Monday, January 3, 2011

Luxurious, homeless wanderer

I was so excited to leave yesterday. I had been talking about going to Paris for the last 8 months of my life, so it seemed for a while like it was never gonna happen. Visiting family in Jeddah is always wonderful because there's nothing to do except spend quality time with family and friends. The following is a few shots of a random street I was on, waiting for my dad to get spagghetti from the local convenient store. These are shots of the more shabby parts of the city, in the alleyways. Jeddah is more of a high-end city with several malls and a lot of space for cars. 

But, alas, the day came. I was in Jeddah's international airport yesterday at 11:30 pm. My dad had confirmed my reservation for the 1:15pm flight. There's my family in the distance waving goodbye. 

The situation was so wonderful that an upgrade to first class was so unexpected! The last time I had been upgraded was around 6 years ago so the timing was magnificent. 

Seven hours later and we arrive at 5:53 at CDG Airport.

And so I take the train, RER B, to Chatelier- Les Halle with major paranoia. I might have given mean looks to people: I will outsmart you if you try to pick-pocket me. But, I don't my efforts prevented anything. Most people were headed to work and seemed to have other cares. 

I arrived at the station and exited to find that the sun still hadn't shown as seen to the right. It was dark though the streets were filled with many getting to their destinations. Most importantly, I made sure I knew where I was going- and I did more or less. Google Maps is quite extraordinary- didn't keep me homeless for me lugging a 50lb bag behind me.
But the streets still look a little creepy and deserted 7:40 in the morning. 

So I met up with my tenant and she lead me around the block to see points of interest as I get accustomed to the area. But this point, I am exhausted! I have not slept for a bit and I am sick of my bag, hating the moment I put each thing into that bag for whatever use it had- but that wasn't the bad part. I had to lug that old black suitcase up 4 floors of stairs, and they were small and numerous! I was cold at the bottom of the staircase and dripping sweat by the top. It was my worst heavy lifting experience ever. A few times, I almost lost grasp of the handle so much so that the tenant, who was right after me on the stairway, decided to wait till I did a level of stairs before she followed with that level! It was bad and only prayer pulled me through that. I thought I had been through a lot in Canada with bringing groceries home. 

Later on that day, I decided to by some groceries, contact solution, and the plug adaptor to be able to charge my laptop. Most importantly, I wanted to walk around Paris and feel like a Parisien.

I was still tired and right in front of my little studio location is a McDonald's. I wanted something cheap, quick and recognizable. I know that I hadn't even been 12 hours in Paris but I needed that link to familiarity before venturing off onto unknown territories. I got a cheeseburger for 1,75 euros and sat in a cafe-looking lounge. Too bad I watched Supersize Me. I could just eat a burger of McDonald's a day! 

From the place I was sitting at McDonald's you can see my two windows as in this picture. I took this picture so that my two windows are the ones fully showing on the upper right hand corner of the picture to the left. 
So after that burger, I am walking and walking. Just observing the world around me. A few people with proposals approach me and others on the street for money. Thankfully, I've learned how to pass by these people quite swiftly. If I was not raised in the Arab world, how am I supposed to have just passed them by?

A major realization I came across today was how there is an amazing piece of history at every street corner in Paris. I just happened to come across this beautiful church- L'Eglise de St. Eustache. There were homeless people sleeping in it as well!

I walked around  looking for a grocery store. When I found the place, I found something that made me smile. Mom and Zeina, this is for you:

I wanted to see the Notre Dame so I walked all the way around taking pictures and even ordering a Nutella crepe. I even directed some tourists to the Louvre while on my way!

I finally arrived home extremely exhausted. View from my apartment.

The day had taken a lot out of me. After a nice warm shower and warm tea, I'm typing this up hoping to be able to share the little adventure I was on today. I don't even know when this day started- but it was enjoyable nonetheless. January 3rd, 2011, thanks for being a unique and unforgettable day!

Till the next,


PS- I watched Matchstick Men with Nicholas Cage on the plane over so you can't blame me for these symptoms of acute paranoia

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