I have arrived in Paris! My travel experience could not have gone more smoothly (and my luggage came across the pond with me) and I am now settled in to my room in the Canadian House in Cite Universitaire de Paris, which has beautiful houses for students of countries around the world to live while they are studying in Paris. My roommate Emily is the other blogger on the trip, so we have named our room “blog central.”
But to start at the beginning of the whirlwind last day and a half, my travels began with a 5:30 p.m. flight from JFK to Dublin, Ireland. I boarded the plane and was confused when the flight attendant told me that my seat was to the left, because that is usually first-class. To my completely surprise and disbelief, I was seated in business class! I texted my mom to thank her/see if she planned this as a surprise but she did not know about it, so thank you, thank you, thank you to Aer Lingus for putting me in business class for free!
What does sitting in business class entail?
- A delicious dinner with stuffed chicken, mashed potatoes, a salad with oil and vinegar, cheesecake, and white wine (being legal is great).
- Double the leg room, which made trying to sleep on the plane a lot more comfortable, even though I only slept on and off for an hour
- A prime spot in front of the computer screen with our current location, altitude, miles traveled, etc., which I loved watching during the flight
The flight over was also enjoyable because I was able to finish a Journalism book that is assigned for next semester (mega nerd alert—getting work done before the semester even starts) and had a very nice Irish lady sitting next to me who was returning from visiting her children in the US. Her family is from Roscommon, the same county in Ireland that my grandfather is from, and it was fun talking about her and my family’s experience coming to the US from Ireland.
After a quick stop in Dublin, I was on my way to Paris. There was so much fog when landing that I was only able to see the ground when we were about 20 feet above it. Navigating Charles Du Gaulle airport was easier than I anticipated. When my luggage came off the carousel, it had a tag on it with “HEAVY” written in big block letters, which made me laugh—until I had to lug it into a shuttle, the RER train, and into the Cite Universitaire stop (the gap between the train and platform was much larger than in New York and New Jersey, so I did a very graceful leap/bump move to get myself and my suitcase off the train quickly.
I tried waiting for an elevator to get to the ground level, but after a few minutes it didn’t come so I gave up and went through the turnstile. I didn’t think ahead very far though, because there were three large sets of stairs ahead of me, and no way to turn back and wait for the elevator.
So 5’2” me lugged my 54 pound suitcase up thirty stairs. I’m glad it wasn’t busy so that I didn’t hold people up, but there was an instant where I lost balance and almost went backwards, which would not have been pretty. Needless to say, my right arm has never had such a good workout, and I discovered a muscle by my right shoulder blade that I didn’t even know I had.
I stumbled out of the train station huffing and frustrated, but I looked up and saw the gates of the Cite Universitaire across the street– it was like a movie that it came out of nowhere and I instantly got so excited.
The grounds of the Cite are gorgeous. Each country is able to design their house (dorm) as they choose, so many are designed in classic architecture of the home country. The Canadian House fits in with the French architecture but the inside is very modern.
Our double is very comfortable and has it’s own balcony. It is roughly the same size as my freshmen year room, but with a little less storage space.
The bathroom reminds me of a space station, but I was able to shower in their without water going everywhere, so that was good.
We spent the day touring the Cite facilities and surrounding neighborhood—there’s a nice park across the street and a pharmacy within walking distance. Port d’Orleans, which has a bit more shopping and restaurants, is two stops away on the tram, which is an above-ground train that goes east and west, as opposed to the RER/Metro, which goes north and south and will bring us to the center of the city.
We attempted to get SIM cards for our phones so that we could talk to each other locally, but the only phone store that was open did not support Verizon. For the time being, I can use internet and send texts and calls over wireless through Viber, and I am hoping that I am not racking up data usage by mistake. The wireless here is a bit unreliable, which is why I am typing this post tonight (Monday at about 1am my time) and can post it tomorrow morning before we leave for Notre Dame (ahhh!)
We had dinner at the Rouge Monne, which is a creperie in Port d’Orleans. I had a bit of trouble ordering, but Emily is fluent in French which is a lifesaver. I got a crepe with apples, some kind of cheese, and chives, which was delicious. I was so hungry that I didn’t think to get a picture of my first official Parisian crepe, but I know there will be lots more to come.
It is now 1:30 am my time and I am jet lagged, so I hope I can fall asleep easily so that I will be ready for tomorrow—we are headed to Notre Dame and climbing the bell tower!