Monday, August 20, 2012

France — The City of ???

Love? Lights? Fashion? Romance? Really Expensive Soda?

How about the first stop on our journey through Europe.

This entry is from the travel log I made for the trip I made with Garrett and my mother.

Day One and Day Two (thank you time change)
Aug. 19-20, 2012

So now it is Sunday. Garrett and I need to be in Heber by noon in order to get to the airport in time to sit for five million hours. My mother was insistent. We decided it would be best to go to a little bit of Church, so we woke up, got dressed and I may or may not have attended with my hair wet. But hey, at least I was there (did I mention that because of my little mishap we didn’t get home until practically one in the morning — Church starts at nine).

After about an hour in Church, we realized we had to leave in order to finish packing and get to Heber. Pretty much everything until the Airport went according to plan, so I’ll fast forward a bit.

So, we’re in the airport, right? Enjoying some Cafe Rio (yep, they have one of those now) and then heading over to get on the plane. The airplanes leaving for France for the past month have been wide open — like Texas wide, not Utah wide. Mom kept fretting, but I was in my “We’re already at the airport, what are we going to do anyway” mode, so I probably wasn’t as empathetic as I should have been.

Anyway, Mom made me go tell the desk guy that Garrett was in our party — really this just makes it so that we don’t get to go unless his priority gets to go. But, hey, at least I have my husband. I always think this is kind of dumb, but I do it anyway because that’s what I learned to do. Here’s where the story starts getting cool.

About 30 minutes before the plane should have taken-off, a flight attendant came to announce some bad news.

“We have some weight problems,” he said drearily to the rest of us standby passengers. “This means we might not fill any more seats on this airplane — it will probably leave with empty seats.”

No. Way.

Now, please keep this in mind. This flight normally leaves with empty seats — because they’ve put everyone who could possibly want to head to France or the outlying areas on it already. You don’t leave people in the airport for flights to France.

About this time, Mom started to get really worried. You see, our trip is kind of planned out to allow the maximum number of locations in the minimum number of days. We couldn’t afford to lose a day (I mean, we probably could, but how would that country feel knowing it was the first on the chopping block?). We waited as they called the names of paying passengers who had somehow forgotten to come to the airport for their flight to Paris. I mean, really? How do you miss that plane?

Finally, as if a call from heaven, the deskman, who I had talked to earlier about combining Garrett and I, calls our name.

“They told me they were going to open up four seats,” he said with a slightly heavy accent. “I looked at the list and was like, ‘How about five?’”

Garrett was number 5.

I was shocked. I mean, I haven’t ever had too many problems with these people. When you’re getting bounced from flight to flight, they normally treat you really well. But, for one of them to slide us on like that meant a lot. And I know my mother was pleased. 

In a hurry — as if he was going to change his mind — we rushed onto the airplane and into our Business class seats. Yep, Business. I know, spoiled. I’ve already told Garrett that I don’t know how I’m ever going to travel in the back when we start having to buy the tickets. After that flight, I don’t think he will ever be able to fly in the back either.

The flight in itself was awesome. The plan was that we would buy a hotel and rental car while in the air. There was just one little hiccup to the plan: The 767-ER300, one of the most advanced planes in the air, did not have wireless. I know, terrible.

Regardless, we were on our way. Mom sat behind Garrett and I and she slept. She had to sit next to the pilot seat, so she wasn’t allowed to talk or make loud noises. Garrett and I sat next to each other and watched “The Avengers.” Pretty cool movie, I must say. We both had different screens and headphones, so we pressed start at the same time and tried to make it match as best we could. I think we’re cute, if I do say so myself.

Did I mention that we got to eat? Eat and eat and eat and eat and eat. Really. Did I also mention how much I like food? Okay, to be honest, the food was kind of gross. Not in the “Of course it’s gross, it’s airplane food” sort of way, but more in the “what the heck is this thing on my plate? I think it’s gourmet” sort of way. It was still pretty delicious and I got fruit and cheese for dessert. How could I go wrong?

Well, pretty much the rest of the time we slept. Garrett watched another movie because he is nocturnal, but us normal people chose to get a full night’s rest.

We landed in Paris around 11:00 a.m. Paris time. As soon as we got off the airplane, I realized how blessed I was to live in America. Really, just how blessed I was to live somewhere I knew the language. Everyone around me was blabbering in some sort of tongue I couldn’t understand. At one point I heard Spanish, but that’s about as close as I got to understanding — and I didn’t.

While going through customs we reserved a car. After customs we reserved a hotel room. Thank goodness for the Internet. How did people do this before then? (Just so you know, I know the answer to that question. I’ve done it before. This is way less scary.) 

Well, we got the car without a hitch. Okay, that’s not totally true. They wanted to give us this cool Golf convertible because they wanted it dropped off in Italy, but after a million years of waiting (like, an hour) they decided they didn’t actually want to give it to us and gave us another car instead. But it’s okay, because we finally made it.

The next trial was getting to our hotel in Paris. French people are CRAZY. Okay, I shouldn’t make any judgments about the people, but their driving skills leave something to be desired. Okay, again, that’s not totally true. They have to be good drivers or else they’d all be dead. I don’t know how they don’t hit each other, but every three seconds I was sure I was about to witness a terrible accident between a couple Jay Walking pedestrians, a scooter, a giant bus and a too fast car. Not to mention the bicycles. 

On a side note: I'm not teaching Garrett and my children how to drive.

Now, when we finally made it to the city and into the parking garage (which was an adventure, let me assure), we had to park the car. I’d like to describe these parking stalls by first having you picture the ones in America. American parking stalls are large enough to park and H2 with room to spare. That means that every other car in the world can slide right in and out of those with ease. French parking stalls are the exact same size as a small car. As in, if you are perfectly in the center, the edges of your wheels hit the line. They are then jam packed together so that if you don’t pull in perfectly you end up slamming into the car next to you. The first one we tried to park in was a nightmare. I mean, absolute disaster. A kind gentleman tried to help us for a bit, but it was a lost cause. The car may or may not have been touching the concrete support beam at one point or another. If anyone asks you, the answer is “may not.”

Don’t worry though, we found one that kind of work. And by kind of work, I mean Mom was about in tears, so if she had been ten yards from the intended parking stall, it would have been good enough.

We eventually got around to touring France. It was fun. We got on a tour bus and saw all the sights. We walked like pioneer children. We ate pizza at this place with a really mean waiter. P.S. the place charged 15 Euros for ONE liter of soda. Okay, Coca-cola is not gold. Or silver. It’s SODA. 


I have one bit of sad new to report. We could not find any tarts. Not-a-one. Well, not a tart I wanted. There were these baked fruit tarts, but who wants baked fruit tarts? Not me. I mean, who bakes their fruit anyway? (Anyone who chooses to bring up pies right now can stop reading this post… or fritters, don’t bring up fritters).

Overall, the day was wonderful — but I am tired to the bone. Here’s ‘til tomorrow!

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