Yesterday was a dramatic day!
A perfect start, with a walk in the sun and a short tube ride to St Pancras international, some very fancy champagne, then 2 hours of very civilized life on the Eurostar......but then we got to Paris.
I should start this story by saying we have been a bit thin on in the way of communication. We bought special roaming sim cards before leaving Oz. Karl for his phone and mine for my iPad. Karl's is not working most of the time.
We arrived at Gare du Nord at 2.45. The station is very close to where we needed to pick up our keys, but we could not pick up our keys until 5. So we put out cases in a locker and went out into Paris to wait. It isn't one of the most glamorous parts of the city and while I was quite pleased with my short and basic attempts to communicate in French I must admit, as Karl shifted uncomfortably in his seat, I was having my doubts about my travel planning.
We were trying to organize to meet up with a Marion, a French friend from back home, but our phone issues meant our arrangements were sketchy at best.
We got our keys and returned to Gare du Nord to catch the Metro to our Apartment, it meant we had to change trains once, but seemed like the best option......until the doors closed with me in the train and Karl mostly out of it!
The thought of being separated, without working phones, in a city neither of us have ever been to flashed before my eyes and we forced the doors back open and Karl threw himself and his enormous suitcase forward onto the train and we made it to the Marias.
We had googled the Apartment and knew exactly where we were going, until someone let us into the building, then into the wrong section and into tiny, tiny lift, with our cases, we could only fit in one at a time and it felt remarkably like a coffin. I took the lift second and joined Karl on a pitch black landing with 2 doors, neither of which fit the key we had been given.............breathe........do not panic....back into the coffin one by one and down stairs.
There is a courtyard, and we stand there looking confused for a minute until a lovely woman asks us in French if we need help. Oh boy do we need help! I show her the piece of paper cliched tightly in my hand with the instructions to find Apt 123 Rue St Antoine and she directs us, (in French, so I'm pretty glad I spent all those hours listening to my rudimentary French lessons on my iPad), to our staircase! Three spectacularly steep and spirally flights of stairs later we are home at last.
Finally we reach Marion, she is waiting for us in a cocktail bar a few Metro stops away. We should go the Station Place Monge, call her, and she will come and find us. Karl's phone is working now, so all is arranged.
The Metro has traumatized us and it doesn't seem far, so using only a metro map, maps on the street and a tiny bit of google cheating, we walk. We find Place Monge, we feel clever, Karl's phone doesn't work anymore.
Marion does not know we are there, we do not know where she is........breathe.....don't panic.
There is a phonebox, great! It doesn't take coins, there seems to be a spot to swipe a credit card.....no. It must be phone card only......where do we get a phone card? I ask someone, he doesn't speak English and I forget all the French I ever learnt.
Someone speaks enough English to understand me, I must go to the Tabac, I should have known, the tobacco shop is where you buy everything.
We call Marion, she finds us, she is very forgiving and sympathetic and plies us with Mojitos. She is with her boyfriend and a friend and they take us to eat, (at 10pm), and we are ok. Everything is ok, and there is nothing we can't handle now.
Karl has merrily gone off to Versailles today on his own and I am going to find a Supermarket. We have made fail safe plans if we lose contact.