Bonjour! Comment ca va? I made it! I am now officially in France. The two flights I had weren’t bad. The second one, from Philly to Paris, my seat sucked but the flight itself was decent. My chair didn’t seem to want to recline or let me watch TV as both were broken. Oh well. It was only a six or seven hour flight.
These two pictures show only some of what all went into getting ready for the trip. The “before” picture is more or less what I took. A few things disappeared between when I took the picture and when Mom and I actually packed the bag but for the most part that’s what’s in the two bags in the “after” picture.
Customs was much easier than I thought/expected it to be. The guy didn’t ask any questions and barely looked at my passport before stamping it and waving me through. I was expecting us to have to fill out a form on the plane and wait in line and then once we got to the front, for the person behind the desk to ask us where we were going, etc. But nope. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Then it was on to baggage claim. I swear my bag was one of the very last ones to come off the plane. Most of the other passengers had gotten their stuff and left. Good news was I was able to find a trolley to lug my two bags and give my arm a little break.
Which reminds me. For anyone who is planning on traveling with US Airways in the future and DON’T want to pay an overweight fee on your baggage, make sure your bag weighs 50 pounds or less. My checked bag was 61 pounds so we had to pay a fee of $150 for the extra 11 pounds. If the bag weighs over 70 pounds, I think the airline will refuse to take it. Just a word of caution. At that point I really didn’t care if it was overweight or not, there was no way that it was getting repacked. There wasn’t really anything I felt I could take out either.
After I finally had all my luggage, I made my way towards the exit where family and friends can wait for their person to show up. I’d been worried about how I’d spot Aurelie but it wasn’t a problem. She was pretty easy to find. Aurelie is a family friend of ours. She worked for my dad a handful of years ago while she was an undergrad at Clemson before going on to do graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Now she lives just outside Paris with her fiance. I was lucky enough that they agreed to keep me for a few days before I board a TGV train (fast train) for Angers where I’ll be spending the semester.
After getting back to their apartment, Aurelie and I walked around a little bit and then came back for an Italian lunch (tomatoes and mozerella) and a nap before heading back into Paris. In Paris, we found a suitable plan and a cheap phone for me so I now have a cell phone that will actually work in Europe. It’s a Nokia and reminds me of the first cell phones that my parents had back when I was younger. The plan I have allows you to call the States. You pay for minutes and those minutes are only valid for a certain period of time. For example, if you paid 6 euros, that might give you 14 minutes in France or 12 if you were calling someone in the US but those minutes would expire after 4 days. So the plan I have was 60 euros, it’s something like 5 hours in France or 4.5 hours in the US and texting within France is free I think. Texting to the US is 30 cents per text and that just subtracts from the 60 euros as far as I understand. The 60 euros worth of minutes is valid for 3 months–which is just about perfect since that’s about how long I’ll be here. But I kind of doubt that they will last that long.
Aurelie and I walked by Notre Dame after getting the phone but it started to rain a bit so we decided to call it a day and headed for the metro.
That’s about all I have for right now. I haven’t felt the affects of not really sleeping on the plane yet but I’m sure I will crash later.