Monday, December 28, 2009

December 27 & 28

December 27, 2009
We got home from Benoit and Marise’s and after I went to bed for a couple hours, I awoke and my mom and Dany were in the same spot they were when I left to go nap. It’s unbelievable how much they can talk. Outrageous. I drank a cup of tea, took my daily walk down to the end of the street to see the donkeys and came back and played around on the internet a bit. I have 5 days from January 5-9 where I’m on my own and want to go skiing, so did some researching. Decided I was going to go to Chamonix, so tried to find some hotels. Finally found a couple and then it was time for dinner. Dany promised me we would have a light dinner. I guess relative to the rest, it was light:

Appetizer: Nothing
Starter: Last of the Pate
Starter: Marinated Mackerel with Bread and Butter
Entrée: Scalloped Potatoes with onions, butter, crème fraishe, and a block of cheese I had never heard of.
Salad: Arugula with vinaigrette
Cheese: Only Camembert this time (although there were others to choose from)
Dessert: Chocolate yogurt & apple

It was delicious, but not exactly light. There was literally a block of cheese sitting in my stomach. Notice that to Dany and the rest of the family, potatoes are considered a vegetable, so you are technically eating healthy. However, the difference being that all of these foods are from local farmers so guaranteed organic. I’m literally eating my way through the farm towns of France. It’s delicious but thank goodness it’s not forever. I don’t get how they do it. They are all so skinny and energetic. I can barely get off the chair to go to the bathroom.

Throughout all of this, I’ve barely gotten out of my pajamas. I’m in sweats, Uggs and my glasses all day long. I haven’t turned on my blackberry since I left and I haven’t watched one bit of TV. Meanwhile, I hear there was another attack on an airplane, which I completely missed. Should be fun coming back home. Are we going to have to board airplanes naked now? Idiots.

We finally turned the TV on as we are all planning to go to Paris on Tuesday the 29th and wanted to hear the latest news on the trains, which are still not working, and got up to date. I decided it was time to get back to technology and see what the world is up to so am now fully connected. I’m still in sweats and my glasses though. I’ll milk that as long as I can. J

December 28
Woke up again today at 11:15. So nice! It’s so quiet and so dark, I’m pretty sure I could sleep there a lot longer, but mom wakes me up so I can join the family for the second half of the day. I have my coffee. We talk again about how I can sleep forever and we start getting ready for lunch. My uncle, Remy, is a man of habit and cannot skip a meal. He needs all courses for lunch and dinner, so Aunt Dany is ready everyday his daily grub. I’m actually excited about today’s lunch as it’s one of my favorites.

Starter: Marinated Mackerel with Bread and Butter
Entrée: Oeuffs a la Coc (Fresh eggs poached, but still in the shell) & sautéed green beans
Salad: Arugula with vinaigretteCheese: Camembert
Dessert: Apple
Truffles: Everything we have in the house

Although this was arguable the lightest lunch, it took the longest. I look at the clock and realize it’s past 3pm. We have sat at the table for over 3 hours talking. About what? I have no idea. I finally get up and take my daily walk down the street. This time I actually see quite a bit of people on the street, which freaks me out a bit. My donkeys aren’t there and I return back to the house and book my hotel in Chamonix. I’ll be there January 5-8. I cannot wait!

We go to my cousin Caroline’s house for dinner tonight and she makes us:

Appetizer: Sausages, Crackers, Chips
Starter: none!! THANK GOD
Entrée: Lamb Curry with steamed potatoes (of course)
Salad: Green salad with vinaigrette
Cheese: Camembert (delicious. I had 2 servings!)
Dessert: Homemade Chocolate mouse and chocolate dipped marshmallows. Such a big helping, I didn’t finish
Truffles: Handmade by her husband Johan’s father

One thing I haven’t listed here is the beverages. Although there is a bottle of water on the table, only about half the bottle is gone after each meal. There are more bottles of wine consumed during all of these meals – lunch and dinner. Between my mom, my uncle Remy and me, we easily go through a bottle, if not a bottle and a half each meal. Wine is water here and I love it. It’s smooth table wine that you can’t find anywhere in the states and costs only about 3 Euros a bottle. The kind I’ve liked the most so far is the Cuvee Jean Baptiste which is a mixture of Syrah and Pinot Noir made in Pays D’Oc. Not a fancy wine by any means, but a delicious fruity smooth wine that easily goes with everything. Lately, champagne has also been a staple at every meal. I have no complaints.

