And I was left behind like a coolie

This anecdote dates back from 2017 when we visited Paris and surrounding areas.

It is widely known that French are snobbish and this was in full display right from the time we landed in Paris. After going thru the usual drill of finding a neighborhood which has good access to public transport, we had zeroed in on Place d’Italie area to stay. Our above – one of the Ibis, near the metro station.

Another characteristic of our travel is stretching it to the maximum and fitting in another local experience wherever possible. The schedule in Paris had been out of gear. We were on the Eiffel tower when there was a gunman attack on police nearby. The next day, it was a near lock down in the city – leading to delays and changes in our plans. Thus making the last available day, all so important.

The last day of our trip, we had to leave for the airport at 1930 hours. While our  loyalty status with the hotel group gave us a late check out, we had made plans of visiting some non touristy places and be back only to collect the luggage. Post breakfast, we checked out.Baggage in tow, at the reception – I requested for keeping the bags in cloak room.

Now started an animated discussion, where the reception staff was trying to tell me something in French and I was repeating in English “we will come back and collect  at 7pm, can we please keep our luggage with you”. This did not work, so I tried again – “WE WILL COME BACK AND COLLECT THE BAGS AT 7PM”

The third attempt involved hand gestures. Me pointing at the bag, then the watch then myself walking few steps to the exit and coming back, and taking the bags! And the lady crossing her hands.

TW (The Wife) was coming by the stairs since two bags and me in the lift had left no space for anything. She only saw the third attempt where hands had taken over words and she quickly rushed towards the reception and started speaking in French. The lady at the reception suddenly smiled and started a long conversation and both of them started laughing about something and while doing so, she left the reception counter and started walking towards a corner on the floor and TW followed her and I kept standing there with the bags in my hand like a coolie, not knowing what to do next.

Only a second later, when I followed them did I realize that speaking in french had done its trick and the hotel staff was opening up a room on the ground floor to accommodate additional luggage which the hotel guests had this day and the cloak room was already full !

Bags placed and tagged, we were off for to visit different parts of Paris and come back to have the baggage secure. Valuable lesson in traveling – local language can do wonders, more so if its French! TWs French skills have helped in in more countries than one – from Vietnam and Laos to Switzerland and Belgium, French has helped get good food or road directions!

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