Friday, May 3, 2013

Good things come to those who wait

We were off to Paris! It was Thursday (April 25th) afternoon and our train left from Werne at 2:05. We rode that train to Dortmund and we only have 15 minutes to switch trains and find the correct platform. We found our train to Mannheim and our seats were awesome! We had a little room all to ourselves; well for the first 2 hours. We rode this train to Mannheim where we were suppose to catch our final train to Paris. We made a couple stops between Dortmund and Mannheim, and thats when we gained two more people in our private room, but they were very nice. We also gained a delay of 25 minutes. This became a problem because we only had 20 minutes to change trains and get on our next train to Paris. The nice people that sat with us helped us talk to the conductor and he assured us that the train would wait.... Never believe a word they say haha. As soon as our train stopped, we ran. We ran through the train station, down the stairs and back up other stairs  to our platform. We could see the train and there was hope we would make it! As soon as we got to the top of the stairs, our train was pulling off into the distance. Emily yelled no and Mary and I just dropped our bags. Some lady behind us was also yelling. It was the worst feeling in the world. We all got sick to our stomachs and felt lost. We were in another country, everyone spoke German and we had know idea how the system worked. We finally  found someone who worked there and she directed us to the main office. 

Once we got to the office, I found a guy who spoke some English and I let him know we were frustrated, upset, and needed help. He got us on a different train that came two hours later. The only bad thing was we didn't have reserved seats. When you buy train tickets, you have the option to reserve seats ahead of time or just hope their are open seats when you get there. The ride to Paris was another 3 hours. I really didn't want to stand the whole time. While we waited, we got Asian food and some pastries from a bakery. We were at our platform 25 minutes early, just in case. This was the last train to Paris..... 

Our train finally came and once we got on the train, I found a conductor who spoke excellent English (I think he was from England haha). I explained to him our situation and since it was a thursday night, the train was only half-way full. He found us seats in the last wagon! The view was beautiful! We were in southern Germany, northern France in the mountains.  There were little villages in the valleys of the mountains. It eventually got dark and I slept the rest of the way. At 11pm we finally made it to Paris. We were the last train to come into the train station in Paris that night.... can you say we were lucky! We met Phillip and Sophie on the platform (this was the mom and dad of the family we stayed with while in Paris. The family is a very close family friend of Emily's family).  They live in Orsay, Paris, a city in the suburbs of Paris. 

That night they were working on the roads and we couldn't go the normal way to their house. Instead we had to drive past the Eiffel Tower.... I know bummer right! haha It was breathtaking. It was so huge but so amazing. We just thought we were going to stop and take a picture of it. But we were so wrong. We walked around and then they asked if we wanted to go up. We obviously said yes! Since it was 11:30pm, there was no line and we got the last elevator to the top. The view was awesome! You could see forever. It felt like  dream. If we wouldn't have missed our train in Mannheim, the roads would be open and we would have never gone to the Eiffel Tower Thursday night. 

Friday Sophie took us around town and we saw the Opera, the art district, the Montmartre and much more. We went inside the Opera and it was gorgeous. We also climb to the top of Montmartre.... there were so many stairs!  There are about 300 to be exact. Sophie and Phillip's family own a restaurant near the Opera. We ate their for lunch. Phillip's family is from Cambodia, so the food was a mix of French and Chinese style. It was delicious.  For dinner, they made hamburgers. 

Sophie, Phillip and there three kids were going on vacation after we left on Sunday. Sophie makes all of the desserts for the restaurant, so on Saturday we helped her make about ten different things, for the restaurant while they were gone. It was a lot of fun. That afternoon we traveled to the Notre Dame but along the way, we stopped at all kinds of shops. Afterwards, we went back to the Eiffel Tower, so we could see it in the day time. For a snack, we ate macaroons, which are a famous cookie by Pierre Herme. For the car ride home, Sophie bought some fresh French bread from the bakery. She just started ripping pieces off and told us it was a common snack to eat in France. It was delicious. That night, Phillip cooked us a traditional French dinner. It was basically the French version of a roast. I'm not a big fan of roast, but it was actually good. After dinner we had cheese and bread, and then some fruit. The cheese smelled awful and didn't taste like cheese haha, but we can say that we at least tried it. 

Sunday morning, we ate all kinds of delicious pastries from the local bakery. We then packed our things up and Philip took us to the train station. Sophie also packed us a lunch and snacks for the train. Our train was scheduled to leave at 1. We found our train and the correct platform and this time were in first class. It didn't look much different but there was more room. We also got a lunch, but I now see why people told us not to buy train was cold and needed to be seasoned. Everything seemed to be going well and then our conductor came over the intercom..... Our train had mechanical problems and couldn't travel as fast. We were going to be 20 minutes late getting into Mannheim. Once again we only had ten minute to change trains.... We were going to be delayed again! Dang public transportation! Our train to Dortmund was suppose to be on platform 3. When we got to Mannheim we went there just in case it was running late too. It was gone.... But right across from platform 3 was platform 2 and it was also going to Dortmund. It was a different type of train and we didn't have reserved seats on this train. The conductor told us we could get on though, so we did. On each side of the train, there were two seats in each row. The seats were turned into each other and there were four seats per "area" with a table. Mary and Emily near each other but I was a ways away from them, but I was still in the same wagon. There was a couple that was in front of Emily that got up and I was going to move in front of her. This lady got in front of me and put her scarf in one seat and sat in the other. I just stood there... This is when I learned how to be a real European. I moved her scarf and sat down in front of Emily. She look at me and started talking German. I told her I just wanted to sit there but she could sit in the other seat. She said something else and then I told her I didn't understand her. She started yelling but then got up and left. I'm not sure what exactly happened but I moved over and Mary sat with me. I wasn't alone on the train anymore. The three of us were sitting together again. That's all that mattered, and the seats weren't reserved. We finally made it to Dortmund around 9pm. It took us almost 6 hours to get there (when the original train was only suppose to take 3 hours). We then waited for almost another hour for our train to Werne. Mary got off in Lunen and Peter picked Emily and I up. I have never been so happy to be back in Germany! 

Needless to say, we had an amazing time in Paris but I miss my car. It was an adventure but I am glad I had the two of them with me. 

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