Tag Archives: Travel

Part I: My Sheep Farmer Story Dethroned

Crush story winner about to be revealed. If you have a story you were planning to submit (you know who you are…) then get it in quickly to be considered! And I’m not going to acknowledge the several months lapse in posting, because in that time, my life has been rattled, broken, and rearranged…all of which are not www fodder, sooo. Pushing forward…

I've done this shearing thang.

Well. I realize that most of you out there haven’t heard the story of me being proposed to by an Irish sheep farmer when I was but 17 years old. (He was 65, if he was a day, had few teeth and had recently won the Irish lotto. Am I writing about that now? No. If you would like to know that story, pick up a copy of my book once published, or take me out for drinks.) But you should know that it’s a story I’ve been asked to tell and retell for so many years, that it’s sort of knit into the fabric of me.  Ha. “Knit.” Sometimes I catch myself spewing humor referentially. And I like it.

I bring this up now because, for the first time in over a decade, I’ve met my match when it comes to lamb tales, which is saying something, and it is my competitor’s story that I’m telling… in two parts, so let’s begin:

I’m sitting at the kitchen table with Mr. and Mrs. F, who are two elderly country folk I have just made the acquaintance of. The air is filled with the heavy scent of not-so-recent bacon grease. There’s the cabinets, the table, the chairs with our three posteriors in them, and then floor to ceiling clutter ranging from infomercial buys to grandbaby toys.

Mrs. F is in her housecoat apologizing for the smell and Mr. F is grinning at me, but it’s hard to tell because he has a pronounced under bite and features that would rival Uga, but there’s a twinkle in his eyes, and I can’t think of any reason he would be grimacing at me, so I’m calling it a grin.

It has just been said that Mrs. F knits. She has sticks and a pair of half-finished socks in her lap to validate her assertion and she promises to show me her pièce de résistance before I go (she uses those exact words). Her mention of self-cleaning the wool she uses to knit after shearing the sheep, which they own 9 of,  in their backyard is what sparks my recesses to tell the story of the Irish sheep farmer, but Mr. F interrupts.

“You should tell huh,” he sounds alarmingly like Christopher Walken, so I don’t look at him for the rest of the night so I can imagine he is.

“I was gonna tell her,” says Mrs. F. She is barely southern and sounds like no one we all know, but she has nice skin. Mrs. F looks at me, and says,

“Neil Diamond is my boyfriend,” she pauses dramatically and I scramble mentally to separate him from Dick Clark and/or Rod Steward because I have a terrible memory, “Mr. F is my husband,” she continues, “Neil Diamond is my boyfriend.”

“Okaaaay…” I insert awkwardly. Mrs. F goes on,

“And Christmas of ’09, Neil had a contest for the best Christmas sweater. The winner would get to come to his house for dinner and…” She’s cut off by Christopher,

“You nevuh set it. Up. Right. You don’t. You nevuh doah,” I picture Mr. F/ Christopher shrugging sharply in a blazer I know he isn’t wearing.

“I was saying…” Mrs. F tries.

“Every time. Each and every time.” Walken mutters whilst shaking his head and looking in another direction.

“You two sure know how to build anticipation,” I say. Eyes shining with possibility.

“Don’t mind him,” Mrs. F dismisses Christopher with a glare, “Let me tell you what happened. You’re not even going to believe it all.”

Best Christmas sweaters EVER, Mrs. Weasley. EVER!!!

“I already don’t,” I eagerly utter as I lean forward, “So your boyfriend, Neil?  You were saying that you were wearing only Christmas sweaters, I think…?”

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I Wouldn’t be Single, if America was Mexico

I worked in southern California for a couple of weeks, with plenty of downtime, and can I just say,  what a bunch of terrible drivers?  There isn’t enough time in my life to qualify this statement, but if you’ve been there, you know what I’m saying. It also rained for the first week I was there, and since that only occurs for the natives once a year, you can imagine the additional challenges to operating their vehicles.

