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.
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.
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.