05 March 2008

Homework after St. Michel horror

Previous post Paris's Signature: Eiffel Tower

After getting lost in St. Michel station, I thought of doing thorough homework before going for sight seeing in weekend. I read RAFP site, wikitravel page of Paris and New York Times’s feature article 36 hrs: Paris top to bottom and gathered very useful information.

A few excerpts from the articles.
  • The Metro network of Paris is heterogeneous. The two major networks are city(‘M’) trains and sub-urban(‘RER’) trains. [the map which got from CDG Train station had only RER trains routes thereby creating a lot of confusion].
  • When the train arrives, the doors may not open automatically. In such a case, there are handles located both inside and outside the train which you have to push in order to open the door.
  • One has to be careful while moving in night time because law and order is not so good. In the crowded trains pickpockets are active. Also in places such as Pigalle famous for adult entertainment there is chance of people getting fooled due to exorbitant bills.
  • Beware also of distraught-looking women and children asking if you can speak English. You'll be presented with a card or letter with a story explaining something like "My mother is in hospital in another country terminally ill. I'm stuck in Paris with no money and I need to visit her." You´ll encounter them at the major train stations (such as Paris Nord) and also at most major tourist attractions. Even on the Champs-Élysées. They are also prevelant around the Arc de Triumphe near the Embassy of Qatar.

Also I learnt a few important French words like Sortie (means Exit). It’s the word I wanted, a essential thing when using Paris Metro.

On Friday evening(Feb 8th), all of a sudden Rohith pinged me on gtalk. We discussed about what all we can see in the weekend. I told him that I have already seen Eiffel Tower and I may have to return to Bangalore next week. Then the discussion came to meeting at some place that evening itself, but as it was already late and we were staying opposite ends of the city, we had to drop the plan.

Then we started planning for the next day. I shared all the information I got from wiki travel and NYT travel sites. He also discussed with me information he got from his colleagues. We decided to meet at a place known to one of the person, as he didn't had mobile phone. It boiled down to meet at 10 am at the base of Eiffel tower(only place I knew properly at that time).

Continued in next post.

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