Writing everyday is hard, but I do so for days just like this.
As a side note, much like it helped in Italy, my church going habit has helped here.
Today I traveled from Brussels to Paris. I was already a bit weary about this trip because of all the news of violence in Paris that’s been reported lately, but I’m actually in Paris for a real reason (not that visiting people and seeing cities isn’t a real reason). There’s a UNESCO conference on Education which should be interesting, so I’m excited for it. Unfortunately I am a bit far away from the conference center, so I’ll need to metro in each day but that’s not too bad.
I got to the station too early for my bus and had to wait quite a while. I again took Ouibus but this time from Brussels to Paris. It was alright but I’m tired of buses. I’m so happy that my trip to London will be on the Eurostar because I don’t think I could handle another bus right now. I managed to sleep a bit but not by much. I got to Paris without all the instructions for how to access my Airbnb so I had to wing it for the most part. First, I went ahead and found the metro. This part was pretty easy because the Paris metro is pretty well marked. Unfortunately it’s very crowded and hard to get to the area with the escalators so I mostly carried my rolling bag around. Not a big deal though.
So I get to my last station and I’m freaking out a bit because I still don’t have instructions for how to get into the Airbnb because I haven’t had access to wifi for the past 40 minutes. I stop near the exit to try and get my bearings and maybe get some wifi when a lady walks up to me and asks me where I’m going. I’m a bit suspicious of her approaching me, but I tell her the road and she says she can take me there since she’s heading that way. I’m pretty paranoid at this point so I politely refuse and she still gives me verbal instructions so I thank her for those. I’m sure she probably was just trying to be nice, but you can never be too careful.
I do finally get some wifi access and by then I’ve mapped out how to get to the Airbnb, but I neglect to check my Airbnb messages (mistake #1). I get to the area, expecting to meet up with the person (even though the original instructions I was sent told me to call a few minutes before getting there), but there’s no one there. Like I stand outside the door for a while to no avail. In my mind, I’m starting to panic although this street seemed pretty safe for the most part. I finally got up the courage to walk into a store a bit up the street and ask if they could place the call for me (to the person I was supposed to meet). Unfortunately for me, the call doesn’t go through. I find out later why, but for now I’m freaking out again that I got a voicemail in French of the person I’m supposed to meet with. The store clerk wishes me good luck and I walk around outside again waiting. Nothing happens for the next few minutes so I go back to the store and ask if I could try calling again. The guy lets me and I call and again get voicemail. It’s not until I’m out of the store and waiting again that I realize I do have the number of my host (the number I have been calling is his mother’s number), and that I could try calling that, but by now I’m a bit embarrassed to go back a third time to ask for the phone again. I start walking to see if I can find another place to ask to make a call.
As I’m walking around, coincidentally right across the street from the store, I see the clerk come outside and look around. He finally sees me and says that he got a message from the person I had been calling! I quickly rush over and it ends up that we call her son anyway (what I had been wanting to do). I was then able to get directions and successfully get into the Airbnb. I just had to thank whoever is out there for helping me out.
While sitting around in the apartment, there is suddenly knocking on the door (a few hours later). It turns out its his mom who I was supposed to meet with, but who had another engagement tonight and was unable to meet with me. She guides me through a map of Paris and then she offers to take me out to pizza and who am I to say no to free food so we go to the pizza place across the street with her friend and have pizza. I have the Che pizza which is like fried plantains, pulled pork, and lots of cheese on top of a pizza. I wasn’t a fan of the crust, but definitely liked the extreme use of cheese. The pizza place was Flamingo Pizza and seems to be pretty popular. I liked it a lot, although I might be a bit biased since I didn’t have to pay. Something I never thought would happen though is going to dinner with my Airbnb host’s mother.
Even though I’m not religious, I’ve always been pretty superstitious. I always go into churches and pray whenever I can. This was true even in Italy. I can tell you that I’ve never been so relieved in my life that things worked out. I was about ten seconds away from just walking to the nearest hotel (I passed a few) and just forfeiting the money, but everything worked out in the end. I’m excited for tomorrow and the start of the conference at the UNESCO headquarters. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to see some of Paris tomorrow. We’ll see.