Sunday, October 15, 2017

Germany, France and Austria (December 2000)

Rachael is 19, Sam is 15 and Andrew is 12. This is based on pre-planned itinerary, written notes from the trip and some remembrances.

December 14, 2000 (Thursday):
We left for LAX about 12:45 p.m. and I dropped off Judy and the boys at Terminal 6 about 2:15 p.m. I drove our Siena to Parking Lot C and took a shuttle arriving at the terminal at 2:45 p.m. Judy saved a place for me in line, about half way up. She’d already checked our bags.
United Airlines flight 932 (Boeing 777 Jet) leaving at 4:30 p.m.
$529.90 each ($2,119.60 total)

December 15, 2000 (Friday):
I watched The Patriot on the airplane, had a meal of pasta filled with cheese (very good), Monterey Jack cheese on a cracker and some Mr. T’s Bloody Mary mix. I moved my watch ahead 9 hours. I got to sleep about 4 or 5 hours of fitful sleep. We arrived in Paris at Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Terminal 1, about 11:55 a.m. After waiting for our luggage we found Rachael waiting for us outside of customs. She’s been living outside Paris on a BYU Study Abroad program for the last semester.

We took a shuttle to the Holiday Inn where the Payless Car Rental is located (in Roissy En France) and rented a seven seat Ford Galaxy. Rachael negotiated for us in French and I stood looking on helplessly.

We took the A104 to near Paris, then the A4. The terrain is very flat and unremarkable in the lack of houses and people. We got off the A4 to travel about 8 km to Verdun, site of the bloodiest battle in history, about 1 million people killed there in World War I (the Great War). It was just getting dark, so we were not able to see the battle field. We did stop at a grocery store (Supermarche Match Verdun) and picked up food which we ate sitting in the car. We got some delicious sliced bread, Camembert cheese (like Brie, but not as spicy, I like Brie better), Boursin cheese, some of the best ever, soft spreading and spicy yet mellow - the best, a Bleu d’ Auvergne cheese, like a mild Roquefort, some Coca Cola Lite (diet) to help keep me awake and some Schweppes Lemon (like the bitter lemon in England).

We drove through Metz then almost down to Strasbourg, up the A35, then across the Rhine to Baden Baden, Germany. We went too far, back-tracked to the A5 autobahn, and were blown away by how fast people were driving in the fast lane. We were going 160 km/hr (100 mph) at the fastest and still had cars go by us like we were standing still. We got to Pforzheim about 9:00 p.m. where we met Mom (Doris) Kenison and Ebbie (Eberhard), her boyfriend, at a hotel. We then followed them through Pforzheim to the Hotel Hannameyer on Wilhelm Wieland Allee. Judy, Rachael and Mom stayed in one room. Andrew, Sam and I in another room.

The Frank is about $.14288, or 7 to the dollar. We hit seven tolls in France, of 11, 20, 21, 40, 21, 22 and 41 FF, or a total of 176 FF, about $25.14. .

December 16, 2000 (Saturday):
I woke up about 3:00 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I eventually went out on a walk at 5:10 a.m. and walked to; 6:50 a.m. It was cold, but I stayed warm.

Judy’s grandmother, Oma (mother of Mom Kenison), had a brother who died at Verdun. Ebbie’s father lost a leg, by hand grenade, at Verdun. We visited the cemetery in Pforzheim and saw the grave of Oma’s brother, Gustave. 35,000 were killed in the Allied bombing of Pforzheim on February 23, 1945. 17,000 of them are buried in the cemetery.

We drove downtown and saw where Mom Kenison used to live (it was destroyed in the bombing, but has been rebuilt). We had lunch, and I had smoked salmon, as did Ebbie.

We drove to Stuttgart and went to the Christmas Mart. The smell of the warm wine was overwhelming.

We then drove to Rosenfeld, down the A81 and over toward Balingen, home of Ebbie’s son and his family, the Rauschenbergers, and stayed at their home. We had a dinner of maltaschen and homemade apple cider and pear juice.

