This is the story of Jacob and I making our way from Prague to Paris.
To begin with, every time we re-pack our bags, Jacob and I have this stunning realization: we packed too much.
It became abundantly clear (yet again) when we arrived in Prague; dragging our ridiculously heavy luggage over three types of public transportation to get from the airport to our apartment.
To help the situation, we decided to each get rid of 5 items before we left Prague. That my friends, is how I gave up my Italian boots.
We can call this part of the post: “Elegy for Italian Boots”.
They were beautiful; I had bought them in Rome.
Knee-high, black leather, meant for wearing while riding Vespas through narrow Italian streets.
Completely inconvenient for San Diego weather, I barely had a chance to wear them.
I saw a chance to redeem these boots by bringing them to Europe, but I was wrong. They were bulky and heavy, a nuisance. The boots were donated to a very sweet and grateful Czech college student, who promised to love them well, and finally do those boots justice.
After my dramatic sacrifice, Jacob and I packed up all our stuff (still ridiculously heavy, but making some improvement) and dragged all of our luggage back over three types of public transportation on the way to the airport.
That’s when the fun started.
Arriving to the airport somewhat sooner than expected, Jacob and I had a while to wait before our airline even began checking in passengers for our 9.00 pm flight. We waited in an almost abandoned terminal for two hours. Finally, an hour and a half before our flight was scheduled to leave, the attendants appeared to check passengers in.
Once checked in, we hit the security line. Jacob sent his huge backpacker’s pack, meticulously stuffed to capitalize on space and weight capacities, through the x-ray machine. Security stopped Jacob, and made him take out and present every item in his backpack, which took about ten minutes. I will always treasure the memory of the Czech TSA inspecting Jacob’s underwear.
Once we were through security we went to wait at our gate. The problem was that our gate had not yet been assigned.
Fifteen minutes after our flight was scheduled to depart, the gate had still not been posted. By this time all of the passengers were congregated in front of the screens, waiting from a word from someone – anyone. But nobody from our airline was anywhere to be found, so we just waited.
Now this would have been annoying under normal circumstances. Fortunately for Jacob and I, we were geared up to spend the night in the airport in Paris as it was. As long as we got to Paris in time to catch our train at 7.00 am, we knew we would be fine. Anything that happened in the meantime, we figured, was just entertainment to help pass the night away.
Thirty minutes after our departure time, we were informed that we would be given information in a half hour.
An hour later, we finally heard word. The plane was delayed two hours, and if we went to “mumble mumble mumble” we could collect vouchers for free refreshments.
Apparently we weren’t the only ones who hadn’t heard where we were supposed to go. So when everyone stood up to go and collect their vouchers, one person began moving, and all 150 other people followed. Everyone following each other, we marched, luggage and all, halfway down the terminal and up a flight of stairs into a tiny mezzanine. Once we were packed like cattle onto the mezzanine, someone finally thought to ask, “…What are we doing here?”
Turns out, nobody knew.
So all 150 of us herded back to the gate, where the airport, apparently aware (and probably amused) by the spectacle they had just witnessed, informed us yet again of the location to collect the vouchers.
We finally received our voucher, made for the equivalent of $4.00 USD. At that late hour, only one restaurant was open in the terminal. We arrived at the restaurant, perused the menu, and realized that our voucher was enough to purchase one soda each. Funny thing is that I had seen the same soda in a vending machine around the corner for 1/3 of the restaurant price.
So maybe the restaurant charged for their impeccable service? The waiter arrived with my soda and a glass, half-heartedly poured two tablespoons of the soda into the glass, and walked away.
An hour later, and still in high spirits, we were finally on the plane to Paris.
Once we arrived in Paris we had a new challenge: find a place to sleep. After a couple of scouting trips, we found the perfect place – quiet, sheltered, private, and close to the bathrooms. We rested happily for 45 minutes before a trio of middle aged Frenchmen arrived, sat down 10 feet away from us and began conversing loudly. Twenty minutes later, and unable to stand the noise and laughter at such a late hour, we took all of our stuff and found a new place to sleep.
We didn’t really sleep. But the time passed, and by 5 a.m. the airport was coming to life and we were starving. None of the cafes opened however, until 6 a.m. We decided to clean up and get ready to go while we waited for food. Jacob, in his sleep and food deprived delirium, put the key to his suitcase inside the suitcase, and then locked it.
An hour and some frantic train hunting later, we were finally on our proper train to the south of France where we would be picked up by my uncle and aunt.
Stories of France to come soon! (And don’t worry, my uncle sawed the lock off our suitcase in no time.)