28 June 2009

After 7 days of non-stop fun, now we're into the final throes. I didn't take any more photos after the Eiffel Tower because I was completely pooped. The last two days just seem like one blur, so I'm going to combine them on this blog entry.

We woke and packed most of our things before heading out for coffee and some orange juice. I didn't much care for the local version of OJ, but the coffee was still very good.

We finished going through our room and checked out of the hotel. All in all, it was a pretty decent hotel, just tiny. Compared to the lovely place we had in Provence, it wasn't much. But, compared with other hotels in large European cities that I've been in, it was about the same. It's all about the location and this one was pretty good with a Metro stop within a block, the Louvre within 2 blocks, and plenty of cafes nearby. The desk people were friendly and the rooms were clean. Not a lot to complain about.

We got through the turnstiles at the Metro station and onto the train. There were 5 stops to Paris Gare Lyon, where the TGV would take us to Geneva. At the first stop, a drunken derelict about 30 years old got on the train and sat down next to where Jackie was standing. He immediately started talking to the man sitting next to me, who was wearing a suit. The man next to me ignored him and kept reading his magazine, which only made the drunk talk to him more. The next stop, the man in the suit got off the train and the drunk got up as if to leave also. I sat down where the man in the suit was and the drunk sat back down next to Jackie. A man, woman, and 4 year old girl got on the train then and the girl kept staring at the drunk. Her mama tried to turn her away, but the drunk saw her and started talking to her. Next stop. The father said something to the drunk, who then turned away for awhile and mumbled to himself. Then he stood up and addressed everyone on the train and sat back down again. Next stop. The drunk spies me and starts talking to me. I ignore him but he keeps talking. Then, he changes his tone, speaking every word slowly, with distaste. I didn't know what he was saying, but I knew how he was saying it. I sat up straight and locked eyes with him. For about a minute, we just stared at each other, then he grinned and laughed out loud, showing his missing teeth. As the train stopped, he got up and staggered down the platform, shouting obscenities at the world. What a strange way to end our days in Paris.

At the Gare, we had a small lunch at the Train Bleu restaurant, which is mentioned in our guidebooks. We weren't really hungry, but we knew we needed something to eat before we got on the train. We split a salad and some sorbet, both of which were quite tasty.

The train to Geneva went by, like trains do. I slept a little along the way. When we got into Geneva, we caught a train out to the airport, where we waited for the hotel shuttle. We stayed at the Geneva Crowne Plaza, which is a five-star hotel a mile from the airport. After the minimal experience of Paris, this hotel seemed positively decadent. We plopped into our room and just relaxed, watching documentaries on strange animals on the BBC. Jackie found that she had raised a blister from all the walking she did around Paris.

About 9 pm, we ventured over to the outdoor hotel restaurant and had a meal of mezze. I called home for the first time and learned that the kids would be staying with their Aunt Tina the next day.

We woke at a reasonable hour and checked out of the hotel. I paid for the hotel room with reward points, which is the only way we could've afforded such a place. Even though it was nice, it was utterly sterile as only a business hotel can be. The Swiss people we encountered in Geneva were exactly as nice as they needed to be and no more. I didn't feel a lot of warmth in Geneva, but we weren't there long enough to experience it properly.

The airport was a blur. After we made it through security, exit immigration, and the extra screening for US departures, we ended up being "randomly selected" for further inspection. The young woman who processed us was from the UK and she was perfectly pleasant about it, asking us all sorts of questions about our trip and commenting on the things she found in our bags ("did you like that book", "oh, what a lovely tablecloth", "is this your vibrator", etc.)

The flight to the US went fine as best I can tell. Once again, I didn't sleep at all. Jackie slept a bit. I watched The Watchmen and Monsters vs. Aliens, both of which I liked. I can understand why some people hated The Watchmen, though.

At Dulles, we had a bit of time so I sat in a bar and started scribbling in my journal while Jackie explored the airport. The guy who sat next to me at the bar was one of those nervous types who doesn't fly enough to get over the fear. "So, keeping a journal are you? Where you been?" So, I put up my pen and spent the next 30 minutes finishing my beer and chatting with my neighbor. "Oh, will you look at the time…."

The flight to OKC was easy. General Colin Powell was on our flight, in first class. He got a special escort out to the plane via an airport car, but he still had to fly in that bumpy little CRJ like the rest of us. Turns out he was speaking at a motivational conference, where he was second fiddle to Bob Stoops (the OU football coach). Shows where Okies priorities are located.

Picked the kids up at Tina's, where they didn't want to leave because Tina has a pool. Made it home and forced ourselves to stay awake to 10 pm. Since we fitted the bed with new sheets before we left, we both collapsed into our clean, comfy bed with a contented "ahhhhhh".

Thanks for reading along. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tomorrow: what worked, what didn't. If you want to skip all the talk and see the pics, just browse over to my Photos site.