Sunday, August 05, 2007

Homeward Bound

Dear Readers,

We are off. We are on the ferry as I write this. It is another beautiful, cloudless day here on the French coast. I have all kinds of bittersweet feelings as we leave. The people who have taken us in and given us shelter have been so nice. The weather and scenery have been right out of a photography magazine. We have spent the last week as extended members of a large family and enjoyed all the benefits of such. There were the extended meals that stretched on over conversation and wine, or mead, or Breton beer. There were the beach sessions where the whole family lazed about, some talking, some swimming, some hunting mussels, some body surfing.

My pictures give some idea of what we have been doing, but the heart of it cannot be captured by a camera. We have been brought into a family, embraced by all and given the love that family’s share amongst their own. There were the good morning kisses on both cheeks from the children and the good night kisses from the same. There were the welcome kisses and the farewell kisses. There were the hugs and the parting gifts, shyly given and the stumbling attempts at bridging the language gaps that separated us. A very special time.

Now, we begin our journey towards home. We have a full day of rail travel that will deposit us at our airport hotel sometime this evening if all goes well. There are several places where this could get exciting. The first comes as we disembark from the ferry and head for Aurey. We have approximately an hour to make the drive and catch the train. The potential problems are found in the geography of the country. The ferry landing is in Quiberon, a tiny seaside village at the end of a long isthmus. There is only one road leading in and out and any traffic jam will delay us.

We are here and I must pack up and get ready for the drive.

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We made it without any trouble. We arrived at the station with 30 minutes to spare and met JF’s brother with the tickets for the Paris/Brussels leg. Right now, we are somewhere between Rennes and Paris.

The kids are sitting across the aisle from me and reading or watching movies on their ipods as we move through the French countryside.

The only occurrence of note so far took place at Rennes where the train stopped to take on passengers. The seat in front of me was taken there by a middle aged woman, a young girl, and a child who sat between them. A fourth woman came on board to see them off and help stow luggage. As she was going through the farewell kissing routine, the train set off, trapping her on board and headed for an unplanned vacation wherever the train stops next. While some may have been upset at this state of affairs, she seemed to maintain her good humor and rolled with the flow.

More later.

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We could get used to this. By “this” I mean moving along at two hundred miles an hour in first class. We zip by the cars traveling on the adjacent freeway like they are standing still an the wait staff brings us little towlettes and free beer. Gotta love it.

We cheaped out in Paris and took the metro from Montparnasse station to Gare du Nord instead of a taxi, which made the girl peevish because it meant walking a fair distance through the underground tunnels and it was hot. But we saved a bunch (1.50 euros as opposed to 20) so we sat at a café in Gare du Nord while we waited for our train to arrive at the platform.

Now we are speeding toward Brussels where we hope to meet one of JF’s son’s who has our tickets for the next leg (back to 2nd class – alas) as well as my suitcase and my son’s extraneous items.

We will have a bit of time in the Brussels station as well, so maybe another café. I wonder where JF is right now. He is making the long drive back with his daughter, Elsa. We had a late night and an early rise so I hope that he stays awake and has an uneventful drive. We will arrive at our hotel at the Amsterdam airport approximately three hours earlier than if we drove with him, plus the kids are not crammed in the back of a small car for nine hours. All in all, this is worth every euro.

OK, signing off now. More during the Brussels to Amsterdam leg.

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Well, this is actually coming to you from the Sheraton hotel connected to the Schiphol airport. We made the last leg just fine after a brief cold turkey readjustment to second class status.

Fortunately, there were three other Americans traveling in the seats across the isle, two of which were close in age to my kids so there was lots of talk and chatter that ate up the miles.

The hotel we have is very nice and is right at the airport so we can sleep as late as possible (in theory seeing as how I am sitting here doing this at 4 AM instead of theoretically sleeping). To much on the mind I guess.

So I uploaded all of my photos and even go comments on most of them.

Our flights still appear to be on time which is good.

I’m signing off of this now and uploading it. Next post comes from home.

2 Comments:

Blogger lime said...

oh the welcoming fold of a family certainly sounds like the absolute icing on the cake, especially after so many family travails in the last year. this part of the trip makes me smile a mile wide for you. so glad each leg has gone so well thus far. safe travels across the atlantic and part of our continent.

9:13 AM, August 06, 2007  
Blogger Sister Spikey Mace said...

It sure has seemed like a wonderful trip, in the bosom of family that embraced you.

Bon voyage, and we'll see you when you get home.

9:55 AM, August 06, 2007  

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