I'm inspired to blog again. Obviously, I'm not a regular blogger. I have to be in the mood. I'd be broke if I had decided to make my living by writing. Oh well, this is mainly for me anyway. Someday my kids/grandkids may discover the blog and read what really goes on in my brain.
Last time I wrote was about one week before we decided to move back to Illinois. Many thought Tim and I were crazy to move back to the frozen tundra. Arizona had been our home for 22+ years (give or take a few that we spent as South Dakotans when we lived in our motorhome). Still. Never say never. We said that and here we are.
We've traveled a lot. I think that has a lot to do with the decision to "go home". Tim said he would show me the world when we got married and he has. When we decided to move back to Illinois he said it was time for him to take me home. We've traveled to Austria, Hungary, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland (best trip was the most recent one), China, Korea, Mexico, Virgin Islands not to mention all the states within the US. We've had so many great trips and it seems like they were just yesterday. Tim said I had to read Jame Michener's "Poland" before our trip to Austria. I was finishing it up as we landed in Vienna. The reason he wanted me to read it before we got there was to get historical background on Austria and surrounding countries. Same was true for my first trip to Ireland. Tim said we would go to Dublin first because what happened in Ireland either started or ended in Dublin. There's so much history there...especially about the "troubles". And, of course, there's Guinness. You can't go to Dublin without taking the Guinness tour.
My daughter attended the Sorbonne in Paris her junior year at U of I. The year was 1987. My first trip across the pond was to see her. I think it was close to a 27-hour trip by the time I got there. I first flew from O'Hare to JFK. There was a 3-hour delay out of JFK. Once we finally were able to take off it was pretty smooth flying. I had wine with dinner and ended up with the world's worst headache. No one had told me about wine and flying. We landed in Reykjavik, Iceland and were able to deplane. I went looking for Excedrin. I didn't hear the announcement to re-board until the last call. I never found any headache pills and the scare from not getting back on the flight in time didn't help my headache. From Iceland, we flew to Brussels. Once we landed and deplaned on the tarmac I remember seeing military tanks and armed soldiers scattered about. I have no idea why and there was no one I could ask...and I'm not sure I wanted to know anyway.
I took a bus from Brussels airport to downtown Brussels to catch the train which would take me into Paris. Lorie had given me instructions on which train to take that would bring me into the right station. There are 6 train stations in Paris. The one where she was meeting me was Gare de l'Est. Remember, this is 1987. No cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting...nada. I was traveling alone, carrying way too much luggage and only spoke English. Plus, money used in Belgium was different than money used in France which was the only money I had. And, the WC's (water closets) in Belgium cost to use them. And, I had to use one. Looking back, it seems that some of my most interesting memories involve toilets. I'll save them for another post.
Well, finally I was on the train to Paris and all was good until it wasn't. The train stopped at Metz and everyone got off. I wasn't sure what was happening and I didn't move from my seat until the conductor motioned for me to get my bags and get off. Apparently, the train I was on didn't go any farther than Metz. I just kept saying Paris, Paris, Paris. I was directed to another train by a fellow traveler who took pity on me. I think I had been traveling about 24 hours by now with the various delays. I was super tired. My headache was a dull ache and I was contemplating ditching some luggage. Now I was on a train heading to Paris and had no idea if it was going to the right station where Lorie was to meet me. The train finally reached Paris and pulled into a station. I gathered my luggage and headed down the platform toward the terminal praying Lorie would be there. And, she was. Miracle of miracles. I had no idea what I would have done if she hadn't been there. Remember, no cell phones, etc. I had no way to reach her. She gave me a hug, took one of my bags and whisked me off to the underground Metro. I don't remember too much about the Metro ride except when we got off we went up stairs to the street level. Lorie said we were going down "dog poo" alley and watch where I step. And, so, the beginning of the worst trip of my life and the best trip of my life had just started. I still had a headache.