We will soon learn, after unpacking everything so we can stack our suitcases, that we will need to re-pack and move tomorrow.
Zut Alors! The alarm clock has gone off and we are packing up to go to Paris, France! We are really, really going to Paris and really, really going to see all those museums and cathedrals and cafes, and---EGAD!--I am going to try to speak French to real, real French persons. I am officially terrified.
I have spent the past six months with Rosetta Stone trying to re-learn the four or five years I spent butchering the French language in high school and college. As the days have gotten closer and closer to actually attempting this feat of humiliation I have become more and more intimidated by the whole prospect. Then, dear Niamh comes to my rescue telling me that she is fluent in French and that I should just say this, "Pardon, je ne parle pas francias," (I am sorry, I don't speak French) and then fumble along the best I can. Okay, deep breath.
We are in a big mess of good-byes, hugs, kisses, (I even get a hug from Niall!) and promises to meet up again soon, then out the door, and on to the M-1 to Dublin. This is followed by the "Good-bye dear rental
car, you have served us well," unpacking the car, grabbing the shuttle, and unpacking all the gear again at the terminal for Aer Lingus. John takes a deep, deep breath-his driving duties in the UK and Ireland are now complete, we wouldn't even contemplate a rental car for our time in Paris.
Isn't it funny how being massively annoyed can take away both the fear and the happy buzz of travelling to a new country? As we struggle with the terminal doors and maneuvering our luggage a young couple pushes past us--literally pushes us out of the way--to get into line ahead of us. They are now directly in front of us in a line that zigs and zags back and forth at least six times before getting to one of twelve check-in desks. Now that wouldn't be so bad except there is some kind of drama that we are now witnessing up close and personal. He drops his bag on the floor, she rubs his chest and starts kissing his neck, he looks away, she starts looking into his eyes and kissing his cheek over and over, he finally looks at her and gives her a brief kiss
There's a menu in French behind us!
on the mouth. The line moves. he kicks his bag ahead, she rubs his chest and starts kissing his neck, then she is kissing his cheek, and he finally gives her a brief kiss on the mouth, and on and on until John and I don't know whether to laugh or throw a bucket of cold water on the girl. It all ends when she starts crying, he looks away, and she makes a dramatic exit. He has no response.
Wait! But there is more...now that we have finally reached a check-in desk we are told that our luggage is over the weight limit. Yes, but we purchased a ticket with an extra suitcase allowance. Oh, but that doesn't come with an extra weight allowance. ???? The clerk is very kind, shuttles us over to a corner and we become one of those couples dividing up dirty laundry, in front of God and every passenger in the world, trying to make our suitcases even out. Luckily they let us slide into line and flag us through although we really, really did not make the weight allowance. Just a side note; Aer Lingus does not have an official we-always-follow-our-own-guidelines policy
Our first cafe
about ANYTHING. Also, I now officially have put Aer Lingus on my exclusive I won't fly with you ever again unless you are the last plane on planet Earth list....Ha!
And that is our last moment in Ireland until we are flying over this beautiful country and at last no more of those amazing shades of green, cross the channel, and land very quickly at Charles de Gaul Airport.
The first thing that strikes me is how quiet it is. True, we are not in the international terminal, Terminal 2, which gets bad ratings as a complete zoo, however, even in Terminal 1, there are an amazing number of people and it is very, very quiet. It is also very easy to navigate and we find the no-one-in-line airport branch of the Tourist Office where I purchase our Museum Passes, a map, and a French Dictionary (I forgot mine,) and wait for the taxi which we had ordered...and wait, and wait, and wait. After an hour and a phone call an earnest young man arrives, whisks us into an immaculate mini-SUV and we are-finally on our way to Paris! We think.....
Time for the back story--just follow
along here: At the Cannes Film Festival a lesbian love story won the Palme d'Or, then several days later the government of France passed a bill legalizing gay/lesbian marriage. The Monday before we arrived in Paris, this is now Sunday, a man blew his brains out on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral to protest homosexual marriage. So today there is a HUGE protest in Paris against homosexual marriage and it is centered around the neighborhood of our hotel. Our driver is heroic, and in the meantime we get a full tour of the city; we are in the crazy, really, really, crazy traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe, we pass the Eiffel Tower several times, we are on the Champs Elysais, but, almost an hour and a half later, we are still not at our hotel--despite the driver backing up the wrong way on a one way street. Finally he pleads with a gendarme who lifts the blockade and within minutes we are at the Hotel du Cadran, checked in, given a map of the area and a list of recommended cafes and bistros, and helped into our room. Whew!
Now, a quick wash-up, change of shoes,
and we'll be off.....except the electricity doesn't work. This is one of those hotels where one has to insert the electronic key into the little gizmo that activates the lights....but it doesn't work for long periods of time--as in 10 or more minutes at a time. We call the desk and they send up a very nice trainee who does not speak any English and shows us how to use the gizmo, but it still doesn't work. We end up using the neon orange gaffers tape that John uses to identify our luggage (so chic!) to hold the little gizmo together so we now have lights -- but not for long...We push forward, try to get cleaned up and then the bathroom lights give up entirely. We call the desk again. Oh, we are sorry, we are booked up, but tomorrow we will move you to another room and not charge you for tonight. Let's just get out of here, have dinner, and it will all be better tomorrow.
Except, since it is Sunday and at least half of France is closed and the protest marches were centered in our neighborhood, everything is jam packed. We find a café
A market street which means that it is mostly a pedestrian walkway--with exceptions.
and a table and are scooted into the "English" side- English menu, English speaking waiter, lots of English speaking tourists-but that is fine. Dinner is good, the walk back to the hotel is lovely and now to plan our route for our very, very full day tomorrow---Wrong! Now the electricity is almost always out and won't come back. Tomorrow will be better, tomorrow will be better......
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