Thursday, November 7, 2013

Weary Travelers Journey Home


The final post on my French odyssey...

Our foursome’s journey through Paris and Provence was winding down. We savored our last dinner in France at a restaurant recommended for its regional dishes, reasonable prices, and sumptuous desserts. The wine was very good too!
The restaurant staff working hard preparing elegant plates.
Preparations for the trip home began the morning of our last full day in France. A request for late checkout was denied; the hotel informed us the rooms were needed. We packed our bags for air travel before breakfast and checked out.

We wandered around the old city of Nice all morning, exploring the outdoor market, devouring lunch at Le Safari cafe, and relaxing outside, enjoying the warm weather and people watching - tourists and locals alike.

Our trusty guide Frank picked us up at 2:00 p.m. and we drove off, stopping at the medieval fortress town of Eze, continuing on to Monaco, and finally driving to the airport. Exhausted from days of sightseeing, we were not looking forward to a draining, long trip home.
We were tired before our trip home began.
Our itinerary included an 8:00 p.m. flight from Nice to Paris, an overnight stay at a hotel at Charles de Gaulle airport, and a plane home the following morning. Travel arrangements – hotels, guides and tours, intra-country travel – had been seamless. We were not so lucky traveling home.

First stop was the Easyjet airline desk at the Nice airport. Boarding passes were provided by our travel planner before leaving home. None of us had bothered to take a careful look at the document earlier in the trip. Nancy, our unofficial leader, reviewed her boarding pass, reading it carefully the day before the flight. That is when the realization hit – our suitcases were not designated checked baggage. And we were allowed only one carry on. Each of us had one suitcase, a carry-on, and a large pocketbook.

Easyjet, a British airline, is evidently the European equivalent of Spirit Air.

Realizing we were going to encounter complications, Frank accompanied us to the airline desk, assisting with translations and explanations. We all checked – and paid for – two bags apiece, shelling out an additional (approximately) $100.

Our cheap flight to Paris was not so cheap after all.

My suitcase was below the weight limit, but my two bags were slightly over the maximum weight allowance. I quickly opened my bag and grabbed my blazer and some books, threw the blazer on, although it was quite warm, and walked away carrying my coat, pocketbook, and a handful of (heavy) books.

Arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport with no further hassles, we  retrieved our bags and proceeded to the Hilton Hotel, taking the airport shuttle train, walking through a terminal and along outside walkways, and finally reaching the hotel entrance. We could have – should have – taken the hotel shuttle bus, but were somewhat misinformed.

Check-in was the final hurdle. Nancy’s  went smoothly, but Kathe’s communications were not going well. There was a slight glitch. The hotel had our names with one night paid for, but the reservation had never been confirmed.

Following some stress and Nancy’s (our only French language speaker) heroic efforts to straighten things out, we received room keys and a voucher for free drinks. We dropped the bags in our rooms and returned to the lobby bar, relaxing with drinks and a cheese plate until well past midnight.

Suddenly iPhone alarms went off and the last leg of our journey began. A hotel van drove us to the airport terminal. We checked in without incident, and after two separate security checks, lengthy walks, escalator rides, and a hasty detour to the duty-free shop, we arrived at the boarding gate.

The flight home was nine hours long, with emphasis on long. The plane was full, and the trip uneventful. The food, however, was just short of awful.

Customs proved trouble-free, and by the time we arrived at the luggage carousel our bags were waiting for us.

Hubs greeted us, and we were on our way home.

Fall is currently at its finest in south Jersey. Trees are in full color and the ride home quite colorful. Arriving home I showered (I could not stand myself!), and hub and I enjoyed dinner at a local pub. I was asleep by nine.

My three companions also reached home without incident - almost. Kathe had another airline flight before reaching Las Vegas, her final destination. Her plane, scheduled for the day after our Paris-Philly flight, was delayed, missing her connection in Charlotte. She flew home and into the arms of her hub a day later.

Our next trip?

I do not know - yet. In two years I celebrate (if that is the right word) my 65th birthday and Kathe will be 70. Our birthdays are two days apart. The four of us are talking about maybe…returning to France, or exploring another country.

We just have to stay young-at-heart, healthy, and in reasonable physical shape to share another adventure together!
Four graduates of a two-hour perfumery course.
We are holding our course certificates and (in the bags) a bottle of our one-of-a-kind, personal perfume.
We are thinking of creating and marketing our own fragrances to finance our next trip.

5 comments:

  1. I hear you about the final journey home after a wonderful vacation. You're already tired, and then... the endless plane ride(s). Glad you're home! And I enjoyed your pictures and adventures without any of the hassle! :-)

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  2. You brought back memories for me: I saw Bastille Day fireworks over the Mediterranean in Nice in 1969. Anyway, welcome back to the good ole USA!

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  3. I hope you have many days in which to catch up on sleep! Like DJan, I enjoyed your travels and had none of the hassle, so thank you!

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  4. Wonderful to have such great travel companions. You are a kid. I will be 72 next birthday. Dianne

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  5. Yikes, your return trip would have turned the rest of my hair gray. As marvelous as your trip was, I'll bet it is good to get back in your own bed. I too echo Djan's sentiments.

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