The overnight train from Florence to Paris is old and I shared a four-person cabin with two others, an unrelated man and woman. I had a lower berth so narrow that I couldn’t lie on my back without risking falling out of bed. I slept well under the big moon. It’s surprising how easily I have adapted to sleeping in close quarters with total strangers. In the morning there was good espresso in the club car and I retired there to read while my cabin mates snored away the sunrise. On the way I had to squeeze by a pixyish man, barefoot and in black underwear, making a dash for the bathroom. Neither of us were happy to see the other.
The train dropped us at the Bercy Train Station in Paris. My hotel, a one-night freebie earned with with Marriott points, is in Arcueil, a Paris suburb. It has become a point of pride not to surrender to taxis, and to instead find my way on public transportation where possible. A young man at the Information counter with a shaved head and mascara was very helpful and efficiently got me on the proper Paris Metro line, pointing out the correct transfer point. I found the hotel without incident, and it’s great, with a big TV in my room where I can watch 80’s music videos on a German cable station. Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Sign Your Name” never sounded so good, but what were those dudes in Dead or Alive thinking? I had time to shop for shoes at the mall across the street – my sneakers are shot – but couldn’t find anything suitable. I paid .27 € for a banana (.38 cents) and am enjoying the cheap bottle of Pinot Grigio I carried from Florence. The ambulances make that scary siren noise I first heard back in grade school when my teacher showed the class François Truffaut’s dystopian Fahrenheit 451.
Tomorrow I’m moving to a hotel “located in the pretigious [sic] quarter of the Ópera and the Place de la Vendôme, very near the Louvre museum and the Champs Elysées.”