Just got back…
Let me tell you – my wife… She’s such a planner!
What an amazing woman!
What would I do without her?
Reason #385,614,906,216,476 for why I married this dreamgirl…
An’ she’s all mine…
Since our smallest is under two, we did not buy a ticket for her. Wouldn’t you know it – for the leg from Cincinnati to Paris we had an empty seat between us!
God is our travel agent, and He knows our needs!
My wife is such an excellent mom… She was able to entertain a two-year-old for nine hours straight without a mental breakdown. How I deserve this woman… God only knows.
We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, deplaned, and, after passing through the one-way security doors, my eight-year-old notices that he cannot find DoMo – his teddy bear… Tears begin to flow. We can’t get back to the plane. We are isolated via security glass, so the gate attendants can’t hear us. Not a happy moment.
We went to the Delta Arrivals counter. They said go to counter two in the Departures terminal and they will help you. By the time we arrived at counter two, they had already found DoMo and he would be there shortly.
Meanwhile, it’s also ten minutes until we have to meet the rest of the family who flew in from Minneapolis. I took the time to switch out sim cards in our phones.
DoMo arrived to a grateful boy and we were on our way to Terminal F to find the rest of our entourage. We reached the end of the connecting concourse and BLAM! we bumped right into them.
Somebody must have hit the EASY button.
Prior to leaving Florida, we had prearranged – with the help of Arnaud and Flo, our home-swap partners – for a taxi to pick us up and take us to Versailles. We were supposed to meet up with the driver at pickup area ten in Terminal F. The price would be €80. We arrived there at the appointed time and voila! there they were – just like Arnaud said.
So, we loaded up and headed to Versailles. Things are great!
While on the road, my wife gets a call from the actual taxi service wondering where we are. Quickly, we realize that we’ve been duped. The guys waiting at the pickup area 10 were not our ride, they were opportunists. Poachers, if you will. Almost as quickly, I realized that this was gonna hurt a bit.
… uh, correction… Euro signs.
Our driver, we actually had two vehicles because of all the luggage, who had heard the phone conversation between my wife and a ticked off Versailles taxi driver, played dumb until we got to the house. Then, after hauling all the bags to the front door, he and the other driver started playing good cop – bad cop with us. First, they present a bill for €400. Almost $600! That’s practically a plane ticket! For a 30 mile drive. If that. My wife started with explaining our preplanned €80 agreement, but, being the wily Frenchmen they are with an American’s neck in their hands, they play stupid.
The one is all tough.
The other, sympathetic.
He ‘feels our sadness.’
“We nevair agree to dat money!’ the older of the two responds… Which is true. We all ASSUMED that these guys were our ride. They were not. We never asked to confirm the €80 price. They never volunteered to give us one either. They had us in a headlock with Euro signs in their eyes.
Long story short, I haggled them down to €280 and walked away with a very valuable lesson. Today, I was the sucker… and I had nothing to show for it but the stick.
The rest of the day went well… Arnaud and Flo’s house was terrific. HomeExchange.com is definitely the way to go for an overseas vacation! The kids got to play with other kids’ toys. They explored their new home for the next 15 days…
The backyard was very nice with soft grass and roses vining up the walls everywhere!
We drove out to eat – we had also swapped vehicles – and saw some of the sights!
We were barely two miles from the Palace of Versailles – a ridiculously opulent and huge palace for King Louis XIV.
All in all, a tough, but rewarding travel day. Taxi troubles aside, we were in a private home in Versailles – not some cramped hotel room, just outside Paris, and ON VACATION!
My office could not find me – I left no forwarding number. My CrackBerry? At home, in my underwear drawer, with the battery pulled out.
We went to bed about 9pm.
I collapsed next to my Love in the king-sized bed and the day was over.
(C) Alan Mowbray 2009.