Thursday, December 31, 2009
it's the toilet's fault, as usual
(Why did we decide to do this?) You can't quote me if I put it in parentheses and write really small. I will start at the beginning of this tale that is, unfortunately, worth telling. Monday morning was understandably crazy as we did some last minute cleaning, packing, running errands, etc. We got to the bus stop with plenty of time, but then began to be dismayed as we saw the line (unorganized crowd) forming. The bus arrived, but there was not enough room for everyone (oh my! oh my! breathe...). The bus driver took everyone that was going to Midway and then called another bus to drive directly to O'Hare. How nice, much better. At the airport, one of our bags was a little bit overweight (too much to eat for Christmas), but the kind employee didn't charge us. She even commented that we seemed to have packed light for such an extended trip. Security was what I imagined it would be with every carry-on opened, reprimands for this and that, and trying to get everyone packed up again (yes, we used our children as mules). Phin had just fallen asleep so that was sad when his one short nap of the day was cut short by folding up the stroller, etc. The plane was very full and we ended up having to put our carry on bags in the first class berths since ours were all full. Other passengers were going to far flung places like Africa and India and I smugly considered how much shorter our trip would be than theirs. Then we sat and sat because there was some sort of problem with the lavatories. That was fine by me. I was in no way excited about crossing the Atlantic with no loo. The trip was uneventful with baby only crying a bit when I tried to get him to sleep. I never could get very comfortable, but I think everyone else slept a bit. Because of the toilet difficulties we arrived late to Brussels and barely, barely, barely missed our connection to Nice (I am pretty sure that I saw it depart). They met us at the gate with cheerful smiles and the news that rather than arriving in Nice at 11:30 a.m. we would now be waiting in Brussels until noon, flying to Madrid, waiting two more hours, then flying to Nice arriving at 6 p.m. Okay. The worst part of the Brussels airport was that we had to go through security again. We tried to be smarter about it, but there simply wasn't a better way to do things. Then another long walk and wait, another chasing Phin through terminals. A smaller plane, but now everything in Spanish. The stewardess being pretty buggy and asking me if I am pregnant. Listen, I have five kids and the youngest is only one. I am wearing comfy clothes. Just leave me alone. Sleeping through that flight, chasing Phin around pillars in Madrid, plane 40 minutes late. An even smaller plane with boarding out on the rainy tarmac. It was stormy so an extremely bumpy take-off. Lucy was crying, a few others were nauseated, but baby was delighted! He would laugh with each dip of the plane and would applaud for a particularly splendid dive. Finally to Nice. Actually united with our luggage and went to find our rental car. Scouring the airport, calling from the information booth -- no one. They had left for the day. It wasn't that late! We talked to Renault head office who felt bad about everything, but said it wasn't their fault we were late. Then a very kind British Airways employee calling American airlines (since they weren't in Nice) for us. He explained everything with his lovely French accent, "It is your obliga-tion. This family is so very tired." And they agreed to pay for our hotel. We walked to the hotel with some luggage carts, but after losing everything twice in the middle of the road and children barely avoiding accidents, we then just started carrying everything in spurts. A funny little hotel and sleeeeeeeep. We had by then been traveling for about 30 hours. The next morning we were awakened by an excited cleaning lady asking what time we were leaving, 10:00. Matthew didn't understand and I was still sleeping, but eventually I told her we were leaving at 9:00. She said okay and left. Then Matthew informed me that it was already 9:20. So funny. Stay tuned for Wednesday.