24 Hours in Paris: Part 3 of ?

After a long day of hiking through the windy streets of Paris gazing at the elaborately ornate buildings, Nicole and I were exhausted!  Our night was uneventful — we ate dinner, drank wine, attempted to party but Paris was just too bourgeoisie for our taste.  We called it an early night and retired to our hostel to prepare for our flight the next day.  We had a big day ahead of us… but it ended up being bigger than we expected.

Scene 3: The Great Escape — Taxi Heist

We had booked a Ryanair flight out of Paris for 12:20 p.m. so the next morning we woke up early to pack, shower and have a hearty breakfast before heading to Barcelona.  We went down to the front desk to ask what was the best way to get to Beauvais-Tille Airport, the airport Ryanair advertises as being in Paris — we quickly learned this wasn’t really the case.  It was 9 a.m. but according to the hostel worker we had a 2 hours journey ahead of us — a subway ride to the edge of the city followed by an hour and a half on a shuttle!  As soon as we got that startling piece of information we bolted as fast as we could to catch our flight.  We got to the shuttle station within 20 minutes, giving us about 2 hours before the gate closed.

We spent several precious minutes trying to make sense of the shuttle schedule before a man walked up to tell us that the next shuttle wasn’t going to come until 11:20, the exact time our gate would close!  We had only one option — to take a taxi or be stuck for another day in Paris! NEVER!  It just so happened that the man who informed us of the next shuttle departure was also a taxi driver (how convenient).  In a panic and desperate to leave France, we took his offer.  We loaded up into his taxi and headed off to Beauvais-Tille Airport.

Before leaving the city limits we asked him how much this would cost.  “Oh, no more than 45 Euros,” he replied, “did you need to go to an ATM?”  It made sense that it would be about 45 Euros.  Compared to our taxi ride from the airport to the hotel in Berlin was about that much, so it was reasonable.  We checked our wallets and saw that we had more than enough between us to cover the cost.

The freezing rain, bumper to bumper traffic, the ticking clock and the random fear that maybe we just got “Taken” by a guy posing to be a taxi driver created a lot of anxiety for Nicole and I.  But frequent check-ins with Google Maps assured us that we were headed in the right direction and that we would get there just in time.

With only a 45 minutes to go before the gate closed, our taxi rolled up to the middle of a parking lot between two terminals.  He pointed off to one of the terminals and said “that’s terminal two — that’s where you need to go”.  We then looked at the cost of the taxi ride — 150 Euros!?

“Well now we have to go to an ATM because you said it would be 45 Euros.  We have 45 Euros but we don’t have 150!”

Suddenly, his ability to speak English vanished and Nicole and I were left pointing at wallets and ATM cards yelling “More money — more Euros — ATM”.  He shrugged, pursed his lips and shook his head.  I decided to stay with the car while Nicole ran to terminal one, which was closer.  She spent about ten precious minutes hunting down an ATM but returned with enough money to pay the damn bill.

We then ran with our luggage in the freezing rain to terminal two.  We made it just in time… but there was one last speed bump.

Scene 4: The Great Escape — Ryan Air First Class

This is the day that I learned Ryan Air actually offers first class seating.  Nicole and I booked our tickets ahead of time and got a killer deal — 35 Euros for a flight from Paris to Barcelona.  Or at least it was a deal before that intense hit from the taxi bill just 5 minutes earlier.

I checked in with ease and waited for Nicole at security.  The man at the check-in desk spent a lot of time inspecting Nicole’s ticket.  He then leaned over to her and said “I’m sorry, but this ticket is for yesterday.”  NICOLE BOUGHT A TICKET FOR THE WRONG DAY!  With only 30 minutes to go, Nicole ran to the ticketing desk to correct the error.  I saved her place in line while she negotiated with Ryan Air.  The workers at the desk took their sweet time while Nicole and I exchanged panicy glances from across the terminal.  At this point in the trip, we had ESP, and all I could hear in her thoughts were “are we gonna make it out of this God damn country?  I can’t be in Paris another night.”

With 15 minutes to go before the gate closed Nicole returned to the check-in desk with her new ticket.  We were amazed at the lack of urgency in how the airport staff approached this situation.  Even though the guy at the check-in desk was up to speed on the issue, he was still confused by Nicole’s newly purchased ticket and wasted precious minutes calling the ticketing desk that was 20 feet away.  The conversation was in French, but I imagined it went something like this:

“Silly American girls!  Let’s make them suffer for thinking they could go on vacation in our country.  How dare they call football ‘soccer’.”

With 7 minutes on the clock we charged through security.  Beaten, haggard, drenched and completely exhausted by the ordeal, we joined the rest of the travelers in line, waiting to board.  But there was one question left unanswered:

“Hey Nicole,” I asked, “How did you fix your ticket?”

“Well,” she began, “I was forced to buy a new ticket.  First class for 250 Euros!”

Some might say we were defeated by Paris — but dammit, we survived!  We were robbed, chastised, cat called, harassed, and swindled, but we lived to tell the tale of our 24 hours in Paris.  We were off to Barcelona and when we got there we quickly learned that it was worth every stinking penny.

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