Come fly with me

This week it is my turn to torment fellow LBC Members: Ashok, Conrad, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria, & Ramana with a topic of my choice  Marianna will rejoin us in a few weeks time.  So this week my choice is:

A Journey or Journeys

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The week passed as in the blinking of an eye.

Over dinner the previous evening changes were made to the travelling arrangements.

I was no longer leaving from the local train station alone, but we were going to drive to Paris, sight-see for an hour or two, meet a friend for lunch and then head to the James Joyce pub at Porte Maillot, where the coach to the Ryanair flights from Beauvais Tillé Airport leaves from and arrives to.

I was returning home to Ireland having spent my days with Elly in Troyes, France around 150 km south-east of Paris She was studying there for a year, the third of a four year University degree course. I was house guest of Martine, her adopted French Mother.

So four of us set out early for Paris with Martine’s daughter at the wheel. The journey was uneventful and we parked the car near Chatelet metro station. Time passed quickly as we wandered and shopped until it was time to meet our friend for lunch

In true French style the service was slow and relaxed, wine loosened our tongues and we chatted and lingered over lunch forgetting the time. Suddenly it was all a rush to return to the car park and collect my luggage, we jumped on the metro at Chatelet destined for Porte Maillot, which is near the James Joyce pub.

The metro station at Porte Maillot is under a massive roundabout (Rotary for my American friends) with multiple exits. It is difficult to find the correct exit at any time, so I was happy to play follow the leader that day. In our haste we actually chose the incorrect exit! Since we had walked great distances underground and climbed several flights of stairs with my luggage in tow, we decided to stay above ground and make our way to the meeting point for the coach.

By the time we walked ran charged along the surface streets and reached the corner, it was just in time to see the coach pulling away! 😡

Map of Paris Locations.

Panic!

I had in fact travelled to France with a friend. My airline ticket was one of those special offers… two for the price of one. I had offered the other half to my friend who had a daughter also studying in France for the year, but in a different direction to Elly. We had parted on our outward journey at the James Joyce pub, and arranged to meet at the coach stop for the homeward journey. Neither of us had mobile phones back then.  I scanned the coach, but did not see my friend. If we didn’t arrive for the flight, then it was a full price ticket for each of us…

“Taxi.  What about a taxi!” I said. There was a rank around the corner, so we went to check the price. £70 was the best offer with no promise of us making it to the airport on time. At this point Martine took over. She suggested that we forget the taxi and she drive us to Beauvais. Her daughter left us at this point to go meet friends, and we three musketeers headed underground once more.

We hopped back on the metro to Chatelet, to retrieve the car. All through the metro journey my two companions spoke in a rather animated way with hands waving all over the place to great dramatic effect. My French is not good, so I was unsure what exactly was going on. It might have been a discussion on the best route to take, or it might have been an argument about me for all I knew, so I decided silence was the best option. My tummy was churning. I hate being a nuisance to anybody. Here I was spoiling a lovely day and wondering when I would ever get home if the one flight had gone without me.

That took over 30 minutes but it felt like 30 hours, and we only had just over an hour left to get to Beauvais, so no time was wasted as we headed off at speed.

SPEED!

Did I say speed? Five minutes later and we came to an abrupt stop. There were cars everywhere and none of them moving. It was like motorway traffic in the UK on a bank holiday weekend! We were approaching the Peripherique, the M50 (Dublin) or M25 (London) of Paris!

Map of the route we took

If my tummy was churning on the metro, it was rumbling like a volcano now. I sat like a mouse in the back of the car, not wanting to look out the window, but unable to take my eyes off the frozen traffic.

“Petrol”! I croaked. It was all I could manage.

Immediately Elly shouted “Essence”! Pointing to the needle slipping to the empty mark on the petrol gauge.  Suddenly she pointed out a petrol station about six lanes of blocked traffic to our right. Somehow, I have no idea how, but we were on the forecourt filling the car with petrol. I handed a bundle of notes to Elly and she paid for the petrol. We went on our way and soon we were burning rubber once more on the toll road. The tornado in my tummy was beginning to wind down….

