From the airport to the house

Edited on June 11, 2011. A rainy Saturday.

I know it sounds really long winded, describing each step I take. It’s just that I haven’t figured out what sort of voice is best for these sort of writing.


We then had to queue at the immigration checkpoint. The EU-ians had a fast queue while we foreign people queue at the slow one.

I waited for my luggae and there it was. I decided that my gray coat was too bulky so took my things to a corner to stuff it in.

After packing my heavy coat into my luggage, I stepped out of the luggage collection area. On the way out was a drug sniffing black beautiful large canine and its guard.

Outside, the space was quite small. A long corridor stretched to the left. I went to look for transport into the city,

I passed a booth selling SIM cards. Eager to contact my mother and not wanting to roam, I bought one for 9.90 euro. The man promised 3 euros of credits today and 6 euros tomorrow. He also said that relaoding is easy and I can just ask for it at any tabac for Mobisud rechargee.

Bullshit. He lied. So my friends, please do not buy the first SIM card you see. Also, for anyone searching Mobisud online, it sucks. It sucks like a vacuum cleaner.

Anyway, I didn’t know anything about how sucky Mobisud was and continued on my way.

From my research, I found out that it is best for me to take the Orlybus to Denfert-Rochereau where there is a line 4 metro to take me near my homestay.

But, there was no sign of where the Orlybus could be found. Even the machine didn’t sell any Orlybus ticket.

The only sign was one for Orlyval.

The man at the counter (like what I read in guide books) took his time doing other things before serving me. I wasn’t offended or anything because it is actually expected of people in Paris.

I asked for Orlybus tickets. He said he only has Orlyval and I have to buy it behind (here he pointed his thumb to the back).

I went around the back and walked further down the corridor and still couldn’t see any sign of Orlybus. I did see signs for Disneyland.

At last, I went to the information counter, queueing behind a harrassed-looking lady. I was busy looking around that someone called me, “Madam” and gestured that I could go inside to ask.

I asked in halting French, where I could find the Orlybus.

The lady said it slowly, with hand gestures and used her fingers to tell me the location. Merci bien, madam!

As I exited the airport, a chilly breeze blew but the sun was piercing.

An Orlybus rolled to the stop, but I went to the ticket machine and slowly inserted my change. So slow that the bus left before I even finished putting half the change needed. Why do they not accept bills?

When I finally got my ticket, I sat down and enjoyed another egg. A sparrow chirped and hopped around me, perhaps hoping for a piece of what I was eating. I was quite horrified, it would be cannibalism if I let the bird eat the eggs!

Finally the bus came. I was at Orly Sud, the first stop so there was no one. I settled myself and my luggage in a cosy corner.

On the bus, I messaged my landperson–Louis who’s a Taiwanese working as a tour guide in the city of lights–that I am on my way and when he wants to come pick up the rent.

Louis called back, sounding like the friendly Taiwanese I imagined him to be. He advised that I bring my warm things out because the night can get cold.

I messaged my parents and spent the trip staring out the window or napping.

The trip from the airport to was unmemorable. Places just at the fringe of cities are often unmemorable.

But once nearer to the city, the buildings start to change. No longer are they dull gray “modern” buildings but petite red-bricked buildings with steps in front.

As we passed a neighborhood, I was surprised to find someone jogging. I had read that Parisians do not jog. (Or maybe they do now.)

The bus stopped at Denfert-Rochereau, a place which I would visit another two times and this is not counting my trip back to the airport.

The train station had a orange-cream sort of color and looked very European. I finally started feeling that my adventure has arrived.

Entering the station, I headed to the counter, queued behind two men. When it was my turn, I said my “Bonjour madame” and showed her the list of tickets I wanted to buy.

The lady was very kind as she did not shout to ask what I want. Instead, she put on her spectacles and read my list.

I did my research before traveling and found out that on weekends and public holidays, people under 26 years old can buy a Tiket Jeune (Youth ticket) which allows them to travel at a much cheaper rate. It’s also a all you can ride sort of ticket, but I found out later that the ticket works from 5am to the last train ride, not from 12am to 11.59pm.

After I have my ticket, getting to the right platform was the challenge.

The signs weren’t very helpful as sometimes they point up when clearly you can’t expect me to walk up the wall!

That was what happened to me while I tried to find the Metro underneath Denfert-Rochereau. Turns out I have to walk a long long long long way from the RER lines to get to the metro.

The metro line looked like a big cave. The wonderful thing was that everything smelled like piss.

Really, I find it very romantic that Paris–the city of lights and what have you–actually smells like piss instead of a room perfumed with rosewater.

The ride to my stop wasn’t very comfortable because of my luggage. But I managed to get one of the foldable seats and sat gripping my luggage.

My stop came and I luged my bag up the stairs. I tried following Louis’ directions–which he also included pictures. But like always, I failed at first try and walked in a completely wrong direction for two blocks!

However, being in Paris, smelling the piss-laced air, I didn’t find myself being angry. This is Paris! Paris! Paris! Paris! I had to stop myself from singing out loud.

At last I found my street. It was a dirty looking, cobbled street lined with Chinese shops.

As Louis was out, he instructed that I go collect my keys from one of the restaurants.

Forgive me for calling these eateries restaurants. They aren’t.

Food is pre-cooked and put in a glass cabinet. I imagine people order by pointing to the dishes they want and the serveur would take some of the cold dish and plonk it onto a melamine plate. And I imagine that the most Chinese part of the dish is the plate which was manufactured in China.

Having picked up my keys, I ignored a sheet of paper inside. That paper proved to be crucial and I regret not reading it sooner.

The paper was a printed letter from Louis, advising how to manuever the stairs. You have to switch on the light or else, like me, you will be in complete darkness climbing up the romanticly winding stairs to your attic where cold soup awaits room.

In the darkness, I climbed up blindly, not even sure if I had reached my floor.

When I suspected I did, I turned into one of the rooms in the corridor and tried the key.

The room was terrific. The curtains were shut when I went in but it felt really really good to see this neat little space after the darkness.

I quickly made a mess myself at home. 

Read Part 2 of my first day in Paris here: Paris Day 1 Adventure: Musée des arts et métiers.

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