* "America is my country; and Paris is my hometown." - - Gertrude Stein

I touched down at the CDG (Charles de Gaul) airport after a long, long ride on the plane. I searched for my luggage while constantly redirected by the French guards who seemed not to like me or my Americanisms very much (is it really that obvious that I'm an American girl traveling alone to Paris for the first time?) - Luckily I was mistaken for a true Parisian only two weeks later, so HA! I retrieved my luggage from the conveyor for my gate; a large brown houndstooth suitcase with tan leather piping and trim at the corners, once a possession of my father's or grandfather's. The thick leather handle gripped well in my nervously clammy hand. I searched for the members of my party, having no idea as to whether I might recognize their faces, having just previously met once, and a full three weeks before the trip at that. After lapping the terminal at least thrice, I spotted them nestled amongst their bags near the phone vestibules. Relaxed, we chatted about what we were most excited to see of the city first. The chartered bus took us to the hotel; two more long hours in traffic. We arrived sometime just before 3:00 - at which point we had just enough time to stack our luggage up in the rooms before being called to the Lobby for an immediate orientation rundown. The meeting began at quarter-past three, and I still had not eaten since my in-flight breakfast on the plane (a croissant and some sliced cheese.) By almost five we were let loose to meander the city and find food. Three of us wandered till about 8, at which point it can only be decided that our stomachs had been running on excitement. We stopped at a street market and ate sweet breads and candy with cokes. (Paris began my found love of Coke; I had hated it before, always opting for - cringe - Pepsi.) Coke is pretty much the beverage of choice here as far as sodas go. More wandering until we had covered a quarter of the city, at which point we returned to the hotel to cook a meal of spaghetti noodles we had picked up at our to-be regular market - something of a 7-11. Watching French Tv for the evening until two, at which point we went to our beds.