Getting the Adventure Rolling
We are packing our bags and taking off for 7 weeks in France. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well, not quite. When my husband first announced it was time for us to make this trip we have dreamed of for years, I was very excited. Then I realized I had to get very busy. Seven weeks is a lot of time and provides endless possibilities, but you have to focus and plan ahead or really, it won’t be any fun. We started off with grandiose ideas and were going to include two other countries — Italy, the Cinque Terre & Spain, all of it. We planned to lease a car so we could virtually go anywhere.
A quick look at a map of Europe along with reading up on the devastation of last year’s floods to many towns in the Cinque Terre region immediately led me to eliminate that from our plan. Besides, my husband had done that in “another life” and I didn’t really want to repeat it with him. I wanted this trip to be uniquely ours. Then I got down to the serious business of planning a route from Paris south through France and into Spain. The route continued south as far as Morocco and made a complete loop returning north and ending up back in Paris. I added up the mileage (about 3500 miles), divided by 51 days, and came to the conclusion that this was going to be insane. I was getting hot, tired, and uncomfortable just thinking about this kind of trek especially through Spain in July. In the end, we cut out Spain and decided we would leave this for another adventure. I was briefly disappointed about giving this up since it has only been my desire to travel there since I was 18 and in college studying Spanish. I have foolishly forsaken this dream on several occasions, but suddenly it didn’t seem so important despite the fact that it was the one country where I could speak the language fluently.
So, now to focus on France. Ah, what a relief! Only one country the size of Texas to conquer. With my trusty AAA map taped to the closet door and a generous supply of those sticky post-it arrows, I proceeded to choose our destinations. Once I had figured out 5 separate 1-week stays and several great stops in between, it was time to make reservations for our lodging. That took about 2 solid weeks of non-stop research and e-mail exchanges. With the 9-hour time difference, I never received an immediate answer to my inquiries. It became a game of anticipation waking up early every morning before I went to work to see what exciting messages had arrived overnight.
Alas, I was faced with the task of having to make some phone calls and actually speak to people directly to confirm a couple of reservations. That was an interesting challenge. First, how do I make an international call on my cell phone — my only choice since I don’t have a landline. Turns out you have to call Verizon and get them to activate it – for a fee, of course. Then you have to figure out all the extra digits you have to dial to make the call work. Once you finally get the phone to ring on the other end, you hope and pray that when you say, “Parle vous anglais?” the answer is “Oui.” My French is 35-years old and I just wasn’t up to speed yet with Rosetta Stone to pull off an entire conversation. The people I spoke to were very accommodating. We both struggled but in the end made ourselves understood. With one gentleman, I kept wanting to lapse into Spanish. I figured any language other than English might be helpful. I didn’t but when I finally got an e-mail confirmation for our reservation from his wife, she admitted he spoke Spanish fluently. Ha! If only I had known. Somehow the struggle was part of the adventure though.
Eventually, one evening we were able to toast to the fact that I had nailed down reservations — great ones at that in price, amenities, and location — for 51 nights in France. Santé!!
You might enjoy a blog I follow by an American who owns a house in Provence. It’s at sablethouse.blogspot.com. Lots of info about the towns in that area, and he also has a great French restaurant in Occidental, CA.
Thanks, Kathy, I will check that out!
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