So… after lots of cramming, stuffing and finger-crossing, I finally got everything packed. The goal was less than 10kg (22 lbs) and all liquids in a quart sized bag, so that my backpack would be carry-on compatible for both American Airlines and the European flights we will be taking. The verdict? My backpack is about 28 lbs without my purse, so we shall see. I managed to make it on the flight over – although getting our backpacks in the overhead compartments was a bit of a challenge. With some pushing, adjusting, and use of a shopping-type bag though, we succeeded. I know that I’ve probably brought too much stuff, and won’t use most of it – but at 2 pair shoes, 5 shirts, 3 bottoms, and a dress, I didn’t think I could pare down my clothes any more, and everything else (chargers, sleep sheet, raincoat, etc.) seemed necessary. (Oh, and to clarify – my mother will be shipping me a box with some additional clothes, winter wear, coat, etc. once we arrive in Salamanca.)
Anyway, we arrived at the airport on Thursday morning, where we boarded a flight to Dallas. The flight was uneventful (no snack, unlike Southwest which is what I usually fly) and we arrived in Dallas about 5 minutes early. In Dallas, we met my cousins and aunt for a late lunch which was fun.
The flight was definitely long. The woman next to us (the plane was a 2-3-2) was rather large, which was slightly annoying (especially combined with her tendency to ignore common social curtesies) but not too much of a hastle. I attempted to sleep on the plane, and catnapped for a few hours, but the seats didn’t lean very far back and it was hard to do much else. We arrive in Paris on time, at about 10AM. I had been really worried about customs, but as there didn’t seem to be customs (aside from the line we stood in to get our passport stamped) it wasn’t an issue at all.
It took almost four hours to get to the hostel – a little less than four hours of wandering around Charles de Gall attempting to figure out which bus/train we should be taking, and then quite a while on the metro. In the airport, most of the signs were luckily in both French and English, but it was a bit difficult to navigate and we couldn’t easily ask anyone for assistance – ya know, that whole ‘they speak french’ thing 🙂
After checking in and getting rid of our stuff (what a relief!) we left the hostel to head to the Eiffel Tower. They have nice metro directions to get to major attractions at the hostel, which was nice and made getting there fairly painless. We stood in line a while, then switched to a line for a different edge of the tower that ended up opening up. It’s very hard not speaking the language, not because it’s impossible to communicate with people when you have to, but because I often feel like I have no idea what is going on. The tower was very cool, and really gives you an impression for exactly how MASSIVE Paris is as a city. We were both fairly exhausted by that point, so our joy over the tower was a bit lackluster, but we did take lots of beautiful pictures.