but they cost as much as our total dinner did (13 Euro each.) So we just had one drink each and enjoyed the Eminem they were spinning inside. We people watched and just really ourselves while decompressing from our day of travel.
After drinks we walked around to get our bearings. There is A LOT of tagging, aka street art, all over Paris. I took quite a few pictures of street art. But the one I am sharing in this entry is the first tiled street art piece I came across that night. Ron and I would see these works all over Paris during our trip and we finally found out what they were. Here is the art I saw that night:
This is the artist commonly referred to as INVADER. If you can successfully get the entire tiled art off the wall, it has a very high resale value in the art market. Like six figures. Ron and I joked that next time we come to Paris we will pack the Sawzall, and I will bring a gallon of UN-DU. Then we can fund our trip. 🙂
On Day 2, we get right into the thick of being casual tourists as we explore the musical gardens of Versailles. So stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to learn more of our Paris explorations.