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Trip Report Paris Rendezvous: Nikki's trip report

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About a week before the trip, the doubts begin. Will the flight be full and cramped and will my aisle seat disappear in some seat selection snafu? Will my arthritic knees and ankles prevent me from getting around? Will the apartment I rented be uncomfortable or inconvenient in some unforeseen way? Will my friend Carol like it? Will Carol and I find each other at the airport in Paris and if we don’t, will we figure out what to do about it? Will the class at the College de France be filled with young students among whom I will feel like a fish out of water? Will the gathering of internet buddies end up standing in the street because the restaurant we chose is closed or not big enough for our group? And what’s up with this persistent cough?

Fortunately, I now recognize this wave of negativity. Welcome pre-trip anxiety, my familiar friend, this must mean I’m about to go away and have a really great time. And getting to the doctor for some cough syrup and antibiotics will take care of the rest.

This trip was planned in about six weeks. In January, Carol and I and some other friends from college had spent a weekend in New York, which we do every year. While there, we formed this plan for a Paris rendezvous. Carol was on her way to Moscow to do research for two months, and she would stop for a few days in Paris. I would spend those days with her and then stay for a few days after she left. I had not been on my own in Europe since 1972, and the idea was appealing.

So I lined up an apartment, a non-stop flight from Boston to Paris, and tickets for music and theater and ballet. I stepped up my listening to French podcasts and radio on the internet. I printed out enough information to fill several weeks with activity. I got past the pre-trip anxiety. And I showed up at the airport on a Tuesday afternoon in March with the adrenaline flowing. This was going to be fun.

Getting through the airport was a breeze. No line to check bags, no line at security. Plenty of time to buy water and reading material for the flight. Usually I fly to Europe during a school vacation of some sort, but this time I was there at an off hour on an off day, and it was a pleasure. The flight was half empty, and the rear section where I was sitting had many empty rows. The Air France flight crew was friendly and we talked about Paris and about their homes in France while waiting for the flight to take off. I tried to talk a couple of them into a house exchange, but I don’t think they took me seriously. Too bad.

The flight was as comfortable as a flight in coach can be. For some reason, Air France recently changed their schedule between Boston and Paris, running only one flight a day where there used to be two, and using planes that are less nice than the ones they used previously. No individual video, for instance. No problem, I had my iPod and my book and the French newspapers available on the plane.

After arriving at the airport in Paris, I ran into Carol on line at passport control. Our bags all showed up, there was no line for taxis, and we were soon on our way to our apartment near the Bastille. There was pretty heavy traffic, some “bouchons” on the Peripherique. I called the agent who was meeting us to say we would be arriving at the apartment a bit late. The taxi ride cost 55 euros. The agent was waiting for us in front of the building and helped us get our bags into the apartment.

I have posted photos from this trip at http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=he0tnm3.5gplh1nz&x=0&y=bhwigy&localeid=en_US.

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