Gone Away / Tags


The long journey home from Montpellier is underway

The long journey home from Montpellier is underway

— After fifteen days in Montpellier, France, our long journey home to Phoenix is underway. The upside of getting an early start is not having to rush. The downside is a lot of time spent waiting. We unwittingly arrived at the airport an hour before check-in was scheduled to begin for our flight to Paris. We used the time to enjoy a coffee and the sandwiches Kathryn made us last night from food we otherwise would have had to throw out.
In Paris, waiting for our flight to Montpellier

In Paris, waiting for our flight to Montpellier

— I planned to write a brief status update as we took our seats on the flight from Detroit to Paris, but somehow we ended up in an AT&T dead zone, so I had no access to the internet. The flight was uneventful, other than a bit of turbulence leaving Detroit. Kathryn and I both got a reasonable amount of sleep. The food was edible, a feature of flying Air France. Dinner was chicken with a cream sauce served with polenta something or other.
Friday in the City of Lights

Friday in the City of Lights

— We arrived safely in Paris yesterday in the early afternoon. We found the Gare de l’Est train station with no problem, but there were multiple parking garages at the station and it wasn’t obvious which one was for returning rental cars. After about fifteen minutes in the wrong garage we found the right one, completed the paperwork, and were in a taxi to our hotel. Since our anniversary is right around the corner, we decided to book the Hotel Regina.
Sauce Samouraï: “Why have you hidden this from me?”

Sauce Samouraï: “Why have you hidden this from me?”

— When Kathryn and I were in Paris in 2013, we ate in several kebab shops. Although I had eaten in French kebab shops when I was younger, usually after or during long nights of drinking, Kathryn, for her part, was totally sober and immediately hooked nonetheless. Meat, potatoes, bread, salt, grease, and just enough lettuce, tomato, and onion — that’s called a complet, by the way — to allow you to convince yourself it’s semi-healthy.

Las Vegas road trip status update

— The status of this weekend’s road trip to Las Vegas is now unambiguous. Kathryn’s doctor this morning ordered her to spend the weekend in Las Vegas. Sweet! I’ll submit a health insurance claim when we get home. In the meantime, a rumor has begun swirling that Britney Spears is celebrating her recent engagement with a party tonight at Chateau, a nightclub in the Paris Las Vegas resort. You may not know this, but Kathryn is a huge Britney Spears fan.
Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf

Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf

— I arrived in Paris six days ago and spent a couple nights there. I didn’t do much in Paris that I haven’t done before. Mostly, I just enjoyed being there, sitting in cafes, walking through parks, and so forth. The only new thing I really saw was the museum of the police prefecture, which actually I didn’t find very interesting, aside from an exhibit of some of the firearms used during the Liberation.

Frequently asked questions about our road trip in Europe

— We’ve only been home a few days, but Kathryn and I have already heard a lot of questions about our trip. For the benefit of everyone else, I’ve decided to repeat some of them here, along with their answers. What was the highlight of the trip? It’s been really tough to single out a highlight, since we had such a great time the whole trip. For me, picking up the new car in Germany was a moment I won’t soon forget, and flying a glider in Austria was a truly unexpected surprise, but the trip was really a series of highlights punctuated by sleep.

Oktoberfest, BMW, Rothenburg, Baden-Baden, Eiffel Tower

— Phew! It’s been about 72 hours since the last update, but we’ve managed to pack an awful lot in. We arrived safely in Munich on Saturday, about six hours later than anticipated, so the thought of doing Oktoberfest that evening was quickly dismissed. My friend in Munich met us at the airport and showed us the way back to her place. After we washed 30 hours of traveling filth off our bodies, we went out for a serene evening at a nearby beer garden, where Kathryn had her first ever German meal.

Paris, visiting the sewer museum instead of the Eiffel Tower

— Kirsten actually did meet me on time at the Eiffel Tower. We’d both been up on it, and we had done Sacré-Coeur on Monday which was actually a better view; the line was enormous and we decided our money would be better spent elsewhere. We walked down the street to start a sewer tour (20 FRF). (Our student ID cards had already paid for themselves at this point.) The tour was very interesting and educational but, of course, smelly.

Sitting on park bench near the Eiffel Tower, waiting for my fiancée

— I’m sitting on park bench near Eiffel Tower. I got sick of waiting for Kirsten all morning after getting up at 8 a.m. and enjoying the relatively cool morning air, which she squandered away debating over next week’s accommodations. I bought us some croissants for breakfast and a coffee (4 FRF) at McDonald’s for myself. After sitting around the room for hours with Kirsten, I left for place St. Michel and got myself a hot gyro from one of the ubiquitous Greek restaurants.

Purchasing the Carte Orange week-long Metro pass, Paris

— After a couple days of getting familiar with Paris and getting some relaxing quiet time together, Monday was the day Kirsten and I really began the hard-core sight-seeing in earnest, despite the fact that we slept in pretty late, lingered through breakfast, and left the room after noon. Our first order of business was to purchase the Carte Orange week-long Metro pass. This little-known offer essentially separates tourists from residents because the it is available only for Monday through Sunday usage and is almost never advertised in any language other than French.

Balmy afternoon at the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

— We woke up around 10:00 a.m., refreshed and entirely hungry. After showering and dressing, we walked down the avenue MacMahon, looking for breakfast. We came across a pleasant open air market and seized the opportunity for a picnic. A bakery supplied the croissants, a small grocery supplied the fruit juice and water, some pushcart vendors supplied the fresh fruit, and an apartment building supplied the steps to sit on, making our perfect picnic in a busy Parisian neighborhood.

An afternoon of anticipation walking around Paris

— Anticipation was the key word of the afternoon. After waiting for over an hour at Angelina’s, I realized that I either had the wrong place or Kirsten was not coming. I decided therefore to find her hotel, Hôtel MacMahon, suspecting that she might eventually end up there. To find the hotel I bought a good map of Paris and left the rest up to my feet. I was disappointed when I got there to find out that Kirsten had not even checked in yet.

Re-familiarizing myself with the Right Bank of Paris

— After resting my jet-lagged body for a few hours, I went out to a local store and stocked up on spring water. Then I did a little exploring. I took the Metro to the Hôtel de Ville stop on rue de Rivoli and walked all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It was an excellent opportunity to re-familiarize myself with the right bank of Paris. I rediscovered sights like Musée du Louvre, Jardins des Tuileries, Avenue Champs-Elysées, and the Arc de Triomphe.

Early morning arrival at Charles de Gaulle, Paris

— I arrived in Paris early this morning at Charles de Gaulle airport to find a temperature in the low 70’s, drizzling rain, and overcast skies. Passport control would have been a snap, but I filled out my tourist card with the point of disembarkation rather than the point of embarkation. Two of my biggest fears were squelched upon arrival: getting transportation from the airport to the city, and finding a cheap place to spend the night.