After a day of driving from San Diego to LA, I bellied up to the hotel bar for dinner and a much-needed tranquilizer. I tucked in to my Thai calamari and edamame, but my chewing slowed when I noticed that 3 cooks of Hispanic persuasion were peering around the doorjamb that led into the kitchen.

This bothered me greatly.

Frank, the attentive barkeep with an excellent mustache that had just the right amount of grey in it,  strolled over to check on me, “Eez everee-ting ok, meez?”

I smiled, a little embarrassed that he’d caught my pause, and replied in a conspirational tone, “Frank…don’t look, but there are 3 guys staring at me from the kitchen. They sort of appeared right after I got my food, and, err….well, I am wondering if they put something bad in my dinner, and want to see my reaction.” I glanced back at the doorway, and seriously, all 3 were stacked like a totem pole, straining to keep an eye on me, but look inconspicuous…conspicuously.

“No. No, meez. Dey want to see you. Dey tink you are berry, berry pretty.”

“Oh,” I blushed, “That’s nice.” A little weird, and more than a bit awkward, but nice. So, I continued dinner, and Frank plied my with gin, and the kitchen staff started bringing me things I hadn’t ordered, like chocolate lava cake. “Wow, Frank. This is great- thank you! I didn’t even see this on the menu.” So bizarre.

“Eez not on dee menju. We make it juz for jew,” he beamed, and I glanced up at the cooks, in the doorway again, watching to see if I liked it. I smiled and winked, and they all fell out of their stacked stance against the doorframe, and smacked each other with dish towels.

“Meez,” began Frank, as I settled the check, and began to gather my things, “Jew said jur room wus a leetle noi-see, so I hab dee front desk move jew. Here’s jor new kees.” He smiled hugely at me, and puffed his chest out.

“Thank you, Frank!” I reached for his hand across the bar pulling myself over to smooch his cheek, and grinned as I heard  the collective groans back at the kitchen door. I felt like both the fatted calf, ready to be sacrificed to the volcano and the village princess simultaneously. It was nice, flattering, and educational. Perhaps my relationship status is indicative of my citizenship.

Frank handed me a huge bottled water as I hopped off of my stool, and I grinned at him. The free bottle of water was the coup de grace of a lovely evening of unabashed worship, but also reminded me of something I’m grateful for in my own country, which is fearless water-drinking, so perhaps I’ll stay right here, even if it banishes me to being just another face in a crowd of women.

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Getting to the North (or…no one goes to Akron on purpose)

You’ll be happy to know that I’ve got kindness in the bag, and am moving my focus to the getting thin and published part of my journey, which is good, because I can’t button last summer’s Calvin’s. (uh huh. they still sell them)

I returned from Akron, Ohio on Sunday, where my kindness, which I’ve established is simply my ability to keep my mouth shut, was tested relentlessly. I had never been to Ohio before because I had a sneaking suspicion of what I would find there, and the good people of Akron did not disappoint.

Surprising me not one bit, there were no direct flights to Akron from my city, so I had to connect in Charlotte. I arrived in Terminal C, which is riddled with about 19 Starbucks, Einstein’s Bagel, and descent shopping, but my departure flight…with the same airline I arrived with, was leaving from terminal E…gate 37, which is as high as the numbers go at CLT. It was as if the airline was punishing us for traveling to Akron in something other than a Clark Family-style station wagon.

 I walked for over 20 minutes, and when I arrived at E, gone were the identifiable brands America trusts and loves, and in their place was one coffee stand with 2 carafes and a barista who looked like Uncle Lester, and a Margie and Jack’s shop selling saran wrapped tuna sandwiches made who-knew when.  After noting the destinations of the surrounding flights were to places like Birmingham, Alabama and Fort Something I’ve Never Heard Of, Florida, I surmised that we had been banished to this God-forsaken (quite literally) terminal full of odd balls headed to places this airline hated to fly. We were unfit to be within eyesight or screaming distance of those headed to glamorous places, like Orlando.

