She was a day tripper, a one way ticket ...
And it all started so well - up at 4.30, and off to Stansted to catch the 7.10 am to Lyon in central France. I was off to check out a cute Dutch river cruiser.. I'd booked and paid for a car, and was excited, if slightly apprehensive, at the thought of driving on the wrong side of the road, but hey - I'd done it before, and there's far less traffic on French roads. Three days mooching in the middle of France lay before me.
I'd done the usual checks - money, passport, tickets, driving licence, road map - yep. Little niggle - on the way to the airport I remembered I'd forgotten my toothbrush. Oh well, mentally practising brosse a dents, brosse a dents, onwards and upwards...
And upwards it was - plane a third full - a whole row of seats to myself - things were flying!
Short flight to Lyon, over a countryside like a rumpled unmade bed, a smooth landing, and off into an unknown airport. So it wasn't a surprise that it took quite a while to sort out that the location d'automobiles was in fact a short shuttle bus ride away. As I got outside the airport, a shuttle was waiting. On I hopped, checked (en francais) with the driver that we were going in the right direction - Oui - and after a false start, ended up at Avis.
Yes, she found my name on her list. Smiles all round, then
'Votre carte de credit?'
And that was the first one. I couldn't picture my chipper new silver card wallet anywhere in my bag. I could, however, clearly see it in my other bag, hanging in the hall at home... No amount of brandishing a handful of euros would budge her. I couldn't get the car. Nor could I get a train, nor a bus, nor rent a room for the night - a handful of euros was going to get me nowhere..
And this was the second one. There was nothing for it, but to transfer my Thursday flight home to this afternoon. But the girl at ****jet desk back in the airport quoted me a price WAY over the increasingly meagre notes I was now clutching anxiously. Oh for a few euros more! 'You mean, I've got to LIVE in the airport for THREE days?' I couldn't believe it.. She shrugged slender and elegant and very French shoulders. 'Je peux rien faire, Madame. Desolee.' It was such a surreal Tom Hanks moment. Incroyable! Visions of kipping on a row of hard seats or in the chapel, cleaning my teeth under automated taps, spending those precious euros on inflated airport coffee and sandwiches and prowling the long long corridors of the airport lounges..
And that was before I went to the loo - bloody thing, flushing and flushing and flushing, as I brushed past the autosensor. Foreign plumbing! Grrrrrrrrrrrr