European Dream-Day 3-Parisian Adventure – Have you ever got lost in Paris?

[NOTE: Extremely lengthy post-HAD to make it that way so I could put everything here-read at your own risk!]

This was the day of Disneyland Paris. While the rest of the crowd got ready to go to Disney we decided to roam Paris! After reading Da Vinci Code Louvre Museum was always on my must visit list and I didnt want to miss that at all. And then we didnt want to go to Disney as we had already seen it in LA and we want to do it with Chutku. Hubby was also quite keen on going to Louvre (though not as much as me) and wanted to just ‘get the feel’ of the most romantic city in the world!So we spoke to the guy at the reception desk the previous evening, took some brouchers to the room and scanned them and prepared ourselves.

Since it would be just the 2 of us that day, hubby suggested that instead of carrying my fat handbag just for the camera/passport/money and goggles why not just use 1 sling bag (his) and be relatively free enough to roam around.

After breakfast while the others started to Disney, we waited for the hotel-airport shuttle and got in. It was 9.30am. Hubby suddenly realised that we hadnt picked up the brouchers to carry with us and so assuming he would walk to the reception desk and pick up new ones I asked him to hurry. While he was gone the driver of the bus came back and said he couldnt wait – so I had to get off while the shuttlt bus drove away. As I got back into the hotel I see husband coming out of the lift – Our first argument of the day-dumbo! he had gone all the way back up to the room to pick up those brochers, while he could’ve just grabbed them in a few seconds at the reception! Since the next shuttle was another 1/2 hr later, we decided to take a taxi and asked the reception to call for one. By the time we reached Louvre it was 10.30am and a loong serpentine queue that went way behind the central courtyard of the entrance. It was thankfully not cloudy/rainy so we took some pictures and in about an hour’s time were inside the Louvre. While Hubby went to buy tickets, I picked up the information booklet and scanned through deciding what would be must-see. We were told that it would take 2-3days to tour the Louvre-so we decided to be extremely picky in the 2hrs (until 1.30) we had. My SIL had told me to definitely check out the sculptures even if I missed a few paintings-so we headed to the sculptures section first, then on to the paintings, spent nearly 10 mins in front of Mona Lisa painting to get a good picture (Its not all that great actually,looks faded and with the amount of jostling and security you can never enjoy it.I rather enjoyed the other more intricate,more detailed,bigger canvases better than this one) and then just generally roamed the paths looking at the paintings. A couple of this to note:
1. The sculptures – Undoubtedly beautiful-all 14-15th century stuff, marble carvings-wonder how they could chisel such delicate facial features (happiness,anguish,sorrow,anger – a total art dumbo like me could make them all out by just looking at the faces),long slender fingers,nails on the stones. But, mostly nude (hence not including them in the blog). Why nude? Need to google this answer…
2. The paintings – Mostly Gory,with depictions of war and death and blood. But the ones with babies and children in them – aww so realistic too… And then again, mostly nudes or semi nudes.Im no art critic and there might have been a strong reason for such portryal but imagine men wearing elaborate head gears with swords and spears in their hands and strappy sandals at their feet showing that they were at war with their private parts exposed! hehhe.I found it quite funny and quite unable to relate…
3. The best part of the museum – the ceilings. Wow! What carvings and what paintings. I was mostly walking with my head looking up and I did bang into quite a few people!

Finally, it was 1.20 and we decided we needed to stop-there was no end to this. But there was one part in the booklet that showed Napolean’s apartments and I really wanted to see that. So, we gave ourselves another 15mins and rushed to see the apartments-and it was sooo worth it. What luxury!Wah! The color schemes in rich reds,greens,dark blues, the chandeliers,the sofa,carpets,his throne,his bed (quite small actually) – everthing is so RICH.I cant think of a better word that describes that apartments yet I feel the word is so inadequate! Taking it all in we left Louvre thinking we could do justice to only about 40% of the place and then realised that our stomach was grumbling. Walking across to Rue De Rivoli which the guide had described as the ‘middle class shopping street’ we searched for a place to eat. Saw a McD but they didnt serve vegetarian, so walked across to the StarBucks Cafe’ opposite and ordered a fruit salad,veggie wrap and a latte’ for 12 Euros! Sat there while it rained for sometime and then decided to shop for soveniers. I wanted to check if I could buy some scarves. So walking along those streets we picked up 6 scarves for 10euros-gave 1 each (red and white) to my co-sis and the little 10 year old fashionista and kept the rest for myself (selfish-yes).And also picked up an Eiffel Tower replica at the same place. It was around 3.15 at the time.Thinking we had another hour atleast (we were supposed to go to the Paradis Latin-Cabaret show and dinner that night and the whole group was to start from the hotel at 7pm), we decided to just walk along that street and then take the metro back to the hotel – assuming that the metro ride would be for an hour we would still reach the hotel by 5.45 max giving us enough time to rest and get ready by 7pm…

Walking along, we came across a shop called ‘Mod Shop’ where the lady was selling silk scarf with famous paintings – like Monet’,Da Vinci,Van Gogh.We just walked in and were lured-especially hubby who bought this dark blue,black,yellow painting of Van Gogh’s ‘An evening in Paris’. The idea is to get it framed and put it up on the wall in the living room πŸ™‚
And then we saw these miniature Parisian setting dolls made in ceramic-whole street/cafe/farmlands but when we enquired the tiniest of tiny model-say a musician/veggie cart pusher cost about 20-25 euros. With a sigh, I just left them all there and walked off towards the metro station.