Chest heaving slightly from my sojourn, I walked up to a gate attendant to get my 1st Class seat assignment. She looked at me hard for a second and then said, “Honey, this flight aint gonna have no 1st class.”

“That’s funny,” I replied, taking a deep breath to keep myself from any remarks on the technical issues in what she had said, and chose to instead focus on the content, “Because the airline sold me the upgrade. I know it is usually unwise to assume, but in this case, I thought it was fair to deduce that I was being sold something that, you know, existed.”

“Yeah, no. I dunno. Never has. This flight goes to Akron,” she explained and returned her gaze to the important task of trimming her cuticles with her acrylics.

While waiting for my crop duster to board, a Japanese-speaking man got hold of an intercom and was jibberty jink-jink-tink-talking for about five minutes. I seemed to be only person to find this odd.  No staff members raised a bushy brow in confusion.

I arrived at one of Akron/Canton’s 11 gates. Gates. Not Terminals. The SmartCart machine took dollar bills and quarters, like the arcades in the early 90’s.

The rental car people were helpful, manly women. I was mildly alarmed at the number of women I had seen since my arrival who suffered from over-processed hair. It would be an interesting study to check in on the number of women, now in their 40’s and 50’s, who used to iron their hair in the 70’s, perm and color it in the 80’s, sun-in in the 90’s, and attempted recovery ever since.

I rented a cute and environmentally-conscientious Prius and spent far too many minutes figuring out how to turn in on, and later, how to put it in “park”. I’m sure if I was a Mac and not a PC user, this would not have been a problem, but the same flaming geeks bent on undoing the comfortable and familiar interface I’ve become accustomed to, must have been on this auto’s design team.

My stay in Akron was unremarkable, other than the home school convention where I spent 3 days (that is another post or two, entirely), but at the airport, upon my 5am exodus from the city,  a woman in shorts so florescent pink that I felt my heart rate increase, declared the following to her travel mates. Loudly. At 4:45 in the morning.

“Don’t you just hate going through security? (No pause for response) I do. I just hate it. It stresses me right out. I feel like I done something wrong (I glance at the well thought-out placement of her calf-tattoo). LAST year, I wanted to be comfy, so I dressed in my overalls. (I bite my tongue. In half) Had I known they would think I looked like a terrorist (You didn’t. You looked like old MacDonald. Equally disturbing) I woulda dressed differently (Really? That’s the only reason you’re questioning your wardrobe choice?).  They patted me down. It was embarrassing. (Yep. The pat-down was the embarrassing part)”

Let this be a lesson to us all. Any other suggestions for travel fashion  no-no’s? I’ll repost all suggestions as a go-to listing for travelers who hope to never be openly mocked on a fellow passenger’s blog.

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Delinquency and the Fun Bus (thinner AND kinder)

Bro and I had a great final day in Paris. Nothing went according to plan. I had a list of final sights to see, but the lines for those sights were fleshy miles long, and I was not about to spend my last day in Paris crammed together with internationals who had varying interpretations for hygiene and personal space.

Instead, we spent the day checking out whatever caught our eye, eating anything that looked appealing, and drinking everything that was put in front of us.

Round One

When it was time to go home, we headed into the station to buy tickets, but the machine wasn’t working and it was Sunday, meaning no one was manning the ticket counter to help, so we did what all of the natives were doing and mashed ourselves between the gate and the wall and headed down to the train platform (lovely trail of bruises down my side, reminding me of my lapses in judgment; and those would be both choosing to break a loosely held law and my ability to mash through narrow spaces).

Bro and I weren’t quite as confident in our nonfeasance as the locals seemed to be. Many Parisians will hold the gate open behind them, or give you a helping hand in dislodging yourself from the small space you have illegally crept through. We, however, were terrified that local authorities would have turned over a new leaf in the past 5 minutes, and would actually be on the lookout for offenders. If you’ve been to Paris in the past few years, you know that this was irrational, and we could have very well been vending human organs on the platform, and no one would have batted an eye. Had Bro and I understood a lick of French, we would have learned that there was a train strike, so there would be just one more train to take us home, which wouldn’t be around for another hour, and the police and train staffers were not on the platform to find two American criminals, but were there to keep everyone calm and to coordinate the situation. We assumed the prior, so we avoided their approach faithfully.

