Paris Travel Tales
Chapter 2: The Most Expensive Cab Ride of My Life
My flight lands at the ungodly hour of 5:15AM. The plan is that I meet Samantha at her gate. Her flight arrives at 7:15. Then, we'll take the train into Paris. I breeze through customs, then take the train (a big improvement over the old buses) from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 to meet Samantha. I arrive in Terminal 2. I guess I expected there to be a big screen listing arrivals and gates. Big mistake. Terminal 2 contains gates A - F. These gates are spread very far apart. It seems like miles apart. Which gate could Continental be coming into? B sounds familiar. I hike there, following the signs and dragging my suitcase behind me.
Two hours and what seems like 26 miles of walking later, I'm still trying to find Samantha's gate. The signs are all off, the info desks are closed, and CDG is deserted. I pick up the CDG directory which contains lists of all the fast food places, but no mention of what gates International flights use. I trash it. Finally, I notice an Air France information desk. I stand in line, then explain in my broken French that I am not an Air France traveler, but could they please take pity on me and tell me how to find out what gate Continental airlines uses. The attendant points me in the right direction. Exhausted, I trudge over to the gate, as Samantha exits.
"Sweetie. I'm here." She gives me a big hug, then a discerning look. "Are you OK? Your face is all gray. Which way to the train?"
"About five miles that way," I sulk.
She raises her eyebrows, and gives me a long look. "Let's take a cab."
"Are you sure? It's rush hour. The fare should be 32 euros, but we may hit some traffic so it will be more than that."
"That's OK. Let's go." Samantha whisks out the door with me lagging behind with my suitcase that now feels like a lead weight.
We grab a cab, and begin doing the "chit chat". Blah, blah, blah as the cab zooms into Paris. We exit the highway, and begin driving along the Seine. The sunrise bouncing off the river was mesmerizing. I am really in Paris. I relax in my seat, and smile. We are minutes away from our apartment and the beginning of our fabulous Paris vacation.
Then we stop. And sit. We've hit traffic. No big deal, we're almost there.
Forty-five minutes later, we are still sitting. The radio is blaring the country classic, " Achy Breaky Heart".
"Don't break my heart,...my achy breacky heart". Surreal. Never thought I'd hear this tune in Paris. I notice that the cab driver is banging his hands on the steering wheel, but in frustration, not to the beat of the song. I notice that the meter is advancing at an alarming pace. In Paris, you pay by mileage and time. I sit hypnotized as the meter advances, .10 euros at a time. .10, .20, .30, .40....
At seventy euros, I begin hatching an escape plan. We'll grab our bags, look at the map, and walk to the nearest metro station. We can't be that far from Bastille. The only problem is our bags are in the trunk. And the cab is totally wedged in three lanes of traffic. Between the three lanes of cars are lines of scooters and motorcycles that drive where they please zooming in and out of traffic. I look out the window to my left and see a man on a scooter reading the newspaper. When the scooters aren't moving you know that you are in trouble.
The meter keeps running as we sit still. I tell myself that when it hits 100 euros, we are out of here. Even if I have to ram my door into the scooter next to the car to make my escape.
At eighty euros, we finally break free, Arriving at the apartment with a whopping eighty-nine euro cab fare. I pay and Samantha remarks, "Do you realize that we paid one hundred and fifty dollars for a cab ride? I am never taking a cab in Paris again."
Two weeks later, WT arrives in Paris for work. Takes a cab from CDG to the same area in rush hour. His fare is 32 euros.
Author: Cheryl Montgomery