Adventure 2: Getting lost: Once in the metro station,we asked at the information about how to get back to Orly airport and once he gave us the information and mentioned that it would cost us about 24euros to get back we decided to ditch the circuitous route and take a taxi instead and walked out of the Metro. We hunted for the taxi and meantime also peeked into the Touileres’ Gardens with its beautiful sculptures and fountains and little kids playing with their small boats in the water.After about 20mins of searching and not getting a taxi, we decided to get back to the Metro.The guy at the information bought the tickets for us from the kiosk (which was also in French-totally unfriendly) and told us how to get to the Orly Airport – Metropolitan station (where we were) – Chatelet-change train to Antonio-At Antonio take shuttle to Orly. We walked underground and saw trains coming from both directions.Not knowing which train to take,we saw a Chinese lady getting off from a train that had just stopped, and hubby asked her if that train went to Chatelet (God! My heartbeat is just increasing as I write this-reliving those minutes).The lady consulted a map and said-Yes this goes to Chatelet. On hearing that I hurried hubby and said “Come fast lets get in” – he was just half a step behind me while I hopped into the train. And before I could turn back-the doors had closed – him on the platform and me inside the train with nothing but my clothes on me! I totally panicked while a guy inside asked me to press some button. While I frantically began to press the button, the train picked up speed and the platform along with my husband-just got left behind. The others in the train just kept looking at me and then the the African-American guy who had asked me to press the button informed me that there was a similar button on the platform that IF hubby had pressed would’ve opened the door. Who knew?!!!! The kind man that he was, looking at me, offered help-told me that if I could give hubby’s number he would call him up.But me – I had nothing on me! And I hadnt even memorised our Matrix SIM card number – very stupidly,I told the guy “I dont know his European number”. Then the guy asked where we were going and showed me the train stations marked on the wall of the train (I frankly didnt see a thing-I was just so blank to react) and told me that he would also be getting off at Chatelet.I just told him that I would wait for my husband at Chatelet,which seemed the most logical,practical thing to do-what else could I do? I didnt even have the ticket with me to swipe and walk out of the station!! 3 stops later, I got off at Chatelet along with that guy-who told me where the exit was and asked me to wait right there-coz that would be the same place where my husband would also have to exit-the only solace I realised, was that there were no other exits from that platform…

Whew! There is a train every 2 mins and within 30seconds the platforms get empty-I am underground (how many levels, I didnt know at that time-2 apparently) on an empty platform with a shady looking beggar sitting in one corner and 2 police men doing rounds after every train leaves the station. I sat through the next 2 trains that passed by and by the time the 3rd came along I was almost sticking my face to the glass partition on the platform,praying with all my might that this train would have my husband. When he didnt come in that train either, I totally lost it-I knew that if I stayed there for another couple more trains the police would question me(they had already given me a once-over after the 2nd train left and I was still on the platform) and I would definitely be spending the night in the French lockup. Harrowing,scary and what not thoughts came to mind. When the 4th train came in, I just ran from one coupe’ to the next until the back trying to find hubby in the train and waving to him, letting him know I was in that station. And didnt find him. I turned back wondering what next – when I saw the familiar black and white jacket among the crowd of people near the exit, I just ran to him-afraid that he wouldnt find me and exit from there! Thankfully, he saw me too…and it was a very emotional re-union – never in my life have I been so relieved and happy to see this man I’ve been with for the past dozen years!! I just held onto him and tried to level out my breathing and stop my shaking legs, half crying-half laughing.We waited until the crowd emptied and then with hands held tightly together, we walked out of that platform. Whew! I shudder to think what a nightmare the evening would’ve turned out if we hadnt found each other there.

