Riding the subways here in Paris have been nothing short of a trip. (I'm so punny. *chortle*) However, for your reading pleasure I'd like to give you some of the more memorable moments from my time deep underneath Paris. So, here's my guide to the METRO!
Selecting Your Train
Upon entering the Metro you will be confronted with what should be a map, but it is covered in odd shaped squiggles of colors that should look slightly different, but most likely look exactly the same. For the colors that do look the same, you must navigate to the end of the string (much like doing a coloring book maze as a little kid) and search for a little tiny number. Stops will be labeled by little circles with names by them that are also completely unreadable. Navigate through this mess and figure out which stops you need. Figuring out multiple routs is probably a good idea as odds are good that 92% of the time your train will be absurdly late or just not coming.
Find the platform for your train by following signs bearing the number of the train you wish to ride on. Remember the trains go both ways, so make sure to pick the one headed where you want to go. Also, for all intensive purposes, just because the train is on your track, doesn't mean it is ending up where you want as most single lines are actually five lines that simply converge for six stops in the middle of Paris.
Boarding Your Train
Picking cars on the train is a lot like Russian Roulet meets Murphy's Laws. If you are exhausted you will end up packed in like sardines. If you only need one stop, there will be plenty of chairs open. If you happen to be packed in like sardines, I reccomend a nose plug.
Once you have selected your stake out place in the platform simply wait for your train to arrive. Upon arrival simply lift your feet from the ground and allow the thronging crowd to carry you onto the train like a small boat in a turbulent ocean. Mind the Gap. You never know when the thronging ocean of people will stop and leave you to fall to your doom. Remember, Russian Roulet meets Murphy's Laws. Ride at your own risk.
Good Times vs Bad Times
Good times, never. Bad times, always.
Rush hour is always fun. I've never felt more like a sardine in all my life. People just keep cramming in even after the car looks full at least three or four more people will mash their bodies in some awkward contortion just to avoid waiting six more minutes. Of course, if it is the RER it's worth mashing yourself in because who knows when the next one is coming...
These awkward contortions become more... pungent... on warmer days as suddenly you find yourself next to a Parisian man who looks like he just ran a marathon and is sweating enough to fill the Great Lakes. If you find yourself next to this man, MOVE because he has no idea that he smells worse than a pack of fourteen year old boys who've just finished mud wrestling. In fact, odds are good he will probably was a little more pit ventilation, and raise his arm to grab onto a higher part of the railing. Prepare to be asphyxiated. Gas masks aren't enough. Nothing is enough.
1. If you can still breathe, there is room for three more people next to you.
2. If you can't breathe, four more people will cram in next to you.
3. There are no personal boundaries on the metro. Just hope that man next to you... well... just know that there are no personal boundaries.
4. The amount of available seats varies indirectly with how tired you are.
5. The amount of breathe able air never varies. It will always be zero.
6. The RER hates you. Accept this and your life will be easier.
7. To be tall is better, to be short is armpit heaven.
8. Prepare to be asked out by the short man standing next to you. After refusing him, prepare to have him stare awkwardly at you.
9. If you ride with someone who is loudish, prepare to be stared at. But keep the loud person around, they do funny things on the Metro and will provide many moments of great amusement.
10. When in doubt if you'll get out, shove and yell PARDON!!!