There are some people who say that rain is good luck, but as I sit in our hotel room listening to the pittering droplets outside our window, I call serious bullshit on that. The rain itself, is frankly the least of my concerns, as the Murphy’s law of travel had once again dropped in on us.
Although we breezed through security, and checkin at the airport without issue, the realization that I may have overpacked as I crammed my giant backpack, neck pillow and camera bag under the tiny wine bar table hit me like the $17 a glass wine buzz I would soon inflict upon myself.
After a few glasses, my sore muscles began to loosen and for a moment, all was right in the universe. Then came time for us to settle up and move on. We bid adieu to the older couple sitting behind us, who were among the five individuals who also warned us about pickpockets. Although I’ve been to many major cities before, both in the U.S. and abroad, I’ve never had “the fear” driven into me in such a way before. My mind conjured a city full of unknowable faces, all vying for my wallet, for there was certainly no place safe on my person I could keep it totally safe.
We grabbed some takeout for dinner, but realized the only place in the entire terminal that had red bull (my lifeblood when it comes to combatting jet lag and substandard airline coffee). So, having ten minutes left before we began boarding, I found myself sprinting through the terminal for overpriced energy drinks.
We get on board, settling in is all but impossible. The seats feel smaller, and I’m never comfortable. The in flight entertainment system goes out at my seat halfway through the movie I’m watching, and it never recovers, even after the flight attendant reboots it. I try to sleep, but can’t settle in. Only once the captain puts on the lights, announcing breakfast service and one hour until arrival, do I start to nod off. Now, though, it’s too late. I haven’t missed a whole night’s sleep since my son was born, and every inch of my body is roiling with rage.
At baggage claim, another person reminds me to “be careful for pickpockets” in an alarming tone. I begin to wonder if I look like I can’t handle myself in a big city, or if that’s the one piece of advice anyone ever remembers about going to Paris. But at that point, I’m so exhausted and figure if some Dickensian street urchin takes my shit, I’d let them.
Once we have our bags, we queue up with the rest of our group, some of them looking every inch the country bumpkin the guidebook warned us so strongly against. (Seriously, people! Get your shit together!) Our luggage loaded into a sketchy looking cube truck and sent off to meet us at the hotel. Meanwhile, we go through what can only be explained as a psychological experiment to determine how long people will wait for a bus before killing someone.
The ride through the city to our hotel is confusing. Parts of the city look like bad housing projects. There’s graffiti everywhere and although it’s all in French, I do recognize someone’s street name as “chicken,” and am not able to determine if it’s some kind of dig, or if the gangs here are equally as bizarre as the art of mime and the comedy of Jerry Lewis.
I’m delirious by the time we check in, only to be told the nap and shower I’m longing for will have to wait another 8 hours. We’re a allowed to stow our luggage, but no room is available until 4:00 p.m. At this point, I loose my cool, and destroy the thin veil keeping my last frayed nerves. I just want to cry, but one of my husband’s absolutely useless colleagues reminds me that I “get what I pay for.” Um, yeah dude, I get it. This trip is paid for by someone else, but fuck that. I’m not asking much, really, and if I had the option to not be here, I really would have opted out.
We decide to explore the surrounding areas and happen upon the local grocery store. A lovely Parisian woman advises us on bottles of rose wine and all is right with the universe.
Later we find a reasonable bistro with yummy beer and food. After some food and drink, we feel closer to human, and are delighted to get the call that our room is ready. At the desk, we are told the luggage will be brought up, but two hours later, we wake up from our nap to find no one has come. I call the front desk three times before I can get an answer, and when they finally do arrive, one of the bags is missing.
I don’t let the bellhop leave without getting some kind of idea what I can do next. I leave him in a huff in search of the room where the luggage was stored, only to arrive and find it completely empty. Fighting tears, I ask the employee about the bag, but he doesn’t need to answer. He gathers the other bellmen, and a brief discourse in French takes place with each of the regarding me with concerned, sympathetic eyes. One compiles a list with the other rooms they delivered bags to, and we set off to find each one.
I learned that, at least in this hotel, the bellman will use his key card to enter in spite of the “do not disturb” sign. I make a mental note to bolt the door to my own room later. Our search does not turn up the bag, so I am forced to return to the room empty-handed. I deliver the bad news and my husband begins drafting the list of the bag’s contents, while I grab a shower. Luckily, by the time I finish, the bag has surfaced and was delivered.
Putting the negativity behind us, we set out for the night. We return to a quiet bar, and enjoy a meal with the entire restaurant to ourselves. The long trip behind us, our bellies full, and thoroughly exhausted, we head back home to blissful sleep.