In Paris for <25 Hours
By Ally George '20
The pilot’s intercom crackled throughout the plane: “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, the time is 9 o’clock, and we’ll be landing in Paris, France in about fifteen minutes.” Everyone on the plane murmured, eager to stretch their legs after spending the last 7 hours above the Atlantic. Thankfully, no one clapped as we landed. After gathering our luggage and calling an Uber, my 20-year-old brother, Pete, and I were on our way to the Montparnasse district of Paris, France. As the driver honked at bikers and weaved in and out of cars, I thanked the inventor of the seat belt and whoever thought of those trucks that paint the lines between lanes. Street lanes are a revolutionary invention, really, and clearly one of America’s best kept secrets because the streets of Paris are lane-less. We careened down an alley so narrow I could’ve easily touched the cars parked on either side by poking two knuckles out. I forgot the word for thank you in French as soon as I got out of the Uber. I flipped through my guidebook, and finally remembered "merci" when the Uber pulled away, leaving us in the middle of the street. We entered the hotel. The lobby man hustled us, trying to get my brother and I to share a bed or downsize our room. The language barrier made it extremely difficult to communicate with the concierge, but each time he showed me a room with a twin bed, I said, “Deux lit double! Deux lit double!” I tried to explain that we paid for two double beds and that the boy with me was my brother, not my boyfriend. He laughed at my horrendous accent and finally showed us to the proper room. “You are good American kids,” he said. We walked around the streets of France and stopped in the first café we saw. Once again, communication was incredibly difficult and it took an entire 5 minutes for the waiter to explain to me that they didn’t have honey vanilla lattes, they only had honey vanilla teas. The food was amazing; I had a salmon quiche with greens, and my brother had an omelet. Little did we know this was some of the only food we would eat in this country. We walked back to the hotel room, jetlagged and ready for bed. It was 8pm. We showered and went to bed. Strangely, at 1 am, I woke up in my bed and I couldn’t fall back asleep no matter how hard I tried. I heard my brother stirring. I checked my phone; I had about 40 text messages from my friends. Donald Trump had just announced a travel ban on all nonessential international travel. We called my mom who said it shouldn’t be that big of a deal and told us we should stay in Paris for a few more days. However, Pete and I demanded tickets home; as we both woke up right after the travel ban announcement when we should have been dead asleep. It took four hours to get the tickets straightened out. Pete and I decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower at 5 am. We had flown all the way to France, so we might as well see the most well-known structure in Paris. We walked two miles as the sky lightened and the birds began to chirp. We walked along the River Seine and looked out towards downtown Paris. Soon, it was time to go back to the hotel. We hustled back and shoveled down cold cuts, scrambled eggs, croissants, and pain au chocolat. We accidentally made lattes for ourselves in the service station as the French people dining around us stared. I never felt so American in my entire life. The kind concierge made small talk as we waited for the Uber, wishing us safe travels and inviting us back soon. “Goodbye you good Americans!” he said. I attempted to say "au revior" back and he laughed at my butchered pronunciation. After returning to the airport for the second time in two days, we waited in customs for an hour. Pete and I had to run for our gate, boarding last and narrowly avoiding missing the flight. We took off at 9:30; twenty four hours and thirty minutes after we had arrived in France.