Somewhere in the last week, The Beloved Bangalan, realized that we hadn’t figured out the cost-benefit ratio of internal travel. Local transport within the city. Renting a car for intra-city travel made as much sense as driving your own car in New Delhi or Calcutta. I suspect a slight hesitation to trust my notoriously middle-finger based driving skills in a strange city in a far-off land. So of course a spreadsheet was produced to identify the best option.
Carnets are books of tickets that don’t expire. A weekly pass on the other hand runs from Monday to Sunday. We were arriving Friday morning. And the next Saturday we were scheduled to drive out to Normandy. So, folks, Excel does have it’s uses. Who would have thunk it? (I may be betraying a slight, very slight, prejudice against Excel and users who try to use it to model a database and the quirky VBA code syntax that doesn’t exactly follow the code samples in the Help files that Microsoft so unhelpfully provides and the accountants-become-coders who use Macros when a nice little piece of VB code would do and who populate the web with their singularly unsophisticated methods. But, possibly, I digress. What’s that you say? “Get on with the Paris thing?” Well OK then! )
As you can see from the brief schedule above, the weekly pass would not have been cost-effective. You don’t see? You want to see the spreadsheet? No – in deference to the multitudes (well, whatever..) who are shielding the eyes and mutely shaking their heads in a “NO!” manner, I shall regretfully not be posting that spreadsheet. So we bought carnets and used them across buses and the Metropolitan system aka the Subway.
A word about the subway. No – on second thoughts I’ll leave you hanging on that one for this is but the second in the series and we technically haven’t arrived in Paris yet.
So what have we got to?
1. Air tickets: Air France took that responsibility and, dare I say, honour (honor, if American).
2. Hotel in Paris: The Best Western in Montparnasse bang opposite the Mouton Duvernet Metro station. Expedia took care of both #1 and #2.
3. Car booked for the second week: AutoEurope kindly consented to rent us a VW Golf or similar with GPS.
4. Bags packed. Decided that the temperatures wouldn’t yet allow shorts, so regretfully abandoned my pink shorts. The Quality of Mercy shown to Parisiennes, as my friends pointed out. Thanks, people! Besides they really didn’t go with my navy blue runners with lime accents and laces.
5. Normandy visit: Booking a hotel room that offered to sleep three people was a challenge. Ultimately found the Hotel St Pierre in Vire, halfway between Mont St Michel, our Saturday destination, and Ste Mere Eglise, our Sunday morning destination. Decided that going there on D-Day would simply entail dealing with humungous crowds. Displaying masterful cunning we decided to get there 2 days after D-Day so as to miss the crowds. You know what they say? When you assume you make an ass out of u and me. Yeah – I know. They do. I don’t. I hate cliches, preferring to just head them off at the pass. (You smiled! I saw you!)
And then a friend from decades ago who lives in a Paris suburb, whom we had contacted, wrote back and said “Cancel the hotel and stay with us!”. Consternation! Discussions and some back and forth followed. (Did I mention our control freakiness?) Ultimately decided that we would cut the Montparnasse Best Western stay shorter by 5 days. Calls to Expedia and the hotel ensued and after much confusion about the type of room we had booked and were now asking for we had managed that. To clarify, we had booked a triple room, which is what they call a room that sleeps 3. Overlaid on that is the single or double bed. Let me clarify. A triple room could be a room with 3 singles ( a triple single room) or a one double and one single (a double triple room). Ultimately we ended up with a triple room with two doubles. Are you still confused ? Try getting an explanation of all that in a mix of English, French, American and Canadian.
Now, finally, we had to work out how we get to the airport. Like any traditional desi family we live within 30 minutes of the main airport, YYZ, in our case. Ultimately, son #1 was co-opted into that duty and so the well-prepared travellers arrived at the Lester B Pearson airport the evening of May 29th.
Copies of passports – check
Passports – check
Euros – check
Checked in bags, 1 each – check (we don’t travel light. We say we’d like to, but we don’t really do…)
Carryon bags, 2 backpacks and my sleep machine, large purse for the lady – check
Books to read – Check. Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for dad. (Pages read on the trip – none). Rick Steves – Paris 2013 for reference.
And then we were on the Boeing 777.
Ahead lay Paris, France, the city that Col Henri Rol-Tanguy had cried “was worth 200,000 dead”.