After several weeks of goodbyes, the morning of my departure I had brunch with dear friends and then a surprisingly short ride to the airport. Excitement was bursting out of me at random points along the way. Being dropped off, saying last goodbyes, and realizing I am now on my own - supported by friends and family, but the rest of the travel journey is just me.
My seven hour flight from Denver to Iceland was uneventful. I watched a movie and then tried to sleep a bit. Excitement and anticipation made that difficult, but I knew I needed to rest. Customs was very simple, no paperwork, simply a stamp in my passport. I had just over an hour layover in Iceland where I got a bite to eat and then boarded my flight to Paris. I had the entire row to myself and slept nearly the entire flight. Arriving at Charles-De Gaulle, I felt like I was in some sort of spaceship. The pedestrian tubes going in all directions, and everybody seeming to move in slow motion. Thanks to some specific directions from a friend ahead of time, I was able to grab my luggage and easily get on the airfrance bus which would take me from the airport to the right train station in the city. At the train station it only took me two attempts to find the right ticket office and purchase a ticket. As I was going through the turnstile with all of my luggage, trying to push the suitcase under (which weighed in at 19kilos), lift the backpack over (weighing in at 15kilos) and shove myself through (weight not to be disclosed), I completely forgot to grab my ticket from the machine, so ended up on the other side with no ticket. After turning in circles while having a conversation in my head about what to do, I had a security guard let me out and I went back in line, assuming I would have to purchase another ticket; however, a concierge came and helped me get my original ticket out of the machine and sent me on my way! It was unclear as to which platform I needed to be at, and nobody seemed to be able to answer that for me, but eventually the train arrived and I found a seat for me and a space for my luggage. As it turns out, I was in the bike area, so I got boxed in by people and bikes, which made it rather difficult to get off the train, as I was trying to duck under bikes (yes, they hang them from the ceiling) with my huge backpack on, and lift my rather heavy suitcase over other bags, and not hit anyone in the face with my messenger bag satchel swinging to the side.
I got off the train in Rambouillet with a sigh of relief that my travel journey was nearly ending when I realized I still needed to contact the school to pick me up. While it's only a 10 minute walk, it was pouring rain and windy, and I had a fair amount of luggage to navigate. I first tried the payphones, but they only accept credit cards, and mine didn't work. I then tried my cell phone, knowing that I'd have to pay a fair amount for the call, but the call would not go through. Then I remembered the calling card that a dear friend had given me as a last-minute "just in case" option. However, I couldn't figure out how to make that work...... at this point, I was tired, hungry and cold, and running out of options. I realized I didn't actually know where the school was, so couldn't even walk there if I wanted to. I narrowed it down to three choices: try to hail a taxi, walk to a nearby shop and ask directions, or ask someone to call for me. I found someone waiting for a train and asked if he would call the school for me. He graciously did so, and I was able to briefly talk with someone, but they were having difficulty understanding my English and before I could finish the conversation he needed to catch his train so took his phone and ended the call, but assured me someone was coming, as he had briefly talked to them. So, I waited outside, trying to find shelter from the wind and rain, and shortly a woman came to pick me up and bring me to the school. I was so very thankful to be safe and dry, and to finally be at my new home.