Well this was a travel day. It seemed pretty easy, pack up and leave the apartment. Leave Upstate and the Girl on a bench with the baggage and my beloved and I jump on the metro and get the rental car from the nearby train station and swing back around and get Upstate, the Girl and said baggage and head off the the Loire! Sounds easy, yes?
Well, first I want you to imagine getting the baggage and ourselves down from the apartment using and elevator about the size of the average coffee table turned on its end. So, your suitcase, you carryon bag and your ass in the elevator hoping you have not exceeded the weight limit. Because even if you have walked nearly eight miles every day for the last week, you have eaten all that bread....
So we get down to the street and I am the last one out. Everyone has nicely placed their luggage next to the bench outside, the wrong bench. So I had to make them move do a bench further down the street to be closer to where we could park the car. My beloved and I set off for the metro with the thought we should be back in 45 minutes or so! Great! We get to the train station and find the rental car company where we are told - imagine this with a French accent: We are sorry, but we do not have a car for you. We have been trying to reach you, but your voicemail is full. We will not have a car for you until at least 5 pm this evening.
What? What? What phone number have you been calling? My phone has not rung - as I look at it and discover that the ringer is on silent - but still no calls - whew!
We (again with a French accent - because it makes it funnier) have been calling 485 -
Wait, that is our home number (this time in a frustrated American accent), where did you get that number from. All our paper work has this cell phone number.
Oh, well. This is the number we have in the system, we do not know why we do not have this number on your paper work. Can you give it to me now so that we can call you later today when we have a car available?
Wait, you mean there is not a car anywhere for us. We booked over a month ago. What are we supposed to do? We left two of our party back by our apartment with all our luggage waiting for us to pick them up?
Now a lovely woman joins the party - Well (French accent) you can get them an uber and bring them here and we will pay for the uber and store your luggage for you until a car is here. I am sorry, but many people just did not return their cars. If I had a bigger car I would give it to you for free, but I do not. I have called all over Paris and there are just no cars. We will call you when one comes in.
Two not happy girls we are at this point. But, I don't want to scream and shout because then we might never get a car. So the plan becomes, there are many other rental places here, lets try some of them. Let's just say it was a very busy day in the Paris rental car business and the only car we were offered from a couple of very nice agents at Avis was a lovely BMW for the low low price of $2600 bucks for the time we need it. While we went above our pay grade on the Paris apartment we just could not bring ourselves to spend that on a car.
I arrange for an uber to pick up Upstate and the Girl and the luggage to bring them over to the rental place so that they could store our luggage while we did what? I pick a van, because there is a lot of luggage. I watch it on the uber app, like little ants crawling across the screen, then the phone call from the driver that does not speak English and I cannot even begin to formulate the words in French for:
They are 87 Boulevard Beaumarchais. On the street waiting for you. You can't miss them they are a woman and a young girl with LOTS of luggage. No, not 86, 87! Look across the street you see them. I hear him talking to other people, another person gets on the phone and I try to explain to her. Meanwhile the Girl is on the bench waving at the uber guy who is not paying attention. I go upstairs to the rental place and have the nice woman get on the phone. The uber driver has by this time seen them and has pulled a u-turn and finally gotten to the correct location. A few minutes later they pull up in front of the rental place and we extract all the baggage and take it upstairs. Yes, up stairs. Stairs. Stairs and more stairs. We pile it all into the rental places back room to sit until they have a car for us. As we are leaving I think of the stinky cheese that is in one of those bags and I am secretly happy.
We wander over to the train station, sit to eat, decide that place is to expensive, wonder to another with no resolution to the eating issue, but we had by this time resolved the bathroom search issue. So, we go back to the building with the rental car place and sit at a nice little pizza place across the hall from the rental place. We proceeded to eat some really good pizza. The people that ran it were from Italy so you don't know whether to say merci or Grazie. It can get very confusing. We sat next to this nice couple for Marseille, he was very talkative and she was in a wheelchair. I can truly say that Paris is a town that I would not want to be in a wheelchair in. Not that I would want to be in a wheelchair period, but I am not sure the French have heard of ADA compliant. Anyway, they had taken a three hour train ride to be in town to celebrate one of their son's birthday. They would be returning to Marseille as soon as possible, they do not like the city of lights. Upstate had a nice conversation with them, while the Girl watched the rental place. She watched people come in and leave, she saw people come in and seem to get a car, she saw people waiting. At about 3 I went over to check things out and surprise they had someone return a car. A car has been returned. A car with a big trunk, we are cleaning it now. Come and lets do the contract and get you going. Yeah, I guess a three hour delay is better than a five or longer delay. Yes??
So we grab our baggage and head down to the garage with a guy I'll call John Luke. We get 4 floors below ground and wait while they get our car ready. Finally we are able to fit all the bags into the truck, with the exception of a couple of bags (one with the stinky cheese) and off we go. Yeah!!!
We navigate thru Paris onto the A3, then onto the A6b and we are on our way!!! About 30 miles outside of Paris I get a call. You need to come back, you have forgotten the keys to the car. What?? We are driving along?? Seriously, we have to turn around and go back into Paris to retrieve the keys that "I" forgot? How about the retrieve the keys you had in your pocket and forgot to give to us? I guess we would have been fine until we turned the car off. Damn.... So back to Paris where we got caught up in a game of Groundhog Day trying to get back to the rental place using an exit that was closed, but the map app kept taking us back to it. Finally my beloved pulled over and used a different app - mumbling about why would we use the iPhone app, use the google app it is better - OK maybe it is because it directed us differently and we finally arrived at the rental place. I ran up (ok I walked quickly) hoping they were still there because nobody was picking up the damn phone. They were. They gave me the key and walked down with me to make sure it was the right key. Success. Back in the car. Back on the A3 to the AB6 to the A10 and at 6:02 we were back in business.
We made it to Patrick and Benny's without too much more drama except we really did regret at this point not leaving that stinky cheese hidden in the rental place somewhere.
We said our hello's and unpacked the car and then Uptown and I and our hostess Benny headed into Tours to retrieve Uptown's son (the Musician) and his girlfriend (the Photographer) who had been traveling all day and were joining us for a couple of days. It took a while to find them, train station - bus station - they are the same thing, right? No, but we got them and piled them into the car and I think they were happy to have a soft bed to fall into after being on the road for a looooonnnngggg day.
So we are all here. We are all safe and I am still regretting not leaving that stinky cheese tucked into a dark place in the rental car office.