I hope you are doing great. I'm back again with a new post from one of my trips. By the way, my last bellanaija article can be found here.
Enjoy the story below and as usual, please share your thoughts and this post. Cheers!
I arrived in Charles De Gaulle airport at night, got a map from the airport and made my way into the city room using the metro. I got out of St. Paul’s metro station, which was the closest to my destination, and I began to trace my way to the hostel. The roads were so close to each other that before I knew it, I was lost (a trait not very uncommon with me). I found myself quite a distance away from where I was headed and it took me another twenty minutes to find my way back to the hostel. By the time I checked into the hostel, I was too tired to think or speak in French so I just replied ‘No’ when the receptionist asked me if I spoke any French. I took my room key and headed for my room. The room was a small and stuffy but clean place with a window that had a nice view. There were four beds downstairs and I saw there was a staircase leading upstairs but I did not climb up. I had been assigned to bed number 2 but to my surprise, someone else was already occupying it. I spoke to the lady on my bed; she claimed that we could stay anywhere and so she asked me to move upstairs so that she could stay close to her friend who was on the next bed. I was not having it because I was not ready to move my bag upstairs so I insisted that she moved to her assigned bed, which she complied with grudgingly. Just before going to bed, I wanted to charge my phone for a while. I had brought a UK adaptor only for me to realise that the sockets in France were different. I was surprised; how come nobody had mentioned that to me? At last, I had to turn to the girl on the next bed, the friend of the one I had chased away from my bed, to borrow her adaptor. You see, usually I may have felt so bad or ashamed for the way I treated her friend to ask her for her adaptor, but I was too tired to have any feelings at this point. I just plugged my phone in and fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning by 4am; I was still a little jetlagged. Normally, the time on my phone would have changed automatically whenever I traveled to the roaming time but this time around, it did not. Therefore, I had to keep doing the calculations of the current time in Paris in my head. I got up, took a shower and left the hostel by 5.30am to take a quick walk. I strolled down the streets, taking in the beauty of the city at sunrise and taking pictures as I walked down to the Bastille. It was indeed a very beautiful place! On my way back to my room, I found one of the Patisserie where I had planned to buy snacks from, a place called Miss Manon. So I stopped by to get some breakfast.
“Bonjour! Je voudrais un gâteau et croissant aux amandes… s'il vous plaît?” (I would like a cake and almond croissant) I began, as if I were fluent.
The sales girl smiled and responded so quickly that I found myself saying “Sorry?”
She looked at me with a smirk and then she replied in English, “What type of cake do you want?”
“Oh!” I said slightly embarrassed and then I pointed. She asked if I wanted anything else and I started my French again.
“Oui. Je voudrais une baguette traditionnelle aussi.” (I would like a traditional baguette)
She spoke again and this time, I apologised and told her that I could barely understand her and that I was still learning French. She smiled again and said she already knew that and from then onwards, she spoke English to me regardless of whether or not I spoke French to her. She asked me when I was leaving Paris and invited me to come over for breakfast the next day before leaving for the airport and have the baguette then instead. The store opened by 6.30 am and they had one of the best coffee, she said. So I took only the piece of cake and croissant and promised to return the following day. By the time I left the store, my confidence in my ability to understand any French had plummeted.
I went back to the hostel, had breakfast and set out for my journey. Walking on Pont Marie, one of the bridges leading to the small island, I made my way towards the Cathedral. There was a long queue to go up the church tower but I was more interested in just seeing inside the church so I joined the shorter queue or somehow I walked past it into the church (I do not remember which one). The Notre-Dame was truly spectacular, with amazing sculptures, paintings, chapels, windows and most of all, a captivating history behind it. There were a few signs that read ‘no photos’ so I only took pictures :p. After spending about half an hour in there and saying some prayers, I left to make my way to Sainte Chapelle, another beautiful church on the big island. On my way there, I stopped by a shop with ‘Berthillon’ written above it. I had heard that Berthillon ice cream was one of the best in Paris and even though it was still quite early in the day, I was ready to try some of it. There was a black man in there selling the ice cream and crêpe.
“Bonjour! Ça va?” I began.
“Bonjour….Ça va et tu?” He said cheerfully, he seems like a very pleasant fellow.
I needed to know what flavours of ice cream he had but I did not know how to say this in French so I switched to English. That was where my troubles began. The man began shaking his head and saying “Parle français, seulement français…” (speak French, only French)
I tried to explain to him that my command of the language was poor but he kept smiling and insisting that I continued with French. I knew he could understand English because the man who had bought ice cream just before me had spoken English to him throughout. I figured out that he was trying to encourage me to speak French but I was truly stuck. And so after trying hard, I ended up placing an order for crêpe whilst thinking I was ordering for a banana flavoured ice cream.
“No no! I meant Ice cream!” I had to exclaim when I saw him pouring the flour and banana.
By this time, it was too late; the crêpe was ready. So I told him that I would pay for the crêpe and still buy the ice cream. The man refused; he said that ice cream and crêpe do not go together. No matter how hard I tried to convince him that I would pay for both and that I would eat one after the other, he was adamant. So I was left with no other choice but to take the crêpe only and return for the ice cream later. When I left his shop, I vowed not to speak a word of French to anybody again that day!
To be continued....
Have a great weekend and week ahead.
Twitter handle: @vivio_gogo