Tomorrow, my mom, aunt Dany and cousin Caroline and I are all going to Paris for the day. I’m then staying the night there with my cousin Valentin and his girlfriend Camille until Wednesday night. Although I love the countryside, I’m really excited to get back to city life and see some people and cars. I’m going to need to get out of my sweats though, which is going to be the hardest part. ;-)
All day, both mom and I said we were done eating and that we were going to take it easy. Lunch menu:

Appetizers: Nothing (good start!)
Starter: Leftover pate from Mr. & Mrs. Bire
Entrée: Boudin Noir with mashed potatoes
Salad: Arugula with vinaigrette
Cheese: Brie, Chevre, and Roquefort
Dessert: Skipped
Truffles: Jacques de Bruges

Not exactly taking it easy, but a little better, right? I’m so sorry stomach…..

Christmas is over which means the celebrations should be over, but not so much. We didn’t spend Christmas with my cousin Benoit and his wife, Marise, and daughter, Lysa so they invited us over for dinner to once again, celebrate. Marise is also a great cook, is Portuguese and works at a Butcher shop, so I knew we were in trouble. The second we walk in the door, I’m handed a cocktail. Screwdriver for me, Whiskey & Coke for Mom. Two cocktails later, we start our appetizers. Benoit shows me all his latest tech gear and starts telling me how great EBay is. I’m still skeptical, but apparently he’s made quite a bit of money from it. Their daughter Lysa is 5 years old and loves me. She’s adorable and is my best friend from the start. We play Barbie, princess and run all around the house. She has recently discovered Michael Jackson and knows all the words and dances to all his major songs. Her bedroom is a princess fort and next to the Snow White Poster, is one of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. A little creepy, but kinda cool.

Our menu:

Appetizer: Pate on Croute
Starter: Plate full of salami, Prosciutto. Garlic Sausage, Pate
Entrée: Boudin Blanc with Sauce Forestier and Mashed Potatoes**
Salad: Arugula Salad with vinaigrette
Cheese: 2 kinds of Chevre, 2 kinds of blue cheese, Brie, Gruyere, Morbier
Dessert: Ice cream cake
Truffles: Handmade by mom!
Post Dinner Drink: Home made Orange liquor that her family in Portugal makes by hand

**The asterix are for a reason. I eat and have eaten pretty much everything. I’m not scared of any food and consider myself a closet foodie. However, there are two things I cannot eat. One is Andouillette. The second is Boudin Blanc. I like Boudin Noir, which I had eaten at lunch, but could not stand the taste, smell, texture of Boudin Blanc. However, given she spent so much time on it and went out of her way to make something special for us, I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t like it. I ended up eating it and then eating other things in excess to hide the taste. I did not sleep a wink that night as my stomach finally told me to relax. I’ve been sleeping with mom since we got here and between my heartburn and her snoring, I was done. This time I was serious. No more eating!

We went to bed at 2am that night and I finally got to sleep at around 8 when my mom went downstairs to make coffee. I texted friends all night and actually finished one of my iphone games. She kindly let me sleep until 11 and we were back to my other aunt’s house in Ormoy where she was waiting for us to eat lunch. I got there and went straight to bed. No lunch for me! For real this time!

Overall, a wonderful day even though I still cringe at the fact that I ate the Boudin Blanc. I won’t go into what it actually is. You can research that on your own. But it’s a very common and typical French dish that is enjoyed and apparently very good. Never again…..

