Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Rome was beautiful! I don't think I was there long enough, so if I get the chance to return one day, I will. On Friday, December 21st, I boarded a plane for Paris, France.
Here, too, I took lots of pictures.
Disclaimer: I am a photojournalist at heart, and I take pictures of what I see, so that you can see them. I do not necessarily endorse, partake in nor support the images or actions depicted in the photos displayed on this web log.
Not So Fun Fact: Did you know that on flights within Europe, you are only allowed one carry-on bag? Yeah man. It's rough.
Once arriving in Paris, we got into the first airport taxi large enough to accommodate the four of us and our luggage. Our cab driver was named Jean (John). Jean was from Haiti. Jean wasn't familiar with our hotel, the Novotel. He put the address into his on-dash GPS, and started driving.
Rush hour in Paris is apparently the same time as rush hour in America, so the going was slow. Plus, Jean drove very, very, very slowly.
About 40 minutes into the cab ride, Jean's GPS instructed him to take a highway exit, and turn right. Jean took the highway exit, and turned left. The four of us witnessed this, and started telling him, in English, that he was driving in the wrong direction. Jean did not respond to us. It was almost as if he couldn't hear us. I was sitting in the front seat with him, and I pointed to his GPS and pointed into the direction we were supposed to be going, and he kept driving. Jean eventually exited the road onto a highway, and the GPS kept directing him, in French, to make a u-turn, or take the next exit in order to head in the right direction. On Jean's GPS, and my phone's GPS, I could see that we were literally driving away from our destination. At this point, we owed 47 Euro on the meter, and we already decided that's all we were going to pay.
After 40 more minutes and lots of yelling at Jean, including, "You're going the wrong way!" and "What are you, crazy?!" and "Just let us out!" we finally arrived at the Novotel. The meter read nearly 90 Euro, or $120.
As soon as Jean put the car in park, I jumped out and opened the trunk to get my own luggage. Lynda got her luggage too and we made sure all of our belongings were out of the car.
That's when I stretched my hand out to give him a 50-Euro bill. Jean stared at the 50, and then stared at me incredulously. Then he started yelling at us in French; I think he said that we owed him the entire fare, PLUS extra because there were four of us, and we had luggage. Jean was off his Haitian rocker.
I rescinded my offer and and grabbed my luggage to head inside the hotel. Jean then grabbed my luggage too, and tried to take it from me. I pulled on my luggage and Jean pulled harder, shouting at me in French. I shouted at him, "Let go of my luggage!" and he wouldn't let go. I raised my leg to kick him away from my luggage, and he pulled my leg. I fell down in the street. When Jean pulled my leg, he let go of my luggage and started wrestling with me to get the 50-spot out of my hand. I didn't want to let go of my luggage, so he ended up getting the money out of my hand. Then he went for Lynda's luggage, literally pushing Lynda away from her luggage so that he could get at it. Lynda took her coat off and yelled at Jean to get his hands off of her and her luggage. I was still on the ground and I yelled, "HELLLLLLLLLLP!!". Out of nowhere, 5 men showed up and Jean let go of Lynda's luggage. Chivalry is alive.
I got up, dusted myself off and moved our luggage as far away from Jean as possible. Jean shouted his version of events to the newcomers, and said he was going to call the police. We shouted, "CALL THEM!" and Lynda's cousin sternly berated Jean, "You're supposed to be a man, ACT LIKE IT!"
We entered the hotel and contemplated calling the police ourselves, but instead we caught our breath, checked in and searched for food. Too much had already happened, so we called it a night.
The next day, Saturday, we headed to the "world famous" Paris flea market. I read about this market on Trip Advisor and other places on the internet. People blog about it and give specific instructions on when to go and how to get there. We even planned this trip to end up in Paris on the best day for the flea market, Saturday. So we took the train that rainy morning.
What are these?
Fake Beats by Dre headphones. This flea market is so wack.
Obama! The bright point in this flea market. We rolled out without buying anything.
There were cool shoe stores down the street.
We got back on the train to head downtown. This homeless man got on and terrorized people with his odor and story.
We ended up at Les Halles and first went into the underground mall, the Forum des Halles.
The Forum des Halles just like any other three-level mall, except there were no windows. There was an H&M and a Gap and many other moderately priced clothing stores. It was December 22nd, so there were also tons of people.
Above ground was a busy shopping district very much like Georgetown in DC, but much larger.
There were lots and lots of shoe stores, and just as many clothing stores for men as there was for women. Maybe more.
I loved all the Redskins apparel. There was so much NFL and NBA gear. Was there anything authentically French?
NOT affiliated with the Washington Redskins, not surprisingly. But really nice stuff.
Check out this weird long-armed mannequin.
Paris was fully decorated with Christmas lights.
The rain and drizzle never quit.
Electric car rental station on the sidewalk. It's automatic. Just go inside the booth and rent.
People were here ice skating. To a Pitbull song.
Whew. What a long day! I must've walked for hours. But there was one more thing I had to see. The metro usually closes at midnight, but it stays open until 2 am on Saturdays. It was 10 pm. I had to eat and then hightail it to the other side of the city to see what I came for. Thirty minutes and two trains later, there it was.
I could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance while walking from the train station, but the closer I got, the more difficult it would be to get a picture of it, even with my wide angle lens. It was so beautiful. And BIG. No lie, it took my breath away.
Paige got a picture with the tower. She was siced.
Then it was my turn.
After this photo, I ran back to the train station so that I wasn't stranded in the middle of Paris. I made it back to the hotel at 1 am and went to bed. The crew decided to leave a day early, so we got on a train back to Amsterdam in the morning, to head to the States. I'd go to Paris again, to see all of the other things I didn't get a chance to see. One day is clearly not long enough!
Until next time,