Maybe I should have titled this “Why I Hate First-World Countries that Don’t have Wifi” or “Why I’ll Never Arrive in a Country at Night Again” or even something taking a jab at Parisians for being unhelpful.
I’ll probably never learn, but remind me not to stop arriving in foreign countries after dark when everything is closed for the night. Whyyyyy do I always do this? …Oh yeah, because it’s cheaper.
Thinking back to it, it’s like watching some horrible comedy. You know, the kind of comedy that almost everyone experiences as they arrive in the less than glamorous Gare Du Nord, the portal to Paris. Seriously, what is it about train station neighborhoods?
The train ride itself was smooth and easy. We arrived at almost 10pm and were ready to be taken to our apartment rental to pass out. I had told them the time we’d arrive but they told us to just call them so they can come meet us.
Call them how?? We’ve just arrived in Paris and all SIM card dealers at the station are closed. Everything is closed. I pulled out my pocket wifi device and decided I would call via Skype. Little did I know that our France device does not work. Perfect.
It’s alright, I’ll just turn on Wifi and…. What? What do you mean “No wireless networks”? How can Paris not have wifi, we’re at a major train station.
Starting to panic, we at least knew the address of the apartment, so we decided to hop into a taxi to take us there. The whole ride I was hoping that the guy would be waiting for us to let us in. Pulling up to the address, that wasn’t the case.
We were stuck.
Luckily we were in the trendy Les Halles district, and we saw a few cafes open across the street. Wheeling all our bags around, we asked the waiter if we could use a phone to call the apartment manager, “No English” he replied.
I tried again, this time in French, asking if there was a phone we could use or if another waiter spoke English. He directed us inside.
Again we had to explain ourselves to another waiter, asking if we could use their phone, he told us to wait one minute and then promptly disappeared into the kitchen. We waited and waited for him to return, and he waited and waited for us to leave from the safety of inside the kitchen. It was clear that no one was going to help us here.
We wandered further down the street, checking for Wifi hotspots along the way– nothing. Approaching a semi-empty bar we decided to try one last time, we were finally successful and they handed us their phone.
Dialing the numbers I gave a huge sigh of relief, and then no one answered. I tried the secondary number they had given us, again, nothing. It was already past 11pm, maybe they had gone to bed?
I quickly tried twice more as the lady approached us to take the phone back. Finally, someone picked up.
We didn’t have a reservation that night. Or so he told me.
Arguing back and forth a few minutes he finally realized that indeed we did have a reservation that night and apologized. He explain how to get in and that he hid a key to our room for us to find, everything seemed perfect.
Feeling relieved we lugged our bags back across town to the apartment complex. Keyed in the code, door popped open. So far so good. Checked where he said the key was hiding… found it! We were excited to be finally getting into our apartment. But then, just when everything seemed to be working out, it all fell apart again. He didn’t tell us which apartment was ours.
We looked at the key, the name on the mailbox, no clues, no hints, nothing. We had absolutely nothing to go on, and it was now almost midnight.
So what did we do? We started trying the key in all the doors, of course.
I probably freaked out half the building, thinking someone was trying to break into their apartment. A few people got up and came to the door, where I’d quickly apologize and pretend I thought I was in the right place. Thinking back on it, for being midnight, I’m glad no one came to the door with a knife or anything!
But alas, finally, we wiggled the key into a door on the seventh floor and the door swung open.
I walked back downstairs to collect my mother and bags, and we opened the elevator to go back up. The minute I opened the door to the elevator I knew that was not happening. It was about one foot wide and three feet deep– there’s no way we’d fit with our bags in that thing. So I began my ascent to the seventh floor, again, by foot.
When I reached the top I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. It was well past midnight now, so I quickly changed my clothes and popped into bed. As I closed my eyes to go to sleep I heard loud thumping noises coming from the stairs outside, followed by the sound of girls yelling.
The sound continued until they reached their room– right above ours.
The girls were drunk and angry at each other, never a good combination. From that point on all we could hear were doors slamming, screaming at each other, and crying. It was like a bad soap opera.
All we wanted to do was sleep but now we couldn’t. They were arguing over some boy amongst other stupid things. It was so loud they might as well have been in our room. At points they were yelling questions to each other, and we voluntarily would yell our own sarcastic answers up to them.
I knew the next day was going to feel horribly long. It wasn’t until 4am that I could finally close my eyes and get to sleep.
Ah, midnight in Paris… C’est la vie!