In high school I took German for four years. Besides a few basic phrases, a few bad words, and then a few more that we made up, I really don’t remember much. There is one thing though that you can ask any U.S. student who took German and they will know…Kennst du Ingo? Nein Ingo ist mein fruend. This was the universal chapter one dialogue that you learned.
Well apparently the same holds true for the French. They all know that Brian is in the kitchen with his sister (or girlfriend depending on who you ask) Jennifer…and with that dynamic sentence the English language is introduced…just like Jenn and I as we arrived in France.
Besides the fact that I would affectionately be known as Brian on this trip, I quickly learned a few other certainties about the French:
- Everything goes betters with wine
- Meals (lunch & dinner) are social events sometimes lasting up to 4 hours
- Nothing is as important as friends and family, and if you are not family, you are always a friend
- Oh yeah and everything goes better with wine
But we will get back to that later…now for how it all started…at the Orlando airport. I was frantically trying to rush and tie up all loose ends at work before my extended absence, but still managed to get to the airport about 3.5 hours before our flight to meet friends for dinner. On our way Jenn told me she felt like she was going to throw up…it’s nerves, I said, because it is such a big trip…you’ll be fine.
We walked into the restaurant and I ordered my dinner and then went to check in. After 3 hours at the ticket counter trying to work out a ticket snafu, I quickly made my way to meet Jenn who was apparently more nervous than I thought because she had spent her time throwing up in the airport. Although Jenn looked like all she wanted to do was die, we rushed through security with cold food in hand just in time to catch our flight.
Shortly after takeoff and a few more upheavals, Jenn found another row to sleep in leaving the boys to hang out for a little while. Nolin slept on my chest for about 3.5 hours. Although I had a whole row to myself, I was not able to fall asleep as I just kept picturing us hitting turbulence, and Nolin flying off my chest. It was now about 2am, I was exhausted, but enjoying our quiet time together…and then it happened, another baby’s cry woke him up.
With half-opened eyes, he looked at me and summed up the moment precisely with one clearly stated word…”f@&$“. At this moment we both realized that there would be no more sleep and the next several hours would be filled with singing Old McDonald Had A Farm and reading the 1,2,3 book. Sleep deprived I started trying to walk the plane with Nolin hoping he would go to sleep. Annoyed with me, he finally let out a quick (but loud) cry and from the back of the plane a lone figure jumped up…I rushed back over to Jenn, handed Nolin off and said have fun.
Axelle’s parents had arranged for their friend Vincent to pick us up at the airport and drive us to the train station. This would be one of the many times that Axelle’s family and friends would go out of their way to treat us like kings on our trip. Vincent basically took about 5 hours out of his day to pick us up, take us out to lunch and make sure we got on the train with no problems.
Vincent is a high-end travel planner, who I think Jenn had a little crush on because he had been all over the world (except Ireland). He took us out to lunch and although Jenn was feeling a little better, she still couldn’t eat, but I had my first of many interesting dishes.
For those who know me, I am usually not a risk taker with food, but I figured if I was in France I would try anything thrown my way (except escargot), so I ordered with Vincent and got the steak tartare. He told me it was very French…but what it really was, was a completely raw hamburger with pickles and other things mixed in. And while the whole time I could only imagine that eating raw meat was going to make Jenn’s flight over look like a day at the spa in comparison to what I was going to endure , it was actually good…and I had no problems.
We said goodbye to Vincent and took a train tour of the country side that would lead to what would be and amazing week in France.