Imagine if you were able to accomplish one real, significant, meaningful thing each day for a year. On the surface, it’s tempting to think that one thing is a low bar since there are 12 hours of sunlight (well currently about 16 in Seattle and 22 in Iceland). But if you really accomplished one significant thing per day, that would add up to 365 significant accomplishments in a year, and you would be ahead of 99% of the population.
Today was one of those days. I said to myself that if we can accomplish one thing, and one thing only, it would be a success. Accomplish it we did, with these scary (I mean stunning) pictures below. Why do we look like serial killers? Read more to find out.
Before I get into that allow me to apologize; this post is not in chronological order. The next post will be about our time in Edinburgh, Scotland. For now, let’s just say that we woke up at 3am on Friday to make our flight from Edinburgh to Paris.
From the Paris airport (Charles du Gaulle) we taxied to the Belleville district of Paris (19th arrondissement), where we met the couple that we are housesitting for, Stephane and Adeline. They generously bought us lunch (Lebanese food, again!) and they gave us the run-down of how to get in and out of their building, what we need to take care of, etc. Primarily, we are taking care of their cats, Merthin and Souan. Merthin was very love-y from the get-go, whereas Souan was a little shy and has taken a little more time to feel comfortable with us.
Belleville itself is a very eclectic neighborhood, with an absolute stunning park at its center, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. In fact we visited this park to start our first full day.
As I mentioned earlier, today had one goal: to get an unlimited week-long transit pass called the Navigo Decouverte. I think this pass represents a great deal; basically enabling unlimited travel for a week through zones 1-5 (which not only includes all of Paris but also places relatively distant places like Versailles and Fontaineblue) for roughly 20 US dollars a week. I had a premonition that this would not be an easy task so I scratched out the information on the below image. I was quite certain our small (but building) French vocabulary would not be able to pull this off without this visual assistant.
My premonition was based on a few things: 1) I had to find out about the very existence of the pass from a local (my Google search in English didn’t really yield any good results), 2) I read online that some French transit workers dissuade foreigners from purchasing this pass by telling them that it’s only for French citizens, and 3) our French is très limité (“very limited” – yes, I just had to look that up). The directions included taking a photo in a photo booth and convincing an attendant to allow you to borrow scissors (not a popular transit-related item these days) whilst you paste your photo into your pass to officially make it valid.
Sure enough, it was a challenge. Here is the blow-the-blow account:
- Nate and Terra go to the nearest Metro station and, good news, somehow (by the grace of God) manage to buy the pass (+ 4 individual tickets since, oh by the way, another rule is that the pass can only start on the following Monday). Bad news: there is no photo booth so the attendant sends us to another Metro station called La Place des Fetes.
- We walk to La Place des Fetes and go down a million (I counted them) stairs. Good news – we find a photo booth! Bad news – we need two 5 euro bills (and we have none), and the attendant said that we have to go back out to a store, get change, and come back.
- Good news: We find an escalator back up and go to the nearest store to make a small purchase to get our two 5 euro bills. Bad news: The attendant refuses to break our 10 euros into 2 five euro bills while laughing incessantly either because she wanted to make our lives hard or (more likely) she thought I was asking her to give us extra five euro bills out of the kindness of her heart (which is possible). Further good news: We walked next door and they changed our 10 euro into two 5 euro bills without having to make an additional purchase.
- Back to the photo booth in La Place des Fettes. Good news: Terra went in and successfully got her pictures, then went to the attendant and convinced her to let us borrow the scissors to attach her photo to the pass we had previously purchased. Bad news: Despite multiple attempts I was never actually able to get an image that the machine deemed ‘acceptable’. It kept telling me to close my mouth, stop smiling, or move my head into the correct range. By the last one (the one in the image above) I had a seriously depressing and I thought convincing face going, but it still got rejected. It was like the machine knew that I wanted to smile.
At the end of the day, though, we just went with my rejected image. I mean are they really going to check?
All of that effort was spent so that we can take the bus downtown to Paris every day without worrying about paying for individual rides. Hopefully it was worth it, but at the very least we had a lot of good laughs out of it!