Our travel day to Germany began in Paso Robles at about 9 am PST, we left for San Francisco International Airport in our rental car and arrived at the rental drop off around noon-ish and were than shuttled over to the international terminal where we went through bag check in and security. Once we found our gate we did what we do best, found a place to eat and consumer adult beverages.
Our direct flight to Paris France did not leave until about 4 pm PST but we like getting to the airport early so lines aren’t so bad and security check in is less of a hassle. We boarded and took off on time for my first ever ten hour flight, which is not fun at all, but a necessary evil if you want to travel to places like this. We arrived on time into Paris and had to be shuttled to the baggage claim and border patrol area. After passing through border patrol without issue we went to get our luggage; that too went without any issue.
Another taxi ride awaited us when we left the airport in order to get to the train station; the taxi ride took roughly 20 to 30 minutes. Once at the train station we had about a three and a half hour wait…you are kind of getting the idea now aren’t you?? And by the way, the drive from the airport to the train station was interesting, as an American it did not look at all like the Paris you see on tv or in movies; and don’t get me started on the train station…you could write a book or four about that experience alone…the people watching is out of this world.
The train was pretty darn cool; the two and a half hour train ride took us through beautiful countryside, including (surprise to us) train stops in Brussels and Liege in Belgium, than on to our stop in Aachen, Germany. From there we took about a ten minute taxi ride to our hotel…home sweet home for a week; and my Lord was it nice to be there after all the above traveling!!
So, some key takeaways from day 1, travel day; there’s nothing that makes a ten hour plane flight fun, you just have to suck it up and for someone like me, with a self-diagnosed case of a.d.d. and R.L.S (restless leg syndrome, partially kidding, partially not), this kind of thing just plain sucks. My best advice is to take a couple of books on your iPad or other device, along with a couple of movies or something…or, like they do on Air France, watch tv shows and movies to your heart’s content, as they are free of charge.
As I mentioned somewhere above, the taxi ride from the airport in Paris to the train station was truly not what we see of Paris on tv and in movies. It seemed to be the more ghetto part of town, I’m not complaining though because every place has its ghetto. The train station was a world unto its own. The people, the languages spoken, the little gypsy kids trying to get you to sign something (but you quickly learn by watching the locals to say no any time anyone approaches you, damn solicitors), and the freely roaming pigeons looking for scraps.
The best story about the train station was the angry Englishman that tried to stiff arm us for a table we were grabbing. As one couple got up to leave Annie went over and started taking their trash off the table and I was bringing our luggage, this crotchety old prick stepped between Annie and a chair and muttered something, to which Annie replied that we were clearing the table to sit down and that we had already asked the people that had been sitting there previously…to that, the gentleman literally stomped off and said, “Damn Americans”!! Very nice sir, and touché!!
The oddly perverse thing was that this gentleman than proceeded to move to a few different locations and glare at us…at one point even pulling out his cell phone to take a picture of us, at least that is what it seemed like he was doing. Anyway, the nice thing is that we won’t let him deter us from coming to Europe and enjoying ourselves. We run in to tourists quite often in Paso Robles, and many times those people are from other countries…and we have never once uttered the words “Damn ____” (fill in the blank with the country of your choosing).
So, the end of our travel day went as follows, once we arrived at the hotel and checked in, we went up to check the room out and we were very pleased…although, after 24 hours of travel I think a cardboard box under a bridge would have been fantastic. We freshened up a bit and went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and do what we always do, sat at the bar to order some appetizers and drinks. Our first real interaction with a German person happened to be our bartender Reiner (pronounced Rhine er) who also happens to have been born and raised in this area.
We were quite lucky to have him be in there that night to receive us on our first night, he speaks very decent English and we really did have a great time…and great food, oh, and great German beer. The following night we went back in to have dinner at the hotel restaurant with Reiner at the bar. We found out the days he works and will most likely visit with him as time allows, he is a great guy. We ran in to him today, Sunday, while we were walking back to the hotel and he was walking his dog (he has Sunday and Monday off, not that you care), so it was cool to even stop on the street to chat with him!
So I will end this part of our journey here and post more in the future! Cheers!