Mom and Lysa

Boudin noir

Boudin blanc

Me and Lysa

Cheese plate

Christmas Day

From Barbara
I figured since we celebrated so much on Christmas Eve, we were done. Wrong. It’s Christmas Day and we still need to celebrate. I woke up around 11:30, got my coffee, ate my favorite breakfast biscuit, The Lu, and got ready for round 2. My uncle went to get his mom for Christmas lunch and off we were again. This time on the menu:

Appetizers: Cheese balls
Starter: Pate en croute (Bread stuffed with Pate)
Entree: Filet of Sole baked in a white wine sauce with Mussels and shrimp with potatoes
Salad: Green salad with vinaigrette
Cheese: Same as yesterday
Desert: Chocolate mousse with raspberry colis
Truffles: Chocolat du Rhone (from Geneva)

We chatted some more and this time stayed at the table until 5pm.

Started the process again for dinner at 7. I could feel my stomach starting to turn, but it was all so good. Dinner was leftovers, but even that was a formal process.

Appetizers: Potato chips
Starter: Pate from Mr. & Mrs. Bire – duck and goose
Entrée: Leftover duck
Salad: Green salad with vinaigrette
Cheese: Same as yesterday
Dessert: Leftover Bouche de Noel & Clementine
Truffles: Jacques de Bruges

My stomach hurts from typing all this out. Lets just say, I slept well with my belly full and saying, No more eating tomorrow. Yeah right…..

Cousin Valentin

Tom with the donkeys

Santas in Ormoy

Chicken coup

Adorable Tom

Chocolate mouse with raspberry sauce

Christmas Eve
I woke up completely refreshed. Jetlag isn’t even a possibility given my body has no idea what time or day it is. It’s cold outside, but all the snow is gone, which makes me a little sad, but I’ll see plenty of snow soon enough. This is where the eating begins. There’s nothing like French food and my aunt Dany might be the best cook in France. Ormoy is a tiny village. Only has about 10 houses and they are all farm houses. Our family is scattered around a bunch of other small villages in the area, which is called Eure et Loire. All the houses are the typical stone you see in all the movies and pictures. Dany’s house used to be a barber shop and horse stable. During WW2, the Germans invaded Ormoy and lived in all the houses on the street. There is even a little alcove outside where they kept a German as a prisoner since he wouldn’t fight in the war. We’re not sure what happened to him, but I so wish these walls could talk.

She lives across the street from Mr. and Mrs. Bire, the local farmers which actually serve as the grocery store for the village. It’s a completely different way of life. You need something for dinner? Let’s walk across the street and see what vegetables are available and what form of animal was killed this morning (chicken, goose, rabbit, pheasant, etc.). The Bire’s are now retired, but might be the cutest farmer couple I’ve ever met. I grew up vacationing here and have known them pretty much my entire life. I swear they look the exact same. Other than her walking being extremely slow, Mrs. Bire has the best skin I’ve ever seen. It must be the country air and the organic vegetables. And Mr. Bire has the same demeanor he’s always had – cheery and happy. He recently had a tractor accident and he’s now on crutches, but he still looks amazing.

Since we’re in the middle of nowhere, there are shops that come in their little trucks to each of the villages. Everyday is a different truck. My favorite is the Boulangerie (bakery) of course. She comes at noon and I can’t wait. We sit at the kitchen table with our coffees until noon in our sweats and wait for the honking of the Boulangerie truck. Rush out there and find everyone from the village and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Bire are both there and I quickly grab our 5 baguettes. I can’t help myself and start eating one.

Mom and I then decide to take a little stroll down the street to see the other farm houses and find some donkeys! That’s definitely new. So cute!

At 6:00, the rest of the family comes (cousin, cousin’s husband, cousin’s 2 year old Tom, Aunt Mihcelle, cousin Valentin) and we start drinking and eating. This goes on until about 10pm after our cheese course. Yes, there are many courses. You start with appetizers, then starter, then entrée, then salad, then cheese, then dessert, then coffee with truffles, then champagne. Christmas menu below.

Appetizers: handmade sushi (Valentin’s specialty), Vache Qui Ri Cheese
Starter: Oysters (I ate 20!!!!)
Starter: Foie Gras with onion confit
Entrée: Roasted duck with yams
Salad: Green salad with vinaigrette
Cheese: Chevre, Brie, Roquefort, and Gruyere
Dessert: Bouche de Noel a Café
Truffles: Jacques de Bruges

To drink we had about 5 bottles of wine, 3 bottles of champagne. Delicious.

