In order to get to Paris from La Spezia, Italy, Sophia and I went through various obstacles and transportation platforms. We literally took a bus, trains and a plane to get to our next stop.
Our train was at 10:15 am. By now, Sophia and I know how much time to plan for ourselves so we woke up at 8:30 am. We didn’t have much to pack so that was easy and since we were going to be active all day, we figured we’d dress comfy. Comfy for us was jeans and a t-shirt because of course, we didn’t have many options. We risked our sense of direction because it hasn’t had the best of luck in this town (La Spezia) and waited (hoped) for a bus across the street from our hotel. It arrived thankfully, and we got to the train station by about 9:45 am. We got some sandwiches for breakfast, along with some espresso. We had a long day ahead of us.
We got on the train and arrived at Parma, Italy around 12:10 pm. All trains were delayed, but we thought it was just ours. We acted quickly and got on the next train that went to Milano Centrale. Sophia had talked to people who have taken trains in Italy and she informed me that sometimes you had a train ticket for a specific seat in a specific car. We went to the right car…just the wrong train. Apparently, we got on an express. It still went to Milano Centrale, fortunately, but we were told to get off the next stop and wait for our train. We finally got on the right train and were still delayed about six minutes of our schedule. We got to Milano Centrale and instead of having ten minutes to transfer trains we had two minutes! Milano Centrale was bigger than we expected. We arrived on platform 18 and had to get to the second platform for our train to the airport. We had to run about sixteen platforms across the station. I don’t know how we did it, but we ran like the freaking wind! We were rolling our suitcases and carried them when we could while we ran. Sophia got to the train before I did (I’m a slow runner). I was giving up. I yelled, “Go on without me!” Somehow, the train waited the extra 15 seconds for me and I jumped on the train out of breath. Everyone stared at us. These two girls almost missed their train, how stupid. We walked about five cars away from the one we got on so I could catch my breath and use my asthma pump. Finally, we got settled and got to the Milano airport on time (2:52 p.m.).
When we got to the airport we had to check in our bags because the airline (Easy Jet) didn’t let passengers on the airplane with more than one carry-on. We had to pay an extra fee for this. We boarded by 5:00 p.m. and were separated again on the plane. My passenger neighbor was a very serious looking business guy so my airplane ride was pretty silent. I had no idea that I would see the Alps traveling from Italy to France. I was given a breathtaking photography opportunity by the photo gods. (Photos below)
Two exciting things happened on the airplane: a group of girls was taking their friend to a bachelorette getaway to Paris, and the bride to be was blindfolded the whole time. I told Sophia I may plan this in the future. One of the stewards announced his recent engagement and everyone applauded. Although these events will still not make up the $50 I had to pay, it was nice to know happy vibes were in the midst of our trip to Paris.
We got to the Charles de Gaulle airport around 7 pm. We had to catch a train to the city. When Sophia and I were reading up on Paris and all of its cautionary measures, it was unfortunate to find out that pickpocketing was a major crime here. This was more unfortunate because it was done by children. When we got on the train I almost had a panic attack. Sophia sat in a window seat with her suitcase in front of her and I sat in the seat diagonal to her with my suitcase in front of me. A boy sat in front of me with nothing but an empty book bag. There was a girl of about ten years old in another nearby seat (with no adult supervision) and another girl that kept walking back and forth. I was anxious the whole ride and made sure that they realized I was not letting them take my things. They noticed that I had my foot next to my luggage so it would be hard to take it and I hugged my bookbag in front of me. Paris, the city of my dreams as well as the city I was a nervous wreck in.
We got to our air BNB in the Latin Quarter of the city. We were literally staying in a closet. This was still the safest I had felt. Even though I was paranoid for having my things stolen, I wasn’t going to let it stop me from exploring my dream city. We headed out to catch a train to the Eiffel Tower.
Tip: The trains in Paris can be compared to the subway system in New York City. If you can navigate New York, you can get the hang of Paris. The language would be your only barrier.
Even though it was 10:30 p.m. I was determined to see the Eiffel Tower. We caught a train, but then the train was a stop for about 20 minutes. There were four other people in the same car that we were in and none of them spoke French. All of us didn’t know what the conductor was announcing over the speaker. I noticed a guy who was talking on his cell phone in French and got off and on the train. It seemed that he was contemplating if he should catch another train. I decided to try to break that language barrier by asking if he spoke English. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Parlez vous Anglais?”
OH, THANK GOODNESS!
He told us that the train was just stalled and that we were going to be moving in five minutes. What a relief. I was very proud at that moment. I also felt like a real tourist, haha!
I saw the Eiffel Tower lit up (not glittering yet) and I was so happy. My first sighting of Paris and it was this incredible structure at night.
Sophia and I were starving, our last meal was a light lunch at the airport in Milan. We searched for a nearby restaurant and got a table next to a very nice couple. Our meal, which consisted of one shared plate of fries and two small sodas, totaled 30 Euros…that’s about $35.
Tip: Paris is EXPENSIVE. Make sure to budget for a trip here.
We had a great conversation with the couple next to us which were traveling as well but only for six weeks. We believe they were on their honeymoon. They gave us some recommendations on how to get around the city and where we should eat. Shout out to the peeps from Texas!
We left the restaurant by midnight and got an uber back to our place because some train lines were closed.
Tip: Trains in Paris are not 24 hours. Plan ahead of time or be prepared to uber late at night.
By this time of our trip, we are near the end of May and our apartment is hot. We had the windows open all night for some cool air. We slept for about eight hours. It’s safe to say that we rested well after a vigorous journey.
The next morning we got dressed and decided to have breakfast at a restaurant down the block from our place. It was quaint and here is where I had the best croissants of my life. My favorite thing about Paris is the way most restaurants are set up. I don’t know if it’s a thing here, but all chairs outside face outwards instead of each other when sitting in a restaurant. It’s like Parisians love people watching. I like people watching. My kind of place. Below are some views from the morning. Tune in for the next blog post to read about our full itineraries for the next two days in Paris.