An instructional guide on how to spend a surprise 24 hours in Paris, France. 

First, let’s answer the question of how to get stuck in Paris and what a SURPRISE 24 hours actually is. 

Well, before I answer that question, I have to first ask this one: did you know there are two airports in Paris?

Step 1: Arrive at Paris airport #1, or “the only airport in Paris,” with over an hour and a half to spare before flight to Spain. Pat yourself on the back for such a timely arrival. 

Step 2: Look for flight on the departure board. Wonder why it’s not on there. Keep looking. Still not on there.

Step 3: Go to an information desk. 

Step 4: Learn about the other airport in Paris, which just happens to be an hour and a half long bus ride. Also happens to be where your plane is leaving in less than an hour.

Your options: 1) book a flight from current airport (airport #1 of 2, as we now know) for $450, 2) take a 16 hour train ride for about the same price, 3) invent a time machine and go to the right airport in the first place, or 4) book the same flight you were supposed to get on today for tomorrow at the same time. 

Try option number 3. End up going with option number 4. 

Voila: surprise 24 hours in Paris. 

Step 5: Put down belongings and eat last night’s leftover pasta out of a Ziploc bag with forks taken from Amsterdam hostel on the floor of the airport. 

Step 6: Buy a metro ticket to get into the city. 

Step 7: Take it.

Step 8: Wander the streets of Paris with a backpack the size of a preschool-aged child strapped to your back, looking for something cheap and interesting to do.

End up sitting by the Seine river playing cards and drinking wine.

Step 9: Make puns about what you’re doing: “We missed our plane so we’re sitting by the Seine.” “Instead of Spain we’re on the Seine.” “We are just doing this to stay Seine.” (Okay now that I see it written out I realize it was a lot funnier at the time, and probably even then only to us. I would like to delete this step but I don’t want to mess up my numbering so this step is either Make up puns about sitting on the Seine or Don’t).

Step 10: Eat a mediocre falafel sandwich.

Step 11: Take a metro to the newly discovered airport.

Step 12: Arrive.

Step 13: It really does exist!

Step 14: Try to go through security, even though your flight isn’t leaving for another 15 hours. 

Step 15: Receive a really awkward look from the security guard (“Your flight isn’t until tomorrow…?” “We know.” “Um..you can come through security in the morning.”) 

Step 16: Find a tiny bench to sit on outside of security because apparently it’s toooooo early to go through yet.

Watch the people walking around. Send selfies to your friends. Check Instagram constantly. Play I Spy.

20 minutes have passed. 

Step 17: Eventually find the darkest area in the airport and push benches together. 

Step 18: Curl your body into a position that you didn’t even know you could get into. Wrap your bag straps around your legs and arms to prevent theft from the two other people walking around the airport. 

Step 19: “Sleep,” or “Wake up every 45 minutes due to a stiff back, crying child, or sudden fear that you missed your flight.”

Step 20: Finally give up on the sleep thing at 6:30. 

Step 21: Make it past security. Find that this area is filled with soft couches, charging stations, and lounge chairs that would have been significantly easier to sleep on. Silently wish for something bad to happen to that woman who wouldn’t let you go through security last night. 

Step 22: At 10:45, begin to prepare for boarding for 11:25 flight. 

Step 23: Find out flight is delayed. 

Normally this is not a big deal, but you have bus tickets booked from Malaga to Granada at 4:00. Ask in very broken French what time the plane is going to leave now. In even more broken English, she tells you that they don’t know where the plane is so they don’t know when it will arrive. She estimates an hour. 

Step 24: Try not to panic, cry, or make a scene. Sit on the floor next to the boarding desk. 

An instructional guide on how to almost miss your flight again and probably just get stuck in Paris forever:

Step 1: Decide to take turns with your travel companion getting lunch because you are both hungry and apparently have plenty of time before the plane even gets there. 

Step 2: Five minutes after your companion has been gone, see that the plane not only has arrived, but is starting to board. 

Step 3: Ten minutes after your companion has been gone, begin to gather belongings.

Step 4: 12 minutes after your companion has been gone, notice the boarding line getting short very quickly. Start desperately looking around for her. 

Step 5: After 15 minutes, pick up both preschool-aged child sized bags and start wandering around the near vicinity. Do not find her. 

Step 6: See the boarding line is very very short. 

Step 7: Go to the impatient woman at the boarding desk. Tell her you can’t find your friend and ask her to please hold the plane for just a few minutes. She tells you to call your friend and tell her to run. Tell her that you tried that and she is not answering. She tells you you need to hurry, the plane has almost finished boarding. 

Step 8: Grab both preschool-aged child-sized bags WHICH ARE STARTING TO FEEL LIKE HIGH SCHOOL-AGED CHILD-SIZED BAGS AND RUN THROUGH THE AIRPORT YELLING YOUR FRIEND’S NAME WITH THE SAME DESPERATION AS A MOTHER WHO HAS LOST HER CHILD BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY YOU ARE MISSING THIS FLIGHT AGAIN AND SPENDING ANOTHER NIGHT IN THE AIRPORT BECAUSE YOUR NECK STILL REALLY HURTS FROM SLEEPING UNDERNEATH AN ARMREST ALL NIGHT AND YOU’RE AFRAID IT MIGHT CAUSE PERMANENT DAMAGE SO YOU CONTINUE TO PUSH THROUGH THE CROWDS WITH BACKPACKS AND JOURNALS AND THOSE C-SHAPED NECK PILLOWS IN YOUR ARMS AND YOU FINALLY SEE HER STROLLING CASUALLY BACK FROM A CAFE LIKE SHE HAS ALL THE DAMN TIME IN THE WORLD AND YOU TELL HER IN A VERY LOUD AND FRANTIC VOICE THAT THE PLANE IS ABOUT TO LEAVE AND YOU THROW HER ADULT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION-SIZED BACKPACK AT HER AND YOU BOTH START RUNNING THROUGH THE TERMINAL WITH PEOPLE STARING AND MAKING WAY AND APPLAUDING ALL AROUND YOU. 

Step 9: Make it onto the plane.

Step 10: Fly to Spain.

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