Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Paris Airport

My nieces (Megan and Katey) (my sister Michelle's daughters) arrived in Paris on Tuesday.  James and I drove to the airport to pick them up (about 2 hours) and to rent a car, since our party would now not all fit in the Mercedes.  We rented the smallest, cheapest car we could...since we'd need it for a month.  It's actually a new car, smells good, has air conditioning, and even though it's small...we like it better than the old, stinky Mercedes.

The rental car.  Room for 4!

Driving to the airport, we had no problems.  I drove and James navigated with Garmin.  Most of the way to the airport is quite straight forward.  It's the last 30 minutes when you have to change freeways/roads at least 12 times.  That's a bit dicey, but we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  We rented the new car and then waited for the girls and Lukas and Liza to arrive.  Once they arrived, Liza and Lukas headed in to Paris to spend several days together (we're picking Lukas up on Sunday and he'll stay with us until we leave at the end of August) and James and I and the girls headed to the parking structure.



First hiccup...James couldn't find the parking ticket, which you have to pay before you get back to your car.  I went to the car, couldn't find it there.  So, now we have a lost ticket and from my reading of the parking tolls, it looks like lost tickets pay 60 euro...ugh!  James went down to Hertz to see if they would give us another parking ticket.  They said it wouldn't work for the second car, because it wasn't in the car rental part of the lot, which has a separate entrance, but gave us one anyway.  I put the girls in the Mercedes and James went to the rental car.  I tried to figure out a way to get the Mercedes into the rental car lot, but I was unsuccessful.

Now I'm starting to worry that I am going to have to pay 60 euro to get the car out.  I'm also flashing back to our first day in Paris, when our host picked us up and we had quite the time trying to get out of the parking structure (we had a similar set up with his Mercedes and a rental car following.  It finally took him French...into the little voice box at the exit to convince the invisible parking person to let us both out!  We had accidentally gone out the wrong gate, which had taken our paid ticket and wouldn't give it back....and we still had another gate to get out.  All very confusing, and I swore when we finally got out of the structure, that I would not drive to the airport ever again....when it came time to pick up the girls, I thought we'd use the train.  (You'd think I'd learn...but France is like child birth, you quickly forget the pain and do the same things all over again!)

Flash forward, here I am, in the Paris airport parking structure again, with the same type of issue.  No ticket to get out!  The Hertz folks had told James that all I needed to do was go the top of the parking structure and someone would help me.  They also said that the parking service actually takes a picture of every car that enters and the if you lose your ticket, they find your car and the time you entered and then give you a new ticket.  I told James I didn't believe this at all...but with no other option...up I went.  James was suppose to follow me, as I had Garmin and he didn't and we couldn't access the email that had the written instructions on how to get home (for some odd reason, it had disappeared off our email).

I got to the top of the parking structure and found a lovely young lady who did exactly what Hertz said she'd do.  In five minutes it was all taken care of and I was out of the structure.  Unfortunately, James was no where to be seen.  The exit from the rental car section of the structure dumped him out somewhere different.  After several phone calls back and forth (at $1.29 a minute!), we were not able to figure out where the other person was.  He said, go ahead...I'll figure it out.  At this point, I just said ok.  The airport was a nightmare and I wanted to get the girls home!

So, off we go, with Garmin as our leader.  Unfortunately, Garmin hates me.  After a couple of minutes, it's clear I've missed a turn...the next thing I know, we are driving through the center of Paris (absolutely the last place I wanted to be driving) and if the girls hadn't been with me, I would have pulled over to the shoulder and just cried!!!  But, I had young charges with me and needed to keep a relatively stiff upper lip.  It took 45 minutes, but I finally found the A6 and knew I would make my way home.  Once I found the A6, I called to see how James was fairing.  He'd had a similar experience as I had and ended up going back to the airport to try to find the right way home.  He was now driving through Paris too, and was on the hunt for the A6, which he eventually found.

Garmin within an inch of it's electronic life.  The lessons I'm learning in France are piling up.

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