Ah yes, we were such newbies traveling Paris in 2007. The day began in a calm, predictable fashion — which, for us, meant exploring a cemetery. And so, my journal:
“Friday July 6, 2007: After a continental breakfast in our room at the hotel, we went to Montparnasse Cemetery and saw numerous graves belonging to famous people such as Sartre, Beaudelaire, and others. What a gorgeous cemetery. So old and unusual to me.”
“Then we went off to the Cinematheque Francais museum. The building is designed by Frank Gehry, and inside they had Lumiere and Edison cinema machines, and props from A Trip To The Moon, a dress worn by Louise Brooks, among other things.”
“Then we prepared for our French picnic. It was a gorgeous day for that, too. So we found a grocer and bought a great bottle of wine for just 6 euros or so, a bottle of water, some brie, tomatoes, grapes, and nectarines, then went to the boulangerie next door and purchased a baguette. Then we went to the Eiffel Tower and had lunch out on the Champ de Mars.”
“It was perfect! Just wonderful. So delicious and relaxing and fun!”
Interestingly, I neglected to document my drunken yelling at someone who was requesting that we give them some of our picnic. And yet, I clearly remember it. (Sort of.)
You see, this was our first overseas trip, and we were raised to be very nice people. (Andrew more so than me, evidently…) So when we were approaching the Eiffel Tower with our picnic, we were stopped by a lady holding a sign explaining why we should give her money. This being our first experience being approached for money at a tourist trap, we felt bad, and gave her money, and we all moved along.
Naturally, once we sat down, she approached us yet again and began asking for our food. We had just handed her money — more money than I was comfortable with, frankly — and she approached us right away AGAIN? I instantly realized she had pegged us as being easy to manipulate. By this point I was tipsy with wine, and felt insulted (always a fun combination). So, I did what any other very nice Prairie-raised girl would do — I began to yell things at her while flailing wildly.
I find it interesting that I didn’t choose to record this incident in my journal. I think I omitted it because it made me feel like a moron. I had clearly been taken advantage of, and then behaved terribly, and was frustrated. I didn’t want to remember that feeling of being perceived to be a hapless tourist. I was ashamed of having been duped, and I may have been ashamed of my wine-fueled tirade. Maybe.
“Then we used our Seine River Cruise passes — so much fun!”
By the time our Seine river cruise concluded, we were physically exhausted from racing around in an effort to see every essential sight. I mentioned to Andew that I’d never been to Disneyland… maybe we could check out Disneyland Paris?
We hopped on the metro. It was a very long metro ride out of the city to the very edge. At last, we made it! Standing on the platform, we could hear the children laughing and having fun at the park, just outside of the metro station (it was above-ground by the time the metro route got to the edge of the city). I was filled with renewed energy, as we stood in line to exit the station. Everyone went through the gates… but our cards would not allow us through. We could not exit the station. Also, there was no human in attendance that we could pay to just let us through. And we’re both goody-two-shoes so we weren’t about to jump the turnstile.
We hadn’t realized it until it was too late, but our metro passes were only good for zones 1 and 2… but the Disneyland Paris stop was zone 3. And so, we could not exit.
We sighed, shrugged, got on the next train, and headed back into the centre of Paris. We were exhausted and fairly dumbfounded at our mistake.
And then… we laughed. And went to a French movie.