Je ne parle pas Français.

Earlier this month I received a message from another crew member, requesting to swap my Beijing flight for her trip to Paris! I jumped at the opportunity, gladly passing up the cabin full of smelly feet and lack of dining options in the smoggy Chinese city. It just so happens that I'm kind of madly in love with Paris, so it worked out perfectly for myself and the Chinese crew member who was able to go home.
I was feeling optimistic as I headed off to work. It is generally a very easy, relaxed flight, and the announcements in French make me feel like I'm back in Canada. It's a good thing that I was well rested, because this Paris flight was like no other Paris flight I've been on. Our airline has recently changed the service routines and we found ourselves running around for the entire 6 and a half hours, rushing to get everything done before landing. I was worn out and exhausted by the time that we reached the hotel, but I wasn't about to let that stop me. I was in Paris, and staying in the hotel was simply not an option. The majority of the crew had no intent of going anywhere, and I had accepted that I was going to venture out on my own until one crew member named Zayed mentioned that he wanted to go to the city as well. He was half Cuban, half UAE national... the most random of combinations I've met so far. I emphasized that I was going to wander the city with no plan aside from eating food and taking photos, and he was content to do the same. These days I'm a bit picky when choosing who to spend my layovers with, as many of them seem to put a damper on the fun and hold me back from doing what I'd actually like to do. He seemed carefree enough, so we headed to the train station together bound for central Paris.
Our first stop was Chatelet, which I loved saying repeatedly as the name seems to roll so beautiful off of my tongue. Chatelet, oh la la! The streets were lined with high end shops and quaint cafes. The chaotic flight had built up our appetites and we set out in search of something delicious. We settled on a cute restaurant called "Au Chien Que Fume", roughly translated to "The Dog that Smokes". Had I been in Beijing, I would have avoided it like the plague, but I was confident that Parisians don't eat dogs. It was decorated with tacky ceramic canines and a vast selection of wine bottles. I browsed the menu for awhile, attempting to translate it without giving in and requesting an English menu. Although it was obvious that I didn't speak French, I was determined to make an effort. I ordered from the set menu, feeling the need to have a 3 course dinner. For my starter I chose the French onion soup. I'd been craving it recently, and what better place to satisfy my craving than France itself. It definitely exceeded my expectations with stringy delicious cheese drowning in the tasty broth. It probably would have sufficed as a meal in itself, but that's not how I do things. Next up was my main course. Despite having had salmon during my last visit, I couldn't help but to order it again. Although I've been told time and time again to order duck, I was unable to do so as a girl who used to live on a farm with pet ducks. The salmon was perfect, and by the time I'd finished I was certain that I couldn't stuff in another bite of food. Unfortunately (insert sarcasm here) I still had to endure dessert. Still battling through Lent, I went with one of the few chocolate-less options: Creme brulee. My stomach hated me but my tastebuds thanked me as I devoured every last bite of dessert perfection. I washed it all down with a perfect glass of Riesling, as it felt entirely necessary.
I was already satisfied with the trip, but I still had plenty of evening to look forward to. We wandered the area for awhile, with Zayed being forced to listen to my constant confessions of love for the city. What's a girl to do in a city so beautiful and surreal?
Despite having been to Paris in the past, my layover companion had never seen the Eiffel Tower. This was simply unacceptable to me, so I led him to the nearest metro station and we navigated our way towards Trocadero. Upon emerging from the station we turned around the corner and there it was in all of it's glory... the Eiffel Tower! I was just as in love as the first time I'd seen it, clutching my camera and muttering on about how it was the perfect time of night for perfect photos.
We strolled around for awhile, blissfully content in the warm evening air. As we sat in the grass staring up at the sparkling tower, I longed to have my fiance beside me. I'm a sucker for cliche romance.
It was getting late and I was running on my last bit of energy, so we decided to call it a night and return to our hotel room. Not wanting to walk all the way back to the station we came from, Zayed suggested that we find another one nearby. I didn't argue, how lost could we possibly get? Very lost, apparently.
We found a station, figured out where we'd need to connect, and set off on our way. What we didn't anticipate was that the line we were trying to connect on would be closed, leaving us stuck and forced to backtrack. I'm just going to accept that I sound conceited and say it: Had I been navigating, this never would have happened. I'd suggested an alternate route but went along with his way because he insisted it would be easier, like a typical stubborn man. I continued to let him lead the way, causing us to get even more lost before I finally took matters into my own hands and found the way to the proper station. With great relief after a stressful hour or so, we finally reached the line that would take us directly to the airport, where we could catch a shuttle to our hotel. I was fading in and out of consciousness on the train, forcing myself to stay awake.
I reconfirmed with Zayed that it was in fact terminal 2 that we needed to get off at. He was quite sure that it was, so we stayed on as the train stopped at the other terminals. It was then that I thought perhaps I should double check, and when I did I felt like an idiot for having not looked sooner. We needed to get off at the earlier stop. Despite being humorous to think back on, at the time I was ridiculously grumpy. It wasn't a big deal, we could just get off and catch the train going in the opposite direction. Or at least, we could have had it not stopped running an hour earlier. Zayed tried to offer up other plans of action to make it to our free shuttle bus, but I was far too exhausted to listen to him. I informed him that we were taking a taxi back to the hotel, and that I wouldn't consider any other option at this point. We hopped in the first one that agreed to use the meter rather than a ridiculous set rate, and we were finally homeward bound. I'd never been so happy to step into my hotel room. After a quick chat online with Ryan, it was off to bed where I slept peacefully until morning.
I'm not a big fan of the crew hotel due to it's location far from the city, but I will give it a thumbs up for the buffet breakfast. A bargain at only 8 Euros, I was up early filling my plate with pastries, smoked salmon, and all sorts of deliciousness. I stopped by the crew lounge to grab a coffee before heading back to my room to get ready for my flight. It was only after I'd obtained a caffeine buzz that I received the message that the flight would be delayed. Had I known that, I would have skipped the latte and took a nap, but it was too late for that. I sat in my hotel room browsing the internet and waiting patiently until it was time to go.
After a 2 hour delay we were on our way back to the desert and I was headed off on my next adventure!