8 Days L8r
It's been a hot minute. Especially leaving the story hanging on the last post. Anywho - Let's play catch up.
Recap. I was just about to depart from Southampton, U.K. on my last plane for Paris. Jetlagged, excited, and crazy freaking eager, the reality was just beginning to set in that my dream was taking off (puns are always intended). The plane takes off on mission that has been motion since I was in high school, with the destination being whatever I made of it.
Landed after an hour long flight. Make my way to border control, and I get in the wrong line 3 different times with easily a thousand people waiting to pass through. I was kindly guided by an airport associate to cut into the line for all passports, and not European Union specifically. For some reason I believed I was from the EU. Jetlag and I were starting to get to know each other very well.
I make it through no problem, and encounter my first obstacle of many. My luggage never shows up. I walk around like an idiot thinking it was placed on a different airline because I had a glimmer of hope it might have come from Milan or Budapest. I was mistaken. Report the bag, and hop on the RER(Regional trains for Paris) to head towards my AirBnB. To add to the list of things I have learned, I bought 2 tickets at 11€/ticket because I thought I'd need it for 3 weeks from then. Wrong again. I arrive at the Gare du Nord to transfer to another RER train to head to the AirBnB. I leave the area through the turnstiles and buy another ticket to the RER which makes no sense of course, but again jetlag, you bastard, thanks for rearing your ugly head again.
I finally get on the train and head towards my stop. I get off and walk, beaten, battered, bruised for 15 minutes to the residence from the AirBnB listing. I text the guy I'm staying with, and he gives me the right address, and it turns out it was 3 miles away. Damn. I gave in, and Uber'd over there as the driver blasted some gangster french rap. It was awesome. I finally arrive at the AirBnB, and the rest of the story begins.
I was let in by my host Darwin, and he guides me on a tour throughout the house. Now, I solemnly agree that my college degree is almost of no value. However, college did teach me that I can handle ratchet situations with a higher level of tolerance than most. Living with frat bros in my sophomore year has finally paid off.
To paint the picture, there are 6 people, including myself, living in this house. Three French, two Colombian, and one American. The house is three stories tall, and feels like the kids gave it a real college try in piecing it together. A lot of the pieces are thrown together without much efficiency being considered, but it does feel homey. It feels like what a traditional French house would look like, with clothes hanging out to dry on the line in the backyard.
My room is another story. It seems like an old sun room that was converted into an AirBnB room for college kids to make some extra money. There's one small light, exposed windows kind of shielded by some cloth, lovely neighbor spiders setting up shop in the corners of the ceiling, and a bed that I believe prisoners used to sleep on as a form of torture. It's an experience I wouldn't trade for the world right now. More on that in a bit.
Now the next few days fly by in a way that can be summed up in attempts at damage control, survival, anticipation of my luggage hopefully showing up, spending way too much money on unused train tickets, exploring a beautiful city, and coming to terms that I'm on this trip by myself with the support of all of those that I love back in the States.
I will probably write a separate post about how to survive in anticipation of luggage showing up, so I won't go into every detail now. However, I will share that I was so defeated that first night I had landed, as I walked this main street near my AirBnB for food hoping my French would kick in to help order some food somewhere. I was so tired I couldn't decide what I wanted to eat, and I couldn't muster up the right words for the language, so I found a McDonalds that had kiosks to help order food. On my first night in Paris, France, I ate McDonald's. I am Kyle, and I survived.
I woke up the next day wanting to give in. Give up. Go back home. As those thoughts crept in, I quickly mentally slapped myself. "I just woke up in Paris, and there's no freaking way I'm giving up now" I urged myself. "I'm going out to set the world on fire, and there isn't an obstacle I encounter that can convince me otherwise." So I set out to easily walk what felt like 15 miles around the city. I experienced so many aspects of a culture I'd only heard of in stories and seen in movies. The crazy part is, I only walked about 1/4th the city.
After getting some things together for necessities, I was able to meet some people the next day that I had met in Philly before I left. They were super cool, and they spoke in English the entire time. That was incredibly nice. Especially since I didn't ask them to do that. It was an incredible night, and I've been able to meet up with some of them again since that night.
I've visited quite a few sights already. Since I have just looked at them without touring much yet, here are the photos from my travel Insta account:
Aside from those places I have seen, I've consumed a good amount of French and Belgian beer so far. I know, I should be consuming more wine, but it's a process. Beer is an easy default for me, but that will change moving forward.
Now, as I explore more of the city and others around, I'll dive deeper into individual experiences with individual posts. This post serves as a means to catch you up on what I've been up to, and also for me to catch up with myself a bit and write some stuff down.
Stay tuned. There's only more adventure coming my way. Find your own adventure too. It's worth it.