Day 16: Last Day – Paris, France
I'm trying to sleep in but those early morning freaks are up and at it again. Three other girls are leaving today and hearing them packing is making me anxious. I've never taken longer than an hour to pack but I always give myself twice that - I have less space to pack in and more stuff to cram into my already full bags and I am becoming worried even two hours won't be enough. I wait until the packers leave and then get up and take a shower, it's about 8:15am.
I have half a baguette leftover from yesterday so I pay 1.5 euros for the hostel coffee (refills!) and then surreptitiously swipe a chunk of butter and a knife to enhance my leftovers. I'm having difficulty concentrating - I am tired from yesterday and feeling the fatigue of traveling. I am also a bit dazed and down about the end of the trip and heading back home. Last night I booked a spot on an airport shuttle to ease the burden of hauling my bags and it will be picking me up at 1:30pm. I have to check out by noon, get some more euros to pay the shuttle driver, write the post for yesterday and of course make one last trip to a patisserie. I pinned one the other day I've been planning to get baguette sandwiches from for the plane ride and that will be my main mission today.
I continue staring at my laptop screen and hoping the coffee will finally kick in. Eventually my self will takes over and I manage to start and finish my post. The deadline of the 10am alarm I set as a reminder to go pack helps. I snooze it to keep going and then finally shut everything down and head back to my room. No one is here which is awesome - I was hoping this would happen so I could use the now-empty lower bunk as my packing station. One of the keys to my packing success is taking everything out and laying it before me so I can meticulously put everything where it needs to be while making sure I've corralled all my stuff and left nothing out. I finish in about 40 minutes and I am quite pleased with this and shocked I got everything in and even pretty organized. The backpack is unbelievably heavy but I've mentally prepared myself with having to pay overweight charges once I check it. Ok it's 11:23 and I need to get cash and consider checking out now so I can use the 2 euro key deposit to pay for locker space downstairs until my pickup. However, turns out there are no big lockers left so I keep my key and my room storage for now and run to the bank and back. I bring my shit down to the locker space in two shifts, putting the backpack in a corner and not a locker because who the hell really wants to steal an immensely heavy bag of clothes anyway? I check out, get my deposit back and pay 1 euro to stash my duffel of laptop and other valuables in one of the small lockers. Sandwich adventure here I come.
The patisserie is packed, apparently this is everyone else's choice for lunch food and there is a long line. I get three baguette sandwiches from the behind the glass - one stuffed with brie cheese, another with salami and butter and one of ham, veggies and hard-boiled egg. I'm not sure exactly what they cost but I'm figuring 4 euros each which will leave me with exactly the change I need to pay the shuttle driver. The total is 10.70 euro so now I have 2.30 euro left to spend on sweets which of course I will. I consider spending them on cookies from the Lebanese bakery next to the hostel but along the way back I think better of it and start searching for another patisserie to by a palmier, which I've always known as "elephant ears" and haven't yet experienced in France. I don't find any that satisfy my criteria but finally in patisserie I haven't been in yet I get a mille feuille (1.50 euro) and a mini viennoiserie (0.50 euro). I'm not sure what the second thing is but it looks like a tiny pain du chocolate with maybe an egg filling? I attempt to buy a single cookie from the Lebanese place with my 0.30 euro but it's too expensive and I just keep my coins instead. Back at the hostel, I take my bags from the basement locker room and move them upstairs so I can be ready for the pickup - it's 12:37pm. Still on my "haven't yet tried this in France" kick I order a croque monsieur from the counter which comes with a little salad (8 euro, I charge it to my debit card to keep my perfect cash balance). After finishing it I eat both pastries instead of saving them for the plane, shocker I know. The mini thing turns out to be a tiny pain du chocolate after all! Everything is delicious. Stuffed again, I put my head on the table and wait.
The shuttle arrives exactly at 1:30 and I am the third and final passenger even though there is plenty of space left. My companions are what I am assuming are mother and daughter. Our driver is a man and is playing some horrible modern "rap" bullshit - the crappy kind that's sort of dancehall with auto-tuned singing and low-quality lyrics. The second song comes on about strippers and the chorus is "Girl I want to fuck you [blah blah blah]" and it isn't bleeped out at all so the three lady passengers get to enjoy every vulgar word. The songs get even worse and I sit there on the way to the airport gettin more and more bitter about the stuff of popular culture. The last song before we arrive has a chorus of "your eyes are telling me yes... your body is telling me yes" and all I can think is, what is her fucking mouth telling you? I realize that could be misconstrued and just continue to think about consent and rape and the like and I'm not in a great headspace by the time we pull up to the terminal.
Usual airport check in stuff - I'm there four hours early but this is a major hub and there's no issue with the counter not being open so I'm left with plenty of time to wander around duty-free. I buy some fancy French body oil at a steep discount, fill my water bottle and head to the gate. There are no screens with gate info up and my gate has a different destination listed at the podium but I figure there's just another flight leaving first. Turns out the gate was moved which I only know because I overhear an American woman ask another gate attendant about the location discrepancy and she tells her we're departing from somewhere else. There was no announcement. Anyway, continued confusion and a bunch of frustrated flyers crowd around the new gate and we wind up boarding an hour and a half after we were supposed to and then continue sitting on the tarmac waiting for some other passengers who got stuck in the security check. Once we get going the crew announce the meal service will start for those who pre-ordered meals - I'm sorry what? It's an 8-hour flight and you're not feeding us unless we pay extra??? I think back to that magical 1-hour flight with Middle East Airlines where they gave us a meal and we were barely eve in the air long enough to eat it! This is Norwegian Airlines and I guess this is how they get their prices. Look how smart I was getting three sandwiches to eat ahead of time! Ok I already ate one waiting at the gate but I think the other two can hold me over to New York and they do. I watch a smidge of "Be Your Own Boss", some Indonesian or Indian tv show, and "Eat, Pray, Love" which I've actually never seen. I wonder if these selections being available on this flight are signs from the universe I'm still on the right path because of course I question this every day. I cry like a baby through "Eat, Pray, Love" and think again about living in another country and which country it will be. After my daydreaming and crying I nap for a bit and then wake up with enough time to watch what I think is the first episode of the Netflix series "Lilyhammer" which is pretty good.
JFK is the typical shit show and customs takes forever and I wonder if I will be hassled because I was honest and listed both Jordan and Lebanon on my entry form under "countries visited" but I get through without issue. We arrived about an hour late so I let my sister know once I'm in an Uber on my way home. Close to my apartment I panic not able to remember exactly where I packed my keys but Courtney buzzes me in and we chat about the day before I hugging my cats hello for the millionth time and then passing out.