The planning for this trip began in late May when I leaned over the top of the stairs and said to Jim, “I will probably regret this but I miss going to Europe this year!” Jim immediately took the challenge and began planning a trip to Europe. A great way to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary we decided. I suggested that we attempt a low budget trip lasting two months since we were going to have to purchase airplane tickets as we didn’t have enough air miles accumulated for one ticket let alone two!
Since the stock market crashed this spring, Jim had lots of time on his hands and was delighted to get on the Internet and start researching hotels! Over the next several months we put together a schedule of dates starting in September and arriving home on November 20th. Most hotel reservations were made by fax and a few over the Internet. By the time we left we only had two nights without reservation…. Those were in Germany and were travel days. We set our plans with the idea of spending several days in each location and seeing various sites in surrounding towns. A rental car was arranged for the entire trip through Europcar at a cost of approximately a thousand dollars for two months.
Europe was struggling with a crisis of gasoline strikes as our departure date neared. But, fortunately for us, France settled their dispute just days before we were due to arrive.
Sunday, September 10th, 2000 The adventure begins....
Our trip over on American Airlines was very timely and rather uneventful! During our flight over, we both took a sleeping pill after dinner and managed to sleep quite a bit during the flight from Dallas to Paris. This helped us for the first day in Paris by giving us an advantage in staying awake to reset our clocks. Paris is nine hours ahead of California. !
Arrived Monday morning about 10:30 AM, picked up the four suitcases from baggage and proceeded through customs with no problems. Found the bathrooms and then on to the car rental. They upgraded us one level and we found our Fiat Brava 2000; a four door metallic blue gray sedan powered by diesel fuel. The next struggle was to get out of the parking lot! We made several trips around the edge before discovering the way out! On the A1…France’s answer to the Freeway, we went north instead of south and decided to continue on for about ten miles to visit the Chateaux Chantilly. A lovely castle just outside of Paris, which we had never visited.
Known for it’s fancy stables because the King who built it thought that he’d be reincarnated as a horse and built a stable fit for a king! They have maintained the stables as a showplace for horse shows. The grounds also had a miniature village, which was the model for the Hamlet at Versailles. By five PM we were back on the road and entering Paris during the rush hour. Difficult staying awake, as we were becoming very jet lagged! But, we managed to find the Hotel Bellevue et du Chariot d'Or in the Marais District on the west bank, get checked in and park the car in the underground garage. The rate is 130 franc per day! Jim went off to find the hotel of friends from New Orleans, George and Carroll, as we had a pre-arranged Tuesday dinner planned for tomorrow.
While Jim was gone I reorganized the luggage now that everything had arrived! We’d sorted things between the different suitcases so that just encase one or more suitcase got lost coming over, we’d still have some of what we needed. Jim walked for an hour in a circle and then took the Metro and finally found the hotel. He left them a note and returned in time to go out for a bite to eat with me. We found a Chinese buffet style, purchased chicken and a rice dish. Sat at a table on the street and split the dinner. Full, we slowly walked back to the hotel about 8 PM for a good night’s sleep even with the unbelievable street noise! We were on the fourth floor directly over a main street! And so another adventure begins...........