France fancy tales

No, we aren’t there yet.  This is from our last trip in May, 2007!!  But we are getting ready.  So, this will be the place to go for updates etc. so I’m practicing my computer skills to make sure all is going to work according to Hoyle.  This of course is Ray Ray posing in front of the Arc de Triomphe!! y fourgonnette liavrisons (vans)!!

Yesterday, July 14, we traveled to LAX to pick up our new french friends.  There was a mob scene at the airport.  But alas, after looking and looking at people coming out of Customs, the Habras arrived.  There were hugs around.  Luckily they speak english.  Martine is shy with english.  He spent time in the U.S. so he is fluent.  Their son is darling.  He’ll be a ladies man soon.  He’s 15.

We went to dinner in Manhatten Beach and parked at a meter that required a credit card.  That’s a new one.  The restaurant at 9 p.m. had a 20 minute wait.  Rock’n Fish.  Loud but good.  I’ll spare all my restaurant review.  Would I return.  No.  But the scene was fun.  I’ll post a picture when we settle in France.   I’m including a movie we took at Venice Beach.

In the way of background, he teaching engineering and she teaches math.  Their oldest daughter, 20, studies chemistry at university.  Their 17 year old daughter is the equivilent of a senior in high school.  They plan to visit San Francisco, Yosemite, Grand Canyon while in the U.S.  They will be very busy driving a lot!!

So, it is July 15th and we sit in the lounge at LAX at 6 p.m.  Our flight leaves at 9 p.m.  Key learning.  Arrive 4 hours ahead of time on international flights and avoid the rush.  It was so easy to get through security early.  There were very few there!!

Today, we took our french friends to Venice Beach.  What a hoot.

We think they loved it.  With skateboard parks, a 70 year old man on roller blades with an amplifier  playing a guitar, barely clad women, tatoo artists, black acrobats…there was plenty to see and enjoy/laugh at.  There aren’t many place anywhere as outlandish as that and quite American at the same time.  A good time was had by all!!  Then they dropped us off at the airport so that they could drive up the coast and enjoy the view.  Weather was spectacular.  And so was the company!!

Our flight was remarkable.  We flew Luftanza on an 360 aircraft.  OMG.  It was fabulous in business class.  Our chairs stretched into a bed!!  We had individual screens.  I watched 30 Rock, Glee and Entourage.  Ray watched Revenge of the Titans, so male!!  All the pictures we took in transit are on the iphones and I don’t have the cord to transfer them.  Drats.

Well, we arrived.  Late.  But, nevertheless, an arrival.  It is 2:50 a.m. and we’re enjoying a glass of wine and some chocolate before retiring.  It was, after all, a fabulous trip here aside from the time that Mr. J snarled at me in a rottweiller-kind of snarl.  And aside from the time that I screamed, “just pull over and look at the map” as  we got more lost by the second in gay Paris!!  And then there was the episode of trying to pay the machine for the use of the toll road.  Imagine, if you can, Ray driving and pulling up to the the machine automatique to pay the toll for the short trip we took south of Paris to Orleans.  It was like 11 euros.  So, Ray put the ticket into the machine and the credit card into the slot marked carte or card…and the darn thing spit them both out when an impressive amount of velocity.  So much force that they hit the ground.  Well, Ray was parked too close to the machine and he couldn’t open the door.  Temper started rising in the direct relationship to the frustration level.  So, I hopped out of the Citron and ran around the front of the car.  He was so close, I couldn’t retrieve the items.  Of course there was a car behind us…waiting in the darkness of their car, no beeping, being mysteriously silent.  So, I ran around the back on the car and crawled down the pick up the ticket and the credit card and then reinserted them.  I can tell you that it was great relief on Ray’s part that my attempt was not more successful than his.  So. desperate to free ourselves of more embarrassment, he fed a 50 euro into the machine.  Well, you would have thought that you were at Las Vegas and had won the big grand slam.  Euros just kept gushing and gushing.  By this time, Ray was screaming something about, “these god damn euros just keep coming” as he heaved them by the handfuls into the car.  Then he put the car into reserve, “god damn this car”, righted himself by putting it into forward and we pulled over to re-group.

There were a few more episodes that occurred before we arrived like when we could not find the street to turn on off the main drag.  The French have a lovely, quaint habit of essentially hiding the name of streets on sides of buildings.  Often, these words on hundreds of years old and so is the paint they use to “highlight” them.  It is lovely when you are walking about.  But when you are dead tired, with a snippet of moon and few street lights in a never-been-before place, it is downright discouraging.  But that’s another story.

So, here we are.  Think I’ll go to bed now.

Bon jour, it is Saturday.  We awoke at 10:30 a.m. feeling a bit more human.  This old house has wonderful french doors, imagine that)  and outside shutters made of very thick wood.  We opened the shutters and let the sun shine in!!  After watching a TV program in francais and playing with the computer we ventured out to find some food.  We arrived at the main drag, just a block off of where we are living and looked up and down the street.  Tourne au gouche (turned left) and walked until we decided we went the wrong direction.  A man was standing in the door to his abode having a smoke so we approached him.  Not a word of english was spoken by l’homme or il mer (man or his wife).  We were able to figure out that the stores were 2 kilometres away.  To make a long story short, his wife took us there by car.  Now, can you imagine such a thing in the U.S.?  Not sure it would have happened that way.  She was so nice.  She dropped us off near the restaurant we were trying to find.  Voila.  The restaurant was ferme (closed!!).  So, we walked down the street and found a boulangerie, bought two quiche Lorraines and a bagette.  Found the wine store, bought some local wine, walked home and had our first meal in Le Ferte St. Albin sitting outside under a tree next to the maison (house)!!

And now it is Sunday.  We ventured out last night and ate at the local restaurant.  We were the only ones speaking english.  It was great fun.  We actually carried on a  conversation in francais with each other and with the wait staff.  Fabulous!!   Oh, and the food was very good.  I had canard (duck) and Ray had beouf (beef).  We split of bottle of red and life was good.  Came home and retired.  The sun, by the way, was still up at 9:30 p.m.  Most people arrived to eat well after 8:30.

Today is Sunday and almost everything is closed.  We could not see the golf tourney, British Open on the TV so we thought we would drive to a golf course, have lunch and perhaps watch the tourney.  Fat chance!!  The first course we drove to had three cars in the lot.  No TV.  They did not speak english but we were able to speak enough francais to get directions to another course!!  It was about 15 minutes nord (north).  The course was lovely and next to a hotel and restaurant.  Alas, no coverage of golf.  The TV only had Tour de France.  So we left, searched unsuccessfully for a restaurant that had sandwiches.  Everything was closed in Orleans, where we had ventured to.   So we drove back to La Ferte St. Albin, returned to la maison (the house) and made toast with jam for lunch.  Je suis desolee (I was so sad).  Diner (dinner) was a different matter.  We barbecued petit lamb chops and served it with home grown, fresh picked out of the jardin (garden) legumes (vegetables) with vin de rouge (red wine).  And we ate outside on the patio.  Fabulous.  A very quiet day that included a nap!!!  Tomorrow we head for Paris to shop, spend the night and pick Ryan up at 7:35 a.m. on Tuesday.

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