I knew there was a transportation strike before I arrived in Paris. Aimee, Jennifer, and Kylie Mac had informed me of it during our back-and-forth messages to arrange a meeting place and time. If worse came to worst, I thought, I could take a cab from the airport.
I checked online, saw that the RER B, the suburban train that runs to and from the airport, was still running, with limited trains. But first, I decided to try the Air France bus that runs between the airport and the Gare de Montparnasse, which, conveniently was kind of where I needed to be.*
*I was leaving Paris the next day from the Gare de Montparnasse.
The flight from Atlanta arrived in Paris late, and my luggage was among the last off the plane. I walked into the airport hall, withdrew some cash, and went toward where the bus usually is. No bus, just hundreds of people in line at the taxi stand.
So I walked from Terminal 2E to the train station. It's not too far. The moving sidewalks help one speed along. I had to laugh at the moron who pushed a luggage cart onto the rolling metal. (One time, same airport, I watched as the wheels of a luggage cart got stuck on the way off the moving sidewalk. The logjam was impressive. Like the proverbial train wreck.) I scooted around the sidewalk and kept going.
Once I reached the train station (I was still in the airport, mind you), I got in line to buy a ticket for the RER. There were no sales windows open, but stations are full of machines where you can buy any number of kinds of tickets.
I stopped at a cafe for a jambon-beurre and to regroup, then made my way to Quai 11 for the RER B. An electronic sign informed me that the RER was running only as far as certain banlieues, and would not go further south. And because there was no way I was going to take the RER only to have to disembark at La Courneuve, I headed for the nearest taxi stand.
Fortunately, there weren't hundreds of people waiting.
Fifty euros later, I was at my hotel.
I went to check in and realized I'd left the printout of my reservation in the cab. And not just my hotel reservation, no; I'd left a wad of paper with important numbers and codes for the train and the car rental.
The hotel staff kindly let me check in anyway (not that they wouldn't have; I'd already paid for the room.) Then they apologized that the electricity was cut off, and the elevator wasn't working, all due to a fire alarm the previous day.
My room was on the 6th floor.
If you've been to Europe, you know that means it was really on the 7th floor. Granted, I had help, but I still schlepped my suitcase up seven flights of stairs. My room was cute, with a nice little eave or gable, and I was lucky that there was still some hot water.
There was, however, no air conditioning, because of the aforementioned panne d'électricité. After my shower, I sweated while I pondered how best to meet up with Kylie Mac. (Aimee and Jen couldn't make it to our rendezvous because of the strike and other mitigating circumstances.) I didn't know which metro lines were running, or how often. Being as tired as I was, I was having trouble wrapping my brain around what to do next.
Fatigue + humidity + sweatiness = brain fog.
Oh, did I mention? After months of chill, if I'm to believe my Parisian friends on Facebook, summer had arrived. It was HOT.
I'm going to cut this short. I wrote the above on the train from Paris to La Rochelle. I haven't really had time to write since I got here, and I think I'm out of whatever it takes to make a blog entry interesting.
I'll save the good stuff for another entry.