After traveling from Richmond, to JFK in NewYork, to a Best Western, to a Starbucks for coffee and a delicious sandwich, back to JFK, and then to Boston, I finally ended up in Paris. I was there for a training tour run by the company that organized my student trip to Europe this summer, and I found that most of the other EF travelers had also struggled with the East Coast thunderstorms. Five other travelers arrived at the same time I did, and apparently only 5 of the 40 people that were to be in Paris this weekend arrived on time. But I finally made it, and even the worst passport photo in the world didn’t prevent me from getting into France.
Taken during my brief Oompa Loompa stage.
After a quick stop to drop off our baggage at the hotel and then to eat lunch, we jumped straight into a tour of Versailles.
Versailles was much less crowded than when I was there last summer
, so I didn’t get cut off from the group and have to use the audio from the tour guide as sonar.
Ah, the homes of the rich and egomaniacal.
The gardens were amazing, even though most of the flowers still weren’t in bloom.
After Versailles, we headed into Paris. At that point, the rain, which the deceitful Weather.com misled us into believing would be sporadic if it rained at all, really picked up. And did I mention it was a bit windy? Even though I had an umbrella, I stopped in a local shop with some of the other tourers to escape the sideways rain, where I found the perfect item to represent my feelings for JFK airport:
Those of you who hate equality will be happy to know that a predatory free market is alive and well in Paris. During the rain, dollar ponchos were going for 7 Euros (almost 10 bucks). After witnessing this example of the invisible hand improving the welfare of all people, a few travelers and I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral (where enterprising street vendors demonstrated the impact of a spike in demand on umbrella prices). The Vespers service was going on, which created an awkward situation where people trying to worship have to put up with people photographing them worshiping. They must be used to it, though, because the people leaning over the worshipers with their iPads to get that perfect iPad pic didn’t seem to phase them.
See how I only photographed the Cathedral and not the worshipers? Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you, Christians.
By the time we finished not photographing people praying, it was sunny outside.
Great. Now what do I do with this 7 euro umbrella?!
The people I was touring with had arrived late as well, and by 6pm Paris time we were dragging a little bit and getting hungry. We hit the jackpot when we found the miracle that is CHOCOLATE GELATO MIXED WITH COFFEE! There were espresso beans in the coffee, and the combination of sugar and frozen coffee beans was not only delicious, it also helped me temporarily overcome the fact that I “slept” about two hours on a plane.
Hey, you got your coffee in my ice cream! They go great together!
The gelato was significantly better than one of the things that I tried for dinner – duck. Although the waiter insisted that it was cooked sufficiently, it was definitely on the rare side. However, I’m not dead from eating it, so chewing and chewing and chewing on semi-cooked fowl hasn’t done any permanent damage. Yet. If it hits me on the plane, everyone will have a new reason for not being able to sleep.
That night, when we returned to the hotel, I picked up my room key and headed to the room. All of the travelers on the tour have a roommate, and, while I had not yet met my roommate, I noticed my roommate’s suitcase when I came in. Due to the fact that JFK had sucked the life out of me even worse than a trip to Walmart would, I had returned to the hotel a bit earlier than everyone else, and most people were still in the city. Since my suitcase had been rained I during my airport odyssey, I took out all of the clothes to hang up the clothes that were still a little damp. After that, I went to brush my teeth and noticed something odd; my roommate had a floral print toiletries bag. The bag was clear, and I saw a makeup brush and tampons. I’m like a detective and stuff.
Even my sleep-deprived brain was able to deduce from this evidence that a mistake had been made with my accommodations:
- As a male, I was supposed to be rooming with a male
- Most males do not wear tampons
- The other person staying in the room was probably not male
That knowledge enabled me to go to the hotel desk and get a key to the correct room before some kind of Three’s Company type of hilarity could ensue.