! - drag bags back, get in taxi, get phone call from Christiana - where are you?- on our way. Arrive finally at our destination, only 2.5 hrs late. Don't think this is the end - not by a long shot! Our apartment is on the sixth floor, no elevator. Carrying bags up circular staircase(heart attack material, according to Peter) (see pic) to be greeted by a very angry woman, who said that 'she had to cancel all her afternoon appointments' because we were so late. Everything was don't - don't lose the key or you'll have to pay 600 euros to replace all the locks, don't turn up the hot water because I'm not responsible if you burn yourself, etc. As she was explaining how things worked, she kept referring to our lateness. When I tried to explain that we had asked people, she told me that we should have followed her advice because she hasn't lived in Paris for 19 yrs for nothing- she knows what's best! This is a tiny apartment in a charming 1880s building, in the 3rd arrondissement (le marais), with rooftop views of other roof tops, lots of light and well-equipped, with a door lock like fort knox - total space 5.2m x 2.8m, divided into bathroom, living/kitchen and bedroom with windows along one wall facing an internal courtyard. However, it's the only apartment we've stayed in that required prepayment + insurance + 450 euros (security deposit) AND we had the choice of cleaning the place - washing, drying AND ironing sheets and towels, and making the bed or pay an extra 40 euros to have it done for us. Do not stay here!
When she left, we went walking in the area - very busy - did breakfast shopping at the Marche franprix - and had a lovely dinner, not far away at le bar bouille, followed by a very cold short walk to the flat - climbed the 103 steps and went to bed. And, such was our bienvenue to Paris. I do hope tomorrow is much better.
Nous sommes a Paris! Arriving at Gare de Lyon, we get off the train, organise ourselves with luggage and set off to find a tourist office - for a map of Paris - and a mobile phone office - for a prepaid card so that we can ring Christiana to get directions (why she just couldn't give them to us from the start, I don't know). Easy you say - HA! You obviously haven't been to Paris. Find the tourist office in the station - only one person inside the office at a time - security reasons - get on queue - ask for and get map - great! - ask where I can buy a prepaid sim card - 'just across the road' - turns out to be across the road, down the street and around the corner - success, you think! - don't be fooled - the Orange shop does not have a prepaid sim card with internet access - walk to Faubourg St Antoine - ten minutes away - wheel bags along dirty, crowded streets and search for Orange shop - hurrah, we found it! Line up to tell someone what we want - wait ten minutes - ask for prepaid sim card - yes, now we wait sitting on couch - twenty minutes - name called and another twenty minutes to organise - however, we must wait two days for internet connection - why? who knows? - now, need internet shop so that Peter can get Christiana's phone number - ask for directions - walk along streets even more crowded than before, ask again and finally find shop - access internet, get phone number and call - told to get taxi - ask at internet shop where there is a taxi stand - back at Gare de Lyon - but, of course