Monday, June 25, 2018

DOT . . . DOT . . . DOT . . .

A smoke on the sly
None in our group is the malefactor,
of course. 
Per usual, I have fallen behind. Note that this is written on June 17 re (more) June 12, and who knows what date it will see print. In the air, in the car, in my room, I doze off. (That would be in lieu of writing.) I don't get jet lag. (That's my favorite fiction.) I stash my notebook as Sister and BIL arrive and daughter and I have skedaddled to meet them.

Hotel shuttle is almost immediate. They leave the dinner buffet open until we have eaten what we like. My heavy bags have been magically transported to our room.  We spend our first night in France. 

It has a nice shower, now that the bathroom has been remodeled. Press a little button with a shower icon to start it, press again to stop it. I admire some of the cool plumbing that the French design.

Daughter, Sister and BIL, separately, finish their breakfast buffets, suitcases are brought down. I rely on the assistance of others. I manage rolling them alone in airports, but lifting them off the ground or bumping them down stairs has unfortunate potential. The trip leaders, Beth and Guille, with one more guest, converge on our hotel Tuesday morning-ish.

Tour bus. Unknown whether they are staying at our hotel.
I just like the bright colors.

Beth arrives with one car and our stuff is stashed in it. Guille arrives with a just deplaned guest, KT, and the other car, and we're spirited north to the Villa, as we call it, in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes.

We're welcomed with succulent shish kebob dinner, barbecued by our host, and enjoy the balmy evening around the picnic table.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

lost and found

I sit with my dilemma at the Marseille airport arrivals terminal for awhile. More than awhile. My phone is running out of juice. Daughter's phone is a replacement for her and still isn't communicating properly with me.

Anybody remember back in the old days when you waited at the counter at American Express in Paris for a letter from home -- usually responding to pleas for money?

Or the special phone booths in foreign countries where you could spring for the expense of an overseas call to touch bases at home?

Not to mention mailing the canisters of 35 mm exposed film or slides home for processing, to be retrieved from your post office  when you get back.

Anyway, this is my pity-party for lapses in instant communication. I've reported my missing suitcase to Air France, a process which takes an inordinately long time, especially to the disgruntled folks who are still behind even one in the line. I've had a brief phone contact with Daughter who ought to be arriving on the next flight. Sister and BIL  should arrive shortly from London, albeit in the international arrivals terminal rather than domestic.

I could call the hotel shuttle, and let the rest of them do their own summoning, or hunker down on the hard-as-a-rock couch in the terminal. I prop my feet up on my luggage cart and doze. I wake up to watch for Daughter's arrival and see two suitcases slowing circling on carousel 4. I see a flash of orange. My baggage ribbon. I run to snatch the bag from its endless journey. I fear this is an out-of-protocol recovery and notify lost baggage about my find. I've lost my lost baggage paperwork, but I have the suitcase here, in hand, with all kinds of taggage.  Futzing around again with the still slow-processing, I miss daughter's arrival and find her wandering, with her bag already claimed in the arrivals area and desperate for the closest WC.

By the time we drain our radiators, an hour-and-a-half has passed and now my sister and BIL are scheduled to arrive in 20 minutes at the Marseille International Terminal. The construction project that has messed with the airport pickup and drop off zones for ages is complete. Daughter and I walk across the space between terminals and see on the board that the London to Marseille flight landed 20 minutes earlier. The status of the flight is noted as "debarquement."

Landed and not yet putting in an appearance.

Writing for June 12 on June 12

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Well, at least the direction is forward

Notes on the Run #3 for the 2018 Summer trip ...

Yesterday, one of my Sister's Besties put me in her car, wrangled my luggage, and dropped me off at the BART station which runs directly into the International Terminal at SFO.

I think my big A380 to Paris took off about an hour late. Checking in at SFO is a zoo. There is no line for Sky Priority that I can discern (what is my priority fare for this trip getting me?). There are banks of computer terminals swamped by people printing luggage tags. All stations at the counters say "for baggage drop off with printed tags only."

. . . the hell? What about people who weren't able to get a boarding pass on-line, so must get that from a human as well?

"Wait in line," says the guy, along with the two international plane loads, KLM and Air France-worth of people, all crammed into the rope-lines.

I finally find an entry to this line. It's faster than I expect, advancing at the pace of family groupings, rather than just individual passengers. The KLM folks all depart and their stations open to us.

(Enigmatically I find scribbled at this point: "I cannot destroy dignity that's long gone." Random profound thought, I guess.)

