Sunday, May 2, 2010

Midnight Train to Paris

Paris, France-- Wow, it is thrilling but a little strange to write that we are in Paris, the halfway point of our trip. But before I go into that, we got some very exciting news today! After weeks of waiting, Ben finally heard that he was accepted to Virginia Tech, one of the top-ranking architecture schools in the country and one of his top choices as well! Needless to say, I am very proud of him and we are very excited to start planning our life in Alexandria, Virginia (on the D.C. metro line).

Although the good news would have been welcome at any time, it was especially appreciated after the past few days. Beginning last Thursday, our relationship with Hans and Angela started feeling a little stale. It was their first time hosting WWOOFers, and it seemed like they might have been a bit anxious to get back to their normal routine. Ben and I are finding that the host-helper relationship is a very finely nuanced thing; it is difficult for both parties to know exactly what to expect and what is expected of them. Anyway, we have decided that a week and a half is good amount of time for a stay. It is long enough that we all get a chance to learn the ropes and get to know each other, but not long enough for everyone to tire of the situation.

We ended up cutting our stay in Puylaurens a night short, but only because of the horrific time we had trying to find a train to Paris. The original plan was to leave sometime this morning (Sunday, May 2), giving Marianne, our landlady, the chance to have the apartment ready for us by the time we arrived in the early evening. To make a long story short, the only train that had space for Eurail passengers (a budget pass) and did not interfere with Shabbat was the 12:49 overnight train. So that's what we took. Angela made it sound sort of glamourous, but after a two hour wait in the Toulouse train station, we boarded a crammed train full of coughing and sneezing, grumpy travelers with no respect for personal space. We "slept" in reclining chairs that you couldn't fully recline unless you wanted your head in the lap of the person behind you.

We arrived in Paris at 7:30 in the morning and because it is the Sunday of a holiday weekend (May 1st is Labor Day here), the city was eerily quiet. We found our apartment building with no trouble only to realize that we didn't have the access code. This meant a lot of frustrated waiting and phone calls and shlepping of heavy, broken luggage, wah wah. By 1:00, however, everything was going smoothly again. Our apartment is small, but beautiful, fully equipped, and in a wonderful central location. We already have a load of laundry in and are making it our home for the next four weeks.

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