I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I exited the plane with a huge grin on my face. I had waited eight years to come back to the city that stole my heart. Bonjour Paris, comment allez-vous?
My Pop Pop arranged a driver to grab us from the airport. We moved through the airport very easily and quickly, and before I knew it, we were on the streets of Paris. We are staying at an apartment on Avenue Wagram. It is absolutely adorable and I appreciate that the building was built in the 1800s. One of my favorite things about Paris are its beautiful buildings–they are so romantic, yet so strong. Haussman, who designed the building in which I am staying, designed most of Paris in the second half of the 1800s. Napolean III commissioned him to create a cleaner and more modern city, so from 1853 to 1870, he basically demolished many buildings, made wide streets and then connected the separate sections of the city with these streets.
We met our host and by 2 p.m. we were at the Marche aux Puces: the flea market of Paris. You may think it is weird that I am going to a flea market of all the thing to do in this city, but this is not just any flea market. It is enormous and has hundreds of vendors selling things from new clothes and souvenirs to retro and antique items. Unfortunately, the rain was quite heavy and forced many vendors to shut down early, so we did not see as much as we would have liked. The less temptation to buy things, the better!
The metro (subway) system in Paris is easy to figure out if you know where you are going and realize on which side of the track to board the train. If you have been on the NYC subway system, this should be a breeze, and a cleaner one, too! Transferring trains was easy as well, which we had to do both times we used it.
When I told people my plans for this summer, many people warned me about how dangerous traveling abroad could be. Although I do understand this, I am pretty sure it is just as dangerous to walk into NYC for my internship. Of course, I was worrying about pick-pockets, which are very apparent in Europe. I always had my eyes scanning everything around me and I forced my Pop Pop to stay in front of me so I could watch him. My tight vigil of my surroundings paid off, which was helpful but frightening at the same time. As my Pop Pop and I were getting on the subway, I noticed two young men watching people enter the gate to the subway. I saw one walk behind a woman and try to slip his hand into her coat pocket. Unsure what to do and not wanting to see this lady get robbed, I (very lightly and nervously) punched the guy in the back and wrecked his plan. I noticed the thief’s friend told him what I had done, and I was nervous I was going to get jumped. However, I made it out safe and I hope I tuned the unsuspecting woman away from harm. Anyway, the lesson is to be careful and always watch your surroundings!
On a lighter note, Pop Pop and I returned to our apartment for a brisk period of time, and then walked back to the subway to begin our next scheduled event: a bike and boat tour with Blue Bike Tours which I will speak about in the next post.