The Gendarmes stopped us just as we left the toll road heading for the airport, we were about fourth in the queue. It was enough time for Martine to realise she had no documents, as they were in her daughter’s purse. Elly asked me for my ticket and passport. With much waving of documents and pointing at me in the back seat, Martine & Elly managed to talk the gendarme out of keeping them there, and so we reached the airport building. There was only one plane and it was on the tarmac with engines running. Martine screeched to a stop at the front door. Thank the Lord that Beauvais is a one room airport, Elly shouted to me: “Run for it mum, I will get your case!” I ran in and all the gates were closed, there were very few passengers about, none of them in a hurry. Elly ran in shouting at anyone in a blazer and persuaded them to re-open check-in for me. All the other passengers were already boarded.

A check-in desk was opened for me, I was rushed out onto the tarmac and the steps were pushed back into position and I was allowed on board. I had no breath left, scanning for an empty seat; I saw one about ten rows back. Flopping down into it, I heard a familiar voice… The passenger beside me was my friend!

It took me ten minutes to catch my breath and explain to my friend what happened. So, as we were winging our way back to Dublin, Elly and Martine took a different road into Beauvais for a reviving beer before returning to Troyes by another route.

We managed to reach Dublin Airport on time, and retrieve my car from the long stay car park. We then headed up the road on our three hour drive to Co Antrim and home.

It was a long day, an even longer journey and one I will never forget.

29 thoughts on “Come fly with me

  1. Rummuser

    Grannymar, only you could have had and written about that adventure the way you have. Interesting things happen to interesting people! Wonderful post and very gripping to read, almost like a suspense short story!

    Reply
  2. Judy Harper

    Man, I’m sitting right there with you at your final destination. Talk about building and keeping the tension going! While everything is going wrong, you think, “I’ll never do this again!”, then you start remembering what a good time you had. Thanks for the idea of “A Journey”. It seems to have led us down memory lane. Good post!

    Reply
  3. bikehikebabe

    OMG! That made me relive my own experience.

    I was taking my daughter Lydia to the airport to catch the plane to NYC . From there on to Sweden where she was to live & learn for a year.

    I took the wrong exit & we drove a long ways before I realized we were headed in the wrong direction. The loss of time & wondering where do I go when I do get back to the city made me……EEEEEEK!!!

    Reply
  4. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – As I ran into the airport terminal, I am not sure if my heart or the plane engines made the most noise…. I think it was my heart!

    Judy – I am glad to haver opened memory boxes this week.

    Gaelikaa – That was the second of three trips to Troyes while Elly was there, they all held their own adventures!

    Helen – Good to have you back with us again, stay well! I think we all have a journey like that at sometime in our lives. Thankfully I lived to tell the tale.

    BHB – I’m glad you and Lydia made it on time.

    Reply
  5. Nick

    An unforgettable journey indeed. I can’t remember any journey of my own as hair-raising as that. But how easy it is to linger over a relaxing lunch or cup of coffee and completely forget some imminent appointment.

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  6. Darlene

    That was a cliff hanger. I’ll bet it took a lot of time to relax after getting on the plane.

    My daughter and I made a similar last dash to catch a plane. They were wheeling the stairs away as we ran across the tarmac. Luckily, they put them back for us and opened the door. Since our being in this situation was due to my daughter’s being late picking me up I didn’t speak to her until we reached our destination. I was afraid of what I would say if I opened my mouth.

    Reply
  7. Baino

    God I hate being late for the plane. Here they won’t take off until you’re on board or your luggage is removed, I had a ‘last call’ once and realised I was at the wrong gate (they switched at the last minute) and had to run like the wind right down to the other side of the airport, Very ebarrassing. A all’s well that ends well Grannymar. I’m still jealous that you got to see Paris!

    Reply
  8. Grannymar Post author

    Nick – It was the one and only time I was ever late for an appointment. Normally I am the early bird. Nowadays I never wear a watch, if others have places to go, people to see, then it is for them to watch the time.

    Darlene – I think I was half way home before I really began to relax.

    Baino – I lived to tell the tale. 😀 I stayed in Paris for a few days in the late 60’s and was there with Elly a few times during her year in France.