We opened presents at 10pm. The room was overflowing with presents. It was great to have a kid with us to watch him play with all his toys. He loves cooking so got a little mini kitchen, which makes actual noises. It got a little annoying, but the wine helped.

We finally went to bed around 1, which means we were at the table for 6 hours. That’s typical though! There’s more of those to come…..

Christmas tree

Uncle Remy with my hat

Aunt Dany with the Jacques Bruges truffels

Busy streets of Ormoy

Cute farmhouse

Me and my donkey friend

Mr Bire, my baguette and me

Me and Mrs. Bire

Duck - quack quack yum yum

Uncle Remy shucking oysters

Geneva to Paris

From Barbara

Mom described above our experience since DC. I slept so well on the plane and was ready by the time I got to Geneva. I had zero sensation of being sleep deprived for over 30 hours. I was so excited to be in Geneva. But yeah, there was no snow. We saw lots of snow on the mountaintops, which is a good sign for my ski trip. But I was really hoping for some snow in the city. Oh well.

Travel tip:
When flying into Geneva, once you get to baggage claim, there is a big sign that has a nondescript button that will give you a free train ticket which takes you to downtown Geneva. Very helpful!

It was a really short trip to downtown and a very clean train. Everything was going so smoothly! After dropping our bags off in the locker at the train station, we had about 4 hours to run around Geneva. My main goal was to try to get my bearings so that when we come back, we have some kind of idea where to go. I needed coffee right away and we found the cutest little coffee shop called “The Cottage” ( in front of a huge monument called the Mausolee du Duc de Brusnwick, an Italian tomb on the South Bank. Mom’s posting shows the coffee shop. I was really hoping it would be my “local” for the week I’m here by myself, but they are closed from December 24th until January 14. So sad! It reminded me of Spider House in Austin or Revolution Café in San Francisco. A guy was sitting there painting peacefully and the coffee was amazing. And, they served it with a piece of amazing Swiss chocolate. PERFECT. I love you Switzerland.

We walked around a while and found some chocolate to bring back to the family and I was on the hunt for some Swiss wine. I read that there are vineyards in Geneva and they make decent wine but never export. After searching for quite a bit, we finally found the supermarket – Globus – which is actually part of huge department store like Macys or Nordstrom. The entire bottom floor is a grocery store that puts Whole Foods to shame. We bought a couple bottles of Swiss wine to bring back to the family and walked around the store a bit. Since Switzerland is German, French and Italian, you get foods from all three regions. My mouth was watering the entire time. The cheese counter alone was divided into 3 sections. Dry cheeses, Italian cheeses and French cheeses. Salami and ham was everywhere and the olive oil section was bigger than my apartment. We had to leave immediately to save our pocket books. I’ll definitely be back.

On our way, we walked by the EA European headquarters…… sigh….

Mission accomplished. Saw just a bite-sized version of Geneva so we could see more when we come back on January 2. Off to Paris and then Voves to meet the family!

I was so excited to take the train to Paris on the TGV. I’ve seen the TGV, but have never taken it. It’s one of the many high-speed trains you can take within Europe, mainly France, and I couldn’t wait. We got our tickets very early and got a window seat so we could take pictures and movies. Yeah right. When we finally got in our train, we had the “window” seat that was actually a wall. We had the seat with the window divider. Grrrr…

Anyway, I took the opportunity to take a 3-hour nap, which wasn’t so bad. We finally get to Paris at the Gare de Lyon. It’s pretty calm and there are people giving out free coffee and cookies. If you are French, you know how rare that is. The French don’t usually give anything free, but I gladly took the coffee and quickly we ran to our next train station across the bridge, Gare D’Austerlitz. Absolute chaos. This was the France I knew and expected.

