Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let The Holiday Begin!

We’ve been looking forward to our vacation for months. But when we arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris yesterday morning at 6 a.m., we were feeling pretty fatigued. The weeks prior to our departure from Burkina had been incredibly long and busy. Our plane took off from Ouaga close to midnight and we weren’t served supper until well after that. And we didn’t get much sleep on the plane.

Since we couldn’t have possession of the little apartment we’d rented in Paris until noon, we looked for a place to hang out at the airport after collecting our luggage. We’ve never found the Paris airport particularly user-friendly and things hadn’t changed since the last time we were here :) Making our way to the place in Terminal 2 where we’d be catching the RER (subway) into Paris proper, we found an area with tables and chairs where we could sit down. But it was on the ground floor with doors to the platforms at both ends, which meant the wind came whistling through every time someone went in or out. It didn’t take us long to figure out that this was not the place to have a nap!

So we went up several floors into the terminal again, and found some empty seats in an arrivals area where we could at least park our luggage and sit for a while. At a nearby weigh scale, a variety of Africans were weighing, unpacking, repacking, and re-weighing their bags. They had clothes, shoes, electronic equipment and more. It was far more than any one person would use, so they were likely bringing back presents for the family, or planning to run a little business back home.

Despite the nearby noise and entertainment, we did eventually manage to doze off a bit. But even there, it eventually got too cold. So we made our way back down to the RER area where Kathy remembered seeing a little fast food place there where we could go inside and get warm again. However, when we got there, the only table available was near an open door where the cold wind from the platform area had no trouble reaching us. Even with our cafés crèmes, we soon became colder than ever!

It was still too early to get into our apartment, but we obviously couldn’t stay in the terminal anymore. Hoping we would find a warm place to wait a little longer in one of the subway stations, or in a café or restaurant near the apartment, I bought tickets and we walked out onto the open-air platform to catch the next train into the city. Fortunately, we did not have long to wait and it was with thankfulness that we hoisted our luggage into the nearest car and sat down. Out of the wind at last!

As it turned out, it was also fortunate that we got on what turned out to be the end (or beginning) of the train line. As we travelled along, we picked up an increasing number of people until we were both not only standing up to make more room, but people were sitting on our luggage! Everyone was so packed in that no one could move anymore! I’m talking sardine comfort here! I’ve never been in anything like it! There were so many people packed into our car that the doors would barely close, and more were trying to enter at every stop. Had I been jammed up against complete strangers like this anywhere else, both men and women, it would have been considered obscene! But at least I was finally getting warm :)

I was glad that our stop was a main transfer station. If not, there is no way that we would have gotten ourselves and our luggage out in time. Not without everyone else disembarking first! Thankfully, most people were looking to get off here too, so we were able to exit without any problem. And after another short trip on another line, we were finally at the Metro station close to our apartment.

But we weren’t in yet...

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