Anyone who recalls the trip I took last year to Wales with Sandy will perhaps note that there was little hostility at any point during our travels. Except toward the tour guide who sent us wandering down a path along the ocean that ended up being closed, and thus resulted in an unexpected mountain climbing expedition. As traveling companions go, Sandy and I move at similar speed and enjoy the same amount of planning and activities per day. Just enough to keep us entertained, but not so much that we keep staring at our watches lest we slip 5 minutes off schedule.
I am beginning to have concerns about the trip to France Robert and I are planning. My first clue that this was going to be a bit more intense was when Robert started shoving a Travel Guide into my hands every time I sit down. “Read this and make notes,” he says. I respond, “Vacations should not require homework.” I don’t want to be tired of France before I get there. I want to read about it while I’m soaking it all in - staring at the little note card describing “Winged Victory”- or listening to the audio tour as I wander about Versailles. Is there a test I have to take before I get into the country that I don’t know about? A pop quiz? Can’t I just be surprised?
I am not totally ignorant. After all, I’ve read “To The Scaffold,” the story of Marie Antoinette. I’ve watched a multitude of Anthony Bourdain shows in and around Paris, and I saw Les Miserables. Twice. I’ve also read “Sex with Kings” and “Sex with Queens,” which I believe will provide those “ah ha!” moments when I hear a courtesan’s name mentioned and can say to Robert, “Madame de Pompadour! That’s the woman Louis XV was fooling around with… her maiden name was Poisson, or ‘Fish.’ Courtiers hated her. Imagine the field day they had with that name!” Then I can add in confidence, “Madame du Barry was the successor to Madame Pompadour. She was an infamous Parisian prostitute many of the courtiers had already ‘enjoyed.’ Talk about awkward dinner conversation.”
Madame de Pompadour
Madame du Barry
THAT’s my idea of intriguing French history and research. Real Housewives of the French Court.
Last week, Robert handed me an Excel sheet with each day laid out by the hour – and asked me to fill in the empty spaces in the schedule. The problem with that is I am a lazy traveler. I want to have a few things in mind, then “play it by ear.” Although Robert says he is willing to do some of the “play it by ear” thing, I believe the Excel sheet indicates something else ENTIRELY.
The truth is, it’s nice to have someone who is capable of planning and researching how we are going to get around so we’re not at the Metro freaking out.
On the other hand, I wonder what his reaction will be when he looks at the Excel sheet and discovers my evil plotting. (As usual, I am not cooperating in the full sense of the word.) For one thing, I read enough to learn they have golf cart rentals at Versailles. The carts shut down if you try to take them off the prescribed paths. Therefore, my contributions to our schedule include:
13:00 Sunday: Versailles – Rent golf cart for the self guided tour.
13:10 Sunday: Rig golf cart to go anywhere we want.
8:00 Monday: Assure American Embassy we will behave ourselves from now on.
10:00 Monday: Purchase disguises so we can re-enter the grounds of Versailles and enjoy the gardens on foot.
13:00 Monday: Find nearest sidewalk cafe. Sit. Order vin blanc, baguette and fromage. Relax for next 2 – 4 hours.
13:00 – Tuesday: Find nearest sidewalk cafe. Sit. Order vin blanc, baguette and fromage. Relax for next 2 -4 hours.
Wednesday: You get the idea.