17 Stories – Paris and Monte Carlo             


DAY 5 – Monday, June 17

  Are we there yet??

            Waking up on our final morning in Paris to the sounds of a heavy rainstorm including loud, rolling booms of thunder, I couldn’t help but think of my favorite French word that I would finally get to use today. 
            “Ou est mon parapluie?”

            “Say what?” responds husband.  

            “Where is my umbrella?  I just looove saying that word – parapluie!  Doesn’t it make you smile?”

              “What would make me smile is if this rain stops long enough so that we could walk the 50 paces from the hotel front door to that train station conveniently located across the plaza without getting soaking wet.”
            “But, I have a parapluie!” 

            “And, I have three large suitcases to manage, so holding your tiny umbrella is not going to do much for me.”  

            “Oh, yeah.  Forgot about that part.”  

            In selecting our hotel, we had purposely chosen one within walking distance to our departure train station, Gare de Lyon.  Turns out this place was so close it was literally across a cobblestone plaza which on most days was wonderful; but on days like this one, well, we quickly discovered that in the absence of a covered walkway (go figure) we would be soaking wet in just under 60 seconds.  Hmmm.  Guess we’ll have to mention that little detail on the hotel check-out survey. Just saying.

            So, after gathering our belongings, husband with his three large wheeling suitcases (yes, two were mine) and I with all the rest – plus my parapluie! – we proceeded to do the dash and run, which was quite a feat on that wet cobblestone, and I’m sure carved a tiny bit of rubber off some of the wheels, but oh well.  I went first and got inside fast enough to be able to snap an endearing picture, at least I thought it was, of husband as he continued to attempt to tame the three suitcases (meaning a total of twelve wheels) while dashing through the pounding, relentless rain.

Picture

Probably not the best time for me to take this photo, but I just couldn’t resist. Husband is even cute when he’s all wet and schlepping luggage, right?
     Inside the station at last, we regrouped and began our search for the correct train platform.  It was Monday, and we were taking the TGV, Train á Grande Vitesse, from Paris to Monte Carlo.  Our platform search was reminiscent of the similar drill we had been on just a few days earlier when arriving in Paris at Gare du Nord.  Stairways, escalators, hallways, tiny elevators, up, down and all over, but in the end, we found the correct departure hall still clinging to all our travel baggage.  Whew! Checking in both French and English about our departure platform, we were reminded that these trains keep in constant motion, in other words, once it arrives there’s that twenty minute window again that you have to find your correct car, load your luggage and claim your seats.

Lucky for us we were already old pros at doing this, but still as an American traveling in a foreign country, you always feel like all the natives have a distinct advantage over you in these situations.  Not until all our luggage was properly stowed and we were comfortably settled in to our roomy Premier class seats (oh yeah, baby) did we finally let out a kind of ‘okay, we made it’ sigh of relief that coincidentally was simultaneous with the TGV’s very sophisticated departure horn followed immediately by the oh-so-smooth roll-out of Rail Europe’s #6177, Paris to Monte Carlo. 

      Yes, sometimes I have to pinch myself, and this was one of those moments.  Passing through (or should I say whizzing by?) cities like Lyon, Marseilles, and Nice and then ending up in the Granddaddy of them all, Monte Carlo,  just has to put a smile on your face while thanking the Spirits above for your great fortune on a fine Monday in June.  And our good luck continued while en route as we met up with the first of many Americans who were soon to become shipmates with us as we were all assembling in Monaco in advance of boarding the same Mediterranean cruise ship that would be departing from Monte Carlo the next day.  Bolstered by our new-found friendship with three couples traveling together from California, we were all quick to disembark the TGV as soon as it came to a rolling stop some six and a half hours after our morning departure from Paris.  Chuckling together as we all unloaded our over-packed and excessive amount of American luggage (and for the record, some of them had way more than we did!), we began the brief trek out of the train station to the taxi cue where we shared even more laughter as we piled our giant cache of luggage into two tiny foreign taxis, two couples in each vehicle.  Even splitting the group still required that each of us held some form of excess luggage on our individual laps, and for some reason (travel trepidation? Fatigue?), we all found that endlessly comical so that by the time we pulled up to our chic Columbus Hotel lobby, we were practically doubled over with laughter as we tumbled out of that jam packed taxi  and must have looked like a car full of over-excited clowns and their gigantic carpet bags.  Not exactly how one pictures your arrival in Monte Carlo.

Picture

Yes, I know I’m quite blurry here – it was definitely a snap and move on moment! That’s me with another half person on top, plus a piece of luggage, and yes, that is exactly how we squeezed into that taxi! It was a clown car moment for sure.
      So naturally our first stop after checking in and literally dropping our luggage into our respective rooms would be the unsuspecting and fashionable lobby bar.  Luckily we had a waiter who possessed a wonderful sense of humor and a bartender who seemed appreciative for some already happy customers to start off his evening shift, so the drinks were poured swiftly and the bar got progressively lively which was a fitting beginning to the next phase of this adventure.  We continued on to dinner with our new found California friends choosing to dine on the very trendy outdoor patio restaurant offered by the hotel, and our selection did not disappoint.  The service was spot on and the food was every bit as stylish and nouveau as one would expect in Monte Carlo, world capital of all things opulent and trendy.  Our group topped off the night with a rather romantic stroll (especially considering we had only met the other people a few hours prior), in and around the hotel grounds and one of many nearby yacht harbors.  It was the perfect end to an otherwise fun and lovely day, and I’m quite certain that all of us went to bed with big smiles of contentment that night.

Little did we know that on the very next night, our first on board the cruise ship, that extreme level of ‘Monte Carlo Contentment’ would be kicked up yet another notch and turned into sheer bliss. 
 

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Oooh la-la! It was a romantic walk around the Monte Carlo Yacht Club for the happy Lombardos!
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2 comments

  1. Love it Terry, what a great trip and wonderful memories

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  2. Thanks, Kathie~I had such fun writing all these stories that I feel like I’m taking the trip all over again. Glad you’re enjoying them, too!

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