Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Paris Diaries | Travel issues

Day 1

So there I was, bolting through the airport in my socks, a shoe in each coat pocket, hugging my suitcase like a baby and scanning for gate 1. To null any misconceptions, gate 1 was the furthest from the entrance, so by the time I arrived I was red faced and without a boarding pass. Luckily the staff were forgiving, but sadly I couldn’t say the same for the passengers on board, who each starred me down like I’d just run over their cat.

Shoddy time keeping is not a usual occurrence for me, but in my preparations I failed to take into account delayed trains and heavy security. Every mode of transport let me down and airport security searched me so thoroughly, I became genuinely concerned that somebody had planted something in my case. They tested so much of my liquid it seemed pointless me bringing any in the first place, in fact the only stone they left unturned was picking up my phone and reading my text messages.

It wasn’t exactly the best start to my first solo trip, but at least I didn’t miss the flight and end up in tears at the airport – that would have been much more embarrassing than boarding the plane in my Iron Man socks. 

The security didn’t stop when I left London, after the attacks, Paris was on high alert – and walking around the city with a suitcase resulted in it being opened and searched every time I passed through a door.

Police presence was the highest I’ve ever witnessed, which was understandable, especially considering the Climate Change talks that were occurring around the corner from my hotel. Any concerns I may have had about visiting Paris, which were minimal, were diminished as soon as I arrived – it really did feel like the safest place to be.

This was a business trip, which meant straight to the venue for a meeting with the team I’d be working alongside all week, thankfully some were students who volunteered to work at the event and all lived in France. A lovely chap showed me to my hotel, meaning I wasn’t wandering around Paris all night by myself, and I checked in without a hiccup.

I stayed in Hotel Normandy, strategically placed in the centre of Paris and also extremely posh.  So posh in fact, that as I experienced room service for the first time, I was charged 4euro for a bag of crisps that I stupidly mistook for a portion of chips, a rooky error on my part.

Make no mistake, despite the posh appearance; the hotel was probably the oldest building in Paris. This led to severe concerns that the place was haunted, and those who know me will be well aware, I don’t do ghosts. I used my 21 years of wisdom however and had words with the room to leave me in peace for the week, they played by the rules and I left the chair in the corner alone (it looked as if it was positioned for somebody other than myself). BBC World was on the TV and I fell asleep in a bed big enough for ten in a room big enough for a party.

Overall, an interesting first day.


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