United Is Crap (But Paris Is Lovely)

After I woke up, I was shuffled towards the van, and separated from my beloved cat, Tiger. What I will do without him? I know not.

Then, we went to El Rodeo and discovered that Princess Guardado is very uncomfortable speaking Spanish. That was quite fun for me.

At the airport, I was surprised to see my friends: Alison, Stephanie, and Paullina. It was very nice of them all to come out–I appreciated it–even though I’m still surprised we didn’t get arrested for terrorist jokes. Grandma Dee and Grandma Kay came out as well, it was nice to see them. Father was obviously the happiest to see me, as he slipped me some cash without me even asking. Jessica had her usual mental breakdown, but we all see that as a sign that she is normal, now.

There was an unfortunate side to the airport business, aside from the fact that everybody was dressed to the the nines in their dress sweats, Mother’s ticket to Paris was screwed up badly. She had a seat, but there wasn’t one assigned to her. I, of course, began thinking of the possibilities of a business class or first class upgrade. We had been terribly inconvenienced by this thoughtless company and if anybody deserved to be bumped to the front it was us.

The flight to Chicago was incredibly uneventful–about 45 minutes from Des Moines. I was impressed with the speed of airplanes and then wished that they would go faster. We were placed in the Exit Row–which was a godsend. In the Exit Row, you get a magical five inches more legroom–that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a world of difference. As the plane took off, I decided to read the instructions on what to do when the plane crashed into the fields below. After leafing through the pamphlet, I took a good look at the handle of the emergency exit. It looked as if it had been well used, chipped in a few places with the security cover quickly put back on. It made me a bit nervous, but we never had to use it.

Once we got to Chicago, we went to try to and get an upgrade. Joyfully, I discovered that the only available seats were in the Premium Section. My heart afloat with joy and my imagination running amuck with stretch-out cabins and roasted turkeys with a personal bottle of champagne, I went to find some food in the airport. The only thing I could find were some Chicken Selects at the McDonalds. I would have chosen to eat anything other than that, but I had no choice. So, with pain, I munched on my poison strips dreaming of my imminent upgrade.

When I returned to the lounge, those dreams were dashed upon the rocky rocks of sorrow. The kind woman who was helping us had placed mother in a standard economy seat. So on the plane we were seated far in the back with absolutely no room next to a snotty 14-year old. It was all going well until they decided to turn the lights out. Then, the woman in front of me floored her seat back. It was basically in my lap. I couldn’t even keep my legs straight. Reclining seats should be exiled, or the plane companies need to give us a few extra inches in legroom. That being said, it was the most uncomfortable eight-hour flight that I have ever experienced. Not even Hell could compare to that misery.

The food was good though, I had manicotti.

Once everybody had rushed to line up and stand there for twenty minutes we made our way into the labyrinth-esque halls of Charles de Gaulle. There were fascinating stair-less escalators, that have surely killed people, which criss-crossed every which way on the way to baggage claim. All of the passengers waited for thirty uncomfortable minutes for their baggage. Hundreds of bags flooded out, but none of them seemed to be for any of us. Ours finally did come, near the end.

There was an adorable white cat who was screaming. Then there were tons of people in traditional Muslim dress. I think it was a tour or something, they all seemed to know each other. Several people looked nervous at their presence and I got annoyed as I hate stereotypical generalizations–I think them in my head, like polite people do.

Then we had to finagle our bags to cooperate. Each of us was carrying at least 100 pounds and it was horrible. Anybody who knows me will attest to the fact that I can hardly conceive of lifting 20 pounds and living to tell the tale. We took a tram that took us to a building which led us to a series of magical moving floor things which took us to two sets of elevators which descended to the train station. We caught the train and the agonizing 40 minute trek though most horrible part of Paris, the suburbs! There was nonstop graffiti and gang symbols, vandalization and destruction everywhere. It was great!

We switched at Gare du Nord and struggled with the bags all the way to the next train. We made it and struggled out onto the street. Thanks to the mystical power of Google’s Street View, I was able to know exactly where I was going. I don’t know how we would have ever found the apartment if it hadn’t been for that.

On the walk to the apartment we walked by a hobo which wasn’t only fascinating but moderately horrifying as well.

I quickly found the apartment, and we stood outside looking silly with our mass of bags. Christiana came out and found us. She had been in the apartment waiting for us, but we never received the email telling us how to get in, but oh well. She had to leave, so she gave us instructions on how to get into the apartment. There was entry code after entry code. Inside the first door there is an old courtyard that used to be a stable in the late 1700s. The building itself was built when America was still under British rule before the Revolution. Inside the building, there is a wall of mailboxes for the mail I will not get much of.

Then, we had to find the apartment, which was no easy feat. First of all, the doors are not numbered, and secondly, it was dark, thirdly, it was on the second floor she said which is really the third floor. The French don’t count the bottom level as a floor, it is called the ground floor. Then, the key wouldn’t work. Finally, though, we managed to get in.

The apartment is lovely, there are chandeliers, the balconies are covered in antique grillwork that was designed to look like a vineyard. There is a new HDTV and a refrigerator hidden in a cupboard. It’s all very nice. The bathroom is a little odd though. The shower has no curtain, it’s just a pane of immovable glass which means that the water trickles out onto the floor when you are showering. The sink is also a tad bizarre, so you have to be careful or else it will splash all over you.

I looked around and started to unpack, but then I just fell asleep.

We woke up and went to the Eiffel Tower for dinner. There is a delightful restaurant called Iolanda. When you get off the Metro and walk towards the Eiffel Tower, you’ll be unable to miss it. I always get a roasted chicken that is always excellent and Ma always gets the spaghetti and she is always impressed.

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After dinner we made our way to the Eiffel Tower, which as you can see from the picture above, is blue. The structure itself isn’t blue, but rather, there are blue lights pointed on it casting it in blue light.

It was all lovely, but freezing, so we came back to the apartment. Then I went to sleep.

Heading off to go celebrate New Year on the Champs-Elysées now. See you next year. I hope you all make resolutions that you will break within a week! (Like weight loss, reading more, or giving up a vice like smoking or puppy stealing.)

Happy New Year!

Oh, I’m posting a walkthrough video on YouTube as we speak, so that’ll be up soon for you to see.

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