It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Paris if we didn’t start off with major issues. Here she the story’s of our travel struggles in Paris – We made it to the airport in Paris successfully. We even found the train we needed to get into Paris and bought our tickets from a machine with no issues, a big improvement from our first trip.
That’s when things started to go awry. We went down to the train platform, and the signs, in English, said all trains service Paris. So we figured the train sitting on the platform would get us there. Some people got on the train with us, but many people were still standing on the platform. Not really sure what was happening, we opted to hop off that train and on to the one that had just arrived on the other platform. I still don’t know what the issue was, but I do know that first train was still sitting there when our second train departed.
We made it into Paris without issue. Other than we couldn’t get our SIM cards from last time to work – no problem I thought. We’ll just figure it out on the wifi in our Airbnb apartment when we arrive.
Once we arrived at the train station in Paris (Gare du Nord) we were looking for new SIM cards (maybe) and lunch (maybe). We walked up and down what felt like the entire train station without finding an area that we both clearly remember from last time. So we settled on getting a ham and cheese baguette to split, while awkwardly stuffing it into our faces in a corner of the station, because we couldn’t find seats anywhere.
By this point I was so exhausted, but I knew we were really close to the apartment. Just 1 Métro (subway) stop away. We kept seeing the turnstiles for the metro but no place to buy tickets. Finally, out of exhaustion, I suggested putting my same ticket into the machine. And it worked! Finally – we were getting onto the Métro.
One small problem. The metro doesn’t always have escalators. Sometimes it’s just stairs. Normally fine, except when you have two weeks worth of luggage that you’re hauling around. After running around a train station with all those bags, it gets exhausting. We managed to make it though, luggage and all, onto our correct train and exited at the next stop.
Just when it seemed like we were nearing the end, little did I know it was about to get so much worse. Because of all the issues we had in Paris the first time around, I had specifically written down our apartment address and the instructions our host sent regarding how to get into the apartment. It all seemed simple enough: exit the metro, find this apartment building number. Once inside, use this code and walk up to the 4th floor to find the keys hidden. All of that was easy.
When we got upstairs, I found the keys, and tried all 3 that were on the ring into the apartment door closest to where they were hidden. The tricky thing about Parisian apartments is that none of them are numbered like they are in the US. They all just look identical. So why would these keys be for any other unit? It wasn’t working for me. Arron tried. Then I tried again. Then he tried again.
Since our SIM cards weren’t working, we couldn’t contact our host. It was also super hot in the hallway (especially after dragging our luggage up 4 flights of stairs), and I was getting frustrated. Finally I suggested, I would go search for WiFi at a nearby cafe while Aaron tried the keys some more. When I got back out onto the street I started walking and searching for WiFi. Street after street, no luck. Finally, I came across a Lycamobile store. It’s a pay as you go cell phone company in Paris and just so happens to be the SIM cards we used last time.
I walked into the shop, waited in line, and asked for AND purchased SIM cards, speaking only in French!! As frustrated and exhausted as I was, this was a big moment for me. Last time we were here, it took up until almost the last day before I was able to complete an entire transaction in only French. Happy, and with my SIM cards in hand, I headed back to our apartment and climbed back up the stairs.
By this point, we had our luggage strewn about the hallway, and I was changing SIM cards and calling to activate my card while Aaron still tried the keys. Finally, SIM card activated, with a working cell phone, I messaged our host. WE HAD THE WRONG APARTMENT. It was across the hall! First attempt at that lock and we were in. FREEDOM.
I guess if I had to summarize what I learned from this is that always expect the worst. Take screen shots of EVERYTHING, even if you write it down or if it seems simple. Make sure you download maps to use offline of the area, to find your way. And just know that it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t always go the way you expect.
I mean, all of these struggles, but I’d say this apartment was worth it.
More adventure updates coming soon.