Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Vous voulez une "upgrade"?

So, after the splendid experiences in Amsterdam, I was ready to get on a plane, and sleep for 2 hours, and then hit the hotel in Marseille.

Get back to the airport.  Check.
Go back through passport control.  Check.
Get to the plane.  Check.
Fly for 2 hours, sleeping much of it.  Check.
Get to Marseille.  Check.

Go through customs.  Not check.

Hmm. Seems that Customs and Immigration dudes in Marseille airport go home at 10.  And we pulled in at 10:30pm.  So when I saw the signs that said (and I loosely translate, because I'm not all that good with le Francais yet) "If you are importing meat products, please go directly to the Customs Officer.", I was at a bit of a loss.  You see, I'd imported about 20 pounds of Trader Joe's goodies for the Ireland family, and much of it was Turkey Jerky.  In my books, that's 'meat products'. but the customs office was shut up tighter than a drum. 

What to do, what to do?

Well, I did what any good thief in the night would do.  I gathered up my luggage from the carousel, and raced out to the car rental place, where Ken was being schmoozed by the lovely French lady who was so sorry, but there was no Renault Micro-Wagon for us, so they were so very sorry, but they would have to do the upgrade for us, no charge, of course.

What a shame.  We had to spend the week in an SUV.

I cringe.  It was VERY American Tourist of us.

But it was a blessing, because we got to take 2 extra cousins with us on every excursion, so it was a bit more of a mix-around conversation-wise on all the days that we went places.

And with it approaching midnight, we were very happy to discover that we could actually SEE the hotel from the rental car place.  And while Ken and I loaded up the luggage, Skip went cruising through the mostly-deserted parking lot, scooping up luggage carts, and returning them to the depot, collecting the 1-Euro coins that were disgorged from the cart when they were returned.

We were in for another surprise at the hotel.  Seeing as things had gone so smoothly with the car, I thought things would go equally swimmingly at the hotel.  Ken had researched it online before we'd come over, and while things were a little vague, he figured that an Adult Triple room (with 2 children staying free) was the way to go, so that's what he'd ordered.  The guy at the front desk of the Hotel Etap, though, he laughed at us when Ken tried to check in.  "Oh no, sir.  A triple room only holds three persons.  You need two rooms for 5 people, even if two are enfants."

And so we ended up with two rooms, across the hall from each other.  And when I opened the door of Room Number One, I figured out why.  A triple room?  It was BARELY enough for three people to walk in the door.  We couldn't even keep all the luggage in the room.  The triple?  It was a double bed with a single bed loft above it.  And you walked sideways past the bed to get to the little corner WC.

But it was an experience.   And we did fine.  And the kids crashed into the beds, and had a great night's sleep.

And we were in France!

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