So I’m here. In Orléans. It took a whole day and then some to get to this point, but I’m finally settled into my hotel room and munching on the other half of a baguette sandwich I bought in Paris for lunch. Now, it’s dinner. I arrived in Charles de Gaulles airport around 9 am, and before doing anything else, I dragged my two bags and myself to the shuttle that led to the train station. It was quite the spectacle, seeing as I weigh only 10 pounds more than my two bags, but I made it. Next time, I think I’ll use one of those trekking backpacks as my carryon, so I only have to pull one suitcase. I wonder how much those cost…anyway!
At the train kiosk, I automatically greeted the agent with a cheerful “Hello!” and he responded “Bonjour” without taking his eyes off the computer, although the British flag by his desk indicated that he spoke English. It clicked that not only would I get much further speaking French, but I could possibly get a discount this way too.I was right– the agent gave me the young adults discount, although I hadn’t bought the membership, and he was quite friendly (if slightly incomprehensible lol) when explaining how to get to the Paris Austerlitz station.
You see, all the times that I have been in France, I’ve always taken a direct train from the airport to my destination city. However, the only train to Orléans that day from the airport left at 7:00 pm! And the arrival time was way too late for me to be walking alone with two heavy suitcases in an unknown town. So instead, I decided to take a noon train leaving from another Paris station– but as I found out, this included getting on and off two metros and walking up and down several flights of stairs, as many Paris subway stations lack both escalators and elevators.
Thankfully, I eventually made it to the Austerlitz station, without a twisted wrist or a broken back. And many, many Parisians helped me along the way- I cannot begin to count how many! At first, I was wary to accept help from any strangers because when I hopped off the first metro, this guy in a beret aggressively grabbed my suitcase with a “Je vais t’aider!” and I shouted back “Non, merci!!” at him, and he eventually backed off after pestering me with a few names. To be honest, I just got a weird vibe from him from the jump and I decided to go with my gut.
However, other than him, everyone else was really sweet. One memorable moment was when I took a wrong turn and started going down a flight of stairs with my valise. Two handsome men in business suits approached me and offered to help me take them down. When I finally got down the stairs though, I realized where I really needed to be was three flights upstairs! By this time though, my two helpers had already hopped on their metro, lol. As I started lugging my heavier bag back up, using the second as a crutch, a sweet-faced African lady who was coming down offered to help me take the bigger one, and a boy brought up the smaller suitcase for me. Really, I could not have asked for a better day. Everyone was so kind to me, and who knows, maybe a few of them were angels in disguise :0) Once I got on the train, another man offered to put my suitcase in the luggage rack, I mean, it was incredible. I wish there were some way I could thank them (other than my heavily accented Merci beaucoups haha), because I don’t know what I would have done today without so much help.
So that’s how my day went…I’m in the hotel now, pondering what I’ll do tomorrow. At 5pm, I have an appointment with a realtor. I was supposed to call 3 landlords that a housing director helped me find this afternoon, but I was so exhausted when I got to the room that the most I could do was call my dad to let him know everything was okay, confirm my 5 pm appointment by mail, and pass out on the bed. I’ll call them tomorrow. In the morning, I think I’ll buy a prepaid cell phone, get a few groceries so I don’t have to eat out, and familiarize myself with the town. I’m hoping to get a place this week so I don’t have to stay at this hotel for too long, but we’ll see. Right now, I am just relieved and happy to be safe and sound and all in one piece. And super grateful that this hotel has internet.