December 17, 2000 (Sunday):
I got up early and walked through Rosenfeld, past the church. I left about 5:30 a.m. and got back about 7:15 a.m. We had a wonderful breakfast including Black kForest ham, rolls, jam, regular ham, eggs, granola, yogurt and meuslix.

We drove from Rosenfeld to Alpirsbah, to Schiltach to Haslach to Freiburg (we viewed Freiburg Cathedral and the Christmas Mart). We drove to Birnau and visited the rococo church which overlooks the Bodensee or Lake Kostanz. The church hade beautiful gold ornate figures and murals painted on the ceilings.

We drove through the Black Forest and saw pine trees with snow in the boughs and smoke coming [u1]  up in spots, which Mom Kenison called rabbits making breakfast. We had lunch at Gtuttgarter Hofbrau, in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). I had a chef salad with anchovies and the boys had schnitzel.

We stayed in Isny and ate at Aral Tanksteele (a petrol station for 24.24 DM). We had bread, sardines, and cheese sandwiches. We walked the market after hours and saw beautiful carvings.

December 18, 2000 (Monday):
Rachael and I went on an early walk in Isny, from 5:15 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. We walked through the town, looking in shops. The streets were icy and we partially slipped many times. We had breakfast at Baren “The Bear” in Isny: cheese on bread, cereal (meuslix) and orange juice.

We visited Neuschwanstein Castle (the model for the Disney Castle) and had beautiful scenery in the Alps, especially Fussen. Then we drove on to Salzburg, Austria and visited the Christkinder Market.

We checked into Pension Elizabeth in Salzburg (150 DM).

December 19, 2000 (Tuesday):
We had a breakfast of rolls, butter, spreadable cheese, jam and honey, and one glass of orange juice.

We visited Salzburg Cathedral which has a beautiful dome with a dove at the top. Mozart’s birthplace is on about the third floor of a yellow multi-story building. It had several of Mozart’s violins, several harpsichords, letters written by Mozart and his father, Leopold, and paintings of Mozart, his children and wife and father. We visited the Mozarteum where Rachael played several years ago. We also visited the Mirabel Palace where Rachael played the piano. We bought Mozart chcocolates for Rachael’s host family and for our New Year’s celebration. At Bunzlauer Keramik Judy got a Christmas tree, a bowl and some fairies.

We drove to Ulm. Along the way we got gas in Munich ()Munchen).

 In Ulm where we stayed at the Munster Hotel right next door to the Cathedral, the tallest church in the world and the second largest Gothic cathedral in Germany (after Cologne). We walked to the Weinacht Market which was right next to our hotel. Judy and Rachael got sauerkraut, I got olives and peppers.  

December 20, 2000 (Wednesday):
I walked a little more than an hour in Ulm early in the morning. We ate at Kasenmeyer’s near our hotel. At the open air market we bought dried apples, honey, oranges, peppered mackeral, smoked halibut and smoked and salted herring.

We walked up all of the 768 steps in the spire of Ulm Cathedral. It was very cold, but had great views.

We drove to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the best preserved medievel towns in Germany. The walls around the town date from the 14th and 15th centuries. St. Jakobskirche was built from 1373 to 1436. For part of our time there, Judy and Rachael went off with Mom Kenison and I stayed with Sam and Andrew. The girls ate at Baumeilter Haus and we sampled some eclairs and a sausage sandwich. Judy bought a wood fisherman nutcracker smoking a pipe.

Then we drove to Speyer where we stayed and ate at the Trutzpfaff Hotel-Restaurant. I noted that Andrew got a bratwurst and we got some bitter lemon and sauerkraut.

The DM is $.4698.

December 21, 2000 (Thursday):
Speyer.  On the Rhine River is sometimes called Spires in English. In 1146 the 2nd Crusade was preached at Speyer by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The cathedral, begun in 1030, is one of the greatest Romanesque buildings in Germany and contains the tombs of eight emperors.

Rachael and I walked from 5:55 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. past Speyer Cathedral and along the Rhine River. We saw a large ship going up the Rhein and a small river emptying into the Rhine.

We visited Speyer Cathedral, including the tombs with about 8 kings from the 1000s to 1200s. Mom K said this cathedral was built for power, this is where the initial German kings were crowned. It is much more simple and massive than other cathedrals we’ve seen. It is a beautiful pinkish sandstone, my favorite.

