The flight to Paris was uneventful. I was jam packed like a sardine in a tin can yet somehow I was able to relax and manage to get a couple hours of sleep (thanks to my over the counter sleeping pill). Thus the flight passed by quickly and before I knew it we were making our final descent into Charles de Gualle airpot. I checked my physical status and was happy that I didn’t feel completely miserable like I normally due with so little sleep. It was six am in Paris and eleven pm at home. But like any smart traveler, I had already changed my watch to local time and tried to erase the old Minnesota time out of my head. That is the only way you can survive jet lag. To forget it!
As we were descending, I rechecked my itinerary and was surprised to discover that my next flight to Rabat was not leaving for six hours! I had originally thought my layover was only four hours so I was delightfully surprised to learn that I had six whole hours which opened the door for a little adventure: I could hop the RER train to Paris, mon amour, and take a short but sweet trip down memory lane before catching my next flight!
I know that most people would think I’m absolutely nuts for leaving the airport with no sleep for only a brief visit to Paris, but then again those who think I’m crazy don’t understand how much I adore Paris and love it with all my heart. For you see, Paris is a very special place for me. I spent part of my Junior Year of college abroad living in Paris at the ripe, perfect age of twenty-one and I’ll never ever forget what an amazing, life-changing experience it was. For me, Paris represents an amazing self-discovery and transformation in my life. It was a time of dramatic growth that probably transformed me more than anything else I’d ever done up to that point. My time spent in Paris was like a dream. The world was my oyster. Everything was in front of me.
As I walked through customs and headed out the doors of the Paris airport, my heart speed. I could not believe that I was really doing this. I was going to a see Paris again!It had been ten long years since I’d last been to Paris, and eighteen long years (scary) since I lived there. Thus despite my fear (of somehow missing my next flight) and fatigue (yes it really was two in the morning for me), the temptation and curiosity sucked me in, and before I knew it, I was out of the airport doors and headed towards that all too familiar RER train line that would lead me to back to the city of light and the city of love.
In my opinion, Paris is one of the most beautiful, fantastic and romantic cities in the world. I could spend years there and never bore of its splendor, elegance and unexpected discoveries. It is an amazing place that is always changing yet someone remains a little bit the same. The history, the architecture, the gardens, the cafes, the restaurants and the magnificent monuments, all draw in millions of tourist a year. You could spend your entire life in Paris and still not see it all. There is so much to see and explore, the options are endless. I know for a fact that I will dream about Paris as long as I will live and hope to someday spend more time there, perhaps when my husband and I are old and gray.
I easily found the RER (regional train. similar to the metro) line and purchased my billet (ticket) for 7,8 Euros (around ten bucks) and waited for the familiar looking train to approach. It looked just as I’d remember. White with red and blue, old and creaky. It amazed me how nothing had changed. In fact I’m sure the train was the same eighteen years ago.
I boarded the train, chose my spot by the window and heard the familiar buzz of the doors shutting. I was dead tired but happy all the same! In thirty five minutes I’d be in the heart of Paris, hopefully at an outdoor cafe, sipping a delicious, inviting cup of cafe au lait with hopefully a fresh pain au chocolat in my tummy.
As the Parisian landscape passed me by, the sweet memories from eighteen years ago, when I was a young, carefree twenty-one year old woman, flashed through my mind. I was stunned to think that it was almost half my life ago that I was here. How could that be possible? How could life have really gone so fast? Like the sudden passing of the scenery, my life seemed to have passed me by. It felt like an eternity ago since I lived in Paris, yet it also felt like only yesterday, all at the same time.
My heart began to beat rapidly in excitement and anticipation as the train approached my familiar haunts. Chatelet-les-Halles, Notre Dame, Luxembourg, and finally St. Michel, where I decided to get off. I took the escalator up, noticing that the metro station was just as old, dirty and decrepit as it was then, arrived up at the doors headed out to Paris. A huge smile spread across my face as I opened the door and walked out onto the street. I was at the Notre Dame and Hotel du Ville, two beloved, famous Parisian landmarks that are in the center of the escargot (what they call Paris, as it is shaped like an escargot). I took one step out and stopped, marveling at my beloved Paris, in all her glory.
Was it worth the trip? (I only had an hour to have a quick cafe, take some photos and soak it all it). Indeed! As I love to say, Paris, je t’aime! I will always have Paris.
Ok, this is a funny, unexpected shot. I found an outdoor cafe with heaters and ordered up a delightful cafe au lait. I asked the waiter to take my picture and before I knew it, he sat right next to me, grabbed my shoulder and took this hilarious photo of the two of us! I couldn’t stop laughing. He got me!
Me, looking terribly tired but happy as a clam to be having my beloved cafe au lait with a view of the world passing by: