Monday, December 09, 2019

Flying Home

An Australian friend recently said he tricked me I to saying “home” when talking about the States. Even though we own a house in France, the States, the place where my kids and my parents are, will probably always be home.
A bar in the hotel lobby. "In wine, truth. 
As I write this, we’re sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to board.
We made it to the airport, walking less than 1000 steps to the airport tram, which brought us to Terminal 1. 
Far luckier than yesterday when we tried to visit Paris for the afternoon. 
The view from our hotel window as the sun set. 
After teaching in the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast then walked to the train station to ask about tickets to Paris. 
The ticket clerk assured us that RER B to Paris was leaving in 40 minutes. 
But what about coming back? I asked. I wouldn’t risk being stranded in Paris after spending two extra nights at an airport hotel. 
Trains come back every 23 minutes, he assured us. 
We went back to the hotel room, got coats and hats for the blustery, rainy weather and returned to the station to buy tickets. 
Usually tickets are 10.50 euros each way, but since we were returning the same day, the man gave us a ticket good for the whole day. The total was 35.80. 
Cheaper than I expected! I told him. 
We waited with a crowd for the train to Paris and clambered aboard. We watched the lighted stations tick off over the doors, counting down the stops to Paris Gare du Nord. 
When we arrived at Aulnay-sous-Bois, the train was terminé. 
It’s hard to understand announcements even in English. In French, it’s even more difficult. 
We saw buses that said SNCF, the name of the trains in France. 
We figured out we were supposed to board the buses to go on to Paris. We headed toward them, out the gates when I pulled Earl aside. 
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” I said. “Sure maybe we can get to Paris, but will we get back?”
Earl agreed and we followed directions to the train that would take us back to the airport. 
A train was waiting. We boarded and watched people equally confused climb on then climb off. After about 5 minutes, the train left. Several people got off at the next stop because the train wasn’t going where they hoped. 
But we got back to the airport train station. And I returned with our tickets clutched in hand to ask for a refund in my best French. 
And the clerk gave it to us! You could have knocked me over in surprise. 
Earl suggested they would say “but you rode the train twice, so you used it.” But she merely entered the numbers from the ticket and returned 35.80 euros. 
That afternoon, we napped, we’d been awake at 2 am to watch American football. Then we took a local bus to Roissy-en-France again for dinner. 

This time, goat cheese salad followed by crepes (galettes). We met a nice American couple, chatted and exchanged emails. 
One last night in the airport hotel. It’s kind of nice to be in a hotel airport with nothing to do except read a book, have a drink in the lobby, or watch Saturday Night Live. 
Now we wait for the flight and by the end of the day, we hope to be in warm Florida. 
Life in France is complicated, but if it were easy, everyone would do it. 


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