I'm back in Lille...yeah!! Don't get me wrong, I loved my visit home, but a month was just way too long to be away from Cyr. I did get a chance to see almost all of my family and friends though. Somehow it all still seemed rushed, especially at the end. Then again, I am that person who if given 6 weeks to do a project will wait until two days before to begin. Long deadlines are just unrealistic. Just tell me the week before and I will actually work a little everyday. As you can guess, I slacked off up front then had to try to cram everything into the last 4 days. It was nuts but fun.
The trip home was good, PLUS...my Mom came back with me for a nine day visit!! We boarded the plane in Houston and I was a little worried to be honest. I have a friend who flew Air France a few months ago back from Paris and her flight was horrible. So bad that her sister fainted in the aisle it was so hot, crazy eh? So I board and am prepared to live up to the "pushy American" label and do hand to hand combat with the flight attendants if needed. I purchased the tickets with miles and they were assigned seats that were both aisles with me in front and Mom in back of me. I didn't change the seats because I knew we needed to sleep on the flight so that we could fend off the jet lag as much as possible and if she were next to me I would probably talk her ear off. That didn't matter much though...you see we were on a new plane and we each had our own direct tv thing to pick out movies and such. I was 15 minutes into Juno prior to take off! Because of my intense curiosity and need to be entertained I couldn't help but watch a few movies, then they came around with the free wine and it was over. I watched Juno (loved it), 27 Dresses (cute but predictable), The Golden Compass (good time filler but not great) and Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis with English subtitles (I saw this in the theater but it was so good I saw it again. Love it!). So I think I got in about 30 minutes sleep. Mom didn't sleep much either. Without being able to doze off the flight seemed a little long but it was the typical 9 hours and a few minutes. There was some turbulence but the flight was great other than the pilot clicking on to wake us all up and let us know there was turbulence and to fasten our seat belts. Really? Come on man, shut up and let us sleep, if some idiot feels the turbulence and still insists on going to the bathroom he will probably get some bad splash of unknown bacteria and that in itself would be punishment enough.
The only entertaining part was our arrival and trip to Lille. Cyr came down with what I think was strep throat the day before we took off. He was so sick he went to the doctor. He has never been to the doctor since I have known him so this was a sign he was really pretty darn sick. I told him not to worry about picking us up and that we would take the train to Lille and he could pick us up from the train station there. Besides, Mom has never been on a train, you get to see the country side and it's only one hour direct as opposed to a two hour car ride. I guess it would not have been that bad if not for the bags. When I came over I left a lot of my summer clothes (we do so have summer in northern France, stop that!) and wanted to bring them back with me. Mom was good and got all her clothes in one bag, so I took her second carry on and had two of my own. Total we had 3 roller bags, a duffel and two carry ons. Traveling light? Not so much.
Arrival in Paris was quick an easy. Completely opposite of US customs. It took us less than 30 minutes to get our passports stamped and get our luggage. Once we have everything loaded onto a push cart we find our way to the train station in the airport to get tickets to Lille. I cannot thank Charles de Gaul enough for providing free push carts. Brilliant!! In the US they charge for the use (damn capitalism). It took a bit of wrestling but we found the ticket area. Unfortunately there are like 4 places to buy tickets at with multiple windows. There are local tickets, international and I have no clue what else. I decide the information line is shorter that waiting for a ticket in the wrong line so I line up with all the other Americans and find out where I should go. Glad I asked, I was totally eying the wrong lines. After our tickets are purchased we meet an American Army Veteran who is going to Normandy for a reunion. No kidding. This guy was 83 years old and hopping around the airport by himself looking for his train to Lille where he was meeting a friend. Turns out good old Travis was a medic during the war and was at Normandy. I had an uncontrollable urge to hug him, which I did when we parted later that day. Travis was on a first class train (check him out, traveling in style) and was not sure how to locate his train and car and all that good stuff. I felt so cultured knowing how to help him! I got to help someone in France! Actually two people because a girl heard me explaining and asked if I could help her as well. Damn, when I get depressed I should go to the train station and help people find their trains. That's better than therapy. Some unknowing travelers are so nervous and scared when they can't figure things out that when you help them it's as if you have come up with a solution to removing the troops or something.
I get our crew (Mom and Travis) and we wait for our platform to be announced. I check the gate numbers so I know where to head when it pops up. Got it! Number 3! We head to the gate, crap. Stairs. We have 6 pieces of luggage, I can't do stairs. I break into a sweat. French people are rarely on time, but French trains are almost always on time. Feet begin tapping when they are 3 minutes late. I tell Mom to stay up and I will take the bags down. Uhh...I made one trip and then began looking for an elevator. I find one, Travis is watching the one bag I left on the platform. I make Mom practically jog to the elevator and then we wait there huffing. We just waited an hour for the train, please don't let us miss it. After what seems like 20 minutes we get to our platform. By this time I fairly certain that Travis was in fact a disguised drug dealer and has hidden crack, heroin or both in my rolly bag. We arrive on the platform and I see him waiting for us with my bag. I eye him suspiciously but can't see how he could have fit the crack or heroin in my already stuffed bag. We haul our stuff to where car #5 should arrive, I show Travis where his car #1 will be and we wait. The train is 5 minutes late, French toes are tapping. Mom and I plan the attack on the train; she will go on and get the seats, I will toss up the bags and get them stowed. The train arrives, plan goes to hell, I hand up bags to Mom, we get in everyones way but get them all on. We find our seats and the train is pulling away before I can get Cyr's suit stowed. Oh yeah, I also had a suit for Cyr that he had altered. Damn...glad I got the bags on. We then sit and enjoy the ride. We never see Travis again and turns out I am not a drug mule after all. He gave us his card to keep in touch or if we needed to buy/sell property. He sells real estate now to fill his time and seems to be doing really well at it. I mean who wouldn't want to list property with with him or buy something from him? He seems like the most honest man in the world. I mean, your grandfather wouldn't screw you out of an extra 15% would he? Especially a war hero grandfather. I dunno...Travis was traveling first class now that I think of it. Ha...
Here are a few pictures from my last post.
The cutest pregnant woman in the world, my friend Jen in LA in her bikini:
I'll post pics about Mom's visit next time.
Have a great day!
Love you Dad and will call you later!