“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This famous quote is one that I generally agree with, even in my travels. However, after being awake for 26 hours straight, I was thinking all about my final destination and was actually quite fed-up with the journey portion. Fortunately, I made it to Paris, and actually it was quite an uneventful trip. I was delayed 3 extra hours in Charlotte, which made my layover close to 7 hours, but at least I wasn’t running through the terminal Home Alone-style like usual. Upon arrival in Charlotte, it was made apparent to me that the majority of the airport was without water service unexpectedly. This caused all restrooms and most food establishments to be closed in all parts of the airport except Concourse E. It did not make my long layover the most comfortable experience in the world, but ultimately, it was a great preparation for the lack of public facilities throughout France (a restroom I visited at Charles de Gaulle Airport only had 2 stalls, what?!)
I posted up at a bar to watch the Masters and engage in conversation with random people. I don’t usually travel alone, but there is definitely something intriguing about striking up conversations with fellow lone travelers. I watched golf and discussed an array of sports with two Philadelphia-bound gentlemen. Though they did not know each other, both had been to the Akron/Canton area recently, proving that indeed, it is a small world after all.
Once my flight finally got underway, I was pleasantly surprised to see my seatmate was a 70 year old woman who preferred to sleep 99% of the time. Anyone who has been on a 7+ hour overnight flight with a chatty Cathy will appreciate this fact. Stocked with my European Snack Foods Travel Kit (pictured above, thanks to a good friend) and an array of television selections, I was settled in for the long haul. Naturally, the first movie I decided to watch was Taken 2. Though not nearly as good as the original movie, I was simply reminding myself that there are many cities more dangerous than Paris.
I don’t know how to describe arriving in Paris other than to say that it has a certain “smell.” Not in a bad way at all, although I’m sure some areas do not smell all that pleasant. Charles de Gaulle Airport smells like any old regular outdated airport, but then add in the scent of magnificent French perfume. Perhaps that is the secret ingredient to the entire city. Take any old dirty cabdriver, add in French perfume and voilà, Paris! Forget the stereotypes that they all smoke and don’t bathe, French perfume camouflages it all!
I got an abbreviated tour of a few of the famous Paris sights en route from the airport to my new home in Maisons Laffitte. One of my favorite areas in Paris is Montmartre with Sacré-Cœur standing atop the hill. I was able to glance this from the Boulevard Périphérique (expressway that circles the city). I also caught a glimpse up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. I will have plenty of time to explore all my favorite areas of Paris over the next 10 weeks, but it was nice to catch sight of a few on my way into town. It reminded me that I am indeed a resident of the Paris metro area for now. Not to discount the journey Ralph, but when your destination is Paris, you can’t help but look ahead.