Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Actually, it was more like Automobiles, Planes and Trains if we’re being technical. That’s how the adventures of David and Mary began, as we took to calling our travel adventure.

David and Mary flew from NYC on Tuesday afternoon and were called such at every turn. The person taking our bags, the TSA person who asked us our names to make sure they matched the passports we’d just handed her, and even the gate agents wished Mary a nice flight. Such is the life of people with formal, given names, dealing in a world of official documents.

By 6pm NYC time, we were on our very long flight to Madrid. The same flight as a Spanish family of three who sat in front of us and insisted on reclining their chairs as far back as possible, as soon as possible. Yea. Those people. Even the chair of their diaper-wearing toddler had to be reclined. I know he was still wearing diapers because Dave and I picked up on the fact that it needed to be changed a lot sooner than his mother did. The father did nothing. The whole 7.5-hour flight. He read the newspaper while she dealt with the kid. Maybe it was the lack of sleep talking, but I told Dave if he ever tried to pull that, I’d kick him in the shins.

After arriving in Madrid, we made our way to our gate to Marseille but not without me getting my first stamp in my passport ever. Woo hoo!

Our flight to Marseille was quick, mostly because I was asleep for it. I didn’t sleep but for maybe 45 minutes on the flight to Madrid so I was pretty exhausted and couldn’t even keep my eyes open during take off. The next thing I knew we were in Marseille!

We arrived around 11am and all luggage was accounted for, which we felt was a minor victory, but we arrived in a country that clearly does not believe in free wi-fi. So there was no real way to check in with anyone. Dave somehow got a signal from a network somewhere and quickly churned out emails to our parents to let them know we had landed. We grabbed a sandwich (on a baguette, of course) and shared that while we tried to figure out the train situation to get us to Montpellier.

Eventually we got our train tickets situated and hauled all of our luggage to the shuttle which was to take use to the station just outside the airport. We did not, however, realize that the train station was an outdoor platform. And we had a 4-hour wait. Le Sigh. No one else was around, and we were in for the duration, so we made a fort out of our luggage and took naps. Well, I took a nap. Dave stayed to guard the luggage against all the people that weren’t there but I felt better for it.

Eventually our train came and everything was smooth and cool as we made our way on the 90-minute journey. That is, until we got to Nimes, two stops shy of Montpellier. Apparently there was a problem with our train and everyone had to disembark (which we couldn’t tell was the issue right away because they rattled it all off in French, very quickly). Normally this wouldn’t be an issue…unless you’re traveling with five bags and have a system in place for moving said bags and the aforementioned system takes a few minutes to prep. And did I mention by this time was rush-hour? Yea.

We missed the connecting train they had in place, mostly because it was full and there was definitely no shot of getting even one piece of luggage on board. And it was in my rush to try and catch the full train that my luggage handle broke on my large bag! I bent it. And it wouldn’t retract and it was maddening. Dave finally broke it off and it’s still in a pocket in my luggage somewhere. Anyhoo, I stayed with the luggage while Dave went to figure out how to get the next train. We finally did catch it, after realizing the line we were on had switched platforms.

Back on our way, we began to admire the French countryside and I kid you not, it started to rain. We still had an eight-minute walk to our temporary housing.

Argh.

We got to the train station and the heavy mist outside, combined with a touch of humidity for good measure, made for a really nice first impression when we met our landlord Bernard. Who showed us our room. On what we thought was the second floor, but was actually the third because the ground apparently counts as floor zero, not one. I’ll say one thing. We certainly got our exercise, which just means I can eat more cheese without the guilt, as far as I’m concerned.

Dave and I sat down to dinner—and English pub, of all places— around 9pm local time (3pm in NY and 12pm in CA) and we really enjoyed sitting next to the old British coot who spent a great deal of time disparaging Americans to his table-mates. No matter. I had a burger and fries so I was preoccupied.

During our outing to dinner, we had a small chance to explore our new city. It is definitely full of life. The cafés and wine bars were still full of young people at 11pm on a random Wednesday night. We are very centrally-located and if it weren’t for the mere fact that we are currently sharing a kitchen and bathroom with roommates, we would consider staying. (If nothing else because our bags are already here!) We’ve been exploring more permanent options each day and have a couple leads but we’re set for the next couple weeks here, which is fine.

So, after a long day(s) of travel, we had arrived in our new home city. More on the adventures of David and Mary tomorrow, but for now, I’m working diligently to get in a normal sleep pattern and it’s already 1am here so I’m already slacking.

Hope you all look forward to the coming months’ blogs. As a teaser to tomorrow…get ready for David and Mary attempt to set up French bank accounts while not speaking any English!

Just wait for the hijinks to ensue….

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