Two little Boston Terrier girls bring their Momo & Mr.Momo to Paris for a long stay. These are the tales of their very fine adventures.
Going to America
Our time in France was limited and here it was the moment that had once seemed so far in the future. Time to venture back to California. While Momo was not going to miss the insistent rain, she would miss France very much. The croissants, the bread, pastries, cheese, the shoes, and even the big old Metro. L&P knew something was up when all the toys disappeared into suitcases.
Speaking of suitcases, it must be some sort of cosmic act of physics that makes the stuff larger than when it first got packed because it sure doesn't fit going the other way. We even tossed tons of stuff the fake French laundry had destroyed. But thankfully Mr. Momo was able to get every little thing in the suitcases, with the exception of his shaver charger cord which is still in France somewhere. We did manage to bring home the extra zip-lock bags. So what's a little shaver charger compared to zip lock bags I ask?
Once again, CDG airport seems to defy logic, in French or in English. And can anyone tell me if there is an airport on this globe that is not currently going through "renovation" which is code for "will get done three generations hence"?
First, we must return our rental car. Mr. Momo seems to have a brain that completely understands the madcap mapping system in France and he knew the way. Momo didn't even try because she was trying to avoid the migraine. L&P were of no help at all. They would have led us back to the croissants. The rental car place was not accessible in the direction we were going unless we made a u-turn which is signified by some strange sign that only Mr. Momo figured out. So we passed the place just once which is a good start. Upon returning the car we would get a van ride to the terminal and hopefully to the terminal from which our plane was leaving. Voila, to the right terminal.
The construction prohibited us from actually driving to the terminal, only to the end of it. If you can picture an airport of that size, you can imagine that our United Airlines would without a doubt be at the furthest point from where we were dropped off. Indeed. Oui. With luggage cart, a stroller filled with the L&P and two carry bags, off we go in search of our airline. Starting out with optimism, we enter the terminal and realize that CDG was really as bad as we had first encountered and our time in France learning about French directional signs was useless still. There were no signs. So we hiked and hiked until we came to the United Airlines counter. They have just a couple of flights so the lines were split between the two flights. The staff in France has a great deal of French character and it felt like we were still in France although many more people were speaking English. It was nice to hear, but we were beginning to miss France even then.
First you hand someone your passport and they check you off like when you go to a restaraunt with a reservation. Too bad they don't actually seat you and feed you. Then you go to another line and they actually take your information again and give you a boarding pass. Our luggage was just slightly over the limit but they were kind enough to not make us repack as they did the charming young woman in front of us who thought they meant repack right there at the counter like they do in America. Non. Not in civilized France. You must leave the area and repack and then come back so that others do not have to wait. Bags gone, we still had many lines to navigate through. But first, one last outside trip for the L&P before the real trip begins. And guess what? We arrived at the airport to blue sky and now it was...wait for it....oui! Raining. Just at the airport. Just for us.
To get to the gate you must first pass through several check points. So far L&P are happily strolling along, but at the first pass we must put them in their crates said the airport police. Why that was necessary is still a mystery because we were still very far from the gate. Here again, they check passports and tickets. It is easy to pass through though even if it is a narrow funnel because it so very hectic and busy, anyone could have passed by those two passport guys.
Next there is a moving sidewalk that makes the one in Denver and Chicago seem like small potatoes. This one is 140 miles long and goes downhill and uphill for no apparent reason other than to amuse and annoy those of us with strollers who don't want to dump the baby or the L&P in this case, on the sidewalk. Literally, the downhill and uphill were like miniature versions of the gondola affair in Chamonix. Two moving sidewalks in a tunnel. I would bet this was another Mitterrand wonder, this airport design.
At the end of this ridiculous thing is a circular corridor that brings you to the toll both, or in this case, passport control for France. They simply gaze at your passport for the 10th time and send you on the way to security for the gate. This line snaked very far but didn't take that long. That is unless you are behind a Brittney Spears doppelganger and her boy toy. She, having all kinds of trouble navigating with her very high heels and extra large purse which was truly bigger than her whole self. He, who is so busy holding her up by the tush, that by the time they get to the front of the line they are useless. Mr. Momo must tell them that it is their turn. Oh, they say, as the two windows open, and they split apart (how telling) each using one of the free windows, when most couples use one window together..........have to love the tourists.
Next we pass by the duty free shops and the three tables that make up the entire area's food section and move on to the security line. Which is pretty darn short. It is right in front of the gate and clearly set up just for the United Flights. They don't make us take off our shoes, but we must undress the L&P sans collars, leashes and anything useful to keep them secure. So here we are with fourteen of those plastic buckets filled with computer, phone, dog stuff, Mr. Momo's belt, keys, change, our bags, and yet we get to wear our shoes. How nice for us. We get through but it is five minutes before we have collected and redressed the L&P for travel and Mr. Momo has gotten his belt back on, which is very necessary to hold up the pants since he managed to lose the most weight in France. I cannot even imagine what someone must go through taking a baby on the plane this way.
