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Published: January 17th 2011
“Show me your papers.” Well no, he didn’t say that exactly, but the German police officer with the submachine gun in his hand wanted to see my passport. This is right after I had to take my bag apart for the security scanners to send it through a second time. As soon as I finished packing back up the two police officers were right behind me. After spending a good 10 minutes with my passport, speaking into their radios, and pointing at different oddities in my passport, the armed officer came back over to me and asked if I speak German. I told him yes, a bit. He went back to his partner and conversed with her for a while longer, only taking a break to come back over to me and ask me an odd question. “Is it Czech?” He asked in German. I had no clue what he was talking about, so after asking two more times in German he switches to English and asks, “is it Czech? Your last name?” …Yager?
“No it’s Dutch,” I replied, noticing that his submachine gun has been pointing at me the entire conversation. I grew up around guns and the first
rule of thumb is “do not point a gun at anything you don’t want to kill.” I don’t know if these police officers just aren’t properly trained, but that’s really something you shouldn’t do. A lot of cops in Germany in airports and train stations have been carrying submachine guns since the terror threats over Christmas.
“Oh ok.” He walks back over to his partner and continues scrutinizing my passport. When he finally came back he askes again if I speak German…I give him the same answer. He started asking me about my visa and if I was attending a German course. I told him yeah. I realized then that he thought it was a fake passport and that I didn’t speak German, since I hadn’t understood his question. I took the opportunity to tell him about my classes in German and that lightened the mood a little. They finally gave me my passport back with no explanation. Later, Mia reminded me that I had been wearing my Prague sweatshirt that I bought when we went there. I think this must’ve made them pick me out randomly and that’s why he asked if my name was Czech. :P and....Paris!
I arrived at Orly International airport and had to find a way into Paris. I skipped the expensive taxi and decided to try to find a way with the express train (RER), which was only 10 euro. It starts out as an overground train and ends up being just like a subway train. By the way, the subways in Paris are just as dirty as I was told. I was able to find my way and made it into the center of Paris. I got out at the Notre Dame stop. I had a moment of nirvana when I walked up the steps out into Paris, because looking up the stairs there were no buildings in sight. All I saw was a white/grey sky at the end of the stairs. It was kind of dumb I know, but it actually surprised me for a minute.
I walked up the steps and into Paris. Looking around I was next to a small bridge. On the other side of the bridge stood what I assumed to be the Notre Dame Cathedral, considering I’ve only seen it in the Disney movie. All around me were lit
up cafes and small shops (it’s dark already at 5pm). I walked across the bridge and up to the Notre Dame. It’s honestly one of the most well done cathedrals I’ve seen. There are statues all the way around the front façade right below the two tallest towers. After I walked around the side I saw the numerous gargoyles hanging off the side of the cathedral. It’s hard to imagine this cathedral was even used to hold livestock after the French Revolution, at least until Victor Hugo’s novel Notre Dame de Paris
. The weather made the sky pretty dark today and unfortunately it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but I’ll try to make the best of it.
I wanted to drop off my suitcase at my hostel before I lugged it around to see any more sights so I started looking for the Metro station that would take me to my hostel. Unfortunately, it took me about an hour of walking around lost and asking two people to find the metro station. Not only that, but it didn’t connect to the one I thought it did so I had two change lines twice. When I finally got out at my
stop I had to walk the rest of the way. Google maps led me astray though and sent me to the wrong address aka I was lost again. I finally found my hostel after another 45 minutes of walking and am now relaxing in the lobby to use the wifi. I’ll explain some more of my observations about France when I get back, right now I’m headed to find a place for dinner, wish me luck!
I’m back. I had frog legs for dinner at an awesome restaurant called Le Pont de Seine. It’s only a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower so I ate dinner there and then walked around towards the tower. It just suddenly hit me when I saw it. For some reason I wasn’t expecting it, because it was about 3 blocks from the restaurant, but when I looked up there it was all lighted up. It’s really beautiful in person. I walked into the small park next to it and then around and underneath it. One of the elevators was still open to go up into it and I decided to do it. I found out later that for the month they closed
down going to the summit, but we still went pretty high and had a great view. I met a really nice family from the Canary Islands (Spain) on the way up. We kind of hung out and talked a little bit at the top. After getting enough pictures I headed back down and walked across Pont d’Léna and just walked a bit. It was getting late so I got on the métro and headed home. I’m starting to get to know the métro pretty well already, which I’m proud of, even though I got lost on land twice already.
3 more days in Paris!
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