Now, you think the adventure is over- Naaahh!! We walked out of that platform, and seeing directions went further underground to take the next train to Antonio,thankfully uneventful 20mins while I regained my strength. At Antonio we were supposed to take the shuttle to Orly West Airport and so just exited out the station. We came out to bright sunshine,saw the time was 5.50pm and started searching for any board that indicated the shuttle service to the airport.Not finding any,we went into a shop and asked him – he says “Inside,station,inside” we thought he didnt understand our question in English and so asked him “Taxi”? (Thinking we can take a taxi from tehre atleast) and he says “Taxi,phone,si,si”. Total “Duh” moment-it was only then we realised that taxis were only call taxis and we couldnt just wave our hand and flag them down – THAT is why we didnt get any taxi near the metropolitan station. We then went back inside the station and asked the lady at the information,who said the ‘shuttle’ was at the next platform – which means it was another train-Another ‘duh’ moment-we kept assuming the shuttle would be a bus!! We then showed that lady the tickets who let us get into the station again without having to pay (God bless her!) and then we asked around for the Orly shuttle.This time too, another kind African-American man helped us to the right platform where the train was waiting. This time I ensured that the husband and I were holding hands again while we entered the train.We reached the Orly West Airport at 6pm and we thought we would safely reach hotel in time (all thoughts of ‘rest’ had vanished by then-we only wanted to reach the hotel on time to get ready for the Cabaret show). We asked again as to where the shuttle to the Mercure hotel would come and the lady at the airport told us to take Exit Gate G and platform 7. As we came out we saw a small tempo traveller kind of vehicle with the ‘Mercure’ board on it and immediately hopped in,relieved that we would finally reach the hotel.Little did we know that there were 2 Mercure hotels and 2 different shuttles!! The driver promptly took us to another Mercure which looked unfamiliar, we then showed him the address that we had and he only said in his little enlighs “Si,this no Mercure, sit,sit, I take” and we thought he would take us to ‘our’ Mercure.But that driver just dropped us back at the airport near another platform saying “This sit,beeg busss,”mercure,novotel,ibis” board,beeg busss,si si, sit platform” and left. We understood that we had to wait there for the right bus and sat there until 6.50 when we got a beeg bus with the board.Finally, by the time we reached the hotel it was sharp 7pm but thankfully the rest of the crowd was also getting ready…

With all that adventure behind us, we got ready in 10mins and started for the Cabaret show. By the time we got into the bus we saw that everyone else was also ready and dressed and waiting for us…We reached the venue in about 40mins and were wowed by the place. Dinner was indian – can you believe? An french cabaret where they served us roti and rice and dal! How much they do to lure the indian tourist! And most of the crowd was indian anyway.And with a free bottle of Champagne and wine! Lovely dinner until 9pm and then they cleared the tables and the show began. Lovely costumes, pretty girls and handsome men danced together – only thing was that the women were all topless. Initially it was a little discomforting, I must admit, but then they were so graceful and movements were so well orchestered that after some time, say 15mins, we just forgot that they were topless! there were jugglary acts in the middle while the settings changed,cancan dance,acrobatics which also got much applause and the whole event was for an hour and half until 11pm. Definitely an experience and definitely not in poor taste. Post that, some couples wanted to go to on a night tour of paris by paying extra, while some of us just wanted to see the Eiffel tower by night. Maybe we would’ve gone with the others if not for the day’s adventure, but we were truely exhausted and decided to get back to the hotel. We did ask if people were ready to see the eiffel tower by night but unfortunately nobody else was interested and we headed back to the hotel. Thats an experience we missed :-(. We also had an early day the next day with a wakeup call at 6am and it was past 12.45 while we packed up and slept…

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6 thoughts on “European Dream-Day 3-Parisian Adventure – Have you ever got lost in Paris?

  1. Lengthy no doubt but worth reading it. πŸ™‚ It felt I was on a journey with you. And the total duh moment at the end seemed pretty frustrating.

  2. If it’s any consolation, something similar to your missing-the-train happened to me during my trip to Switzerland.
    A bunch of us friends had gone for 4 days to visit Swiss land. We went to Interlaken, the town from where we can catch the train to the Alps, particularly Jungfrau which is the highest peak. We caught the train from Grindelwald and were on the way to Jungfrau when we were told there is a blizzard on the top and we would have to get off at mid-point. We said ok. The train stopped at the mid-way stop. There was a small restaurant, some shops and a sports equipment shop selling skis etc. We hung around there for some time, rented snow shoes and played around in the snow. By then the snow started falling harder. When it turned minus five degree Celsius, we headed into the restaurant for some hot coffee. I was the last of the lot since I went to give back my rented snowshoes. There were 2 trains leaving back for base and I walked towards one of them. What I didn’t realize that my group of friends had boarded the other train which had already started!! That train went past me and I saw the stricken faces of my friends peering at me from inside the train!! They had been screaming for me to get into the train all the while but I couldn’t hear it coz the wind was howling so hard. The look of horror that crossed my face and the terror that gripped my heart…. well… I m sure you can imagine.

    Fortunately, like in your case, there was a second train leaving in 2 mins. I managed to scramble into that just in time. (After checking that it goes to the same destination). The next stop was the base station. My friends had gotten off the earlier train and were waiting for me there. It was an emotional reunion.

    But your story is far more scary than mine!!

    Your day sounds harrowing… I can understand why you chose to just crash instead of going for another late night.

  3. I would have chosen Louvre over Disney too for the same reason you mentioned πŸ™‚

    My heartbeat stopped while reading your train story. Reunion, I had tears, well a happy one. Totally Dil Chahtha hai scene πŸ™‚

    Yeah Day3 was total roller coaster day isn’t it.

    Eiffel tower by night I am sure we can never see/do everything in one trip. There is always a next time πŸ™‚

  4. I had a similar experience in the Delhi metro! and we had International sims with us. It was a nightmare for a very-delicate me!
    And you missed one of the best things in Paris. Watching the lights is one of the mosttt romantic things especially from the near-by Trocodaro square. We saw it twice during our three nights in Paris πŸ™‚
    Nice travelogue πŸ™‚

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