Excerpt from TravelMag
The aerospace layout is around us at JFK as we eat chicken fingers and sandwiches. This is a very average meal in our lives and we think nothing of it. Now we know that chicken fingers and sandwiches should be appreciated for what they are. Good American food. Correction: not French food.
I believe it was in the check in line where Beth said to me, “Is that a window seat?” as she looked at our tickets. Which lead to the aisle versus window seat discussion. Ten minutes later the discussion ends and we board the plane. The flight attendants are speaking French and right away we realize that this could be trouble. Here we are still on the runway at JFK and for all we know the sweet flight attendant has just told us that they have poisoned the food of all the stupid Americans. It could happen. I’ve seen movies.
The heat. My God, the heat. It’s really hot on the plane and Beth can’t sleep. I continue to remind her that she has to sleep on the flight, but this is only making her angry. I can’t sleep because of the unbearable heat and because the guy in front of me is forcing me to crotch his seat. Not good times. The food and I say this cautiously is served, some type of fish. We don’t eat fish, but we had no idea what they were saying. We don’t eat. We are only one hour from NY. Multiply the first hour by five and this was our flight to Paris.
We deplane and there’s no security. They glance at our passport, glare at us and smile. As we wait for our luggage (where everyone is smoking) we realize that together we stick out like a sore thumb. There’s a café in the airport where everyone is drinking espressos and smoking. While dragging 300 plus pounds of luggage we head toward a taxi stand.
We find a taxi and the driver gets out. I point to the hotel on our itinerary and say “Bonjour!” The taxi driver (hearing either my accent or me bastardizing his language) immediately begins speaking English.
We get to our hotel at 6am. Its pitch dark outside and we’re hoping we can get our room early. As we enter the automatic doors of the quaint hotel we see what appears to be a fairly happy gentleman until he hears me talk, then he looks annoyed. However, the guy gives us a room with some explanation of a “different set” which neither of us can understand. We understand when we enter our rooms and see to tiny single beds. We don’t care. We fall asleep, waking up at 9am. It’s still dark. We sleep until noon. The sun is out.
I go out for coffee and come back with two shots of espresso. We head over to the Eiffel Tower, figuring out the subway in a matter of minutes. No problem. When we get there we’re amazed by the long lines. Beth waits in line while I go to get coffee. The Eiffel Tower of hundreds moves slowly while my line of seven doesn’t budge. Everyone is ordering vegetable soup with cheese on top. What kind of crazy place is this? Each cup of soup takes at least ten minutes to prepare. During my time in line I’m greeted every five minutes by some guy trying to sell me an Eiffel Tower key chain which turns quickly from amusing to annoying. I finally get another shot of espresso (I ordered a large coffee), get in line, and soon we are in the Tower. Now is a pretty good time to mention that it’s windy and about twenty degrees at the bottom. We’re going to the second level.
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David S. Grant is the author of "Blood: The New Red", follow David on Twitter .david_s_grant