    Reply
  9. Maria

    Nearly missing the plane is my worst nightmare. Reading your post, I could feel the stress growing. In my family there are many jokes about how I have to be at least two hours early to any airport and I do not relax until I am through security and sitting right under the sign that announces my flight leaves through this door.

    Reply
  10. Conrad

    GM, Ramana hit the nail right on the head! This whole story is so you.

    If I could do some magic and make you, me and Elly all the same age, I could see us … with a few others, of course, like Jack and Carol and Carly and my folks and the LBC members and … well, I could see us having one hell of a romp across the countryside!

    Oh – and Maynard!

    Reply
  11. Grannymar Post author

    Maria – It must go with the name! I am an early bird when I am travelling alone or the driver of the car for others. Elly is more of a last minute person and I will be thinking of her tomorrow as she heads to Dublin Airport in the morning to begin her journey to Arizona, i am hoping it will be trouble free.

    Conrad – You wave that wand right now. I am thirty (in my head)! Of course we want Maynard, bikehikebabe and don’t forget Corky – we need her to lead the singing!

    Reply
  12. Alice

    Yup! Been there, done that! It’s a great journey story. I venture, though, that there are worse places to get stuck in than Paree. It’s really amazing you made in the nick of time. Kudos to Elly and friend. Just shows what women can accomplish when the set their minds to!

    Reply
  13. Grannymar Post author

    Elly, Travel safely there and back. Love you too!

    Alice – When we were stopped by the Gendarmes, we could see the plane on the tarmac and I was sure I would not make it in time. Elly fights a good battle.

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  14. steph

    How times have changed, Grannymar

    Ryanair would now delight in telling you that you’ve not met their conditions and then, charge you an arm and a leg for the pleasure of waiting for the next flight.

    I bet you’ve never been late for a flight since!

    Reply
  15. elly

    it’s amazing how ryanair has changed since then steph, at the end of my year in france i flew back with seven bags, totalling over fifty kilos, and not a hint of an excess baggage charge!

    Reply
  16. Grannymar Post author

    Steph – it was the early days of Dublin-Beauvais, very basic and we got what we paid for. I had another trip to Amsterdam when Easy Jet first did the run from Belfast International. Three of us went for five days and the return fare was £35.00 per head.

    Elly – Don’t try bringing seven bags back from Arizona next weekend. Glad the fog at Dublin didn’t delay your flight to Heathrow. Stay safe!

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  17. MountainWoman Silver

    I am green with envy at the thought of taking a day trip to Paris. I have traveled many places in the U.S. but have still to make it to europe. I’m still dreaming of a trip to Spain. I don’t know exactly when you made your journey, but I don’t think in the U.S. one could ever get through check-in and on a plane in that short length of time. I really like your writing and will keep checking back.

    Reply
  18. Grannymar Post author

    MountainWoman Silver, welcome on board. That trip was back in 1999. The whole business of air travel changed on ‘9/11’. That was another day I was flying home from a visit to Elly. By then she was back in Scotland, finished University and working in Glasgow.

    I have visited most of the European countries, but so far only managed one trip over the pond to Cape Cod.

    Reply
  19. Fran

    Ah the progress of time hasn’t changed the Peripherique. Between 1989-91 I did a lot of driving in Europe and I will never forget my first time trying to get through Paris, it was pure Mayhem.
    Travelling so many times through the city has left me with a tainted view of Paris so if I was to choose a city break it would be well down my list of cities to visit.
    I’m glad you got your flight but I hope the additional stress hasn’t spoilt your view of Paris

    Reply
  20. Grannymar Post author

    Fran, thankfully I left the driving in France to others, Elly included, she drives like an native! Mind you she says Paris is easy peasy compared to Rome.

    I have enjoyed several visits to Paris, so this particular journey has not taken away the Blas.

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  21. Marianna

    Things that are hair-raising at the time, make great stories (& blog posts) long after the event.

    There’s an element of “Oh, my!” and “I remember a similar travel story…” and “What an adventure!” in these tales.

    The best part is the happy ending! People were kind enough to get you on that plane.

    Reply
  22. Grannymar Post author

    Marianna – I appreciated the trouble everyone went to to get me on board, but once in a lifetime is enough for that kind of excitement.

    Elly – 😀 Sleep well!

    Reply

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