My family lives in the countryside of France about an hour South of Paris in a tiny village called Ormoy. The train we needed from Austerlitz was supposed to take us to Voves, about 20 minutes from Ormoy. Some drunk 29 year old got in an accident a couple days before causing major damage on the rail tracks and caused delays for every train going south. Our train wasn’t even listed on the board. Apparently that’s how you are supposed to know it’s cancelled. No need to actually tell people that it’s cancelled. You’re just supposed to know if it’s not listed, it’s cancelled. Geez…..

It took a lot of pushing and asking to find that out. It was a mad house. For whatever reason, I thought it was funny. Mom was stressed out and running all over the place. I somehow found time to twitter and was in total vacation mode. We’ll get there somehow or another.

Our next option was to take a different train to a city a little further away from Ormoy, but still acceptable for my aunt and uncle. However, we had to go to another train station, Gare Montparnasse. This would be our third station in Paris within 1 hour. AWESOME. So, we get on the metro/subway which has no elevators and only stairs and finally get there. We easily get on this train and we finally meet my aunt, uncle and cousin Valentin. 30 minutes later, we arrive at Ormoy and have champagne, cheese, pate and salami waiting for us. My other aunt, cousins and kids surprise us and we’re finally here! Over 50 hours of traveling and I’m still not that tired. Let the champagne flow! We ended the evening with my cousin’s 5 year old daughter dancing to her new favorite singer, Michael Jackson. Fantastic!

Delicious coffee at The Cottage

Our train snack

Mom stressed in the train

Champagne welcome

Sunday, December 27, 2009

From Mom:

Bonjour tout le monde,

My English is going fast, fast…. We haven’t had one minute to type since the day we arrived on the 23rd. Would you like to go back in time with me?

I met Barbara in the Washington DC Red Carpet Lounge at Dulles airport. We took off 30min late for our 3rd stop to our adventure: Geneva. The flight attendants could speak French but my accent would have been soooo much better. We arrived in Geneva after 8 hours of a very uneventful flight. I have seen “Elf” 2 times now and I am ready to forget it for good until next year.

Barbara and I were very disappointed to see the green fields and the lakes!!! We did not stay very long in Geneva but just long enough to find the best little restaurant/coffeshop just in front of Lac Leman. Geneve was not cold as we thought it would be. The watch stores and the chocolate stores were everywher. Guess where we went? We just said “good bye” to Geneve. We’ll be back next week.

Once in the train to Paris, we went in the bar in the train singing “Snow, snow, snow” from “White Christmas”. Where was the snow playground of Europe? The trip to Paris in the train was fine. We had a window seat but the view was obstructed by half of the wall of the train!!!!! Barbara slept a little but we got to Paris fast and then it happened………

At Gare de Lyon in Paris we were very excited. Two more stops and we would arrive at Dany’s and a warm bed. From la Gare de Lyon we opted to walk to go to Gare d’Austerlitz. We were so wise. A concert of traffic horns, a crowed of cars and a sea of people welcomed us for our first step in Paris. It was beautiful. The sky was pink/red/navy/black. The air was brisk, the smell, well, the smell was very Parisian. After 10min. of a quick walk we arrived at Gare d’Austerlitz!!!!!

Bienvenue a Paris. The day before we arrived, an accident occurred on one of the main tracks causing delays on all the tracks.

It was not a sea of people anymore. It was an ocean of people waiting for the next train.!!!!! After a while we decided to go to another train station to take another train. We had to find the metro (subway) to take us to a different part of town at Gare Montparnasse with 10,000000 more people. My heart stopped when all of the sudden, the metro stalled in the middle of the tunnel and the lights went off.!!!!! No, no, no, no. Barbara and I started to laugh nervously when a drunk gentleman decided to tell every body in the train his miserable life and some other facts that we did not understand very well. What a relief when, the metro started again and we reached our destination.

I must warn you there are only stairs in the metro and we now have longer arms from carrying our heavy bags up and down the steps!!!! We caught the train to Chartres just in time and breathed happily. One more hour and we will be with the family. There is no more snow anywhere.

At the Geneva train station

Cute coffeeshop called Cottage in front of the lake.

Massive Toblerone bar. It cost over 150 USD. We wanted it.

