Paris/Lyon - 2008

So I woke up a bit better off than I went to bed. After our early morning croissants we headed out to find a pharmacy for Immodium or Pepto. I think France is full of hypocondriacs because pharmacies are everywhere. Actually a pharmacy there is more like a drug store is here where you can get your contact solution, tyllanol and perscription drugs in one place. We search the first pharmacy and find an empty shelf where the immodium should have been and a sign that says diarrhea which lets me know what to look for in the future. The next three pharmacies were closed and the fourth a hole in the wall had it behind the counter. The Pharmacy tech was able to speak a few words of English and tell me not to take more than 6 and with that we were off.

Today I'm sick, no it wasn't the hamburger. We did't really venture out much as I resemble an inverted Old Faithful from Yellowstone park. I got croissants for breakfast, took pictures of the Opera house and checked my email.

Before the Hotel office closed I was able to call our Concierge in Paris to see if it would be good if we came a day late. We really hadn't gotten to see Lyon at all because I wasn't feeling good and we were out of money.

Amy my bank manager got the money thing straightened away, raised my limit and my cards work now. I paid for another night. We need to get a hold of our Concierge in Paris to let him know when we're coming. I emailed the apartment owner in the states knowing he won't get the email until late. We decided to be kind to my stomach and eat at the Chinese restaurant on the corner where we proceeded to order way too much food. The dim sum was ok (not great) and the fried food appetizer was decent. After we walked forever looking for a grocery that had bottled water and after getting directions from a local settled on the togo window of McDonalds which had Evian. Armed with Evian we returned to the Hotel Iris and went to bed.

So we've arrived in Paris at CDG and went through immigration without anyone stamping our passports. That's a little strange and we've never had that happen before. I can only assume that they thought we had chipped passports and the computer logged us. The very first thing we do when entering a foreign country (actually there are only foreign people...) is get local currency so our search for an ATM begins. The one on the arrivals level was broken so after walking the entire length of the terminal and not finding another we ask information which informs us theres one on the departures level two floors down. We walk the entire length of the departures level without finding one so we ask the United Airlines lady and she gives us directions. Ten minutes later we're equiped with 300 Euros which should get us into the city where we can buy our train ticket to Lyon.

We want to go to Lyon because we've discovered (like Colobus discovered America) the Institute of Paul Bocuse and Natalya is interested in going to school there instead of or in addition to Corden Bleu in Paris. Lyon is the culinary capital of France so most great chefs come out of there. Our plan is to visit the institute and get information on it and possibly eat in one of Paul Bocuse' restaurants of which he has 5.

We head to the SNCF booth to get RER tickets into the city. The RER trains are the suburban rail trains that service the burbs as we'd call them. The trip into the city will take about 30 minutes. We're approached by a man wanting to sell us shuttle tickets for $22 ea for a total of $88. Yeah right buddy. Our RER tickets cost us $50 which was still way more than I expected. I was thinking they'd be about $30 but it's the airport right so they're way overpriced. We've actually been to this RER station before two years ago when we went to Parc Asterix so we knew our way around a bit.

Half hour later we're at Chatalet station to catch the number 1 metro. The Chatalex/Les Halles station is my least favorite because it's a maze of passages and levels and you never know just where you are. We've had to pay to get into the station before and then walked so far we had to pay again to get further into the station. It never made sense to me. Sometimes I've wondered whether it would be easier to walk to the next station to catch the metro instead of venturing into the labyrinth. So we walked and walked and walked and never saw a ticket booth. I asked and someone told me go straight and then turn left. I walked and only saw turnstyles. I go back to where I'd left the kids and ask someone there and he says to go straight and turn left. Once again I only saw turnstyles. I realized we have to exit the RER section and enter the Metro section, as soon as we got this little tidbit we ran into a metro ticket booth where we bought one adulte carne and one enfant carne. We proceed to the metro where we never go through a turnstyle and never pay. Like I said this station doesn't make sense.

So as of Saturday we had our apartment and I'd scored plane tickets on Friday. The only date we could fly for a reasonable price was Sunday morning returning on Sept 2nd. If I wanted to fly on any other day it was going to cost me $2400 more for the 4 of us. That gave us one day to get ready, pack and to get as much work done as possible. I went to work while the kids packed the bags and made a list of things we needed. Things didn't go as well as planned at work and I left at 3:30 am and headed straight to Wallyworld to pick up what we needed for the trip. I left Walmart at 4:45, got home at 5 and woke everyone up. I finished packing at 6:00 and our friend Mo showed up to drive us to the airport.

We meandered toward Sea-tac airport at a comfortable pace but I wasn't worried as according to my calculations we would have 1hr 45min to get through security, get something to eat and board the plane. They recommend 2 hrs for international flights but we've squeezed this plenty of times before. On arrival to the airport we realized we didn't grab our daybag. Normally this wouldn't be a problem but this time in order to speed up our passage through security I put our boarding passes and passports in the daybag.

As most of you know we are supposed to be in China/Southeast Asia right now. Actually we were supposed to be sitting at home now recovering from our Asian adventures. As a side effect of personal and technical problems associtated with my current work contract we were not able to leave on June 19th. By July 1st we were still hopeful and by August 1st we'd decided that we'd visit China for one month and return in the Winter for Southeast Asia. By August 10th we had accepted the fact that none of this was happening and we'd be lucky to go to Boring Oregon for vacation let alone somewhere foreign and exotic. I hadn't given up hope though and started studying the Baltic states and looking over VISA requirements for Russia because we could spend two weeks there and see quite a bit. Two weeks in China wouldn't have gotten us anywhere so it was out. My contract dragged and I finally decided to make our life easier and go somewhere we'd been before and what better place than France?

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