Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Destination: France...and Ireland!

It has been four years since we visited family in France, and it is over-due. This year, we will set out with only three children, how strange that they grew up and into their own lives this quickly, and how good too. Cate will actually meet us there, as she has earned a grant to conduct her own research project in France this summer. It is always good to spend time in France, and always so hard to leave again.  What I am also looking forward to is a little three-day leg of the journey in Ireland...I have always dreamed of seeing this ancestral homeland. Just like a large percentage of the population of the US, my family has a lot of Irish in us. Even my husband has adopted his right to claim Irishness (by marriage and by love of a good brew).

Thierry discovered, in his own travels back and forth, that the easiest way to survive the whole customs and passport process was to travel through Dublin. He has found it so very less tedious, that he insisted we find a flight that took this route to France. The discussion may have taken on a "fine, then YOU book the trip, honey." It was tricky, because it seems there was not a way to book a three-day layover on the way home. If I have to fly through Dublin, I figured we might as well take a look around for five minutes, right? 

In the end, about three months after the beginning of the proceedings, I did my research and became the travel agent of the family again. My homeschooler, Gael and I, had been listening to "Ireland, a History," by Thomas Bartlett. He absolutely wants to visit New Grange, I know we have to see Galway, so flying back out of Shannon made more sense than sticking around Dublin the whole time.
In what had begun as a private session between my computer and myself, but ended up in bad couples therapy, I simply booked from here to Bordeaux, via Dublin, then a return ticket out of Shannon, back home, ignoring, for the moment, that we had no way of getting back to Ireland from France. I had confidence it would all work out just fine.

True, the last time I did that for Paris, we ended up hauling seven suitcases up and down a million metro and train staircases to take train upon subway upon train, to get from one end to the other. Oh, and there was a subway strike that further prolonged the journey. Fortunately, no one bothered to blame me for the plans gone a bit wonky, they were too excited to be in Paris. The time before that, we went through London, the cheapest way, and got stranded because of a volcanic eruption in Iceland. One adventure after another. My most-observant husband, breathing down my neck as I was triumphantly hitting "BOOK" on the screen, almost had heart-complications. He gasped, "but wait; you don't have a flight from Bordeaux to Shannon; hey; how are we getting back to Ireland? Wait!" Click, done.

"Honey, I'll figure it out; look; the return flight was only $400, what a deal! We'll drive, take a train, a ferry or a bus or whatever, chill." Half an hour later, during my son's viola lesson, I calmly booked five tickets for Bordeaux-Dublin (there is no flight for Bordeaux-Shannon), and a rental car to get from there to the other side of the island (a whole two hours), and then on to the airport to return home. The small detail that we have never driven a car on the "wrong" side of the road did not elude Thierry. I figured we might have a lesson or two at a British driving school in France while we were there. I guess I should go figure out if such a thing exists, right? Ooo; or maybe an IRISH driving school; beers following the lesson. That should do it.

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