Monday, May 16, 2016

Bordeaux to Britain, Days 6-8

Day 6, 4/28/16

After coming back to the ship from Guernsey, getting cleaned up and eating dinner, Mom & I skipped the reception line for our distinguished guest and spent a quiet evening reading, writing notes on the day (Mom) and downloading photos (me).  Thursday, April 28 was a day at sea as we moved from Guernsey to Normandy, France.

Mom and I had our usual breakfast, hung around for a bit afterwards and talked to people, and then went back to the room to get ready to face the day.  Dressed and made up and all that jazz, we headed up to the little theater to listen to a talk from our guest lecturer, David Eisenhower.  I'm sorry that link doesn't have a current picture, because he does look very much like his grandfather.  His wife, who is equally recognizable, is Julie Nixon Eisenhower.

The lecture was good, mostly about Normandy, both the history and then the events of WWII, culminating of course in D-Day.  After the lecture, we had lunch, then spent a quiet afternoon, including a nap for me.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Get off mah lawn!

The good news is that I now have a cane to wave at any young whippersnappers, plus I have really adorable knee dimples. The bad news is that I have a fucking cane on the day I am reading at the wedding of my oldest friend in the world because I wasn't paying attention last night and missed a step into the garage. One. Damn. Step. I got up, got the dog food out of the car, came in the house and went about my normal routine, including evening meds and bed at 11. I woke up at 3 with horrible pain, and because my knee wouldn't support my weight, it took me an hour to get dressed and put the dog downstairs and drive myself to the hospital. After x-rays, ibuprofen, an ice pack and some shade from a young male doc about my weight, they set me free at 6 to go pick up more meds and a cane. I have to give a huge thanks to the pharmacist on duty at my local Walgreen's. He let me wait in my car in the drive-through, went out to the retail side and got me a quad cane, filled my prescriptions and ran it all through my insurance while being incredibly nice. Then we worked together to get the cane through the drive-through window so I didn't have to go inside.

So I got home, fed LMPP, took some ibuprofen and fell asleep for a few hours. I am going to this wedding and I am stopping to pick up a frame for the magical wedding certificate Violante de Rojas made for the brides.

Of course, I am also going to look like a damn fool, because I am one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bordeaux to Britain Days 4-5

Day 4, 4/26

Day 4 was St. Malo, France, where there is a medieval abbey, Mont St. Michel.  Our daily info sheet warned us the walk was pretty rugged, and my ankle still hurt, so I opted to stay on the ship.  There were only 2 other wimps, but we had a nice lunch and I read a lot, put my foot up and took a long nap.  The only thing missing was a hot bath!

Day 5, 4/27

On day 5, we got an extra hour, due to being on British time rather than French, and so we got to see the ship approach Guernsey, one of Britain's Channel Islands.

More words and pictures after the jump!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Bordeaux to Britain, Days 1-3

Day 1, 4/23/16

Mom and I both had milestone birthdays last year, so this year we celebrated with our first Smithsonian trip.  From Bordeaux to Britain was a 7 night cruise about the French ship L'Austral.  Of course, first we had to get to Bordeaux.

Mom and Dad picked me up at 3:00 Saturday afternoon and Dad dropped us off at the airport to catch a 5:30 flight to Detroit.  I stopped at an airport newsstand to pick up a bottle of water and a granola bar, and caught up with Mom, only to find her at the bar on the way to our gate, chatting with the county executive and a local mayor on their way to Hanover, Germany for a trade conference.  They were on our flight to Detroit.  The flight was short, only 25 minutes, and we had plenty of time to eat overpriced caprese sandwiches near the gate before our 8 p.m. flight to Amsterdam.

On board the big-ass Delta Airbus, we met another mother-daughter duo who were going on the same cruise but with a different group, the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  B and her mom W are from Columbus, and the daughter and widow respectively of a WWII veteran who participated in the landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day.  W is 90, which is not something I would ordinarily mention, but which became important later.  We got all settled in the plane and then sat on the runway for a hour while they replaced the radio.  Delta wouldn't move us to another plane because it was "not a safety issue".

Once we were in the air and the cabin crew started serving drinks, they apparently got enough questions about potential missed connections that the captain came on and said don't pester the cabin crew, they can't do anything.  Then he said, "We are aware that some of you have tight connections.  Delta is aware our flight is late, staff on the ground is late, and we will do everything we can to see that you make your connections" (emphasis mine).  So I tried some of the pasta that smelled wonderful and wasn't, enjoyed the brownie, drank a boatload of water and napped fitfully while one of my seatmates watched The Revenant.

Eventually we landed, at 11:45 a.m. Amsterdam time, which was 5:45 a.m. Akron time.  Delta's idea of doing everything they could to make sure we made our connection was to have an employee meet us at the gate, look at our boarding passes and tell the 4 of us to go to gate B-36.  No one offered to call the gate and have them keep the doors open, no one offered transportation to the departure gate, and no one seemed to care that they were telling a 90 year old woman to walk from one end of the A terminal to the opposite end of the B terminal in under 10 minutes when it was a minimum of a 20 minute walk for an average adult.  A non-Delta airport employee helped us whisk through Customs but to no avail, by the time we made the gate they'd closed the doors of the plane.

After we walked all the way back to the A terminal, we got to stand for another 45 minutes while KLM agents tried to book us on the next day's flight and tried to call the ship to tell them not to expect us until Monday.  Then it was downstairs all the way through cavernous baggage claim to get our hotel and meal vouchers, then back upstairs and out of the damn airport to wait for the bus to our hotel.  It was 2:30 p.m. Amsterdam time when we got to the hotel and grabbed some lunch.  That's 8:30 a.m. Akron time and we'd basically been up for 26 hours and traveling for 19 hours.

Short digression:  the dog knocked me over about a week before we left and I was so concerned with the giant bruises that I didn't really notice I had a sprained ankle.  I very much noticed it by the time we'd walked all over Hell's high acre, aka the Amsterdam airport.  I'd also forgotten to pack any ibuprofen.  Because our hotel was in a freeway service plaza, after lunch Mom and I walked over to the gas station to see if they had any ibuprofen or aspirin.  Unfortunately, all they had was paracetemol, aka Tylenol, which does zip for me.  However, the flowers at the gas station were exquisite and heart-lifting.  After we walked back to the hotel, I took a nap, and then Mom and i had coffee in the lounge, then read for a bit, then had dinner.  After dinner, we both took the showers we desperately needed and washed our socks and such and then left a wake-up call and went to bed.

The next morning we were on the bus headed for the airport at 8:20, managed to catch the 12:30 flight to Bordeaux with no problems.  As dog is my witness, I will never willingly fly Delta again.

Days 2 and 3 with lots of pictures after the jump!