Tuesday, May 12

The adventures of my arrival in Paris!




Warning: The account below is a detailed version of the joys and stresses of travel. If reading about other peoples stress is stressful then forgo reading and just know that I made it safe to Paris ;-)

Excitement and anticipation mixed with the sorrow of departure as I said my goodbyes to my brothers and sisters - though no tears were shed the heartfelt love was intense. The drive in the car with mom and dad was peaceful even though we saw shortly ahead the imminent goodbye at the airport. These thoughts and emotions however were interrupted when I received a call from my friend who was waiting for me at the airport … I will say that I was very touched by the effort to drive the three hours from Kansas to see me off. Upon arrival at the airport, and after a very big hug from the afore mentioned I proceeded to check in. To my initial dismay the flight from Tulsa to Dallas had been cancelled – thus making the following flight from Dallas to Paris uncertain. I became more concerned when I called the customer service and they could not locate my information. However my fears were relieved when after more searching they found my information under the correct name of “Lawless” rather than the more common “Wallace”. My bags being checked in, I had then only to wait some three hours for my flight after saying my goodbye to the most wonderful and caring parents in the world. Mom cried but still managed a smile through it all.
The lines were long and it seemed to take forever to load up the masses of people into the Dallas bound flight. My time was divided between thoughts of catching my next flight in Dallas and awareness of the tension of many people surrounding me while waiting to cram into the plane (since I was not the only one who had schedule issues). Once inside and seated I tried to stay calm and relax a little but when the plane came to land the pilot took a sudden change and turned the plane upward once more as it had at take-off. I still don’t know what the cause was but I know that it added quite some extra time to circle Dallas and go through the landing process again.
I tried to remain calm and composed as I walked briskly along the corridor from the plane to the airport. Which terminal? Do I get my bags? Ask a person or just look at the screens? Efficiency. Find the most fast route. Do I need to run? Is there even a chance I can make it? So many thoughts were running through my head while quick prayers were silently flying up to God. I leapt onto a small rail car which I thought was heading to Gate 37 and as the doors closed behind I heard from a fellow passenger that I was on the wrong car. The intensity reached a peak as I could not move out of the car and the sense that time was ticking that I did not have to spend in unnecessary travel was making me break out in a sweat. As the car began rolling another passenger asked me which terminal I was looking for and then much to my relief he informed me and the other passenger that I was going the right way. Big sigh of relief. But only for a moment for as soon as the doors opened I was off running down the large hall and down the escalators. I heard my name as over the loud speaker they were doing last calls for flight 48 and I waved at the speaker as I soon as my gate was in site. "Mission accomplished" were the primary words running through me head as I slowed to a walk down the otherwise empty ramp to the plane. I slept most of the 9 hour flight, waking every few hours to adjust to a new position. I found just about every possible way to sleep on two seats without sticking out into the walkway – it was fortunate that the flight was not full and so the extra seats were available.
As morning dawned and the plane began descending into Paris I could feel the butterflies in my chest … I was about to set foot in Europe, the place of so many stories and so much history. As I swung my back-pack behind me and adjusted the straps on my shoulder to prepare to leave the plane my mind was already gearing up for the real part of the adventure. What had already passed was in my mind the ‘easy part’ and I had yet to tackle the French metro system and get across Paris. But first order was to get my bags. I stood watching all the other passengers get their bags off the conveyor belt until only a few bags were left, but of my luggage there was none to be found. At the baggage service counter I filled out a form for missing baggage while the very helpful and kind assistant told me I could expect my bags to be delievered the next day. Though most people would probably be very annoyed at the inconvenience of being without their stuff for a day I was so happy to not half to bring two very heavy bags across Paris with me. Instead I just have to be without my stuff for one day and I get free delivery. God is so good and sometimes it takes a little while later to see it clearly.
It hit me as soon as I passed under the exit sign and into the common area of the airport - everyone was speaking French and all writing was in French. What was otherwise a no different scene than the one I had just left in Tulsa, was completely transformed by these most distinct changes. I found myself a map, exchanged my US currency for the flashy Euro paper currency and then headed across the airport and to the RER train. After a few min waiting in line a very helpful ticket man walked me through the steps to get to Versailles while completing the purchase of my ticket. His was my first sincere welcome to France.
Down more stairs (still thinking how happy not to have more bags than the two I already had) and then more waiting for the train. Once I sat down and observed the inside of the train I saw that it was so very much like the DC metro, and then only a moment later I also observed a sharply dressed middle age man came and sate directly opposite me. I was a bit uncomfortable the next 15 min even though he spoke on his cell in alternating fluent Italian and the French. But the angels surrounded me while I prayed and I still felt protected as I got up at my destination Gare du Nord. Step out – look around – find the magenta line. A ha! Once I had found the pink E with a circle around it I just had to follow the signs down a long crowded runway and then down several flights of stairs (so glad to not have those bags). The train was getting ready to depart and as I was about to jump aboard when I asked if it was bound for Saint Lazare from a young woman similar in age to me. No, she said to go back and get on the other train. So back up the stairs and then and down and around and then I found the right one. It was only a hop, skip, and jump to St. Lazare and I got off and onto the next train without any incident. As the train went rolling along through Paris I caught glimpses of the Eiffel tower and the crowded skyline. It was fascinating to see so much city and yet on a detailed level so much beauty in the architecture and adornments. Final destination for both me and the train was Versailles River Droit and I was the only one waiting for the doors of the car to open. I was bewildered when the doors refused to open by themselves (as the metro doors in DC do) and a kind gentleman on the outside just gave a nudge and the doors opened. All the little things that can make life hard but then give others a chance to help – it’s just life. I walked out of the station and then down to house #45. I had memorized the route from the station to the house from Google maps and it was like relieving a dream since I had never been there but already felt that I knew it. I rang the bell and the waited with eager expectation. I was not disappointed when a very friendly and caring face of the middle age woman greeted me with a bonjour and asked if I was Michaela. How wonderful to hear my name in greeting and then to be brought into the safety of a home. I spoke a little with the woman and her daughters while I had a glass of water. It was a very pleasant conversation though it was short since it took only a few min for Madame P to arrive to pick me up. So now I am here and the real adventure of living in France begins.

