23 July 2006

Stumbling through the big trip (Part I)

[Posted by Colin]

Last Wednesday, we were still in Paris. "La Canicule" (the dog days) was in full swing, with a high of 97 degrees Fahrenheit and humdity level at about the same number. I was sick with a wracking cough.

After I finally got back from running an errand at the BNF, Amy asked me to call the shuttle company to confirm our reservation for the next morning. Imagine our surprise when the girl told me that our reservation had never been processed! Since all of their shuttles were booked for the next morning, there was nothing she could do to help.

Taking the train or bus to the airport was completely out of the question. Our checked luggage included four suitcases weighing a total of 90 kilos (roughly 200 pounds), plus Didg and his kennel. Plus, there was our carry-on luggage: a small suitcase, a duffle bag, a laptop bag, and Amy's purse. So, here we are, 16 hours before our flight, way too much baggage, and now we have no shuttle.

When I picked up the "Pages Jaunes," I saw an ad for a company called AeroTaxi. At this point, that sounded perfect, so I gave them a call. Everything was going along swimmingly, until I told the dispatcher about the suitcases and the dog. She said she'd note it in our reservation and see what could be done.

Thursday morning, we got up early. Well, Amy "got up" early; I'd only managed to get an hour's sleep because of the heat and my cough. About 6:40, we started hauling suitcases down to the front door. As you may remember, we have a tiny elevator, so I think it took five trips (plus, Amy walked down the stairs with Didg and one of the carry on bags). After the second trip, I poked my head out the door, hoping to see a van parked out front with "AeroTaxi" emblazoned on the door. Instead, I noticed that there was a taxi--a spiffy little station wagon--parked around the corner. I mentioned this to Amy as I got the next load ready. She asked the driver, and sure enough, our airport shuttle to handle all of our stuff, was a European (i.e., small) station wagon.

The driver was terrific, though he definitely seemed concerned about the amount of stuff we had. He and I loaded the car, trying to stuff things this way and that. Finally, with two giant suitcases riding shotgun and blocking most of the driver's peripheral vision on the right, we had everything packed in such a way that Amy, Didg, and I could ride comfortably in the backseat!

The ride was smooth, fast, and not as expensive as I feared (the fare was 55 euros or so, even with two people and all that luggage!). We arrived at the airport by 8:00 and, having cleared that stressful hurdle, we were all set to get on back to Michigan!

(to be continued...)

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