The word you never want to hear three times in a row, especially in a foreign language. Well, it happened to us today, and it wasn’t pleasant. So, let me start from the beginning. We deciced yesterday to purchase two city and boat tour passes around Paris. There are about three different carriers, we went with the L’Open Tour by CityVISION. We stumbled on this one by accident. We went out in search of the carrier we found on the web, BigBus, but when we asked for directions we were pointed to a bus stop for L’Open Tour. The driver of the bus spoke fairly good English and gave a quick explanation of the services offered, such as bus, boat, day, night, one-day, two-day, three-day, etc. We went with the one-day bus and boat pass for 41 euro each.
By this time, it was about 1pm. We failed to ask the time the buses stopped running. Come to find out, the bus (day pass) stopped at 5pm and so did the boats. There are four different bus routes, blue, orange, yellow and green. From 1pm to about 5:30pm we were able to complete the blue route, a partial of the green route and no more. We thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if we could add the second day pass to our original purchase. Much to our delight, they were understanding and let us add the additional day of bus and boat, by only paying the ticket difference of 4 euro each. We were pleased and went on our way for the evening. Our plan for day two of the bus and boat pass was to begin earlier than the day before. First a boat ride along the river Seine, then on to routes yellow and finish green.
Okay, so now you’re caught up. We woke early, as planned. We started with a quick breakfast of café crème, croissant, and fresh squeezed orange juice. It was our second day eating at this cafe. Then it was on to the river Seine just across from Notre Dame. This is were we chose to start our boat ride, as there are about five other stops on the route that we could have picked for our starting point. This particular stop just so happens to have a L’Open Tour ticket office. We stood in a short line and asked the gentleman there to confirm we could use our tickets at this boat stop. He looked at our tickets for a second with a puzzled look on his face. It was understandable as the tickets we now had in our possession, after our addition of the second day pass, was two tickets that indicated a price paid of 4 euro each and not the 45 euro required for a two-day bus and boat pass. We explained how we had originally purchased the one-day pass just the day before, but decideed to add the second day and that this was the ticket that we were given. He looked at the tickets a bit longer and realized that indeed while only paying 4 eruo the ticket did indicate “EXT 1J” (the J stands for “jour”, which in french means day). He agreed the tickets were good and sent us out to wait for the next boat, now due in about ten minutes.
During this wait, we saw a couple and asked if they’d take our picture by the Siene with Norte Dame in the background. They agreed happily. They in-turn asked us to return the favor, and we agreed. During this exchanged it was determined that this couple, at least the male, could speak English! However, they were also speaking what sounded like French. We asked where they were from, to which he replied “Luxembourg”. We talked while we waited for the boat. The couple was fluent in three languges, French, German, Luxembourgish, and had studied both English and Spanish in school. We also talked about Paris, futbol (soccer), and of course Albuquerque and Breaking Bad. The female brought up terrorist. I’m not sure how the conversation changed direction, but it did. Her comments to us were how terrorists had put such fear in people and detered travel. We all agree that neither fear nor terrorists would keep us from traveling freely.
During this time, the boat arrived. We were fourth in line of about six couples. The Luxembourg’s behind us, and two others behind them. One-by-one the boat attendent took and accepted tickets. It was now our turn, we handed him our tickets and watched as he displayed the same puzzled face the ticket booth attendent had shown. We begin to point out the “EXT 1J” and date, but he wasn’t having it. He returned our tickets to us and begin to dismiss us while saying “no, no, no”, and he reached out to the couple behind us for their tickets. It was at this time that our newly found friends from Luxembourg came to our aid. We explained to them quickly how we had paid only 4 euro the day before in order to add the second day of bus and boat tours. He understood our case and begin to communicate this in French to the dismissive boat attendent. It was then and only then that he seemed willing to help. He walked over to the booth and spoke to the ticket attendent who confirmed our point and we were allowed to board the boat.
During this boat tour, people exited and people boarded at each stop we made. As I looked around and listented, I could hear many different lanugaues being spoken. It was then that I reflected back on the incident at our boarding and came to a conclusio. When back in the states, I will never look the other way when I come across a foreigner in need. I’m not talking about someone in need of emergecy help, as I’d always help in those instantces. I’m referring to times of communication aid, similar to our experience. I can’t remember a time that I have, but I’ll be certain to never let it happen. I’m sure there could have been a time in which I didn’t feel it was “my business” to intervene and therefore continued to walk along to have him/her fend for his/her self. Never again! I will forever and always put myself in their shoes and do anything I can to make sure that they too can be understood and don’t get left beind. As the nice couple from Luxembourg did for us.