Gare de Lyon at night in Paris

Barbara on the last train!

Friday, December 25, 2009



ok its been a few days, but mainly because we havent had two seconds to breathe since DC. after landing in DC, i jumped on a supershuttle with what seemed was the modern day cleaver family. There were 5 of them (mom, dad, two girls and a boy). They were flying in from san diego and were so poilite and nice to each other it was scary. One of the sisters, my age, offered to give me her priests name in san francisco in case i needed a church to go to. they really didnt understand why i was travelling alone and im convinced they would have adopted me if i seemed interested. I didnt realize that dulles airport was one hour from dc. our driver was great and drove me past all the monuments since it was FREEZING. Ill definitely use supershuttle again when i have time to spare. much cheaper than a cab and you meet some pretty cool people.

i got dropped off at union station and after walking around for a while, i decided I wanted to go to the Smithsonian. i surprisingly figured out the metro system to the correct station. Walked out and eaves dropped on a conversation one of the street vendors was giving a family. Turns out there are 6 museums within the smithsonian. Woah. Way too overwhelmed and hungry at this point, i just kept walking and took pretty pictures of the monuments in the snow. DC is great as it has signs poiting you everywhere you want to go, so i followed signs to the whitehouse, but i needed food right away. i found an "american tavern" which sounded perfect for a meal in americas capital. walked in through the long hallway and found myself in a room full of men in suits smoking cigars. it was too late to leave at this point. i was committed, so walked to the end of the room at the bar and ordered a lovely glass of pinot noir. Im wearing jeans, ski cap, jacket, huge purse and massive backpack full of books, magazines, a laptop and an extra fleece. its beyond rediculous how much i stick out but its too funny to leave. i overhear conversations about taxation, bills, money, everything i know nothing about. i take out my US Weekly and enjoy my southwestern salad grinning from ear to ear while people kept staring. i clearly did not belong. :)
After lunch, i walk a few blocks and found the whitehouse. Its much smaller than I would have imagined, but beautiful. i took the obligatory pictures and then left to meet mom. my cab driver was from ethiopia and invited me to new years to spend it with his family. i was quite tempted. i havent been to africa yet!

once at the airport, i get into the security line and find myself standing behind a bone marrow doner who is carrying his donation with him, so there is quite the delay. crazy to think he actually has the bone marrow with him in the cooler. so cool and what a xmas present for whoever needed it. he was off to london.

i went straight to the red carpet room to get my obligatory free airport drink and snack, one of the great perks of travelling for work. Got mom to meet me there and off we went! the flight was on time and everyone spoke french. smiles all around. the second my head hit my inflatable pillow, i was out cold. finally some decent sleep. i was a little upset when mom woke me up when the flight attendants came by but quickly cheered up when it was for a glass of wine.
only 8 more hours until snowy geneva! i still cant beleive how smoothly everything has gone so far!

disclaimer im at my aunts house in france and the keyboard is completely different. i cant find the apostrophe key or the caps key, so apologies on the typos and weird writing. its all part of the adventure though!



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Washington DC , the French are there!!!!!! Barbara arrived this morning early from Chicago. She had no problems. She had an early flight and found the time to go for a walk in town. She took pictures and got a taste of 30 degrees temperature!!! Good, because my sister told me there were having 0 degree in Ormoy!!!! My flight was very nice. But I have a question. Why would anybody want a window sit when you know you have a bladder problem?I had the aisle sit and I had to get up 3 times for a girl much younger than me!!!!!! Oh well, good exercise I guess. But the flight is only 2 hours and 30 min!!!! OK something ironic now. All the flights all over USA or Europe are being delayed or cancelled. Well, my flight landed 15 min early!!!!!22 is a good number. I will have to gamble more or buy a lotto ticket!!
We are now at the United lounge with a gin and tonic and cheese waiting for the next plane. I am lucky to have a traveling daughter. She has access to the Red Carpet Lounge. And it's a. nice change of pace.
We have to go now for our next destination. Bisous.


