The three Filipinos made it to Paris!
Our flight left for Iceland at around 9pm. Five hours later as the sun was rising in Reykjavik, we had our passports stamped through customs. We boarded the flight to Charles de Gaulle and finally got some much-needed sleep. We arrived in Paris a little after noon. My parents waited for an hour to pick up the wheelie we were required to check in at JFK while I changed some dollars to a whopping â‚¬1.31 rate! From there, the adventure began.
The Cia plan had us take the lift back down to the departures area where we got on the shuttle bus to the RER B which in turn connected us to the city’s Metro. I bought three Visite cards, the equivalent of New York’s unlimited Metrocard, but wasn’t informed that I can only begin using them on Monday until those damn turnstiles showed us Xs on the small screens. I stood back in line and bought three â‚¬8 tickets to ChÃ¢telet-Les Halles, the grand mama of all Metro stops. We walked and walked to follow the signs to the Mairie d’Ivry #7, got on and stepped out at the next stop, Pont Marie.
The Seine was right there and we all let out a sigh of relief. We crossed the bridge to ÃŽle Saint-Louis and walked a few more blocks to the apartment. Of course, the Cia plan is never fool-proof; I forgot to write down the agent’s cell phone number and there were no pay phones around to call the owner. I asked two hotel employees and the grocery store clerk across the street but they all said I had to get out of the island to find a pay phone. My last course was the man carrying a paper bag full of baguettes. He lent me his cell phone and I finally talked to the apartment owner. Someone was watching over us because the owner was actually inside the apartment to let us in and as soon as we did, the agent showed up.
The apartment was as beautiful in person as in the photographs. The subtle steel green color was a nice choice to match the loft, the wooden beams and the fully-equipped kitchen. From the drapes and the sofa down to the towels, the owners made sure everything complemented. The windows looked over the small street of rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile and you can smell the baked goods from the boulangerie below us.
We settled in after taking care of all the paperwork with the agent–hot shower never felt so good. We stepped out and started walking towards Notre Dame on ÃŽle de la CitÃ© until we decided to grab something quick at Le St-Regis Brasserie. Good timing, too, because it started to rain while we were eating our hot onion soups and saucissons.
The cathedral’s bells beckoned and we decided to end our first afternoon by giving thanks. We sat through an hour of mass conducted in French and spotted fellow Filipinos in the crowd. (Either they turned around whenever we said something in Tagalog or the women wore scrunchies.)
It was dark when we left and a bit nippy, too. The crowd was still steadily coming in and out of the church, though. The bistros around the corner were opening up while the souveneir stands were closing shop.
We walked back to the apartment, bought beautiful flowers from Patrick Allain Fleuriste and figured out how the TV worked until dinner time. Around 10pm, we walked down the street to eat at La Taverne Du Sergent Recreteur because Gourmet De l’Ile could not accommodate any more diners in their tight space.
I knew my parents would not eat as much as I would like them to so we opted out of the â‚¬39 prix fixe that comes with endless sausages and salads and a bottle of Alsatian wine. I ordered the lamb while my mom went for the steak and my dad the salmon. My lamb was perfect but my mom could not chew her beef. My dad could not complain that his salmon came with rice. We toasted to our first night in Paris with a Heineken and two glasses of RhÃ´ne. We made it, we said, and then we laughed our Filipino laugh.
Planning a trip to Paris