Avoir, EasyJet! Paris, Day 12
It was the morning of our 8th day in Italy that inevitable occurred. I woke up in a desperation for caffeine, but the idea of another cappuccino was just too much to handle. I wanted a plain cup of black coffee, a luxury that doesn't exist in Italy. Seriously... our hotel had a Nespresso machine and no coffee. Ciao, Felicia.
For us, this timing was impeccable, as we had a flight to PARIS today. I feel like such a diva saying this because that's not me at all. "Oh here I am flying from Rome to Paris.." Goodbye. Who am I? The beautiful thing about Europe is the fact that you can fly somewhere 14 hours away by train for like $70 or less. This is unreal in the U.S, hence why we decided to fly and embrace our I'm so fancy not Iggy Azalea moment.
I had researched the best way to get to the airport and discovered that it would be cheapest and most reliable to just split a $30 cab to the airport. On Monday when we were in Cinque Terre, I happened to check my email and to my surprise our plans for our flight changed. There had been a fire at Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Rome and our flight had been moved to fly out of Fiumecello Airport instead since one of the terminals was still being repaired. Definitely a good thing that my OCD email obsession doesn't go away, even when we're out of the country.
After haggling with local vendors for Italian leatherwear (aka purses galore) we flagged down our taxi and were off to the airport. TripAdvisor had informed me that Fiumecello was for more local flights and not usually international flights and with our experiences with Italian transportation and scheduling, we decided it was best to get to the airport 2.5 hours in advance. On the ride over, Margaret made the mistake of telling the cab driver that she had a Mini Cooper Countryman, which resulted in him pointing at every single Mini Cooper and shouting "MEENEE COOOOPERRR!!!" We just smiled and nodded every time this occurred over the course of the next half hour. And let me tell you, there are a lot of Mini Coopers in Rome.
After the Mini Cooper parade, we arrived at 12:45 for our 3:15 flight and figured we would be good to go. The airport was packed with the overcrowding due to the fire at Da Vinci, so we immediately got in line to check in and get our boarding passes.
Unfortunately, after a solid hour and a half of waiting in line, we had moved mere inches and were not doing so well regarding the making our flight situation. We finally were able to check in 25 minutes later and were able to make friends with the employee checking us in and use our broken Italian to convince him to let us check our bags fo' free.
With our boarding passes in hand, we sprinted through security - which was surprisingly brief- grabbed a slice of pizza as our final farewell to Italia and made it to our gate. We came to a sudden halt upon the realization that there were three flights to leave from our gate all within 5 minutes of each other.
Oh Italy. Because that makes sense.
50 minutes of mass chaos (that I found oddly entertaining) later, we had at last boarded our flight and were scheduled to fly to Paris. 10 seconds after take off, I look over and Margaret has passed out and is asleep, right on schedule. I used the time to read my book and take pictures of the Swiss Alps, that were casually in view outside my window. When I want light reading with an entertaining story line without sacrificing quality writing style, I really enjoy Australian author Liane Moriarty. I first read The Husband's Secret because it sounded decent, had surprisingly good reviews, and was only $3.99 on my Kindle a few years ago and have enjoyed her other books since, my favorite of which has been Big Little Lies.
Margaret woke up at the plane's landing and proceeded to proclaim "Avoir, EasyJet!" as we exited the plane. We both realized her lingual mistake at the same time and burst out laughing, which was a promise of good times to come in France. Avoir does not equal Au Revoir.
Both Margaret and I took French in High School and Margaret continued into college level French, which set us up for success in France. Nothing could be worse than us butchering German in both Germany and Austria.
Our first tears were shed at the sight of a Starbucks, mere feet after debarking the EasyJet. Such a sweet sight, but we decided to wait until we were had arrived in Paris before stopping for coffee. Navigating the Paris Metro from Orly Airport into the city, but was easy to figure out once we found the train to the nearest Metro Station form the airport.
