Friday, July 10, 2009




Our last m orning in Paris was a bonus. I had thought our train left at 1 when actually it left at 3:15. Good thing I didn't screw it up the other way. The kids were in good spirits as we left the hotel for a few hours. I was planning on walking to the left bank and exploring the little cobble-stoned streets and then ducking into the remarkable Sainte-Chappelle for a last grab at culture before heading home. We made it to the left bank, had a delicious lunch, and then, with 45 minutes to spare, walked to Sainte-Chappelle which must be one of the most beautiful chapels anywhere. It’s like a miniature Chartres with huge expanses of beautiful stained glass. So I was pretty disappointed when I saw a sign by the entrance declaring that the chapel would be closed today between 1 and 2:15pm. Why? Why close today at those times? This was my only time! Such is life I guess. And I’m pretty sure it was relief that flooded the faces of Jacob and Zoe when I told them the bad news.

We wandered a little more, and then realized we couldn’t put off leaving any longer. A taxi took us to our hotel to pick-up our luggage and say good-bye to our new favourite hotel (and Tokyo the dachsund), then another taxi took us the Station, the Eurostar took us back to London (in 2hrs), another taxi took us across London to Victoria Station, The Gatwick Express took us to Gatwick airport, another taxi took us to our hotel and an elevator deposited us to our rooms somewhat worse for wear.  Dinner and sleep ensued and a few hours later we were up and ready to go. Back on a bus to the airport, and into what may be the worlds longest check-in line for our flight home and all this before 7am!

It’s always funny when you see people from home in unexpected places and so I was both surprised and delighted to run into a family that we used to live next to when Jacob was little, in the same line-up as us to fly home to Vancouver.  It was actually a good thing that the line was so long as it gave Sarah and I a chance to catch-up as I hadn’t seen her in a long time.

After what felt like several months later we finally made it to the front of the line where we were greeted by an officious woman who was the airline equivalent of a battle axe triage nurse. She took very seriously her role of line-allocator and was directing people to the various counters as they became available. When it was our turn for direction, she seemed to suddenly lose interest. I thought perhaps this meant  I could choose myself which line to go to (the shortest. Duh.) but this was not to be. As I dragged our mountain of luggage to the counter, she suddenly reappeared and insisted I move to a line that already had someone in it, as well as an exasperated woman at the counter trying to check herself in (with no apparent success). The woman behind the counter was speaking earnestly into a phone and there was much gesticulating and eye-rolling going on. I sighed and settled in. Some weeks later the woman at the counter finally appeared to have completed the process and left, muttering to herself and shaking her head back and forth. The person ahead of me had gone to another line and so I moved into place, passports in hand, and went to put my luggage up on the scale. “Please don’t put your bags up yet” said the woman behind the counter. She was on the phone at the time and quickly went back to her call ignoring my questioning looks. I waited. And waited. The kids were by now hanging over the dividers, kicking each other, knocking our suitcases over, slamming into each other and generally getting on my nerves. The people in the line weren't much better that the kids. Finally she got off the phone and I made to move my luggage back onto the scale. “please wait’ she said again “The luggage conveyor is jammed.” I looked over her shoulder into the dark recesses of the conveyor belt. There was a mountain of suitcases all jumbled up and piled into each other. They completely blocked the door to the conveyor belt. In behind them I could just make out the red face of a man trying to liberate a bag whose handle had become stuck in the conveyor belt. He looked like Alice in wonderland after she’d eaten too much mushroom and had become stuck in a house that was too small for her. He was completely crammed in with the cases and bags and could hardly move. I looked at the line behind me and then at the luggage-jam. We were going to be here at while. After another 15minutes or so, there came an almighty crash from the conveyor belt, someone yelled : “I’ve done it!” and everything started moving all at once. GREAT! I thought. That’s SMASHING it’s working! But no, it was not to be. Not more than 2 minutes later the whole thing stopped working again. There must have been 8 counters open for check-in, and each one had piles of luggage to check through. What a nightmare, what a disaster, WTF! The same red-faced man appeared, now on our side of the conveyor belt.He was swearing about how he was going to have to go all the way around to get back into the system. “Why don’t you just crawl through here” I suggested, holding open the gate where I was not allowed to put my luggage. He was about to say no, then thought better of it and shimmied his way through to the conveyor belt. I could see a backpack, the kind with 8000 straps and loops and belts and things hanging off it, hanging slightly off the conveyor belt. It looked like it had a strap caught in the belt mechanism. I pointed it out to Red Face (who I don’t think could actually see at all) and then proceeded to try and explain to him where exactly it was in the pile.  He eventually figured it out and everything went zipping along. We managed to check-in and then we also zipped off to the gate as we now had about 4 seconds to get there.

Fortunately the flight was uneventful (with the exception of a two-year old who was not going to wear her seatbelt ever again) and we eventually ended up at Vancouver airport. Another taxi, and then a ferry and there we were at Swartz Bay. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Kent. He looked a little gaunt but happy to see us. We drove home, dropped off my mum and got to our house. One final luggage-dragging episode up the stairs and we were home!

I  have a few reflections on travelling with kids but will share those with you later. Thanks for listening!

Good night!

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1 comment:

  1. I am sure that Zoe and Jacob, looking back on this, will realize that they have an extraordinary mom who shares her passions and interests with them in the most amazing ways. They also have a wonderfully supportive grandma.
    Zoe, it might be fruitful to start developing a passionate interest in the Medicis, Jesus, Ghandi or the Spanish Inquisition.

    Welcome home!

    Dad, Baca