We boarded the train around 1 a.m. and were still shooting nervous glances around and speaking in hushed voices to each other about our plan for when we reached our final destination… since we didn’t have a ticket to get out of the station. Our foreign nervous chatter caught the ear of a fellow passenger, who spoke some English and must have heard us mention our station because he chimed in, “This train is terminated at the next stop. It goes no further tonight.” Another result of the strike, we would later learn.

Bro and I knew the area well enough to understand that that was going to leave us very, very far from home. Our faces simultaneously fell and we whimpered to the stranger, “But…but we need to go further. We don’t know how to get home.” “No problems!” said the guy, “There will be a bus to take us further!” Which. We. Had. No. Ticket. For.

“Well. That’s nice.” I offered.

When the train stopped, apparently everyone was under the impression that there would be just one bus to take the contents of a 10 car train, because everyone shoved past us and bolted for the escalator and then the gates of the station. Bro and I were the only people balking, since we had no way out and no way home. Pale faced at the realization that we may have to aimlessly stroll the streets of the Paris burbs in the wee hours of the morning, we allowed ourselves to be carried along by the urgent, surging crowd. As we were hustled along to the exit gates, we saw a barrier of train employees in their bright red, menacing jackets standing between us and the ticketed turnstiles that we had no way of turning sans ticket.

Overcome with paranoia and assuming that they were all there with their radios and stern faces to catch Bro and I, I yelled, “Hide!” to Bro and we ducked and shoved into the crowd, hearts racing, as we were born out of the station by a human convoy of frantic Parisians. My earlier objection to violations of personal space and poor hygiene forgotten and embraced.

Once outside the station, we heaved a sigh of relief and then focused on our new challenge of getting home. There were 6 buses, which filled in a matter of seconds.

“Bro, I think we should just get on. What’ve we got to lose at this point?” He continued to blubber on about why we couldn’t but I was a full-fledged derelict now, and I wanted to go home, so I fixed my gaze on the mid-bus doors of a bus that still had room on it and no one seemed to be taking tickets. Pulse-pounding and no longer caring whether Bro was with me or not, I began to walk to the bus. My determined pace was interrupted by French blabberty-yabberty and I turned around and about messed myself when I saw that I was being approached by a stern, red-jacketed train man, hand outstretched -the universal sign for “Stop right there.”

“I…sorry…I’m so sorry…” I said, tears welling in my eyes. (What? I had been drinking wine since 4 p.m.)

“Where are you going?”

“To Saint Denis, but I’ll walk. I promise.”

“That bus!” He pointed to the one I had been headed for, “Run!”

I did. And Bro did, too. We packed onboard, bouncing up and down, eager for the doors to shut before the train people realized they had been had. The doors eased shut and we both relaxed for the first time in two hours, and I blame the fear, adrenaline, fatigue, and wine for what happened next.

I began to laugh. Hysterically. Like, lock this lady up, laugh. Like, tears and probably some snot running down my face, laugh. Like, I can’t believe we didn’t get a ticket or get thrown in a dungeon, laugh. You get the picture. Bro joined in. We lost it and we couldn’t get it back. Every single person was staring at us. Braying like donkeys, we conceded, when asked, that yes, we were Americans.

I am sorry to all of my fellow Americans for confirming for the French that we are a bunch of classless asses. But, you know what? Those people had just waited over an hour for a train and then made a mad dash at 1:30 a.m. for buses that they weren’t sure they would fit on, so I have to believe they appreciated the comic relief. Many of them smiled and some even began to laugh. This lasted the duration of our ride to Saint Denis. They say it’s contagious, and I think it is the one thing worth catching in Paris (well…that and a bus home).

