Getting There and Friday – Eiffel Tower & The Seine

For out third anniversary, Angela and I decided to to Paris, France. I had been apprehensive about going to a country in which I don’t speak the language. After going to England a couple of years earlier, neither of us were really concerned that the French would treat us differently than other tourists because of our nationality. They might however, I feared, treat us badly if we didn’t know how to speak even simple phrases in their language. Angela assured me that with her rudimentary knowledge of the language, we’d be okay.

Getting Ready For The Trip

First, we try and prepare for our trips by purchasing any tickets or passes in advance. For this trip, we bought 2 Museum Passes and 2 Paris Visit (RER, Metro, & bus) passes. This proved to be a wise decision. We bought some travel books: Frommer’s "Paris from $90 a Day" and DK’s "France". In addition, we bought a French phrase book and Angela made sure to pack her old English-French Dictionary dictionary. The pocket phrase book came in especially handy. I got really good at ordering crepes and coffee. Lastly, we downloaded "Rush Hour French" for our iPods to help pass time on the flight to France. I didn’t learn anything other how to say "nice to meet you" from that, but it was funny to listen to.

Knowing that the Europeans don’t share our love of elevators and ramps, we knew to pack backpacks instead of suitcases. You do not want to try and roll a pullman up stairwells in the Paris Metro during rush-hour crowds. We put our backpacks into special duffel bags for the airline trip, because these are our nice backpacks and we really can’t afford to let the baggage handlers trash them. Anyway, we also have a really handy multi-country power converter. It is a power step-down device (220 to 110) and has plug adapters from pretty much every country. It weighs about 4 pounds, but it’s really handy.

Getting There

It has been said that one should enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and I truly believe that. Of course, whoever said that didn’t book our flight to France. We were looking to earn some frequent flyer miles as well as save a few bucks, which pointed us to buying our tickets through our usual airline: Delta. What was weird, was the fact that we were to fly from Richmond to New York Laguardia and then fly from New York JFK to Charles de Gaulle. Delta gave us no direction as to what to do, and when I called to speak to someone, they simply informed me that we would have to pick up our luggage and then get a taxi or something. It turned out we could take a bus straight from one airport to the other, but this was during rush hour and we were getting pressed for time. We ended up going to the Delta counter, where we were informed we needed to be at the Air France counter, which was in another terminal altogether. Now, this is at JFK, where there are 9 terminals and none are easy to get to from the others. We g0t a shuttle to take us to the correct terminal for a few bucks and rush to get our bags checked.

Boeing 777 Looking out the window of Terminal 1 at JFK airport to the 777 that would be our ride to France

We arrived to the gate just before boarding began, but unfortunately our seats weren’t together. The prospect of spending the next 7 hours between two perfect strangers knowing I could be sitting next to my wife was not appealing. Angela got the Delta customer service number and spend her last few minutes on US soil chewing them out. I’m glad she vented before she got on the plane.

Friday – The Eiffel Tower and The Seine

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