Thursday, December 16, 2010

Refugees in Paris

Getting from the last subway platform to street level was a workout. We walked up several flights of stairs lugging our luggage and were both huffing and puffing like the wolf in the story of the Three Little Pigs by the time we got to the top. But any warmth we gained from this exercise was swiftly nullified by the chilly temperatures on the street.

We looked around for a place to get out of the wind and were happy to see a resto-café nearby. But as I opened the door, the owner came forward to tell me that he was not yet open for business. What?!!! You must be kidding! But he wasn’t. It was only 10h30 and he didn’t open until noon. So, dragging our suitcases behind us, we wandered up and down various streets like a pair of refugees, looking for a café or restaurant to sit in and get out of the cold. Believe it or not, we found that not one was open for business before noon!
As we were standing on the sidewalk trying to figure out what to do next, Kathy remembered that we were supposed to phone the apartment agent an hour before we arrived in order to give her time to get there and let us in. Since it was now 11h00, it was time to call. I remembered seeing public telephones near the subway station, so taking the phone number, I headed back that way, leaving Kathy standing with our suitcases on a side street.

Unfortunately, the public phones would not take cash, only a phone card. So where do you buy a phone card around here? I asked at a nearby newspaper kiosk and was sent back down the street I had just come up, looking for a little variety store. Finding it, I bought the lowest value phone card they had ($10!) and headed back to the phone to make my call.

Happily for us, the agent was already at the apartment nearby! In fact, we could have come much earlier, but she had no way to get hold of us to let us know. Just our luck to be wandering around in the cold when we could have been warm inside our apartment several hours ago!

I hurried back to get Kathy and we wheeled our suitcases to the proper address. Punching in the code we’d been given, we pushed open the big courtyard door and entered the premises. Now, however, we were faced with another door and a panel of buzzer buttons, none of which listed the name of the apartment owner. So I began pushing them one at a time and asking for the agent. No luck. Nobody had ever heard of her.

Kathy, meanwhile, had walked further into the courtyard and discovered a second set of apartments! Here she found the name of the apartment owner we were looking for. Within seconds, the agent had buzzed us in and we found ourselves in a little vestibule. Our apartment was on the third floor and to get there, we had to climb a narrow, circular staircase which led, at each floor, to a little landing in front of a single apartment door. Another free workout :) I couldn’t help but wonder how they ever got furniture or appliances up there!

The door on the third floor landing stood slightly ajar. We pushed it open and it was with a great sense of relief that we finally found ourselves in the place we would call home for the next several weeks!


Jeanette Leach said...

Thought this was supposed to be a time for relieving stress!!!

Mike Steinborn said...

You're right, Jeanette. Whoever said, "A change is as good as a rest" wasn't with us that day! :P