Author’s Note: We later learned of the train strike, and due to the delay, no one was required to use their tickets. The ride was free, and the buses were complimentary to make amends for the train being unable to continue its run. Meaning our scheming, 2 hours of internal conflict, and our authority-evasion were for nothing.

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Il fait bon vivre ici and stuff.

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I am on day 7 in La Ville-Lumière, and there are quite a few things I could get used to and a few that I would either change or chuck. It has been great to stroll through the city. I’ve clocked decent mileage and even climbed the Eiffel Tower. This would normally be hurtling me to the “becoming thinner” task, if my diet didn’t’ consist primarily of wine, bread, and stinky cheese. However, let’s all realize that I would have to walk around in drawstring pants to accommodate those meals, if not for hoofing it. Score.

There are the obvious sights to take in here and then there are the true gems like finding the café where best to watch passers-by, or a favorite bridge to have lunch on and watch the boats putter down the Seine.  I found my bridge on my second day in Paris. There isn’t anything spectacular about the construction of it. As far as this girl could tell, it is made of wood and some metal. The sturdy kind. It is called the Pont des Arts, and the chain link sides are covered with thousands of padlocks.

A portion of the Pont des Arts.

My initial thought was that it was a popular spot for locking up your bike, but then I looked more closely at the locks and saw that people had engraved or written initials, notes, and dates on them; locking their hearts there. On that bridge. In Paris. I’m a sucker for sweet things. I don’t know what else to tell you.

One of my favorite locks on the bridge.

A few things that boggle me about Paris:

1)       If an American (me) eats baguettes, cheese, croissants, and chocolate, they become lethargic, their skin breaks out, and they begin to waddle and not fit their clothes, but the French eat like that and their skin is smooth and requires no foundation or cover up AND they are svelte-like.

2)      Tourism is an area Parisians feel particularly gifted in, but if that game “pick-up-sticks” was made of spaghetti noodles that would be the likeness of their metro system. AND all the signs are in French. What gives?

3)      Visitors love the beauty and pulse of this city, and always long to return, but will typically comment on how badly they’ve been treated here. This seems masochistic. I prefer to be praised and appreciated wherever I am.

4)      Along the same vein of that attitude of Parisians toward the rest of the world, I will say I wonder at their shifty moods. On the one hand, they stomp around with an air of “Don’t even look at me”, “I don’t give a stale croissant what you think”, and “You are not worthy of gulping my air” –erey, and on the other they relish comfort and pretty things and are known for their passionate amoureux.

5)      Lots of thought and resources are put into the quantity and variety of flowers planted in the city and suburbs. It’s really lovely. Meanwhile, people and animals go potty on the sidewalk alongside the gardens.

6)      There is an evident promotion of relaxation and stress-free living here, but driving around, say, the Arch de Triumph, can get you killed owing to manic, unclear traffic patterns and kamikaze motor bikes.

7)      Parisians throw on random garments I wouldn’t put a finger on in a thrift store and manage to look annoyingly chic. I very seriously stood in awe of a woman with alarmingly radical bed head, no makeup save for some magenta lip stick, a boyfriend blazer, running pants (picture fugly and ill-fitting Adidas) and some very high and strappy leather heels. Her ensemble made no sense and yet she was stunning and I wanted to slap her.

The characteristics that make Paris, Paris have been excellent fodder for the book I am working on, so I am looking forward to hunkering down and getting some writing done.  Being in this romantic city is calling to mind the various relationships, infatuations, stalkers, and trysts of my lifetime, and how they’ve crafted my expectations and fundamental beliefs, so I will coast this inspirational current and hopefully make a huge dent in my manuscript…as I munch endless carbs. Happy and nostalgic.

Photos © 2010 Abigail Santmyer.

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Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. -Churchill

Winston Churchill was a big, brilliant fellow with simple, deliberately comfy tastes and a focus on family and important moments together. I know because I visited his home, Chartwell, last week, and like the nosy, draw-my-own-conclusions-about-everyone-and-everything person that I am, this is what I have to say about that.

