Despite being fully aware of the long journey ahead of me, nothing could have prepared me for how exhausting traveling to Europe really is. Here’s a quick run-down of my route:
- LAX to LAS (Las Vegas)
- 2 hour layover in LAS
- delayed an hour in LAS
- 9 hour flight from LAS to LHR (London-Heathrow)
- 2 hour layover in LHR
- LHR to ORY (Orly)
For the most part, getting from point A to point B was easy. Only a few minor bumps and delays. I somehow managed to fall asleep before my plane even departed from LAX and woke up very disoriented above the ground. Such a strange sensation… Getting to Vegas was quick enough, but we were delayed to depart due to a tardy plane. Even sitting in the terminal for British Airways, accents were everywhere.. and at such a range! Interesting how different British accents can sound from one-another…
Once we finally boarded, I was taken aback by how large the plane was (two floors!) and how big the seats were. All of the attendants wore very pristine outfits with matching hats and red lipstick. It was wonderful.
I had an aisle seat next a couple that I believed to be Scandinavian. I couldn’t pinpoint their dialogue, but that’s the closest I could get. Analyzing little things like this kept me from grabbing my things and running off of the plane in a panic. I somehow managed to stay stationary and distracted myself by watching ’21 Jump Street’, followed up by part of ‘The Descendants’. Trying to sleep during the flight was no problem. I woke up for meals (we were given a dinner and then breakfast a few hours later) and to stretch a bit. Sitting in one spot gets tiring after about six hours… so nine hours on that plane became a battle of endurance.
Flying into London was surreal. The landscape looked very similar to Oregon (very green, lots of trees and hills), yet, it still felt different. Once we approached the city, the rooftops were all red and made me feel like I was traveling back in time. I’m not sure if the scenery or the idea of Europe felt more foreign to me. It was a bizarre feeling.
I’ve spent much time in airports and generally feel pretty comfortable navigating through them, but I felt completely out of my element at Heathrow. Going through curving hallways, down elevators, on a tram, through a passport and another security check before finally getting into the terminal was overwhelming and nerve-wracking for me. Very few people were speaking English and I started to feel a bit isolated. Once I made it past the British version of TSA, I faced the daunting challenge of determining which gate I was meant to wait for my plane to France. It seemed that no matter how long I stared at the flashing numbers on the LED Arrival/Departure screen, I could not make out the meaning of what I was reading. After a minor panic of not getting to my gate in time, I finally caved and asked an information desk and was directed to my waiting spot.
I journeyed into the French borders with such anxiety and anticipation. I still hadn’t decided on my means of transportation to my stay for the evening and was nervous about navigating through the métro with multiple bags of luggage to keep track of. I tried to enjoy the flight and the views as much as possible and not worry so much about what came afterwards.
Going through customs was much easier than anticipated. A few quick questions about what I was doing in France and where I was studying and I was free to collect my luggage.
From there and after taking a few minutes to reorganize my bagged clutter, I bought a ticket and hopped on the next bus into Paris.
During the ride I couldn’t help myself from watching everything we passed by, afraid I’d miss something. At one instance, I glanced back down to check on my luggage and when I looked back out of the window, there was the Eiffel Tower in all of its glory. There was nothing I could do to control my gasp. I was in awe. I could hardly see half of the tower, but it was there! In real life! Too surreal..
I hopped off the bus at its final stop at Denfert – Rochereau in Paris, then snagged a taxi to Delphine’s studio apartment in the 17th arrondisement. Getting there was easy; getting into the building was a challenge. My phone stopped getting serviced once I entered Europe and I’d arrived too late in the evening for anything to be open in the area to use a phone to call Delphine. I ended up sitting and waiting in the main hallway of the complex for a while before Delphine made her way down to check if I’d arrived.
Poor planning on our part, but I did manage to get inside!.. after, of course, lugging my bags up seven flights of stairs. Quite the workout!
Delphine’s flat was too cute. Very cozy and quaint. An ideal spot for a young woman and a place that I would imagine myself living in at some point. After I long day of traveling, speaking French was very difficult for me but Delphine was kind enough to try out her English on me. She did very well and we communicated very freely. After a quick dinner and making contact with loved ones back home, I fell into a very deep and restful slumber.
It was the longest day of travel of I’ve experienced; near 24 hours total! It was filled with a whirlwind of emotions, but I made it to my destination safe and sound.