Paris to Provins

Provins to Dijon

Dijon to Montbeliard

Montbeliard to Obernai

Obernai to Pont-A-Mousson

Pont-A-Mousson to Epernay

Epernay to Armentieres

Armentieres to Ieper

Ieper to Paris


Paris to Amboise

Amboise to Angers

Angers to Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel to Arromanches

Arromanches to Brezolles

Brezolles to Paris

Paris to Pruzilly

Pruzilly to Chamonix

Chamonix to Cueno, Italy

Cueno to Antibe

Antibe to Cuges Des Pins

Cuges Des Pins to Pont Du Guard

Pont Du Guard to Mende

Mende to Paris

Paris to Auckland via Hong Kong

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DAY 25 & DAY 26 - 29th to 30th October 2007

When we picked up the campervan Avis offered to book us a taxi when we returned the van. We declined and now changed our mind given the bad weather. This appeared to be a problem because taxis are a premium in Paris and you normally have to book them way in advance. Finally they found us a taxi which turned out to be a flash Mercedes with a slick driver who looked liked my cousin Aaron. In fact Aaron probably has a Mercedes or two in his collection.

The motorway was blocked, apparently somebody had finally got one of those pesky motorcyclists. After passing the accident we sped away, imagine this, its raining heavily, the car in front is two metres away, the road is submerged under water and we are aquaplaning, the brakes are wet and we are doing 120 kph. I am speechless and Roger wants me to check if the driver is related to Princess Diana’s last driver. Our Henri Paul wants to know when our plane leaves, not for another 5 hours, he slows down to 100 kph and then starts playing with his cellphone and occasionally looks up. I am pondering whether crash test dummies have been tested in these conditions. Several hours later we saw a guy in the airport with a young body but old face. Roger said he must have caught the same taxi. Paris motorwayAnyway we got to the airport in one piece for NZ$100 more than the train trip and had the experience of a lifetime, which could have been a fairly short lifetime. Roger did say the only consolation was that he knew in an accident that the driver was going to be between him and the thing that he hit.

At the airport we bought two T-Shirts and 2 books on all the things you should know before going to France. On checking the T-Shirts I found the size on the label was not correct and promptly returned it. All of a sudden the English speaking shop assistant didn’t speak a word of English and told me I needed a XXL, now he was in big trouble. In stepped French speaking Roger to explain the bag labelling mix up. They still pretended not to understand, then they advised I didn’t have to buy it and wouldn’t accept I had already bought it. After 20 minutes of debate and causing large queues in their shop they conceded and I went to the next shop with my refund. I bought an even better shirt and on checking the size found it was dirty and damaged. When I took it back they said I Painting of a bistrocouldn’t return it because I opened the bag. Not having Roger there to translate the man got a lesson in retail customer satisfaction and the back end of a pissed off Kiwi. I now have a new T-Shirt with no faults or dirty marks. Justice was served when I went back to spend the last of our Euros and an Asian was bargaining with the man to buy 2 chocolate bars for the price of 1 because it was all she had left. He stupidly conceded and she went and told her tour party who all headed off and demanded the same deal.

Eiffel TowerFrench workers are known for striking for no particular reason. Today it is Air France’s turn which seems to have upset the whole airport. Our check in staff don’t show up on time and then can’t use the computers. It took several men a long time to try and put up a sign, while they were away having a committee meeting about it a woman arrived with a drill, hung the sign and moved on.

metro stationThe friendly Cathy Pacific hostesses make up for the French delays by their constant pleasantness and efficiency in bringing drinks every time I push the button. They kept bringing the snack box to Roger without request, maybe they heard he was in the market for an Asian lady. My dehydration is related to my rugby flu. Roger reckons he got his flu off a South African that he had a close encounter with on the train. He went to a non English speaking pharmacy in France but unfortunately the phrase book we had only dealt with “I want to vomit”, “I want a blood transfusion”, or “I have venereal disease”. Roger must have mimed out pretty well what was wrong with him because he came back with a box that had a person on it with a red throat.

It was a different story when I got the flu and Roger’s medicine had run out. Roger did the talking and I did the actions. The shop assistant asked Roger some questions about my impending death. Question 1. “Does your friend have a heart condition?” Christ sake I have been on driving holiday with maniac Italian and French drivers, watched my rugby team’s worst ever world cup and slept in a paddock of Brussel Sprouts, what do you think? Question 2. “ Will your friend be driving?” What? In this country?, I am pretty sure Roger told her I was driving him up the wall. Question 3. “Is your friend pregnant?” by Roger’s smile and my rough translation I am sure he told her I was just fat.

Victoria Harbour from the PeakWe are now in Hong Kong airport and I have totally lost track of what day it is and how many meals I have had in the last 24 hours. The wireless computer card has packed a sad; it is missing French McDonalds obviously. While eating some bizarre intestines in some strange tasting liquid we have seen a wee Kieran and wonder about his exciting future living in a high humidity country, consuming noodles and indescribable floating bits, and growing up to be bilingual and culturally sensitive.

Note, after the rugby world cup loss no French men were allowed to enter NZ with us. There’s just some things you never forget... LEST WE FORGET

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