Monday, September 02, 2013
My new car is a tram! They are sleek, quiet, efficient, and comfortable. There are three lines, A, B, and C, and a couple of stops where you can transfer between lines. Although I’ve not needed them yet very early or very late, you can catch a tram in the dark at 5 am and ride all day until 1 am (I think). For 396 euros, I have a one year pass for unlimited use of the trams, an extensive bus system which I haven’t ridden yet, and the equally extensive “rent a bike from here and ride it to there” options called velo cub. (I’m not going to ride the bikes until I know the streets better…map reading while bike riding would not be a good combination!) I’ve taken the trams to the end of their lines to “see what I could see”. A couple of useful destinations made themselves apparent, like a very large hospital, the prefecture where I need to get legally immi-granted, a shopping mall, an outlet shopping mall, some furniture stores, and a fine arts venue. I know where the major university areas are and to avoid the suburb destinations at commuting time! For the time being, the tram is perfect for me. But maybe someday…one of those cute little bright yellow Fiats…..
Monday, August 26, 2013
A gentle wake-up nudge, a cup of tea, some fruit and yogurt, and a croissant and hard roll arrive at 1 am, which is now 8 am. I am less of a zombie after three hours sleep but still feel shaky. Changing out of pajamas and raising my bizbed is depressing! At 10 am it is bright and glary, but I manage to catch a glimpse of Eiffel in the distance as the plane lands at Orly and the circus that awaits me there.
The baggage pick-up area is small and unattended. I try to interpret the signs that might lead me to customs or the next terminal and I use a kiosk to print a boarding pass for my Air France flight to Bordeaux, scheduled to leave at 2:10 pm. All of my bags appear and I am so grateful once again to Carol and the baggage crews involved. Steering two carts loaded just below my viewing level and feeling like Alice in Wonderland, I’m alone and a little intimidated as I push through security doors to places unknown. Now comes the easy part. Passport check and stamp: a breeze, took less than 2 minutes. Customs declarations: unattended, just walk right through into….
The bedlam that is Orly arrivals. Maneuvering my carts through the throng is slow and treacherous and I have to wait for my own private elevator to ascend to departures. Impossibly, it’s even more crowded here and there seem to be at least six different Air France check-in desks. I carefully approach the first…wrong choice, go to 2A. I go to 2A and the queue line is longer with tighter turns. Wrong again…go to 2D. I pinball to 2D to find out that you can’t check in until 1 1/2 hours before your flight. Oh no, what if I have to pee? Miraculously, I find an end chair and circle my wagons around me. Exhausted, I people watch in a daze and notice that there are a lot of red shoes, no tattoos, and I’m the only fat person here.
Roughly two hours later I return to 2D. The line is short and moving consistently and the two agents appear competent. Soon, I will be able to pee! Oh no. A roaming Air France agent restructures the line into a snaking queue except I am to stay where I am because it’s too difficult for me to move. Oh no again. “My” agent leaves to go to 2C and I’m immediately eyed as a potentially slow line jumper because of my loaded carts. Oh no for the third time. The remaining agent spends over 20 minutes helping a customer with several children and bags. Now I’m eyed with “you’re not going ahead of me” stares. And the clock keeps ticking. And I think I’m going to miss my flight. And I know I have to pee.
My happy ending is arriving in Bordeaux’ manageable airport, finding a cute and helpful taxi driver (with a big enough taxi), meeting my apartment manager (also good looking) who helps carry my heavy bags up two flights of dark, narrow stairs, easily exchanging money and keys and information over a glass of thirst quenching tap water, and then climbing more stairs to crawl into bed and pass out.
It isn’t until the next morning that I see the Statue of Liberty, a two story replica across the street in Place Picard. So much for reverse osmosis.