Such a short flight to Paris, but long enough for the woman in front to freak me out. She was an older lady, traveling with her son. She had an elongated Celine Dion/Afghan Hound face, made scarier by the world’s biggest pair of glasses. Her brown eyes were three times magnified and bobbed around behind the octagonal glass like dying goldfish, staring me down as she tottered down the aisle to the bathroom for the seventeenth time. I told Rhi I was scared, but she assured me it was a big city and we would lose her at the airport.
As soon as we jumped off the train at Gare du Nord a rather aesthetically pleasing young man appeared and asked if we were lost. We immediately assumed he was going to kill us, because this would prove correct The Mothership’s theories about Young Ladies Out In The Big Bad World. But no, he was just simply some hunky random lad who spent fifteen minutes patiently explaining how all the different trains worked and where to go and what to do. Then he just smiled and ran off without any trouble, while I will still trying to figure out how to say, “Take her, she’s got more cash!” en français…
Before long we were on a sightseeing bus, our cameras clicking away in harmony with assorted tourists. It was overwhelming, around every corner another disgustingly famous and fabulous sight to see. We oohed and aahed appropriately, then the Arc de Triomphe loomed into view and it turned into a “Holy fucking shit!”. There was much mad cackling – we were in Paris!
It felt so unreal, like we’d run away from boarding school and would get busted by Matron at any moment. We hopped on and off the bus, trying to do as much as possible while spending the least amount of money.
The pace slowed down late afternoon, when, after wandering around the Notre Dame for a long while, I barrelled back onto the bus and promptly whacked my head on the roof as I ran up the stairs.
Eventually we were sitting under the Eiffel Tower, too weary (or slightly concussed) to join the queues to go the top.
“I just did my first fart in France.”
“Awww! I haven’t done one yet!”
“Don’t worry my child, your time will come.”
Saturday morning we went out to Versailles super early in order to beat the crowds. Not a bad little chateau, I tells ya. We had a wander around the town and an argument over who would buy lunch:
“YOU ask for it.”
“Noooo. YOU ask for it!”
“No. YOU ask for it! You’re the one who did the classes!”
“I wish I knew how to say ‘Rhiannon’s being a bitch’ in French!”
So I asked for it and somehow ended up with three croissants and a tiny quiche, which wasn’t quite my intention but it was all very tasty. Afterwards we went back into Paris and trekked around some more, ending up at the Louvre in the scorching afternoon, stretched out by the fountain working on our pink (we don’t tan). Sunday we took in delightful sites like the Moulin Rouge, the Musee de L’Erotisme, and the porn shop where the guy worked in Amelie.
Then we went on a walking tour of Montmartre. Finally away from the tourist hordes, we were treated to hidden streets and wacky little stories.
Sunday evening we were sitting on the floor at Charles de Gaulle, where the British Airways staff had just told us we couldn’t check in yet.
“Isn’t it funny how the British Airways slogan is World’s Favourite Airline?” I grumbled.
“I know! Bastards. These advertising claims should be substantiated with lots of data from the Bureau of Statistics.”
“Exactly. It’s just like Caltex: We’ll share the driving with you, they say. But have they ever shared the driving with you? No. Not once. We’re out there on the highways all alone, fighting fatigue!”
An hour later BA told us there’s a “mechanical problem” and they are “flying an engineer over from London”. For a flight due to leave in an hour.
“Don’t you have engineers in Paris?” I asked.
“Oh no, not the special ones needed to fix your shitty little plane back to Edinburgh,” they assured me.
Another hour later the flight was cancelled. There was only about twenty of us, but we managed to make an appropriate amount of outraged shouting and thumping of fists on counters. Except me who couldn’t stop giggling like a madwoman, tired and delirious from sunburn, because it was just like that Airport show on TV.
That was when I noticed Afghan Hound Lady, of course her and the son were taking the same flight home. Her eyes were fat with panic as she clutched his arm and he clutched a green duffel bag. I almost felt sorry for her. But those glasses. They were freaking me out.
Yet another hour later we were on a plane to Bristol, where we were put up in a hotel and told BA would pay for our breakfast, and a taxi would pick us up at 5.30 AM and take us to the airport to finally go home. The next morning we check out, bleary eyed, and the receptionist made us all pay a room service fee, because our breakfasts had been delivered “outside of zee core breakfast hours”.
Outside in the cold, Afghan Hound Lady stood looking haunted while everyone else huffed and puffed and vowed to nasty write letters to BA, until we finally noticed that the taxi was half an hour late. We called the taxi company, and of course they had no idea about taxis booked for the BA Refugees.
After much frantic negotiations and another lovely Bristol taxi driver (Britain’s friendliest town, they say), we made it to the boarding bus with 30 seconds to spare. Then we spent an hour on the tarmac waiting for take off.
I was two hours late for my shitty new job, but I didn’t care. It just made the holiday a wee bit longer! Besides, I can say I’ve been to England now, for 6 whole hours. I’m going global, baby!