...Bonjour Clermont-Ferrand

We left Phoenix at 5 in the morning and headed to Atlanta where we were catching our flight to Paris. We arrived at the airport with five bags, two carry-ons, my purse and Cornel's laptop bag. We had carefully weighed our bags at my parent's house (stand on the scale and then pick up the suitcase to see if it is within 50 lbs.) We weren't sure if I would be able to check in 3 bags or two, so it was unsure if I would have all my things with me. Luckily, I was able to check in 3 and they were all under 50 lbs.

After a long layover in Atlanta we finally got to board the plane. We noticed that everyone had boarded but we were not taking off. The pilot told us that they had to fix a brake pad and we would be on our way. We had our own personal screens so we began to watch a movie. About half way through the movie (yes 1/2 way) we realized we still weren't moving. The pilot got on the speaker a few minutes later...

"We apologize for the delay but there is a passenger in Business Class whose seat won't recline. We've called maintenance and we should be on our way shortly."

Okay, so it's not bad enough that the seats are already 100 times more comfortable, roomy, you get a nicer meal and personalized service; you still find the time to complain that your seat won't recline and make the rest of us wait!!

Since we only had a two hour layover in Paris and we where now over an hour delayed (in coach seats nonetheless), we knew there was very little hope that we would make our connection to Clermont. We finally took off, and ten minutes later the movie we had been watching was over!

The flight was uneventful, and we landed in Paris at 7:30 in the morning, when our flight was supposed to be boarding. The flight attendant got on the speaker and told us she knew most of us had missed our connections, but if we go the counter, they would do their best to book us on the next available flight, which we knew was eight hours away!!

We get off the plane and then complete chaos!! Cornel goes and talks to one of the Air France gate agents who tells us if we run we still might make it since they just started boarding. OK - for those of you who have been to the Paris airport, you know that this feat is nearly impossible. We would have to go through customs, go to the other end of the airport (about 1/2 a mile on foot), go back through security, and to our gate - yes all this in 10 minutes! Ha, all this while being on a six hour jet lag and having just gotten off a plane you were on for 9 hours! With all of these obstacles you would have thought we just would have stood in line to rebook or go and rent a car and drive the four hours home, but NO! We are not quitters!

While all of this is going on with the gate agent, I get approached by a very rude Amercian lady accusing me of taking her carry-on!! Excuse me?? When I told her I was sure it was mine, she said someone took her carry-on and it looked exactly like mine! Seriously??? Since she was not giving up and I was about to sprint my life away, I opened up the front pocked and showed her the contents: all of my wedding stuff! Before she started claiming that she was the one getting married, I quickly zipped up the bag and started running!

We get to customs and surprisingly there is no one there they check my passport and within 2 minutes we are again on our way!

Time left: 8 minutes

We start running through the moving platforsm down flights of stairs and running over anyone in our way! I felt like my lung was going to collapse, I was holding my carry-on tight for fear of the american lady and I really had to go to the bathroom! I wonder if this is what people go through on the Amazing Race; and if so, I would be no good at it! Just when I was about give up, we arrived at our terminal.

Time Left: 2 minutes

Security at airports always fascinates me. First, unless you are living under a rock; you know you are not allowed to carry liquids unless they fit in a ziploc bag, so yes that 32 ounce bottle of water is not going to fly.

Second, there are signs everywhere telling you that you will need to remove your shoes and take out your laptop (and if for some reason you can't read, the signs have pretty pictures depecting what you are supposed to do)!

Lastly, if you know you are going throug a metal detector why do you think that the fistful of change; your keys and your belt would not set it off??

So needless to say, the line at security was long and going by very slow because people just could not get it together! Frantic as we begin the countdown and Cornel approaches the security agent and quickly explains our situation; and she lets us go to the front of the line. Now for this, I give the French Airport System kudos because this would NEVER happen in the States.

We get to the gate at 5 minutes to 8 ( for a flight that departs at 8:15) and there is still a line to board! Finally, I can catch my breath! Luckily for us; French time runs a little late! We get on the bus (buses take you to your planes) and we wait on the bus for about 10 minutes until they get the plane ready. Finally at about 8:15 (departure time) we boarded the plane - we were finally on our way home!

When we arrived in Clermont, it is was no surprise that we arrived without luggage. By that point we were so exhausted that it didn't matter, we were just so grateful to be home!

We took a taxi home and arrived just a little after 11 a.m., and I said hello to my new home. Here is a picture of our apartment!

And Cornel waiting for me to stop taking pictures so he can tell me the access code. The funny thing is; that he knows I can't even remember the code to my ATM card, so why would he assume I can remember the access code to get in the building?!

But after the access code lesson was over; we were finally able to go upstairs!

I had a key from my other trips, but this is the first time I was opening the door to OUR apartment; not his apartment! It was very exciting!

And all I can say, is that I am going to marry a wonderful man because when we entered, I found this:
and of course in Romanian:
He had put this all together before he even left for the states! I was so surprised and of course, I cried!! After I was a bit more composed, I started settling in to the apartment: that's the kitchen behind me.
And of course getting re-acquainted with Pupici the bear.

Since Cornel had been gone for two weeks, we had no food at home and we were starving, so we headed out to lunch and then to the grocery store. I also got to ride in our new car! The infamous Qashqai, and she is beautiful!

And we were on our way!

and here is a picture of my cute neighborhood...

and check out these tiny little traffic lights!

I have settled in for the most part. I have already blown up my flat iron (220 volts is high) and had to buy a new one!
And now let me give you my intercultural tidbit of the day: in France preservatives means condoms, so when asking for food without preservatives rest assured that 99.9% of food is condom free, instead ask for food without conservatives and you will get less strange looks!

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Natertot said...

Oh. My. GOD! I'm reading this at work and I happened to get to the very last part right when I answered the phone and I busted out laughing! Too funny. I also love the signs Cornel made, that's too sweet. Glad you made it there in one piece!

megaloni said...

I concur on one front and disagree on another - Charles de Gaulle is a bitch, I hate that airport! However, in the U.S. if you explain that you are about to miss a flight, they WILL move you to the head of the security line - I've had to do it!
Best of luck, enjoy, have FUN!!!!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I can't believe you made the plane! I lve that he left a message for you to see when you got home.

Michelle said...

Love it! Reminds me of when we were coming back from our honeymoon...we literally handed over our boarding passes as we walked down the gateway and they told us to sit wherever we could find a seat!

And, the "preservative" thing is the same in Poland, and I think the same in Russia, just so you know! =)

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