...Unless you miss your train and then you are pretty much stuck in purgatory. We missed our 10:15 train to Paris and are trying to figure out how to change the tickets. The International Train Station Office which seems to be quickly solving problems for dirty, backpacking hippies left and right can do nothing for us because our tickets were bought online. So we go to a cafe where with a small purchase we get free WiFi but cannot get through to the train company and need to go buy a phone card. When Jacob returns he tells me that we missed the window for a full refund – by ten minutes. We will have to be satisfied with a 50% refund on the old tickets and buy new ones that are more expensive than the original ones, despite being second class while the others were first. All told- a $200 mistake and some serious wear on poor Jacob's psyche.
The bright spot is that Vaughn is the most patient, easy-going traveler. Also, we are on our way to Paris to stay with Oliver and Chloe, a 24 year old couple who are putting us up for a couple of days. Even their names make me happy as they are reminiscent of Bernard and Miss Bianca from the Rescuers. When we finally get on the the train, the conductor's name is Jean Jacques – which I also find pretty awesome.
Oliver and Chloe greeted us warmly with juice and chips and kisses on either side of the cheek (I mistakenly plant my kiss on her cheek before realizing we're only supposed to kiss the air). Oliver is finishing up studying law and talks passionately about governments in both Europe and the US. I dredged up literally every story I've heard about French politics (which is brief) stopping just short at, “Isn't your First Lady pregnant?” Chloe just finished up film school and is interning with a company that makes documentaries. Their families both still live in Normandy, where they met. They made us heaping plates of spaghetti and brought out their guidebooks to help us figure out just how we're going to see all of Paris in one day. As we've done in other places, we enjoy regaling them with horrifying tales of out of control student loans and uninsured medical bills in the U.S. - just doing our part to make everyone feel a little bit better about their systems. I crashed into bed thinking about how no one in Europe eats Mexican food or has tattoos and if someone could import both these addictive habits – they'd make a fortune.
I had sort of envisioned getting fancied up for our day in Paris but I'm make-upless with unwashed hair and, perhaps most tragically, socks that are close but don't quite match. I don't really care though, it's cool and rainy out and if you're serious about seeing Paris in a day you need to dress for comfort. By the end of the day we've ridden the Metro a dozen times, toured the Basilique du Sacre Coeur (Church of the Sacred Heart), chilled in parks, taken pictures of the Eiffel Tower and eaten our weight in bread. By the end of the day we're looking so confident that a French speaking person asks us for directions.