Bienvenue, mes ami et ma famille,
Iceland Air is great – and did you know all their international connections go through Reykjavik? I met the loveliest couple from Puyallup, Washington, in the adjacent seats on the flight segment from Seattle. I so regret not asking for the names of this bright and fit lady and gentleman who told me they were on their way to Surrey, England, to visit their son. They proudly announced that their son runs Boeing UK operations, and they were going to celebrate her birthday. The wife said softly, “I think this will be our last trip.” Of course, I asked “Why? “ She said that she was the birthday they are celebrating would be her 80th and she thinks that’s old enough for this kind of travel. I immediately though of Maude in “Harold and Maude” who decided to pack it in at 80 – seems terribly young to be having those thoughts these days, doesn’t it? I mentioned how my 90-year-old mother often reflects that one must take advantage of the phase of life when you have the money and health and spare time to travel. My seat-mate heartily agreed. We wished each other well and safe travels.
Mike and I easily made our 55-minute layover connection in Reykjavik and finally arrived Paris Charles De Gaulle airport 1pm Wednesday, safe but exhausted. In spite of all my clever anti-jetlag techniques, these long haul flights are certainly becoming exhausting with age. The technique that completely and utterly backfired was to not drink any caffeine in order to encourage sleep. Didn’t have coffee. Didn’t sleep. It was in state of exhaustion and caffeine withdrawal that I attempted to find our rental car counter. Long story short, I couldn’t find the counter for the Dollar Rent a Car we’d reserved and ended up signing a contract with a charming Sixt car rental agent who, sympathizing with my situation, graciously produced a Toyota Yaris for 10 times the bargain price we’d planned to pay. He knew, as we did, we’d pay a king’s ransom for anything that would get us to Giverny. Lesson learned was to read the reservation fine print, which clearly state the Thrifty Rental Car counter immediately adjacent to my Sixt charmer was honoring our Dollar rental. Fortunately, the 3-day rental won’t break the bank, and I’ll get it back when Sixt honors the bargain rate they’re giving me in Zagreb.
I’d discovered that Giverny is on the route we’d planned to take to Normandy, and while I knew we wouldn’t have much time there, I’d hoped to arrive in time to visit Monet’s home, gardens and water lily ponds before they closed at 6pm. The drive from Roissy to Giverney is less than an hour through green farmland and quaint villages, and we easily found Le Dime de Giverny B&B with our GPS. Two friendly and cheerful English women enjoying a cup of tea in the courtyard greeted us.
Jet-lagged Maggie at Giverny
They shared that they’d been to Monet’s home that morning, a 10 minute walk up the road, arriving early before the crowds to enjoy the place before the tour buses arrived. We quickly threw our bags in our room, walked up rue Claude Monet and spent a good hour exploring the home and grounds. I’m so happy we had the time.
Tired and hungry, trying to stay awake until a suitable bedtime, we ate dinner at the only restaurant open at 5:30 pm, a near-empty bar with cold sandwiches. We again spotted the English ladies on the restaurant terrace enjoying a glass of wine. We learned that they are Mo Hooper and Judy Pearson, best friends from their Bedford College days, retired Physical Education teachers who take an annual trip together.
Mo and Judy
We met once more at breakfast and they agreed to let me take their picture for my blog. I could tell they were dear, long-time friends when, while taking their picture, Judy announced she’d stand behind Mo to make herself look better. What fun these two are, and I’m sure their choice of professions contributed significantly to their energy, fitness and zest for life.
Before ending our stay we met the Granade family, celebrating their son, Jay’s, 15th birthday exploring France.
They had been all over, and after Giverny are driving to Brussels to fly home to Atlanta.Dr. Grande, a dentist, spotted Mike’s dental braces and thrilled him by saying that meant he was young. Jay, an avid history buff, enthusiastically agreed this was one great birthday gift.
Our gracious hosts at Le Dime de Giverny have so tastefully renovated and restored what was once the local tax collector’s home and office (he who collected the dimes) into a comfortable and welcoming bed and breakfast.
Next, we storm Normandy beaches……