The hardest part about living abroad is being so far from home. A couple days ago I traveled back home for the holidays. It took me two days. Granted, my dad bought the cheapest possible ticket because well, I’m 18 and I should be able to endure some uncomfortable traveling. But let me just say that those were two of the worst days.
The voyage began on Saturday afternoon. I took the bus from my apartment to the train station with my 2 big luggages, my backpack and purse. I looked like a pack mule. Of course, my friends wanted me to bring back wine from France so that added like 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) to my luggage. They were incredibly heavy. When I arrived at the station my train was already there waiting. I went to find my seat, winded from the effort it took to drag my huge luggages up the stairs and onto the train. Then we took off. The train from La Rochelle to Paris is about 3 hours. Luckily, I had my computer so I just watched movies to pass the time. The trip honestly didn’t start out so bad, but it just continued to get worse and worse.
The next leg off this journey was the metro in Paris to get to the youth hostel. When arriving in Paris I realized that I had gotten there just in time for the Friday before the holiday’s rush hour metro traffic… For all my LA readers, imagine the 405 freeway jam packed and barely moving but instead of sitting in your car you are in the metro that is like 80 degrees (26.6 degrees C) shoulder to shoulder with other people that were pissy after there long day of work and just wanted to get home. It was gnarly. And on top of it being rush hour, I had my heavy luggage and in the underground stations in Paris there are tons of stairs! By the time I got to the station I needed to get to I was drenched in sweat and I felt like I pulled muscles in my arms. Luckily, for some of the super long stair climbs there were nice people that offered to help me carry one of my bags. But that happened for for like 2 of the 10 stair cases I had to climb… So, I still had a pretty hard time. In the metro people were packed in like sardines in a can. I would literally be jammed in with way too many people waiting to the next stop hoping people would be getting out but then we would stop, no one would get out and even more people would squeeze in! At the moment where you’d think that it would be impossible to fit even one more person, they would manage to fit like 10 more! It was horrible.
When I finally arrived at the station I needed to exit at I walked for a couple of minutes and found the hostel. The hostel was one of the better parts of the adventure but it still wasn’t amazing. When I got there I got situated in the 12 bedroom dorm and then headed down for a beer and to work on an article for this blog. When I was down there I met an australian guy that I ended up talking to for a while and having dinner with. He was cool but we were both pretty exhausted from traveling all day so we headed up around 11:30 and that was that. Unfortunately, that night I could barely sleep. I don’t know if it was the excitement about going back home or the paranoia about getting my stuff stolen at the hostel. But I couldn’t sleep. I eventually caught some zzz’s but then my alarm went off at 6:30 am so I could get up, get ready and get breakfast before having to get back on the metro to go to the airport. When I got downstairs for breakfast I realized that I didn’t have a breakfast ticket so I wasn’t supposed to get breakfast, but the guy was cool so he let me eat. After eating and gathering my affairs I had to walk to the metro station and to my luck it was pouring rain outside. I put the directions in my phone but still managed to walk a couple minutes in the wrong direction.
When I got on the metro, luckily wasn’t as crowded as the night before. I only had to go one stop to then get off and get on the RER which would take me to the airport. That was pretty easy. I thought to myself, “Finally things are going more smoothly.” Well that mentally lasted about 30-minutes until I got to the airport. Upon exiting the RER, there were some cops standing by the exit. They were simply asking to see people’s metro tickets. So when the lady cop asked me for my ticket I gave it to her and to my surprise I had purchased the wrong ticket, which led to me receiving a 35 euro fine. Super… When the transaction was being done with my card, the lady asked me where I was going so I told her I was going back home to LA. And she said, “Oh well I hope this doesn’t give you a bad last impression of France.” As I said, “Oh no don’t worry” all I could think was, “yea it definitely does, thanks for giving me a ticket B***ch…” Anyways, after all of that I checked my gate and I realized I was in the wrong terminal. So I had to take the shuttle back to terminal 1 which I had passed in order to get where I was. I was starting to get frustrated. I also realized that even though my dad had bought my ticket through a higher end company, they were partners with a low end company and it turns out I was flying with the lower class airline. So, due to the fact that it is the holidays, I was now flying with the low end airline and terminal 1 had construction going on I waited in line to check my bags for 2 hours. 2 hours! Then of course, when I got through security my bags had to be checked because I forgot a water bottle in one of them. After all of that though, I made it to my gate with enough time for me to eat my sandwich, finish Pitch Perfect and board. With my luck, when I found my seat on the plane I had a middle seat between two quite large men. And by large I mean like taking up most of my space large. I was stuck between them for 8 hours. I made it through by watching movie after movie. But it was hardcore.
When we landed we hadn’t landed in LA, no no, we had landed in Washington, DC which was my layover. I had a 4-hour layover there. I used the time to write another article and watch Friends. With the time change though it was the middle of the night for me so time passed so slow and it was incredibly difficult to keep my eyes open. I called my dad at one point because I had just looked at my boarding pass to find out that I had another middle seat. I broke down into tears. It was crazy. I was so fed up that I asked the flight attendants if there was any possibility to change my seat and they were able to put me in an aisle seat next to an exit. That was amazing. I spent all 6 hours of that plane sleeping. Granted, I would wake up every 45-minutes due to turbulence or something of the sort. But at least I got some sleep.
Then I landed in LA and all the anger or sadness I had felt vanished. My dad and sister came to pick me up and I couldn’t stop smiling. The best part of it all is that my best friends surprised me by decorating my room and taking me out to In N Out when I got home. I have the best friends ever. I guess I realized that no matter how hard the journey back home was it was worth it. It sucked in the moment but I’d do it again and again if it was to come back and see friends and family. (I mean if there was any easier way to get home I would take it but I don’t think there is). With all of that said though, I’m still not looking forward to the trip back to France, I don’t know how it could get much worse than this trip was but I’d rather not find out.