Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Belle Paris! And Home at last.

My flight landed in Paris at 5:40am. Grateful that I didn't have to pick up my luggage, I headed for the nearest exit, and towards the trains. Now, I had done a LOT of research on how to get from Charles De Gaulle to the Seine. I was anxious about using the public transport of an unfamiliar city, alone, and as it turned out, in the dark. 

It turned out okay, though. I even made it to Notre Dame before the sun had made it over the horizon!

This photo needs so much editing :P
 For the next 3 hours I walked around the city. One of my big goals was to drink a fancy coffee and eat pain au chocolat by the Seine. Considering I was wandering around before even most coffee shops opened, I settled on this one.

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I couldn't see the Seine from my table, and they didn't actually have pain au chocolat, but the cafe creme was just what I was after. The gentleman who served me suggested some apple cake, which turned out to be a golden pound cake with apples on top. Still, it was surprisingly good.

The Louvre at the Pont du Carrousel

Pont du Carrousel

Look at that detail!!! 

Those balconies!

Magnificent sunrise
 I was walking in the direction of the Eiffel Tower. I knew it was about an hours walk, but that wasn't including all the stopping and looking I was doing. And because my grasp on the local public transit was tenuous, I knew that as far as I walked towards the iconic tower, I'd have to walk just as far back to the train station.

 But then, there it was, peeking over the buildings.

This selfie didn't work to well :P

Palais Bourbon

A not very good picture of the fun angles Parisians have to deal with :)

Eiffel Tower and Pont Alexandre III

After Amsterdam and Paris I now want to live on a house boat :P

Sainte Chappelle (spire) and L'Institut de France (dome) on the horizon.
Musee D'Orsay on the right.

Place de la Concorde

I cannot find any reference of what this building is.
But holy shit, look at it!

Musee D'Orsay

The Pyramid at the Louvre is just through that arch.
I thought I got a good picture of it, but I must have messed it up.

 L'Institut de France

In a guise of taking a picture of the Louvre's bell tower, I tried to capture the
automatic rifles these, what, traffic cops? were carrying. 

Fontaine St Michel

I had found my way back to the train station, and figured out which train I needed to get on to get back to Charles de Gaulle. The rest of it was smooth sailing. Once I was through security I had to check into my flight from Toronto to Halifax and I realized there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't make the flight.

On the flight out of Paris I had an upgraded seat again, and I slept for about 4 hours of the 7 hour flight.

It became clear to me around the time I was picking up my baggage that I wasn't going to make the flight to Halifax. I had declared that I had animal products (biltong, or dried game meat for M), which put me in the inspection line. I swear I do not understand the point of declaring items. The Canadian Customs websites states the following "If you do not declare, or falsely declare, goods, the CBSA can seize them." Except I did declare items, items that I checked the fucking website to make sure they were allowed, and they seized my stuff anyway. The thing that irritates me the most is that the only item, ostrich biltong, that was in question, was only one of three packages that were seized. The other two were not in question, but they were seized anyway.

I also managed to make the customs agent stab me with his pocket knife, cause I'm special like that.

Honestly despite my anger over the customs debacle now (15 people in line, 3 people doing actual inspections, many other customs agents standing around presumably doing nothing. Plus having my stuff confiscated when it shouldn't have been. Dude had seriously never heard of a kudu before. Read a book!), the customs agent I dealt with was very nice, and we laughed a fair bit throughout the process. He's just doing his job, and while he should have been more familiar with the rules he was enforcing, he was kind and sympathetic throughout the potentially stressful process.

But it was past my flight's departure by the time I was released. I found my way to Terminal 1, and asked an Air Canada agent what I should do since I missed my flight. I dislike Air Canada immensely. They charged me $175 for a "same day flight change" for missing my flight, in order to book the next flight to Halifax. Fortunately it was less than 2 hours away. I paid the extortion fare, checked my bag and got through customs.

The rest of the evening wasn't notable. I let M know I would be arriving late. I texted with Steph. I got on the plane and watched Lion until I landed in Halifax. M was there waiting for me after I got my luggage.

I had full intentions of taking a picture of him as we met again after 17 days apart. My brain was so fried I forgot.

But of course we couldn't just go home. We got stopped by some eager RCMP officer wanting to check M's license and registration at 11pm on a Tuesday. He made a point that he had some sort of special jurisdiction to pull us over where he did. Whatever, guy, just let me get my tired ass home.

I unpacked my bags and threw everything in the laundry. I gave M his port, which he opened and sniffed immediately, appraisingly. But I was more interested in taking a shower and getting into bed.

And so it ended, the second trip of a lifetime. There's so many details I've missed, I'm sure. And so much I've glossed over. But now that I have some time, hopefully some of the finer details can be captured, for posterity.

Thanks for following along. Hopefully you'll stick around and hopefully I can do something worth writing about ;)