Paris, Je t’aime: Part 1

I know what you all are thinking:  HOLY CRAP SHE’S ACTUALLY UPDATING!

Yes, yes I am.  And I really am sorry that it has taken me so damn long.  It’s been an interesting last month and a half…

Yeah I suck at this.

Ok, so here’s the deal…I went to Paris last weekend.  I’m pretty sure you can tell that by the title.  If I were to do this in one entry, it would be one really, really, really long entry.  So I will be breaking it up into parts!

Shall we begin?

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…just kidding.

It is about 795 miles from Madrid to Paris.  According to Google maps, about 13 hours driving time (less if you’re my mom).  That’s about the drive from St. Louis to Harrisburg, PA.

Since we all know I am not allowed to drive, that leaves flying or the train.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the train is a viable option in Europe!  So, of course, I thought ‘heck yes I’m gonna take the train.  I’m in Europe’.

Lovely way to think.

I’ve never gone by train in the states because, well, it’s 99.9% of the time not the best, cheapest or fastest option.  What I’m trying to say is, I had no flippin clue how the train works.  I mean, I know how the train works.  You know what I mean.

The options here are either a chair or some kind of sleeper car.  The train would leave Madrid around 6.15 at night and get into Paris at about 9 AM.  I figured if this is overnight, a bed might be the best option so I can get a good night of sleep for a full day in Paris.

I found out that the chair was about €11 cheaper.  Not much, but money I could spend somewhere else.  And I realized that the sleep is totally worth the €11.

So I went to the train station the Monday before I left to get my ticket.  I had tried online the night before but it wasn’t working.  So I go to find out, the reason it wasn’t working was because all the sleeper cars were sold out.  Yay me.

All week I was trying to come up with a plan to sleep on this darn train if I was going to be sitting in a chair.  I figured I would never be able to sleep for 8 hours straight, so I would break it up.  Did I mention that the train ride was 15 hours?  Yeah, I forgot that part.  So, a few hours sleep, then go walk around.  Repeat til one arrives at final destination.

Ahahahahaha.  Fail.

oh hey train! you and I are about to be buddies for the next 15 hours

Thursday night comes around and we start boarding the train.  And it’s not like some organized thing.  They just say get on the train and you go to your assigned car and find your seat or compartment and chill til it’s time to go.

I had in my mind that these would be kinda large comfy chairs since we were about to spend the entire night parked in it.  Oh, I was wrong.  They were seriously the most uncomfortable chairs ever.  I mean they were fine for sitting in, but not for sitting for 15 hours.  Or sleeping.

After the first 20 minutes or so, one of the attendants came around and asked for everyone’s ticket and passport.  I figured he just wanted to see that we actually had our passport.  Nope.  He took it.  Let the worrying begin.  I asked and he said we would get them back before we got to Paris.  Ok…but what are you doing with them in the meantime??????

Apparently, the desire to never part with your passport is held strongest by Americans and Israelis.  I learned that from a couple on the train.

Another thing that I had no idea about was that when we crossed the border, we had to change….I guess it was the engine car.  There is one type designated for the Spanish railway system and another type designated for the French railway system.  And I didn’t know this until the new car went crashing into the front car…my car.  They basically had to slam it onto the other cars to hook it up.

I think I got somewhere around 3 hours of sleep that night.  Could have been worse.  But it definitely could have been better.

Oh, one last thing about actually riding on a train….you know how much it sucks to pee on an airplane?  It’s about 10 times worse on a train.

I would totally travel by train again.  It was an awesome experience, but I would make sure I was in a sleeper car.

this is the french car…the one that had to be changed once we hit the border

That first car with windows? yup…that’s my seat.

We arrived in Paris about 9.15 on a slightly dark and dreary Friday morning.

I actually ended up taking a shower AT the train station.  Yeah.  There’s a little shower place at the train station.  It was kinda neat.  Yeah, I had to pay, but I wasn’t going to be able to get into the hostel room until after 3 and I didn’t want to be dirty walking around Paris.

So from the train station, I took the metro to my hostel and checked in.  I decided that it would be a good time to go to the Louvre since it was going to be awhile before I could actually get in to my room.

I shall leave the Louvre for the next post because that is already going to be a long one.  I promise, it will not take a month for me to post.