2-All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…

In the last post I talked about planning a tour.  This was spurred by a comment at my church last Sunday when someone asked (after I was in Europe for three weeks), “How was your vacation?”  I laughed and it got me thinking that most people don’t have a clue what I do when I’m in Europe.  Let me tell you it ain’t a vacation all the time, but it ain’t a bad gig either!

So my tour is planned, I’ve got people signed-up and paid to go, and they are all flying off from different destinations in the US to meet me in, let’s say Paris.  My job here is to get to Paris before them, beat the jet-lag, and collect them all in one location at the airport so we can get to our hotel.  Sounds easy, but have you ever had a flight delay or cancellation?  Imagine a group of 25 people all trying to get to the same place in Europe from multiple destinations in the USA.  Something is bound to go wrong. 

Let’s say it’s now about 1:00 p.m. and everyone has arrived, and I’ve even secured a shuttle bus to take the group from the airport to our hotel in central Paris.  So we all try to get to the bus, and then there is this guy who just now remembers he needs to get money from the ATM.  I smile, point out the ATM, and then wait with the whole group while he goes to the machine.  Here we are, 25 people with luggage in tow, blocking the elevator, and waiting on this guy to get cash from the ATM.  Finally, I go over to him and try to help him out without looking at his secret PIN#.  The screen is all in French because he did not choose the “English” option at the beginning and now we both are caught up in some unending jargon about fees, service charges, and exchange rates…all in French!  I tell him it’s ok, just push the “Yes” button and his euro currency will be delivered from the little slot below, just like at home.  But no, that won’t work!  He cancels the transaction, swears a bit, and then we rejoin the group…without cash.

Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulles airport is an icon.  It was featured in a James Bond film when the villain chased Bond through a maze of “space-aged” lexan tunnels.  Now, after about 40 years of decay, they finally started to spruce up the joint.  Unfortunately it’s still under construction and many of the exits are closed.  So, we look for an elevator to take us down three levels to the bus. 

Imagine 25 people with luggage trying to crowd into an elevator just a little larger than a coffin.  Soooo…forty-five minutes later we arrive at the bus just three short floors below.  Sixty percent of the people heeded my lessons about packing light.  The other forty percent arrive red-faced and sweating with their one VERY large bag and one very large carry-on.  The bus driver and I groan as we load ’em in the cargo hold.

Everyone is on the bus, the luggage is loaded, and we all can take a deep sigh….

(to be continued)
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About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.
  1. Susan Reply

    OK- so this blog reminds me of two things about Paris….One being the Charles de Gaulles airport and my adventure there or should I say lack of it… On one trip to Paris with David I had decided to break from the group since I had already visited what they were seeing that day and decided to venture out on my own- I carefully studied the subway map and knew which stop I should get off on and away I went… my stop arrived and even though I have a Master’s degree I could not figure out the latch that opened the subway door- so I missed my stop and ended up at the airport. I was in quite a panic until somehow and I still don’t know how I was able to turn around and go back to my stop. I tried to graphically describe this adventure later that night using ashtrays about how I was going one way and then suddenly I was going another way… It was amusing to all my traveling buddies- I think David may have it on some type of video somewhere. The moral of this story is to never travel alone and make sure you know how the subway doors work. My other Paris memory was how Beth Powell and I barely fit in an elevator together breast to breast- quite literally without our luggage in a Paris hotel! Yes I am one of those who carries too much luggage and didn’t want to carry it up a bunch of stairs!

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