There are times when the Barefoot Blogger thinks she’s a seasoned international traveler. This trip back to France, however, I broke all the rules.
Rule #1 – Wear dark clothes to travel
Murphy’s Law says that if you’re traveling, and you eat or drink along the way, you’re going to end up with it on you. Always wear dark clothing. That’s why I wore khaki pants. On top of that, they were brand new. What was I thinking?!
Khaki traveling pants
There were no disasters, but I’ll be working on some grease stains from the Einstein bagel sandwich. Could have been worse.
Rule #2 – Take emergency cash
Again, what was I thinking? Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by having too many accessible ATM machines where I travel. A good rule of thumb is to carry about $200 in cash. I left the states with $20 in my pocket. Figuring that I wouldn’t need money until I reached the airport in Paris, I knew there was an ATM machine there where I could get euros with my credit card. Little did I know that my choice of low cost airlines — WOW — charges for everything you put in your mouth. Not even a free bottle of water or cup of coffee. The $20 was used up fast before I landed in Paris. Which leads to Rule #3.
Rule #3 – Tell your credit card companies you’re traveling
Oops! When I ordered a sandwich wrap and Coke at the train terminal at Charles de Gaulle — after I’d missed the train, by the way — my credit card was refused. I pulled out my brand new AA Advantage card. It worked. It worked again when I bought a new train ticket to get to Avignon. It didn’t work when I wanted euros out of the ATM. So what did I do? I messaged my adorable daughter-in-law! She was home. I gave her all my credit card information and she called the bank impersonating me. Voila!
I don’t even want to think what my next step would have been.
Rule #4 – Make certain you have all the keys at your destination
Breaking this rule had me standing in the street outside my apartment in Uzes until the wee hours of the night of my arrival.
Let me take you back a little to the day(s) of the trip to explain my state of delirium.
As you recall from the last post, I chose to try the “budget” route back to France. I saved $500-600 dollars on the one-way fare. In so doing, my trip consisted of four legs — Atlanta to Charlotte; to Boston; to Iceland; to Paris. Unfortunately, the plane sat on the runway in Boston for three hours as a terrible thunderstorm swept over the airport. Fortunately WOW airline waited for us to arrive in Iceland. Never mind, we were still three hours late to Paris. Since I’d given myself barely three hours between original air arrival time and departure time on the train to Avignon, I missed the train.
This story gets longer and more confusing, so I’ll save getting a ticket exchange, maneuvering through the airport to the train, and other such information for the next post.
When I arrived in Avignon, Geoffrey was there waiting, as planned. (I was able to text to him about the delay.) Happily we chatted all the way from the Avignon TGV station to Uzes. Since he was as exhausted as me, I insisted that I could carry my own bags to the apartment.
He asked: “You have your keys, right?”
I knew I had the key ring that I retrieved from the dresser drawer in Atlanta. The keys had been safely tucked away since my arrival there in December.
“Yes, of course,” I said dangling the keys in front of him. “Right here,” I added.
“I no longer have the set of keys you gave me,” he stated.
He had given the keys to my friend who was minding the apartment while I was gone. She lives in Nimes.
With that, I bounded out of the door, grabbed the bags as Geoffrey handed them out of the car, and headed for the big wooden doors to the apartment building.
“I even remember the code for the entrance door this time,” I chimed smugly.
Apartment entrance at the Place de Duche
“Good thing,” Geoffrey replied, remembering the code had been a problem on my last return from the states.
By the time I carried the bags through the big door that leads to the atrium to my building, I was feeling the pain from my long journey.
“Only 55 steps and I’ll be home,” I said to myself as I staggered up the first 20 steps.
The red door that leads into the tower was a welcomed sight. I fumbled with the keys and the lock to the tower door. It opened.
“Almost there,” I panted.
Now up 20 steps to the door to my apartment. Key in door. Open.
Then up the remaining 10 steps to my living room and bedroom area where there are more locked doors.
These doors were locked. AACCHH! There were no more keys.
This open door was locked. closed. Here’s the spot where i landed in despair!
Where was that third key?!
At that point, I don’t know whether I screamed or fainted. All I do know is, after taking every bag and parcel I was carrying apart more than once, I flopped on one of the stone steps, close to tears.
If I had thought there would be a resolution to the problem in the morning, I may have slept on the spiral steps.
Knowing that wouldn’t be the case, I pulled myself together and tried, in vain, to call Geoffrey. No answer. I called his number again and again. No answer.
“OK,” says me to me. “He must be at a bar downtown, “I surmised. “I’ll go to one of the restaurants near his house and wait for him to go home.”
I could close and lock the door on one level of the apartment, so I left my bags behind. Off I went.
When I reached downtown, the first restaurant I came to was closed. The second restaurant I walked to was closing. The restaurant owner told me the only places open at this hour would be at Place des Herbes — the touristy fountain area of town.
Sure enough, Terroirs was still serving customers.
I wasn’t the least bit hungry, even though I’d eaten only one meal since I left Atlanta, 26 hours earlier. But I did need to sit down. I composed myself as best I could, then engaged the waiter. She could speak some English, so I told her my plight. Bless her heart, she was as upset as I should have been. I was numb. She brought a menu and a bottle of cold water.
Then an idea came to my head. “Why don’t I just look for a hotel or place to stay? Even if it was almost midnight.” Then I remembered I had the telephone number of a friend of a friend who, I thought, owned a B&B.
It turns out he doesn’t own a B&B, but, he was awake and he did have the keys for our friend’s three-story mansion — across from the Duche! In 20 minutes he had called our friend, met me at our friend’s home, opened the door, and showed me to the guest bedroom.
I landed in heaven!
View of the Duche from the guest bedroom
Next day, I was awakened by a phone call at 2pm from the friend in Nimes who had the set of keys. All the keys. I picked myself up, packed up, and rescued the set of keys from her office in Uzes.
All of the above are rules that will stick indelibly into my brain. I hope. However, on another note … if these things didn’t happen to me, would life be so grand?