... And Far Away

…And Far Away.

I boarded the plane to Paris with both earbuds placed firmly in my ear, loud music pumping from my iPod drowning out the sea of French conversation around me. As I searched for a suitable track to listen to, the line in front of me was shortening and I was arriving closer to my assigned place in the plane. I stopped searching when I came to a Led Zeppelin song that became one of the anthem’s for my trip. (The other one being Windowsill by Arcade Fire). If you havn’t figured out the name of the Led Zeppelin song look at the title of this blog post after looking at the title of the last one. You can imagine me listening to it while I stared out the window at this view.

Brussels to Paris by plane is a short flight so I was landing at my final destination before I knew it. I had been warned before I got to Charles De Gaulle international that the airport was something like an artists imagination of a moon base space station from the Seventies. I’d have to agree with that assessment.
Note the creepy white staccato with the trio of lights overhead like a UFO getting ready to beam up the unlucky ones under it. And check out the long escalator rides through curved glass tubes that take you to the baggage claim area.
Once I got to the baggage claim area I realized I might have some time to kill, so I set up my nifty new ‘anywhere’ tripod and filmed myself juggling, well, mostly just dropping bags on the ground.

The baggage carousel finally started running so I packed up my stuff and waited till my High Sierra Compass bag made its way round to me. I grabbed it, zipped on the day pack that I had used as a carry on and made my way towards the exit.

When I got to customs the guard stood pistol in holster watching a confrontation outside the door. I wasn’t sure if this is where I exited. I thought perhaps I would have to have my passport stamped again and go through the questions I went through when I got to Brussels (Business or Pleasure?). Not so though, I asked the guard if I needed to declare anything and he replied with a thick French accent “Zat Depends, do you have anything to declare?” I said “No” and he said “Zen you are free to go.”

The confrontation was between several police officers and some Afrikan-French and I couldn’t quite understand what was going on but there was some shoving and lots of yelling and soon the riot police were there. I was busy trying to find my way out of the airport and kept wondering back and forth trying to find the train platform.

I realized I had bigger problems when I didn’t know the number or address for the hotel I was staying at. I got outside the airport and was going to try to walk to the hotel as I knew it was little more than a mile away. I found myself in an odd world populated with glass pyramids and smoking businesspeople.
I finally made withdrew sixty Euro from an ATM and used a small internet kiosk to find my way to my hotel. Then I went down to the train platform after buying toothpaste and paid the ludicrous €3,50 train ride to go one stop. I later found out that the Eurail  Global pass I had spent $1600 on had a bonus of a free ride from CDG to any stop in Paris. Oops.

Once I got to my stop I got off and looked around. The hotel was nowhere in sight, but after wondering the streets for a half hour I finally found my way to the Premiere Classe Hotel.
I got into my room and dumped my heavy bags and tore off my sweaty shirt. I plopped down on the bed for a minute and made myself at home before shooting this video.

I was relieved to have found my home, and after being up for around 30 hours straight I was considering sleep, but a rumbling in my stomach told me I’d have to go find food. I had noted a couple Dining spots close by and made my way to the first one only to find to my dismay that it was closed a short time before. I was saddened. I found that everything was closed after 4 and I had just missed all my food options.

I returned to the train station and found a man eating a sandwhich and asked where he got it. He told me it was from far away and that my only option close by was MCDONALDS. I was pissed. I didn’t fly half way around the world to eat American fast food. Especially for my first meal in France.

I wondered around the industrial complex stomach rumbling trying to figure out what to do. I went in circles and at one point even considered just trying to make a snack from the vending machine into my meal and then try to quell the hunger by passing out, but I knew this wouldn’t suffice and continued on my quest.

I asked more people for food and finally was actually considering getting McDonalds after I had more people tell me it was my only option, a nice man on a bus pointed me in the right direction (Everyone else’s English wasn’t efficient enough to make it clear where I needed to go). As I approached the Golden Arches my salvation loomed up on my left side.
Granted I was trading one American fast food spot for another but at that point I didn’t care as long as it wasn’t Mickey D’s. I went in, was taken aback by the steep prices (My small combo meal ran about $10), but ordered something and ate it gratefully.

I finished up and wondered around a little strip mall near by noting the difference between it and ours (the food court served beer for instance).

The sun was starting to go down and I knew I had to make my way back to the hotel. I started the twenty minute journey but along the way noted a spot that I thought would be excellent for a little night juggling.

I was pretty fascinated with filming myself juggling everywhere at first so it’s no small wonder that I filmed more juggling films in my first day in Paris than I did for the next 3 weeks.
I returned to the hotel after spending about a half hour playing with my new toys (lighted juggling props). I decided to treat myself to a few beers at the bar and sat down and enjoyed a couple Heinekens. I was desperate for some conversation so I started talking to anyone I heard speaking English. 

I ended up talking with a Canadian representative of Habitat for Humanity for twenty minutes or so before she rejoined her group. I finally retired to my tiny room and crashed into bed. I was excited for the next day and had my alarm set to give myself ample time before check out. I had my directions to the hostel for the next day already saved on my computer so with those thoughts in mind I settled into a peaceful ten hour sleep that left me rested and ready for the next day’s events.

Peace & Love...


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