I. Venice (Sleeping in the Airport)

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April 1st 2010
Published: April 25th 2010
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Thursday, April 1

Though I was supposed to have two classes, I skipped both of them because I still had several things to do before our 6:00pm train to Paris.

With only one small backpack each, Cyntia and I took the TGV to Paris and decided to go strolling around before we went to Hotel Charles de Gaul (aka the airport where we would be spending the night). We took the metro to the Louvre stop and walked around the court and the pyramids. Everything was illuminated in such a beautiful way, and the night was calm and quiet with several stars poking out overhead. In one of the halls a tenor sax was playing.

We continued strolling and crossed Pont Neuf, looking out over the Seine all the way to the Eiffel Tower. We heard music coming from the left--a marching band! We walked down the street to watch for a while. Then we headed to find a little something to eat. We walked into the Latin Quarter, where there were lots of restaurants and people bustling around.

We found a cafe to relax at and I ordered a peach kir while Cyntia had a coffee. We'd already agreed that we would take turns sleeping at the airport as a safety precaution, and Cyntia was taking the first shift! Our waiter was really friendly and it turns out he had visited Austin for several weeks! Small world, no?

Around 11pm we decided to head to CDG. We took the metro to the RER B station, only to find out that due to construction, the rail to CDG was rerouted! We would have to get off about half way there and then take a shuttle the rest of the way.

We barely caught the last train heading that way. The ride was less than pleasant because there was this really drunk and belligerent man who keep approaching people, and wouldn't leave one girl in particular alone. She must have been a true blue Parisian, because she ignored him incredibly well. She came to sit with us, and that made me feel better for her, but then the man started speaking (aka slurring nonsense) to C. and I as well. This big buy confronted the drunk one and asked him if he had a problem. The drunk guy walk talking trash, saying that he could fight the other guy right now. This really incensed the other guy and he said:
"Je vais te casser la guele!" Which is one of my favorite French insults--it literally means "I'm going to break your face."

Things cooled down, and soon we were at the metro station where we would have to get off and catch the shuttle. I felt better that there seemed to be many people going to the airport with us, because the RER had just dropped us off in the banlieu--the REALLY dangerous part of town. A lot of the people went one way, but Cyntia and I didn't see where. We exited the station, only to be brought out onto a street where there was a group of guys who seemed to be waiting for a city bus. They didn't look very nice. I was starting to get antsy. I didn't see a shuttle anywhere. I mentally kicked myself for not having looked up the number of a Parisian cab company.

A bus came to the stop and I got on the ask the driver if this was the shuttle to CDG--he said no, and told me to get off. Cyntia and I started walking back towards the station--maybe there was another exit? Cyntia asked this guy that we passed, and I immediately wished she hadn't--no talking to strangers at midnight in the Parisian ghetto, right? He said this way (towards the station) and to follow him. At that moment, I thought to myself that there were two possible outcomes to the situation: 1) that he was just a nice guy who would lead us to the shuttle, or 2) that we were about to be in serious trouble.

Luckily Outcome #1 was the winner. He led us around the station and there they were! Two shuttle buses were waiting in the parking lot. My heart almost leaped out of my chest: we were going to make it! Not only were we not going to be another crime story in Le Parisian the next morning, we were going to CDG! With a happier heart, I settled in on the bus. It was an uneventful ride, and we got off at Terminal 2.

CDG after 1am is an interesting place. It seems vast and very empty. The lights were dimmed. Scattered along the floor or in chairs were people who'd had the same idea as us: CAMP OUT PARTY IN CDG!

But the last thing I did was sleep. In true French fashion, the chairs in the airport were impossibly uncomfortable. They were made of wood, and there were metal armrests that made it impossible to lay down or stretch out. I tried to sleep for the first two hours, but couldn't. So I went to get a coffee and told Cyntia to try and sleep. I sat there, like a zombie, hoping the time would pass faster. We'd decided to sleep here for two reasons: 1)to save money on a hostel for that night, and 2) because our flight was at 6:00am, so if we had stayed somewhere, we would have had to take a taxi to the airport because it was too early for the metro. So this was the obvious choice. However, I was wishing there were an alternative.

I got up every 30 minutes or so to get another coffee from the machine. The caffeine seemed to be helping me fight back the urge to sleep (though I knew I couldn't). Around 4:30am, things started livening up at the airport. People started moving around, and employees came in the get their restaurants and cafes ready for the day. I woke Cyntia up and we stretched out.

Around 5:00am we went through security and found our gate. We boarded around 5:40, and then we were on our way to Italy!

I was excited for the trip to come, but after my sleepless night at the airport, I hoped I would be able to catch a little shut-eye during our flight to Milan.


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