I told Air France, or maybe my daughter told them on a previous trip, that I have problems walking distances or speeds, so now I am on the wheelchair list. It's true that I have devolved to vvery slow. This has been coming on. I'm also prone to tipping over. No. Not tipsy.

There can be glitches when you get parked somewhere in your wheelchair, waiting . . . will I really get picked up? Will squeeze some granola bars into my bag.
Kind of a blank stare
Your experience may vary. Some drivers offer to stop at a restroom. Others wait to be asked. So far, none has asked if I'm hungry. I go from breakfast at home before heading to the airport to dinner on the plane. Next time I ... Whoops. Lost the thought here.

Cabin service on the long flight is less than notable, but I have the same delicious dinner outbound for the two recent flights. (There are choices. I choose it again.)

Daughter missed the connection in Paris to fly with me to Marseille, and I get a message from Air France that my bag, checked through to Marseille, is at Carousel 33 in Paris, a few miles off. I email them. There is a familiarity to this scenario. I report the missing bag. I swear, it must take half an hour per person to report.

Written on June 11 for June 11 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Little Pocket Itineraries

Packing for the Summer trip ... Notes on the Run #2 for June 

I've written about these before, rather at length.  There are even pictures here somewhere, showing adorable covers with pictures. I've showed them in array and described the process. And I love retaining them as reminders of good times and a collection of vital dates and other trip info.

I won't rehash incidents in which running late on my Little Book has actually been life threatening. Scary.

Since I'm usually in a panic to finish one by trip departure time, my new plan for this year is simply to print an itinerary on a piece of paper, kind of like you'd get from the travel agent but not on fancy paper.

I begin that process but find it doesn't include ... my personal travel checklists, info about insurance, contacts in case of emergency. Well, so on and so on. I'd have to create discrete pages, reformat, blah blah blah.

This is no easier. I grab my now-large, disorganized pile of papers and haul them to my sister's house (where I stage for the airport on the eve of the trip), so I won't be driving all night with no sleep. I can work on it there. If I'm up all night, no problem. Like I said in my first note, my good intentions devolved into the usual chaos. Right now, there is a large packet of raw materials in my suitcase as I head out on the trip. I'm assuming all the info I'll need is in there.

I love my little pocket itineraries. If only I can persuade myself to finish on time; if only I can travel again, I'll do it next time. I'm at the "this may be the last trip" age.

Written on June 10


Saturday, June 16, 2018

[ 20 + 20 + 20 + 20 + 1 ]

Just fiddling today with a new page layout. We'll see whether it's any easier to work with.

Packing for the Summer trip ... Notes on the Run for June 

On the one hand, I studied up on a frequent traveler's wardrobe and packing tips that would keep my trip prep smooth and organized. It helped me, to a degree, but did not stop other instances of trip prep from devolving into the usual chaos.

She's a frequent traveler, a light-weight traveler She admires the Osprey Ozone 22" bag, since it weighs in under four pounds. I have several luggage transfers this trip. Sounds brilliant. A click on Amazon and it's here the next day. 

The postal clerk remarks on the largeness of the package and picks it up to carry it out to the car for me.

"But it's light," I assure him. Except for the awkwardness of the carrying it, there's no problem unloading it from my car at home. 

It's gorgeous. I chose a bright turquoise, It has a light but strong metal frame, rather like a backpack.

And a million pockets. I love it and it really does weigh under four pounds.  I unbuckle and unfurl and open it up and stare at it.

And ultimately realize that if I'm so good at forgetting where I put things in an open suitcase, I'll never again find anything if I stow it in a little pocket.

I tape it up back in the box, print a return label, and take it to the UPS drop off at the pharmacy. The credit is issued to my account within two hours of printing the label.

Damn, they're good!

I think my savvy traveler's clothing choice method will work out, though.

Me, as a usually do.  "I might need these pants, those shorts, scarves don't take up much room, cute shirt, what about these shoes?"

Her. She designates a finite number of each type of item. Three pants, two tanks, a few blouses. Each item must wearable with any and all of the others. Lay them out and confirm. Duh, say all of you natural-borne packers. But it makes me focus. I can't bring every color of jeans I like, nor every shirt that might go with it. Double duh. In the end, I pack only two pairs of identical sandals to make my feet happy. (Well, as well as my carefully coordinated clothing choices.)

I guess I'll save "another lesson bungled" for next time.                                              

June 9, my 81st birthday.