Alternatively Titled: Getting Nowhere Fast.
Or: In Which Mastercard, the Internet, and Europe Are All Stupid.
8am: Wake up, journal, shower.
9am: Free breakfast downstairs.
10am: Spend a half-hour online getting train tickets to our destination tomorrow so we’ll be all set.
Noon – Get to the Louvre. Spend a few hours. Maybe snack in the cafe. Walk for another hour or so.
4pmish – Decide on something else we want to see today.
7pmish – Find dinner somewhere nice.
10pmish – Bed.
That was the plan. This was how the day actually went:
11am – Wake up and curse jet lag for making me miss the continental breakfast which I had very much been looking forward to (Croissants!), and which ended at 10:30.
12noon – Emerge from shower to have B tell me that for some reason the hotel wifi is down, so we’ll have to use the kiosk downstairs, which is annoying because French keyboards are different and make everything harder to navigate.
12:30pm – Login at downstairs kiosk.
12:35pm – Still waiting for the login to clear.
12:40pm – Still waiting for the login to clear.
12:45pm – Still waiting for the login to clear.
12:50pm – Give up and decide we’ll use B’s smartphone while we grab a midday breakfast at the crepe place we spotted down the street. More expensive and even more annoying, but we know his wifi works.
1:10pm – Arrive at crepe place to be told they have no crepes. They have pizza. B gets the pizza, I get the daily special (Something-Something Couscous). Start fiddling with B’s phone.
1:25pm – This is the most delicious chicken-vegetable couscous I have ever tasted in my entire life. Unfortunately it is getting cold while I continue to fiddle with B’s phone. At least I finally found the right website.
1:45pm – After hitting several wrong buttons on the itsy-bitsy screen and having to backtrack repeatedly, I think I may have found a route/schedule that works for us. Have had 3 bites of delicious couscous. Definitely lukewarm by now, but I need to finish this before I can relax. Go to booking page.
1:50pm – Booking page rejects us. Have to re-enter all the info again.
1:55pm – Ditto.
2pm – Ditto. B suggests that we will need to travel to the actual train station to buy the tickets in person. I am very close to crying because in my original vision, I already had train tickets booked and 2 hours at the Louvre under my belt. B sees warning signs and starts making soothing noises peculiar to his gender.
2:15pm – I have finished my cold but still delicious cous-cous and resigned myself to going to Gare de Lyon instead of the Louvre next.
3pm – Arrive at Gare de Lyon, wander a bit (it’s like Penn Station – you need a few minutes to orient yourself), find the line that says “Immediate Departures,” but since we’re not leaving until tomorrow, we decide the kiosk is our best bet.
3:15pm – After having discovered that most of the trains tomorrow are full in second class and that we will have to pay a small fortune to travel first class in order to take advantage of the reservations we have already made in Villemagne, the kiosk rejects our credit card.
3:20pm – After re-inputting all the information, the kiosk rejects our credit card again. Helpful gentleman behind us points out that the machine only takes PIN cards, like the Euro-Mastercard, not regular credit cards, like our Mastercard. Turns out this is true in basically all European automated machines. Which explains why we couldn’t use credit for the metro machines yesterday. Now it is B’s turn to be pissed. I have already given up on the Louvre, so it’s my turn to make soothing noises.
3:45pm – After searching in vain for a line with a person at the end, paying money to use the public restrooms, calling Mastercard and being told that there’s not a thing they can do, and debating the necessity of having someone wire us more cash, we decide to get in line at “Immediate Departures” and see if anything can be done.
3:50pm – We spot another, hitherto unknown line, in another room, which turns out to be the line we wanted in the first place. We ask the lady if they can take the card, and she doesn’t know. We’ll wait and find out.
4:05- 4:30pm – We get to our ticket window, and have a half-French exchange with the very helpful and friendly lady behind the counter who works out the entire route for us (the price has gone up even since we tried to purchase tickets at the kiosk), and we all cross our fingers that the Mastercard will work on a non-automated machine. It DOES!! Praise be to all things Holy! We can finally enjoy our day!
5pm – Arrive at the Louvre. See medieval remnants of the Louvre, Egyptian artifacts, French painting. We have no intention of doing anything as crowded as attempting to see the Mona Lisa.
6pm – M is tired, tired of the Louvre, and ready for dinner. Discuss.
7pm – Our Paris guidebook sends us to this lovely 19-century-style traditional French restaurant in a quaint alley-arcade in the Grands Boulevards area. Awesome awesome awesome.
10pm – We’re getting back earlier tonight, so no problem with the buses. 🙂 Next, bed. (We have a train to catch tomorrow!).