Ok. I'm blogging from an iPhone so bear with me. I made it to Chicago. Airports sure are different at 2am! We were an hour late but that's ok. I was starving and very thirsty. They need 24 hour vending machines in airports! There is snow everywhere. When we were landing it was like falling on clouds. I guess technically slippery and dangerous but it was really pretty. I got about 2 hours sleep on the super comfortable babyblue rock hard plastic chairs. (pic below) Just got my starbucks and looks like were on time! Just boarded! Check out the picture of our plane being de-iced. See you soon maman!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


OK, It's 5 in the morning and I can not go back to sleep. BB has arrived in Chicago on time!! So far so good.. The airport was empty!!!!It was snowing very hard outside and it was beautiful. She said she would call me if the plane was late. She has not called yet----. Maybe!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

ok I think I should rest my nerves. Breath in,........ breath out.
I'm not sure if Barbara took off from San Francisco to Chicago. She has not called us. My motto since she was 18 years old "No news ---Good news" She seemed to have fun at the airport waiting for the plane. Last we heard from her, the flight was only 20min late!!!The best scenario would be to meet at Washington DC airport and then go off together. The news on TV are no help. The flights are late everywhere.. But I am travelling on the 22 and this is my good luck number. So, I have faith.
This is the most intense I have been since my wedding I think!!!! and I have been married for 30 years!!!!!
I had a wonderful time this afternoon with my friends Cherrie and Kathy. I will think of them when I am stranded in either Switzerland ,the US ,or France!!!! Thanks babies!!!!
OK ,I am going to bed. The suitcase is closed, the e-ticket has been printed and I am ready for a new adventure!!!! Well after I sleep if I can!!

Airport Bar #1 & Delay #1


Airport bars are one of my favorite places to hang out. You meet the most interesting people, and they are usually crazies. I don’t consider myself one of these crazies, but who knows, to them I might be.

I was creeped out by the airport after my VERY GOOD FRIEND JENNY dropped me off as I was literally the only person going through security. They searched me only because they hadn’t seen a traveler in so long, they needed something to do with their hands. I did not enjoy it. I rearranged my bags and put my jewelery back on and quickly went to the bar. I travel a lot, so have gotten to know the airport bars quite well. Today’s bar is the Buena Vista Bar next to my gate (Gate 90). I just spent a very hilarious night there 3 nights ago, so it's quite ironic that I'm here again. Delicious Irish Coffees. Found a seat at the bar next to the loudest person I could find, cause otherwise it’s not worth it, and started listening to her conversation with the man next to her. Clearly they also just met. The entire bar (of single travelers) is looking at the TV, but all of our eyes meet when her voice starts getting more loud. I love this.

It’s clear they have been talking for a while as he’s asking her more intimate questions. There’s a void in the room when she starts talking and it’s only caused because he has decidedly stopped talking to her to look at his blackberry. They both take a sip of their drink and start up again. She’s now crying. From what I gather, she has been married for 5 years, but her husband leads a secret life and turns out she has only been to his beach house, never to his main house. But, as she says, life isn’t so bad because she has her health. Hmmmm True, I guess. She did look at me to try to get an approval nod, which of course I did because I love airport crazies. She has to run because she’s about to miss her plane. I really wanted more time with her. ☹

On my way here, I downloaded a fabulous application for my iphone called “WorldMate Gold.” It cost $4.99, but is totally worth it. You forward them your itinerary from the airline, in my case United, and it automatically populates the trip in your phone and gives you all the updates. I just got a text message saying my flight is delayed 15 minutes. Not so excited about the delay, but it sure was exciting to get the text! That means I can have at least one more drink and hopefully meet at least one more crazy. Let’s hope!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Only 4 more days!

From MOM:

Only 4 days before I take off from Houston to Washington DC to Geneva and then to Paris by train. I must say, the excitement is building up. This morning my sisters told me that the ATM machines in Paris will be out of use because of a strike of the "money truck drivers" who want more insurance money. The train and metro system in Paris is very disturbed because of a strike because they also want more money, and, there is a snow storm.!!! My poor Dany who wanted to prepare a feast for us for Christmas is very disappointed to only have 2 ducks in the freezer, some home canned green beans from her vegetable garden, some flour and butter and apples to make a home made tarte tatin (upside down apple tarte.... yum)and some wine to wet every thing down !!!As of today, she is stuck in her house!! 2,5 feet of snow anywhere is a lot of snow. Gosh we will have to starve!!!!!

