Well, I’m here. To all future TAPIFers, please read this, because a lot of what I learned was not obvious to me in the least–but, this is coming from a small-town girl. After getting on a 9-hour flight 4 hours later than I planned at SEA, waiting in Amsterdam for a hot minute, and then getting on another 1-hour flight, I arrived at CDG. I left at 6 PM and then it was 3 PM. Time is weird, man. The easy part was over. From here, I had little to no WiFi access (for some reason), and even though my mom was more than willing to pay $10 a day for data usage until I get a European phone, it was spotty at best. So this meant that I was all by myself, frantically trying to connect to WiFi so that I could at least call for an uber, and maybe, maybe figure out the address of my airbnb.
But, for now, everything is going well–I’ve called an uber, who picked me up after I probably walked 10 miles in the airport trying to figure out which terminal I needed to be at. It’s an uberpool, which I didn’t mean on sending, but was a blessing in disguise. My uber driver picked up a couple from Scotland who did have cell service, and let me use their phone. Once I was almost to La Gare de l’Est, my phone came back from the dead as it loaded Facebook, as opposed to Airbnb.com, or something else useful like Google Maps. But, whatever. It worked, and that was fine.
So now, I’m at La Gare de l’est, and in all honesty, this train station was breathtaking. I would’ve stopped and taken some pictures of my own if it wasn’t for the fear that at 4:30 PM, I might miss the last train to go to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre ever. But, here’s a picture I pulled off of Google:
For reference, this is the train station where I’m from:
Needless to say–but I’m gonna say it anyways–I was a little overwhelmed. First of all, I had no idea what train I needed besides the “P” train. Like, what is that??? I don’t know. So, the information desk people were very helpful and guided me to where I needed to be. Except, oh, that’s right, you actually need a train ticket. So a nice young man helped me to where I needed to go. I bought my ticket (with euros! My first French transaction!), got to where I needed to be and still had no clue what train to be on. If any of you are going to La Ferté, take the Château-Thierry train. So, two nice young women and another young man helped me, I was finally on the train. Thank god.
Four stops later, and we have success! I was in my small French town. With Google Maps pulled up on my phone, I began to walk with my 17 pound bag, 21 pound backpack, and 60 pound suitcase. Just so you all know, the walking was fine overall. It’s the stairs you need to watch out for. You heard me. Stairs. I had to go down two flights of stairs and up another, because I was on the side of the train station that didn’t have any connecting streets.
So, future TAPIF-ers. Just because you can walk with all your luggage does not mean you can climb stairs with it. I persevered somehow, but I’m sure it was a mixture of not wanting to cry in an empty public place, the sun beginning to set, and adrenaline. I’m warning you now. You probably don’t need that many sweaters. I may retract this statement once winter hits, but for now I’m standing my ground.
Now, I’m walking, walking, walking. Halfway there, I’m passing a pizza parlor and three men are standing outside. I smile and continue to walk, but one of them asks where I’m going. I let them know that it’s probably just 5 more minutes on this one street, and I’ll probably be fine. Another says, you sure? I can give you a ride. And I accept that offer, because I’ve been standing and walking for so long, and I just wanna sit for a minute. As you can see, I didn’t die, which goes to show that strangers can be awfully nice. I hope I can be that nice one day.
At 8 PM, I finally arrive at my airbnb. The couple I’m staying with is very nice, and they show me to my room. They know my situation, that being I’m moving here for work, and I’ll be staying here in town for at least 7 months. Despite it being 8 PM, they give me my breakfast for the morning which consists of not-seedless-grapes, a kiwi, and a Japanese lychee juice box (when I saw this I laughed–my first “””French””” drink and it’s Japanese). Before they leave me be, they let me know that they’ll be at work for a good portion of the day, and that if I’m going to be exploring to use this key and to take this key, and that while I’m finding a place to stay, I can stay with them for a little longer for a small tarif of 15 euros a night. So basically, I’m not totally homeless.
After all the travelling, it’s now night time. I’m dead tired and ready to sleep. Even though I am having emotions which I’ll elaborate on later, it’s a good thing, because this means that I won’t have any jet lag. So, there’s that.
I’m here. I’ve arrived.