8 comments:

Kelly B said...

WHOA! That was a great read. I'm glad everything worked out in the end. HAVE FUNNNNNN!!

ganchi said...

You little liar! :)
You said you'd contact me when you had more info, and here you are, already here. When are you in Paris during the week, cause I'm only here until the end of the month and I'll NEVER forgive you if I don't see you in Europe.
Call. Me. Mon numéro est
06 08 63 91 56
I life near Porte d'Orleans and the school is at Saint-Placide, both on the four. At least we're on the same side of Paris, right?
OK, you're gmail address doesn't work. You now it's your turn to contact ME. I'm free all afternoon tomorrow!
à tout à l'heure!

Andi said...

Traveling in Europe is quite the adventure as I discovered in Italy. If you ever go to Ireland, know that travel is much easier in that small country.

I hope you have fun and may God bless your adventures! :)

Mike said...

Michaela,

That's a great story! I've had a few adventures in air travel as well, but that's right up there! I can really relate to when things are going bad and time is running out, and you break out into a sweat and then they're calling your name for last chance to board! Wow! That's some stress. This is one trip you'll remember for the long haul. Awesome description of the adventure! God Bless all of your adventures.

Love, Dad

Marina said...

I had no idea that you were going to Paris! O my word! Have fun and keep updated about it. My blog will actually have info on it now, so you can look there for happenings. Life's been rather hectic. What will your address be that I may send you the 2 letters I've started for you (and have yet to finish).

Your trip sounds very like my own to the Dominican Republic. Lots of fun, lost bagage, stress, and high energy, constantly running here and there.

Best wishes for a grand old time in Europe! Perhaps I shall see you on your return? God bless!

Anonymous said...

Well that is quite the run around. I am very glad that you made it safe. I was having issues finding your blog but after a long and stenious search, hear I am. So it is good to about all the different advantures you had in such a short time. I hope that they continue to end so well. TLOYL(IH):-)

John said...

n

John said...

Well it seem that I have issues figuring this system. Now that "n" I left was well not what intended to leave.