Although it has only been three months, I must admit that my time spent in Paris seems like it was ages ago. It is hard to believe that just three short months ago, I was roaming the streets of another country. It is interesting how even with all the anticipation of going on such a grand adventure, once it is over, life sort of has a way of pulling us right back into the same old routines and soon the magical wonder of it all is quickly forgotten.
One of my fondest memories of the trip was my first full day in Paris. I arrived on Sunday and did not have to start work in the office until Tuesday. That gave me all day Monday to explore. I know myself well enough to know that there was a high probability that once I arrived and I had to struggle with the language barrier, that I could quickly become a hotel recluse and spend the majority of my time locked up in the safety and comfort of my hotel room. In order to make sure that I forced myself out and about I decided even before I left that I was going to book myself on a tour for my free day. This would require that I had to leave my hotel room (if I actually paid for something, I would be much less likely to try and talk myself out of going). Needless to say, I was right. When I arrived on Sunday, I took a walk and already was having some anxiety trying to figure out how to get food or find my way around. To make matters worse, my phone was not working properly, so I did not have GPS. I ended up relying on printed directions that I just happen to bring with me (good thing I have major OCD when it comes to planning and organizing and had everything printed and neatly organized in a binder).
With all that said, I did manage to force myself out on that lovely Monday morning. I did not appear to be suffering from jetlag which was a bit of a surprise. My body seemed to adapt rather well to the change.
My first major hurtle was to make my way onto the RER with a transfer to the METRO. It went relatively well, but not without some hitches. I ended up buying the wrong tickets, and as luck has it, I bought a 10 pack of tickets. So now I had 10 wrong tickets that were not usable for the locations I would be traveling. Trying to communicate with the RER employee to have them explain to me why my tickets were not working was comical. However, through some broken English on their part (which I was INCREDIBLY greatly for), we managed to figure it out… basically I messed up. I ended up going back to the ticket machine and purchasing a Visite pass which would allow me to travel and transfer among the RER and METRO for a full day. WONDERFUL option and one I would highly recommend to anyone that will be using the RER/METRO during a stay in Paris. They have 1, 2, 3, or 5 day passes. Well worth the money to eliminate a lot of the stress of constantly buying more tickets. Due to my direction print outs, I had handy the RER/METRO schedules and when and where I was supposed to transfer. Transferring (at least for this one trip) was much easier than I anticipated. More stories on transferring around the METRO that were not as successful will come later on in my trip.
I finally arrived in Saint-Germain. This is where I would start the wonderful journey on my WALKING PASTRY AND CHOCOLATE TOUR. The tour way exceeding my expectations. The tour ended up being just myself and another couple, so we had some personalized service from our lovely tour guide. We visit several patisserie, boulangeries and saving the best for last… ate a lot of CHOCOLATE!
Remember, this was my first official day in Paris, so you can imagine I was instantly sucked into the joy of food after going on this tour. After just a few stops on the tour, I decided I wanted every pastry and every type of bread I could get my hands on in Paris. Although this tour forced me out of my comfort zone and required me to do a lot of things I would normally be apprehensive to try on my own, it also ended up being the starting point to my 15 pound weight gain that would slowly occur over the next four weeks.
On the tour, we walked some beautiful streets of Paris and stopped into about 6-7 shops to sample a variety of pastries, breads and chocolates. I tried my first world famous Paris macaroon and had the most amazing pastry with this cream inside that was the most incredible thing I believe I ate during my whole stay. The only thing I had a hard time with was our very last stop where we were going to get “hot chocolate”. This was definitely not an American hot chocolate. It was basically like drinking melted chocolate. I could only drink less than half of it and had to throw in the towel. It was delicious, but just a little to rich for me, especially after having all of those other treats on the tour.
Here are some fun pictures of the tour and some of the places we stopped.
So that was my official day 1 in Paris. So far at this point in time, I am still feeling pretty good and confident. I did get lost trying to find METRO to get back to the RER and back to my hotel. I had no GPS and spoke no French to ask anyone for help. There was a short panic moment, but I managed to keep myself together enough to remember I saw a sign near one of the METRO stations (not the line I wanted, but another one) that had free WiFi. I managed to get on google maps and screen shot the walking directions to get me to the METRO station I needed. What should have been a 30 minute ordeal ended up taking me 2 hours. Just the mere fact that I remand calm gave me hope that I could manage the next four weeks just fine. Whether I actually managed “just fine” is definitely debatable. More on that to follow…….