We must have parted ways with Mom K in Speyer (I’m assuming she must have taken the train back to Stuttgart). We headed out through Saarbrucken and to Caen, France, about 8 hours away. We have 10 different tolls listed in Franch and noted we stopped for gas and sandwiches and salads at an Autogrill in Waltenheim, outside Saarbrucken.

We stayed at a Novotel in Caen (911.50 FF or $128.92). For dinner we want to the Carrefour in Caen and got Boursin cheese, bread, lettuce, avocado, white salad dressing, some crab and fish type pate, yogurt and fried chicken.

December 22, 2000 (Friday):
We visited the War Memorial in Caen, the American cemetery at Omaha Beach and Point du Hoc. I was very touched at both the War memorial and at the cemetery. Tears came to my eyes several times thinking of the horrors the men went through and the number of people who died. Nearly 10,000 are buried at Omaha Beach. White crosses with the names of the soldiers and their state. Also crosses for unknown soldiers and a wall with the names of missing soldiers. A beautiful long sandy beach stretches out for a great distance. Utah Beach is not visible from Omaha. The size of the landing area is miles long. The British air troopers parachuted into Caen and the America air troopers parachuted inland from Utah Beach. The Americans landed at Omaha and Utah Beaches. The British and Canadians landed further north at Juno and Gold Beaches.

William the Conqueror.  William the Conqueror is buried in the Church of Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen which he founded. Caen was William’s favorite residence. William’s castle was destroyed during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. William, like his father, was duke of Normandy. Edward the Confessor, the cousin of William and also king of England, promised William he would succeed him as king of England. Harold, earl of Wessex, was shipwrecked on the French coast and turned over to William. William extracted an oath from him to support William’s interests in England. When William learned that Harold had been crowned king of England, William raised an army, sailed to England and killed Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. William was crowned king of England on Christmas Day. The English did not readily accept him as king, so he had to harshly suppress them and ravaged great sections of England. Titles to the lands of the decimated native nobility were called in and redistributed on a feudal basis to William’s Norman followers. In 1085 he ordered a survey of England which is embodied in the Domesday Book. He was killed in a riding accident at Rouen. William was one of the greatest kings of England.

Normandy.  Normandy (Normandie in French) is a region and former province in France. It now includes five departments: Manche, Calvados, Eure, Seine-Maritime and Orne. Caen is in the department of Calvados. Mont Saint Michel and the beaches of Omaha and Utah are in the department of Manche.

D-Day.  On June 6, 1944, a huge Allied invasion, known as D-Day, attacked Hitler’s troops located on the west coast of France and eventually liberated France from German occupation. Paratroopers were initially sent in to divert the Germans, capture certain fortifications and destroy certain bridges. For two months prior and heavily right before, the German batteries on the coast were heavily bombed. On the evening of June 5th and early June 6th 2,500 bombers dropped 8,000 tons of explosives on the ten largest batteries in the landing zone (the craters from the bombs are still visible at Pointe du Hoc). Because of tidal variations, the landings of troops from 800 warships and 4,000 landing craft carrying tanks and infantry were staggered from the west to the east (American troops at Utah and Omaha Beaches and then British and Canadian troops at Gold, Juno and then Sword Beaches). 150,000 soldiers were involved and 20,000 vehicles. Utah Beach was the easiest landing with only 200 casualties. On the other hand, at Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the D-Day battles, over 2,000 people were killed in a few hours.  Eventually, about 100,000 people lost their lives in the Normandy campaign that lasted from June to August. 

Le Memorial de Caen.  Outside the War Memorial are flagpoles with the flags of all of the nations involved in World War II. It was neat to see the German flag included, given the animosity we could feel and see between the French and Germans. Each involved nation also provided an engraved stone with a saying or quote. The United States stone included a portion of the message given by Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower to the troops just prior to D-Day to the effect that the eyes of the world were upon them.