But my big problem today is to decide what to leave behind. I can only take one suitcase. So what to take, what not to take? I was verycareful to only buy light things for presents. But I find it very hard not to bring the last doll for Liza or the big truck for Tom!!! I have to squeeze everything in one big block not too heavy of course!!!
I can't believe that Tuesday, 22 is almost here. I love my life in Missouri City, I love my friends and every thing but, I am going to spend Christmas with my family!!!! and I am warm in my heart. Also I am going to travel with my most favorite person in the whole wide world. Barbara and I are going to have so much fun. Or, we will kill each other after awhile. I'll tell you!! It's such a Pity mom won't be here to hear our adventure. She would have loved to be with us so much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're going on a Trip!


We’re going on a trip!

On a whim, I used miles to buy a ticket to Europe to go visit my family in France for the holidays. The closest flight I could get to Paris that worked within my dates was Geneva and who doesn’t want to go to Switzerland, right? What I didn’t realize, is I wouldn’t arrive in Geneva until 27 hours and 47 min later. Yes, that’s over a day of travel. But that’s not even my final destination. Once in Geneva, we have to take a tram which takes us to the train station where we’ll then take a 3 hour train to Paris Gare de Lyon. Once in Paris, we take a cab to a different station, Austerlitz, for the local train which takes us to Voves, where my family will be waiting for us with a baguette, cheese, wine and a bed. I start saying “we”, as somehow, I convinced my mother to join me in DC from Houston. I’m still not sure how, but its definitely going to be an adventure now. I keep thinking of Amazing Race meets Planes, Trains & Automobiles. I cannot wait….

Here’s my ridiculous itinerary courtesy of United Airlines:

  • Leave SAN FRANCISCO at 6:41pm on Monday, December 21 (4h 12 min)
  • Arrive CHICAGO at 12:53 am on Tuesday, December 22 (5h 8 min)
  • Leave CHICAGO at 6:03 am on Tuesday, December 22 (1h 50 min)
  • Arrive WASHINGTON DC at 8:53 am on Tuesday, December 22 (8h 48 min)
  • Leave WASHINGTON DC at 5:41 pm on Tuesday, December 22 (7h 49 min)

Meet mom!!!

Arrive GENEVA at 7:30 am on Wednesday, December 23 (FINALLY!)

But it’s not over!

6 hours and 47 minutes later……

  • Leave GENEVA via train at 1:17 pm on Wednesday, December 23 (3hr 32 min)
  • Arrive PARIS Gare de Lyon at 4:49 pm on Wednesday, December 23 (2hr 5 min)
  • Leave PARIS Austerlitz at 6:54 pm on Wednesday, December 23 (1 hr 6 min)
  • Arrive VOVES at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, December 23 (HOME!!!!) 13 hr 30 min

Total time: 48 hours and 4 minutes later

I hate numbers, so my math might be wrong, but you get the picture.

I’m already tired just writing this all out. But the adrenaline is definitely kicking in. I know my mom has taken over the guest bedroom back home with all her luggage. We bought matching suitcases when I was back home over Thanksgiving, loads of books and cameras are ready. We’re going to keep this blog up and try to post as many pictures and stories as we can. I'm also going to try to keep up with my twitter (bmg514). Being a publicist at heart, I had to brand this, so the blog is called MODA-Adventures, short for MOther DAughter Adventures. This is our first “official” adventure (trust me, it’s always an adventure), and hopefully there will be many more to come in the future.

So far, here are the major "considerations," as we say in our normal corporate life:

  • There are extreme snow storms on the East Coast
  • The train stations are threatening to go on strike in Europe (the RER in Paris has been on strike for about 2 weeks already. Eurostar has confirmed they are going on strike)
  • The people responsible for filling ATM machines are going on strike next week

This is just the beginning. Here we go!