I’ve been trying to decide how to write that I got homesick and came home from France for a visit.
There! I just said it.
If you think I’m a “fearless traveler” who can take off in a moment’s notice and take on a life-changing journey, you’re right. If you think I’m too tough to be homesick for my friends and family during the holidays, you’ll be surprised at my last-minute decision. I returned to the US to spend Christmas with my boys.
A quick getaway
As you know, I had a delightful Thanksgiving in Uzes introducing new friends to the American holiday. Nevertheless, for the first time since moving to France, I found myself getting very homesick. The thought of spending another holiday away from home made me sad. The trip I planned to Paris would surely be a diversion, but my heart strings were still a bit “off tune”.
Fighting the urge to go back to the States and with the map of Europe spread out in front of me, I imagined traveling by train to various well-known places, jumping off the train for a few hours to take pictures of the city’s holiday decorations, then getting back on the train ’til the next stop. It sounded like fun, but perhaps it was an adventure I should save for the spring.
Two days before my scheduled trip to Paris, I decided I was going back to the States for Christmas. As impulsively as I had decided to move to France, I called my boys to tell them I was coming home for a visit. The plan was to board an airplane on my last day in Paris and head for Atlanta.
Even with the holiday scramble for tickets, the United airlines website produced a good fare and descent schedule on a flight from Paris through Frankfurt that would reunite me with my family in Atlanta in less than twelve hours. Instead of an overnight bag for the intended 2-day stay in Paris, my baggage swelled to two suitcases. They were filled with warm winter clothes, boots, and the few presents I could gather from France in my haste. Enough was packed for several months since, now that I was home, I would stick around Atlanta and the southeast until my first grandchild was born in late March.
Rescued … again
If you think a Barefoot Blogger story must have a tale of Geoffrey, you’ll be pleased to read on.
The apartment I found in Paris turned out to be perfect. In an 18th century building between the Place de la Concorde and The Madeleine Church, it met my three demands for the short trip to Paris: 1) close to the Champs Elysee; 2) within walking distance of the Louvre; and 3) the price, with breakfast, was around US$125 per night. That would allow for at least one fancy dinner.
There was only one drawback to the charming apartment . It was on the sixth floor of the building … with no elevator.
The day I left for Paris, Geoffrey insisted on taking me to the train station in Nimes.
After helping me lug my bags onto the train, Geoffrey and I bid each other a teary farewell. I thought: “Now I’m on my own to find a new adventure.”
By the time I arrived at the train station in Paris and hailed a cab, Geoffrey was ringing me on the cellphone. I motioned to the taxi driver to turn down the volume on the radio.
“S’il vous plaît”, I said in my very best French. I had learned quickly that the very large and burly African from Nigeria spoke no English,
On the phone Geoffrey was chirping with all the cheerfulness he could muster: “Hello daa-ling,” he chimed in his heavy British accent. “Have you arrived in Paris?”
“Why, yes, daw–ling” I replied. “In the cab on the way to the apartment,” I added. “Just not looking forward to that sixth floor climb.”
“How am I going to get these bags all the way up those steps to the apartment?” I cried to him. Dreading the thought of being dumped off on the sidewalk. “I totally forgot!” I added.
Without hesitation, Geoffrey ordered, “Hand the phone to the driver. I want to speak with him.”
Obediently, I tapped the cab driver on the shoulder and handed him the phone with Geoffrey on the other end of the line.
In less time than I could offer up a quick plea to heaven, the driver handed back the phone.
“No problem, daa-ling,” said Geoffrey, “it’s all arranged”, he confirmed most assuredly.
He had done it again.
The cabby drove up to the apartment building on the busy street — right up onto the sidewalk. He quickly opened the door to the cab for me to jump out. He then hurried to the rear of the taxi and unloaded the two large bags from the trunk.
As he rolled both bags through the security gate and lifted them through the entry door of the apartment building, I stood back to watch as he assessed the climb ahead. With seemingly no effort, he grabbed the suitcase handles and carried both bags onto the wide, spiral staircase, up six tall flights of stairs, and into the front door of the apartment: my home-away-from-home for the next two nights.
Giving him a nice tip and a big hug, I wished the big, burly, STRONG man from Nigeria a “Joyeux Noël”. He would never know that his act of kindness started off my holiday in the very best way.
Stay tuned … the unexpected layover