The gates for United I do hope are on the list for upgrades in the renovation plan for the airport. For two flights that hold 8,567 people, the gate was designed to hold 16. We were standing shoulder to shoulder. Seriously. We were so close to the trash can, we offered to throw stuff out for people who came by to avoid the splatter landing on us. Meantime, L&P are still free on leash and having a great time playing with anyone who will pay attention to them.
In addition there is a tiny tiny refreshment window, if you can call it that. The line was 8,532 people long because that was the only place to get water or coffee prior to boarding the plane. We all know you have to buy the water after security in order to carry it on the plane, right? Wrong. Mr. Momo came back with a bottle of water with no cap. Apparently they keep the cap for good luck? Seriously, they keep the cap because you cannot take the water on the plane - security. What? Great. And you know it will be quite some time before they get around to bringing you drinks in the cattle car section. Did I mention that one of the airport upgrades ought to be air conditioning? Just a thought.
The flight to Washington was not bad at all considering how long it took and the time difference. L&P had a great time meeting and greeting fellow passengers, some who had no idea that they were neighbors to two adorable BTs. L&P were very quiet and well mannered. We were able to leave the top hatch open so they could sit up if they wanted but mostly they slept. At one point L needed a little TLC so Momo pulled her out with her blankie and she slept on Momo's lap for a while. The flight attendants were very talented in assessing that they were well behaved little pups and we had them under control, so they left us alone. Much appreciated. Of course in such tiny quarters it is important to make sure your neighbors are fine with dogs first. And they were. All of them quite nice and kind to the L&P. Total time for the dogs sans bathroom was almost 12 hours. Good good dogs.
The 2nd leg of the trip was the next day on Jet Blue. Again, the seats are just too short for anyone over 5' 8" tall. That is how they get that fabulous leg room. Make that seat bench short! Not to mention that there is absolutely no reason that the seats could not be an inch higher up than they are. The under seat room is pitiful with or without dog carrier. That flight, which will never be mentioned again after this post, was too long after 10 minutes. It is a bit sad when you get indifference with flight attendants regarding the cuteness of the L&P, but it is just plain awful when you get a flight attendant who actually does not like dogs, which we did. Again, we had the top open, but they are connected inside to a short lead to the bag, which means they cannot jump out of the bag because they are physically attached. In addition, L&P are trained to not do that unless one of us tells them to. I understand that not all dogs that travel are trained, but it would not take but a minute to talk to us and look over the dogs to get a good feeling for that. Sheesh. Anyway, the wicked witch of the west made us zip up the top keeping their heads back in the bag per her interpretation of the FAA rules (which are vague on purpose so the flight crew has discretion). Another flight attendant came back to whisper to us that she just reviewed the regs and told us that at least the bag could be up on the seat during the flight, but we should leave it closed, well, because. L&P took it way better than Momo. Even Mr. Momo got a little annoyed when we were landing and they insisted that P could not be under the middle seat. So we move her to the aisle- under the seat and then he comes along again and says the crate isn't far enough under! Yikes. We are literally landing at this point. Thankfully L&P did not care. So, Jet Blue? Please work on your manners. It could have been a pretty good flight because the pilots did a great job. And again, our seat neighbors loved the L&P. Made the end of the trip endless. Needless to say, L&P won't be flying on Jet Blue anymore, nor will Momo or Mr. Momo.
L&P enjoyed getting out of the crates, but they enjoyed it more once we hit the driveway. They whipped inside that front door like road runner. And within the first five minutes they had every single toy out of the toy box and had sniffed every corner of the house. If they had tails, they would have been wagging. I think those girls were happy to be home.
But I can tell you that the next day they were looking for the croissants. Sadly none were to be had. First, we got some from Whole Foods that were frozen and made in France. After baking them, L&P were indifferent, it was clear that made-in-France was more like, France, Iowa. Next we got some fresh baked ones at Whole Foods. Once single croissant was big enough to feed sixteen truckers. And doughy. Next, we went to the little 'French" patisserie nearby and realized that those croissants after our time in France were also wrong. Huge and topped with strange items like almonds, cheese and other things. And the pastries were huge and skyscraper like. Sadly, Momo realized that the true French pastry would not be found here. We will try the Williams Sonoma frozen croissants just once. After all, we can hope, can't we?
So here we are back in America. While the Momo family love their home, they would be happy to be back in France as would L&P. They are forever looking for the sidewalk buffet and sadly, old leaves and twigs are just not the same.
However, while we are still in California, we have taken a vote and have decided to continue the adventures of Lulu and Phoebe, only now it will be the Adventures of Lulu and Phoebe in Sunny California. After all, can you think of better place to lampoon than California?
Au Revior for the moment. We are going on a little break for a week, but we will be back with our first California adventure in another week. Can anyone say road trip?
L&P rate the hospitality of United Airlines (international) a big 9. It could be a 10 if the jet could peddle a little faster. They rate Jet Blue zip. But they did enjoy their Sturdibags once again, so a big thumbs up for Sturdibags at Sturdiproducts.com.