3 trains, 2 metro station train changes, and 1 vending machine Kinder bar later, we arrived at the Le Peletier stop and walked up the ominous, urine smelling stairs into Paris.
We marveled for a few minutes about how beautiful and more familiar Paris seemed than Rome. Perhaps it was the familiarity of the language, the cool weather, and the cleanliness of the city, but Paris seemed much more comfortable and home life than our previous destination. Arriving in daytime hours helps too.
We walked in circles for a few minutes until finally reaching our destination: Hotel Axel Opera. Say this in a French accent for hours of unrivaled entertainment. Located near the Opera district, hence the name, Hotel Axel Opera proved to be a clean, comfortable hotel at first glance as we checked in and got our keys. The concierge pointed us down the hall to the elevator, which would take us to the 6th floor to our room. The elevator, if you can even call it that, resembles a 2X1 foot space that Margaret and I insisted on squeezing into with our two bags each.
Frugal Travel Guy posted this perfect description of the famed elevator:
"One thing I must mention about this hotel is the elevator. It is just too funny.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Three people is not so bad. Well, honestly, I don’t know where you can find three people that would be able to squeeze into that elevator. Maybe three very small people, or anorexic people or two adults and a kid, but seriously three is an overstatement. Two people who don’t want to grind against one another will fill up that elevator to its full capacity. Not that the elevator inconvenienced me too much—it didn’t—but I thought it was a very interesting quirk."
When the elevator door at last closed and we began to ascend, I pictured a large French man in the basement of Axel Opera manually lifting the elevator into the air with a elementary pulley system. It also reminded me of the elevator in the Nancy Drew game Treasure in the Royal Tower that you have to climb out of, when you suddenly get stuck in the elevator unable to get help.
Have I lost you yet?
From here, we vowed to always take the stairs six flights down and save the elevator ride that resembled Ms. Trunchbill's Pokey for when it was essential. After putting our bags in our surprisingly nice room, we both confessed that we were oddly craving asian food. Was it a sin to eat stir fry on our first night in Paris? Or perhaps we would blend in as locals who were tired of the French cuisine.
Regardless, we decided to follow our hearts (or stomachs) and proceed to a nearby restaurant called W for Wok. Good start, good start. W for Wok was both w for wonderful and w for weird. It reminded me of the French version of Tin Drum: You're super excited when you order because you're starving and craving sesame chicken. You take your first bite and it's absolutely delicious. The second and third are the same way, but by the time you're halfway through your meal you're suddenly filled with regret and desire for real Chinese or Japanese food or maybe just a salad or something healthy. However, I'm not going to lie, I really enjoyed W for Wok, despite its semi American Chinese food demeanor because if you're hungry enough it really doesn't matter.
As the night went on, it grew closer to being time for Margaret to ring in her 22nd birthday. We had hopes of meeting Taylor Swift, but this didn't seem likely, so we settled for this random bar that would suffice. Moments later we were immediately approached by a random guy who said something to us in French. He looked extremely confused when we didn't respond and apologized profusely upon realizing that we were Americans with skills equivalent of High School French.
However, my confusion was not due to the language barrier in the slightest. Oh no, my confusion was combined with extreme entertainment because our new friend looked exactly like Danny Zuko from Grease combined with a stereotypical French mime. I noticed this immediately and did my best to be polite and chat with our new friend, while avoiding laughter at this realization.
Danny (whose real name I never learned) informed us that he was there for a birthday, to which we told him that we were mere moments away from Margaret's birthday. Danny then introduced us to his friend/ girlfriend / acquaintance / ex girlfriend/ Margaret's birthday twin, Mary.
Mary and Danny were very odd and their exact relationship was never clear and remained a topic of our speculation. However, they were very kind and the perfect two Parisians for us to meet on our first night, as they met every single stereotype imaginable. Before we left to go back to the hotel, we spotted them dancing to a pop song, as though they were in Dirty Dancing, which reinforced the fact that it was definitely time to go to sleep.