Churchill’s home made a lot of sense and agreed with my perception of him. I was really glad to not have my notion dispelled with gaudy buttresses (no idea what those are), crystal toilet seats, and other indulgent fripperies (that my house would totally have), but was instead greeted by heavy wooden beams, a kitchen with a stove the size of my bed, and nary a marble anything. Oh! And we arrived just behind a group of about 567 people who were old enough to have voted for him, so I knew I was in for a treat. The tour took twice as long as it should have because those 567 needed to soak in the details, commiserate, AND I had to give them all piggy-back rides up the stairs. Exhausting for me. Exciting for them. From the embroidery on Lady Churchill’s shams (kidding- I have no idea if those shams were embroidered) to Roosevelt’s signature in the home’s guestbook, no stone was left unturned. But, even though making our way through the house took ages, I actually enjoyed going through with people who had been around during Churchill’s reign

Classic Sir Winston (sans hat)

(both of his terms as Prime Minister…seriously…these folks were not young). It was neat enough to be in his study, where many of his great speeches that we’ve all heard pieces of and maybe even quoted were penned, but to hear the ancients around me whispering to each other things like “Oh, this was when he was in Kent for such and such, ” or “I remember being outside the voting office with my mum when we heard he’d won.” Stuff like that.

I digress.

I wanted to make one quick point here, to reflect back on the quote at the beginning of this post and to put it out there that I may be rethinking the whole “becoming a kinder person” thing, because I think the world needs objective people, and I don’t think that I should be considered mean, simply because I point out the obvious. The reason this came to mind is that Winston Churchill painted. You may have known that, I did not. It was a hobby. Some of his paintings are auctioned off nowadays, and some hang in his Chartwell estate. Now, I totally understand wanting to own something created by the ole Dub, but the thing is…they aren’t brilliant. On the tour, folks were chattering about how talented he was and extolling the beauty of his work, but, poor eyesight aside, there’s no mistaking that there is nothing about a Churchill painting that would blow your skirt up. Google them. Tell me how magnificent you think they are, or are not.

I bit my tongue (another point for me!), and said nothing like, “Glad he had a way to blow off stress, but a chilled SoCo and a Shiatsu work just fine for me.”  But, I stand by my opinion. My criticism, and would like to encourage others to do the same. Not for Churchill’s paintings (who cares what you think about that), but for things that matter. Like your friend’s choice of leggings. Let her know that they don’t, in fact, look good on everyone. She’ll thank you one day. If she ever speaks to you again.

When I ask for someone’s opinion, it’s because I value their judgment. It’s something that separates us from the animals. That and opposable thumbs. I am maybe a tad over judgy at times, so maybe it’s not kindness I need to be working on. Maybe it’s discernment.

Anyway- Here are a few things I believe:

–          I believe babies have no business being in a movie theater. I understand parents need a night out, but you decided to have babies, not me. Grab a bottle of vino and a dvd, ya’ll.

–          I believe that high heels both elongate your calves AND give you the confidence to say anything.

–          I believe that if efficiency experts assessed federal agencies, only 20% of their workforce and budget would be found necessary…let’s make that any public agency. Raise your hand if you’ve ever made it out of the DMV in under an hour.

–          I believe Julia Roberts needs to stop taking on movie roles. Making gobs of money has made her performance-challenged. Think I’m full of it? Watch Duplicity and Charlie Wilson’s War back to back. Also, her eyes are sinking back into her head, and in certain lighting, it makes me uncomfortable.

–          I believe that it’s fine to have Nutella for breakfast.

–          I believe that Lady GaGa didn’t get enough attention as a child. And I’m glad, because she is glorious to behold.

–          I believe that  Brussel Sprouts smell like garbage, no matter how you cook them.

–          I believe that Elizabeth Taylor is intentionally trying to beat some personal goal for number of weddings, but let’s be honest…if we were loaded (in every sense of that word) what better way to indulge than to be a bride again, and again, and….

What do you believe?

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Eyjafjallajoekull: Name of a Volcano, or drunk text?

