Paris Get It Together
September 21, 2009


I took a high speed train called the Renfe from Nice to Paris. I got to Paris around 5PM and at this point in my life I’m pretty good at navigating a strange place to get to where I have to go. I figured out which subway train to take from the main train station. Transportation systems are always interesting because each city has a slightly different way of doing things. In Paris, a sign pointing downwards means walk straight to the platform. A sign pointing upwards means take the stairs up to the upper platform. This might sound like how it should be, but coming from Spain it confused me a great deal. In Spain the signs that point upward indicates “yep go ahead this way” and when they want you to go upstairs the arrow points diagonally upwards. It took about 45 minutes to get from the main station to the hostel and I found it without a hitch.
I met a guy from Manhattan about my age named Z and he was headed to the Eiffel Tower to take some snaps and was cool enough to let me join him. At this point I’m pretty good at meeting people and establishing plans in less than 15 minutes. I’m also getting used to not knowing what’s gonna happen in the next hour or two.
When we get to the subway station Z doesn’t have loose change to buy a ticket so I show him the art of jumping the turnstile. Many of you who live in cities with subways know what I’m talking about. In your own city, I don’t suggest practicing this skill. I, however, am on vacation and would be able to talk myself out of a ticket. Also, I could rip up the ticket and never pay it. Thirdly, I’ve gotten very good at it and have never gotten caught. It’s a quick and fun way to get your blood boiling as well. Z watches me do it and jumps himself, saving us 2euros each and a couple minutes of having to buy the tickets.
Those few minutes ended up crucial. Because we went straight through the turnstiles, we were able to catch a train that would have been gone had we been 5 seconds late. In my opinion, getting on that particular train was crucial to setting up the rest of the night.
The Eiffel Tower itself attracts a lot of tourists, but since it was nighttime and a weekday the crowd wasn’t an issue at all. It was built as a radio tower and was used during a few wars but nowadays it doesn’t broadcast anything anymore. After getting something to eat (which I do a lot of now) we bought tickets and got in line to go up the tower. The elevators that go up the Eiffel Tower is something I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world. Since it goes up through a leg of the tower, it’s more of a ski lift/elevator hybrid.
We reach the second floor and some people start taking pictures of the city. Some find a wall to hide from because it’s a lot colder and windier than the ground floor. It’s a great view. While everyones doing those things, I meet two Brita and Sabina.
After the four of us finish looking out at Paris and complain about the Siberia-like conditions on the second floor of the tower, we get thirsty and decide to go for a drink. We walk a distance away from the Eiffel Tower. As it gets smaller and smaller our thirst grows and grows. Kinda like the Hulk but we get thirstier instead of physically stronger.
The first restaurant went well, with the exception that it closed at 11PM. Paris, we just want to get a few drinks, why are you trying to stop us so early?!
Undeterred, and a little motivated by getting more alcohol as quick as humanly possible, we powerwalk across the street nearly getting hit by a small Renault. In France the cars are usually smaller and will yield for pedestrians even if they’re not walking in a crosswalk zone. They’re cute little vehicles I would never be caught dead in in socal but hey it’s a different world over here.
We get to the next bar and immediately order drinks, and the bartender slams them down for us quickly with a TWAP! The drinks were nice but we were more involved in conversation. Z was talking to Sabina, a Chinese Austrian that works at her parent’s chinese food restaurant. Me and Brita talked at length about traveling, dating in Austria/America, and other things I suppose.
Anyway, the waiter hands us the bill and they start putting away their tables and chairs. It’s their subtle way of saying “Get the fuck out we’re closing”. So we do.
It’s 1AM.
Still unfazed, we make our way to an idle taxi. I use my sad excuse for French to tell the cab driver that we need more alcohol. He understands me immediately but probably not because of my French but my hand motions. Either way, we’re now in a cab on the way to a place that hopefully will stay open late enough for us four.
He earned his tip, because the last place stayed open until we were really finished.

The third time was a charm since we were able to drink and talk for as along as we wanted. Somehow, that point ended up to be 5AM. We down the last remnants of our drinks and stumble to the closet subway station, huddled closely for heat along the way. We were all cold because we all came from places with warmer temperatures and were underdressed.
We have to wait until 5:30AM for the trains to start running, which is a drag considering places like New York has trains running 24 hours a day. Paris, what gives?! Anyway, it’s too late and we’re in such a good mood that nobody complains. We just huddle a little closer as I tell everyone that we gotta jump the turnstile (we are experts now).
We go our separate ways and I make the dumb move of forgetting to get their information. Now I’ll never get to talk to them ever again. I won’t be able to know if Sabina made it to that awesome rave back in Austria. Or if Brita found a flat to live at for the new school year in Paris. What a loss.
Anyway, Z and I get back to the hostel after nearly missing the stop dozing on the train.
I get in. My head hits the pillow.
My iPhone says 6:03AM.
Welcome to Paris.