Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why am I always lost?

I haven't posted in awhile (pure laziness), but I did want to write something short about how I am always hopelessly lost in this bewildering city.  Most of my complaints are completely unjustified, but I don't think I am the only foreigner to have the same problems.  At least I hope I'm not the only one.  That would make me feel even dumber about wandering the streets with a constant look of confusion and panic.

I have been here for almost three months now, and I am really starting to feel comfortable in Paris. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not still constantly getting lost.  Seriously, it's all the time.  Thank god I live near the Eiffel Tower, so that I can at least use that as a landmark to get home.

It's not all my fault either although I do have to place most of the blame on my terrible sense of direction.  If I have a gut feeling that something is in one direction, your best bet is to go in the opposite one.  Besides the fact that I am spatially challenged, Paris is not an easy city to navigate.  I am used to cities like New York or Philadelphia which are set up as grids, easy simple grids.  But Paris?  No, no, no, Paris had to be different and set up its streets diagonally that eventually meet to form "stars."  I still have not wrapped my head around this.  You think that if you miss your turn, that you'll just take the next one, and you'll arrive at the same street.  Wrong!  You'll end up on a street, but probably not the one you want.

Also, the metro causes me a whole different kind of anxiety.  The metro is extremely easy, and I would like to think I've mastered it.  I even give dirty looks to tourists holding up the line, trying to figure out why the Navigo only entrance doesn't have a slot for their tickets.  Yes, so the metro is great, until you try to get out. Oh, you're meeting someone at Montparnasse, and they didn't tell you which exit to take?  Good luck because you're going to be wandering the streets for a very long time.

Okay so let's say that you've managed to take the correct exit, and now you have to find the street to get to where ever you're going.  Normal cities make sure that street signs are visible and clear, but Paris is not a normal city.  God forbid there's a cafe on the corner (which is pretty much every corner by the way) with an awning, there will be no street side on that side of the building.  You just have to take a wild guess if it's the correct one.

Between all these factors and my absolutely horrible sense of direction, I'm consistently pretty lost.  Warning: if I make plans to meet you somewhere I've never been before, expect me to be at least 20 minutes late and to be extremely stressed out when I do finally arrive.  I do usually find my way, but there is always some cursing and "I hate Paris" thoughts going through my head before I do.