After some discussion with Anne Rogers last night (she and her husband, Kevin, owners of Blaithin House, were departing for Barcelona that day about forty-five minutes after we were due to take off for Paris), they decided not to ride to the airport with us.
I can’t blame them—Anne offered to leave breakfast out for me, but I really couldn’t imagine giving up Travel Tip: Eat your breakfast.
We’d heard earlier from Pat that this week is spring break for all Irish schools (the first time ever, it seems, that the event had been coordinated), and suddenly it made sense why there were all those teens roving around like packs of wild dogs—our plane to Paris was packed with teenagers on the loose, as well as families with small children on their way to Euro Disney, which is just outside Paris, apparently. Anne and Kevin flew from Dublin to Barcelona for €25 each. I could even see it—the RER (in other words, the underground train into/through Paris)—on the signs. Here’s the thing in a nutshell: we landed at Terminal 1, and the RER only departs from Terminal 3 (oh, did I mention that CDG is spread out into several different terminals? My guidebook failed to tell me that important piece of information, because it’s intended for the American market, and if you fly into Paris from the U.
Considering that Gerry’s house (and my B&B) is just a fifteen minute drive from the airport, and I had to rise at four a.m. flight, I could only imagine how long some of those Irish folk had been up, and how cranky some of those kids must be, although we were, of course, soon to learn. Hel-lo—you read that correctly: twenty-five euro (roughly thirty bucks). Our flight was, as I’ve said, full, but it was uneventful (and in the case of air travel, that’s a good thing)—but that was the only easy thing about the morning. S., you’ll land at Terminal 3, and that will be that.
Stepping outside that particular comfort zone (although, let’s face it, sometimes in Ireland I’m not completely certain I’m speaking the same language) takes international travel to a whole new level.
I read up about this trip, I tried to prepare, and I actually I could handle it (and I did, most of the time).
I stopped and asked airport workers twice, and that interaction left us a bit frustrated too (oh, let’s be honest: they weren’t helpful, and it felt … Frankly, Paris is one of those places that you to go back to, because you do spend a certain amount of time fumbling around in the dark, so to speak. For example, a sign that said RER, TERMINAL 3 would have made a lot of sense to me, and would have set us on the right path.
But then you figure everything out—what works and what you like, and where things are, and how much time to allow—and the vacation becomes everything you’d hoped it would be, only two days shorter. After all, we had to do was take the luggage fifty feet from the carousel to the elevator, go down one floor, catch a shuttle bus to the next-plus-one terminal where the train station and ticketsellers were, buy two tickets, and get on.Having said all that, though, most places that tourists might go in Paris had (ahem) English subtitles. Most shopkeepers spoke more than enough English to speak French.Parisians have definitely gone the extra mile to make us welcome. putting all that behind us, we bought tickets from a human, not a machine, and finally dragged our luggage on to the train—the RER B-line, which goes straight through the middle of Paris.Something Interesting: I didn’t know this until recently, but in major tourism cities like San Francisco, say, or Paris, there’s quite a bit of business done in short-term apartment rental.This gets you out of the hotel district and into a neighborhood, and in the case of Paris, integrates you into the life pretty quickly.So, we collected the luggage, said to ourselves, “OK, let’s get to the RER,” and then found a sign that looked something like this: RER — told us to go down one floor.