The trip is always long. Days before getting ready, packing lists, getting the carpets protected from one cat with a delicate stomach, more packing, double-checking lists, buying a third bag at the last minute (we are staying a month after all). But the lead-up to even leaving seems to go on for days.
Finally the appointed day arrives. September 14. We give tearful good-byes to our rather indifferent cats, and Paul, our wonderful neighbor, picks us up for the ride to Denver International Airport where the journey will begin. Several unnecessary crises occur. Since we’re used to traveling with two bags, we manage to leave the third behind on the sidewalk outside the departures section of the airport. Since it contains cameras and some other necessary stuff, we’re panicked. I run back outside and there it is next to an airport employee who appears to be used to dumb people leaving luggage behind. (My own mental scenario involved running back out only to see a bomb squad blasting my cameras and Mary Ann’s personal items to smithereens!). Fortunately, though the friendly airport employee doesn’t even check my ID. I guess he figures frantic man running for green bag is indeed the man who belongs to it.
Before we get on board, a wallet is misplaced, passports are frantically searched for (and found). Then we have lunch at a DIA restaurant called (ironically) Pour le France. Used to be good. Now I think of it more as “Poor le France”. But it’s somewhat edible, after which we make for Gate 28 and our flight.
We’ve had our tickets scanned and are on our way into the plane before I realize that my several hundred dollar Italian leather jacket isn’t on my back (Crisis #3). It’s back at Poor le France! A friendly ticket guy lets me go see if I can get it retrieved. So this late 60-ish old man is trundling down the terminal to said restaurant, and yes, it’s already in lost and found.
Mary Ann was left in the tunnel to the plane thinking she would be wafted off to Paris while I was frogging around in lost and found looking for my jacket; but I make my way back and all is well.
The flight to Newark was uneventful, and after a layover there, we got on our flight to Paris which left around 6:30 that evening.
I never sleep on red-eyes. Mary Ann didn’t either. Of course the cabin is dark, and you don’t want other passengers shooting stink-eyes at you for turning on your light to read something. So we muddle along, looking at stuff on our iPhones, or just staring at the little airplane icon on the map taking us on our seven and a half hour journey from Newark to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Long (sigh) night.
We arrive at de Gaulle. The cowboy-hatted greeters at DIA are replaced by . . . well, nothing really. Just a lot of travelers speaking in many tongues. We end up getting through customs and over to our luggage which was waiting nicely for us. Then a call to our AirBNB host, Corinne to let her know we were on our way, and hopped a cab into town.
Like all the European cities I’ve been in, there’s a historic core that all us tourists want to go to. Nearly all the time the drive there goes through the ‘real’ city where millions of Parisians (in this case) live their lives, go to work, etc. Lots of freeways, a friendly Asian cab driver who knew when to go into warp speed when he wanted/needed to, moving past grafitti-lined freeway barriers, modern buildings poking up above them. All very 21st century. And suddenly we were up a freeway ramp, around a turn or two or three and suddenly, there we were on the Champs-Élysées headed toward the Arc de Triomphe!
It wasn’t long before we were on the Left Bank and on Rue de l’Universite. The pass codes to get into the outer gateway and the door to our building both worked. And there, waiting for us, was our smiling host, Corinne Debuquoy. We were finally there: In Paris and at the door of our home for a month.
Nous sommes arrivés à la dernière! (We arrived at last!)