Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Crazy Trip to Paris

This post is from an entry I made in my travel diary on my recent 2016 trip to Europe.

OMG if only one could take the travel part out of travel. 

So when all my southern hemisphere friends were having dinner last night, we set off from the Cotswolds at 9.30am local time, to catch our plane to Paris. 

Thirteen hours later we have just arrived in said city after much drama.

Feeding our rental car drop off point into Google Maps, off we went this morning oblivious to what lay ahead.
I filled up the car because the car rental charges more than $4/L if you give it back unfull. I can't believe the efficiency of the cars over in the UK. I did 600+ kms this week and used half a tank. I thought there was something wrong with the indicator, but when I queried it with the petrol seller, she said "Yes I fill up my car every 5 weeks." Now you already know I drive an oldish car, but are the new ones this good on OZ?

Anyhow off we set and all was going great until we got to the turn off for Bristol airport. The airport sign suggested we exit the M5, but Suri said to continue.  Now all this week she had been perfect in getting us to the correct destination, so against my better judgement I stuck with Suri and let the airport turn off pass us by. 

In hindsight.......Big mistake. Next thing we were headed for South Wales, the car was due back and we had a plane to Paris to catch in a couple of hours. Suri was still waxing lyrical and said we'd be at the airport in 13 minutes. I thought oh well perhaps the rental car drop off is a different address to the airport and then they shuttle you to the departure lounge.

It was about  then, when I realised we were heading for Wales on a 6 lane highway, that the bottom fell out of my stomach. We turned off the freeway and up a country lane, as directed by Suri and there was a sign saying that the road to the airport was closed for resurfacing and there was a diversion in place on the A 38. Great, but where TF was the A 38? The diversion took us so far and then nothing so I started to follow Suri's instructions again thinking she had rerouted us, only to be back at the original diversion sign 15 minutes later. I saw a lady watering her gorgeous English cottage garden (strange how I noticed the garden even under great stress) and asked her the best way to the airport. She said we were at least 30 minutes from the airport, but she couldn't help us other than that with precise directions. 

I was so worried as we really were out in the country without any guidance. At this point I was wondering if I should walk into the pub and ask if someone would drive us to the airport for 100 quid, but there was the question of getting the car back to Europcar to avoid a huge penalty.
So what to do. All I could think of was turn Suri off and follow the diversion signs as best I could. There was so much trust involved in following the diversion as sometimes the signs were 10 km scared. 

Then finally after many butterflies in the stomach and feeling like my heart was going to burst out of my chest, there was a proper permanent green sign to the airport, we followed it with so much joy. Layne and I had never been more pleased to see a departure lounge in our lives. 

The flight was uneventful, but as we disembarked in Paris. We were stopped on the gangway and held there in 30C heat without explanation for an hour. My French is quite good but not good enough to follow a Parisian accent over the public announcement system talking about terrorists, so I asked the lady next to us.

Some goon left a back pack unattended in border control. They could not find the owner and had to get the military onto it. Now this is Paris so no chances were taken. Finally we got through customs. I had pre-booked a chauffeur as Paris can be a bit iffy on arrival. Trouble was he must have got sick of waiting as he wasn't there. I couldn't get through to him on the phone. So I needed a plan B.  At this stage I was wondering what else could go wrong.  As luck would have it, taxis now do a 50 Euro fixed price to the right bank and it worked out cheaper than the pre booked car at 65. First win of the day.

Driving from the airport into Paris was a shock. Heaps of homeless sleeping under the freeways and rubbish everywhere. Sad and all fixable with a bit of care.  Since we made that trip several high profile celebrities have been robbed on the trip in.  The traffic is so bad that you are often at a stand still, so very easy to rob.  It is important then not to flaunt any wealth at the airport as that would be where you are monitored by the criminals.

Anyway we're are now all snuggled up in our Paris studio. The getting lost incident is now almost laughable. Maybe in another 24 hours, which will be my 50th birthday so lets hope so.  I have a big party planned for myself in a fabulous Paris institution, so stay tuned.
Tonight my daughter and I have dined out on a beautiful Paris night. The Indian Summer has kicked in and all is right with the world again.  There are soldiers with automatic weapons on every corner.  Paris seems never to have been safer.


  1. Good to hear you got their safe and sound. There's nothing like a rush to make you so grateful to get that bottom on the plane seat. And I hope a glass of vin rouge was had on the plane to ease stress.

    I haven;t been to Paris since a failed romantic interlude in about 1993 so am overdue a visit. with out without romance.

  2. Worth waiting for - nice to see you back :-)

  3. Oh my what a trip. So glad to hear that everything turned out alright in the end. Paris can be so beautiful but scary and sad as well. My trip there was safe but you had to be aware of your surroundings as well.


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