I left London this morning very proud of my unwitting foresight to take the train south to the coast in Dover, and would ferry across the channel to Calais and catch a train down to Paris, instead of flying, before I’d ever learned of a volcano erupting. Well. I must have forgotten for a moment that pretty much everything I do has something ridiculous attached to it. Meaning that of course a volcano no one has ever heard of (nor can say or spell) would erupt about 1200 miles away and somehow impact the 180,000 or so people flying out of Heathrow sending them flocking to any alternate transportation. (Read: MY quaint ferry ride).

So, while I had no time to work on the book today, I did burn 506,845 calories, since there was no hope of bus or taxi at any one of the 3 stations I landed, so me, my trusty four-wheel Samsonite and some impractical shoes (Don’t judge. I had planned on cabbing everywhere) hoofed it over many miles of cobblestone streets, 6 stories of stairs and 8 flights of ferry ramps.  I was also pretty darn kind today considering the circumstances (and having a LOT to do with the language barrier once I reached France. It doesn’t count as being mean when no one can understand your sarcasm).

The thing is…and this is going on my experience today alone; neither the UK or France seem to excel in crisis management, or even know what it means. No additional buses were running, taxis were anywhere but where people were and every queue was staffed with 2 folks. You know you’re not in America when no one is capitalizing on a natural disaster. Hoards of Italian, German, Danish and French businessmen were desperate to get back to their offices and were trying to throw money at anyone, but no one cared. Seriously hundreds to a thousand dollars were offered for a lift.

Some Danish men on the way to the ferry office:

Are you British?

Me: Are you serious? Check my teeth and waistline. What do you reckon?

Sorry?

Nope. I’m from the States.

Ahhh…your plane down, too?

No. I’ve been planning this journey for weeks, actually.

(Jibber joiken to each other and then) You have a car in France? We will pay if you drive. Lots of monies.

Dang. Nope. No car.

Those conversations were happening all over the ticket terminal. Many things needed to happen to get onto the boat, which I really am not ready to relive (such as the ticketing agent charging me an additional 30 pounds because I did not have a bicycle. I thought she was being funny, or had dyslexia and mixed up her words), but once I was on board, I had a great view of the cliffs and in came a British rugby team (validating, once again, that there is a God and he loves me), who spent the hour and half crossing gulping pints by the dozen at 1 in the afternoon.

At the station in Calais,  there was this really nice, mile-long line for a bus to the train station, which was not coming for another 30 minutes, which would have me missing my pre-booked train to Paris, making this the first time pre-planning would bite my tush; but there was a smaller crowd trying to get taxis. It was survival of the fittest, depending on who could intercept taxis in the parking lot, and who could whip out their phrase book the quickest. I knew how to say “I want”, “please”,  and “thank you”, so guess who was stranded? The German and Italian businessmen in well-cut suits and just enough hair product had once given me their seat on the shuttle, held doors for me, and let me cut in line for a drink on the ferry, and now one would distracting me with stilted conversation and while another would scoop up the next cab that came into the lot (which was only every 10 minutes). I mustered some moxy and stalked a cab that pulled in, grabbing its antennae as it came by. A tall, stringy looking man beat me to the driver’s side and I heard him say in perfect American-English, “Can you take us to the train station?” YES! Finally, someone I could intimidate and manipulate with my vernacular!

We’re splitting this cab. I say. I was trying not to look maniacal in my desperation, to keep panic from my voice, and instead sound like this was an obvious must.

Well…umm…there are 3 of us. He says.

Great. You can have shotgun. (I hop into the back seat while he stares at me. His wife glared at me the entire ride to the station. It may or may not have had to do with the fact that her case wouldn’t fit in the trunk [mine was consuming half of it], so she was holding it on her lap.)

Alright- I really cannot continue, because this is too much like experiencing the trip all over again, but I will conclude with sharing that we all ended up heading to Paris together and I complimented the missus on her smart haircut and all was forgiven. I also employed my sweet, bilingual sister in-law to help steer them in the right direction from Paris to Marseilles.  See? Kind.

Dover.

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