The War Memorial begins with a section called the “Failure of peace.” It shows the progress of world affairs from the signing of the armistice at the end of World War I to the declaration of World War II. A downward spiral suggests a slow descent into hell and the colors gradually darken suggesting the decline of peace and approach of war. Photographs, posters, documents and films recall major events. The second section, “France in the dark years,” deals with the declaration of war, the occupation of France, the resistance and France and repression by the Germans. In particular, we watched a film of the blitzkrieg of Britain which showed how several hundred British air fighters held back the onslaught of German warplanes which continuously bombed London and other areas of England. The third section, “World war – Total war,” deals with the USA and USSR entering the war and the presence of industry, science and technology as the war globalized. Section four,  “D-Day,” is a split screen simultaneously showing events on both the Allied and German sides, including actual footage of events and excerpts from fictional films. Section five, “The Battle of Normandy,” is a film showing the 70 days after D-Day, from June 8th to September 16th. Section six is a film on “Hope,” showing a jigsaw of events, including victory in 1945, the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United Nations, and events in the struggle for human rights. Section seven is the “Nobel Peace Prizewinner’s gallery,” and is located outside the building, at the bottom of a cliff, in a bunker which housed the German commander at the time of the Battle of Normandy.

American Military Cemetery.  The American Military Cemetery located near Colleville sur Mer is 173 acres and is on a plateau overlooking a portion of the Omaha Beach landing sight. France has allowed the United States to use this land in perpetuity. 9,386 U.S. soldiers are buried there.

Pointe du Hoc.  Pointe du Hoc, located at the western end of Omaha Beach, has cliffs which were scaled by American Rangers under heavy fire to dislodge a German battery. Shell craters and cement German bunkers are still extant. The film, The Longest Day, retells the events of that battle. The capture of this battery was one of the most astounding feats of D-Day.

We stopped at McDonalds in Bayeux and I had Orangina, large potato fires which are very good, and mix salads. We stopped at Boulange Authentique for pastries near Percy,.

We stayed at Formule 1 outside Avranches.

December 23, 2000 (Saturday):
We got up at 6:10 a.m., ate breakfast at the Formule 1 (orange juice, ot chocolate, bread with jam) and got to a laundromat at 7:00 a.m. We found an open bakery to get change for the laundromat. We bought five croissants with ham and Gruyer cheese, a Napolean and a Christmas roll of chocolate. I went back to the hotel to wake up Sam and Andrew. The Formule 1 is very spartan. Our room has a double bed, a bunk bed overhead, a sink, a t.v. and a small ledge under the t.v. with luggage on the floor it is very tight. There was a beautiful church in Avranches, but it was closed past 9:00 a.m. and we were unable to get in.

Avranches.  Avranches was a great religious center and place of learning in the Middle Ages. Aubert, the 8th century Bishop, doubted St. Michael’s command to him, in a vision, to found a chapel on the rock in the bay. Michael the archangel reappeared to Aubert and made his point by jabbing his finger into Aubert’s head (doubting Aubert’s skull, complete with a hole in it from Michael’s finger, are located in the Church of St. Gervais). The chapel was built and is now known as Le Mont Saint Michel.

General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. 3d Army, broke through the German left flank at Avranches and raced into Brittany and eventually on into Paris. An American tank and a monument to Patton are located in town.

Mont Saint Michel. The Benedictine Abbey of Mont Saint Michel was founded by Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708. Six of the structures on the side facing the sea are known as La Marveille (the marvel) and were built in 1203 to 1228. It was frequently assaulted by the English in the Hundred Years War but was never captured. The causeway which links the island to the coast was not built until 1875. We bought a tapestry, a sun pin and a picture of Le Mont St. Michel.

In St. Malo we walked part of the wall and ate at Creperie Grill. I had scallops, Rachael and Andrew had salmon and Judy got goat cheese. A church there had the tomb of Jacque Cartier and beautiful stained glass windows.

We drove to Chartres in the evening and stayed at an Ibis Hotel, much nicer than the Formule 1. It has its own toilet and shower (635 FF, or $89.81).

December 24, 2000 (Sunday):
Drop-off rental car at 1:00 p.m.

I walked from our Ibis Hotel to Chartres Cathedral and walked around it, then back to the hotel. I was gone about 1 1/3 hours. We had one of our nicest breakfasts which included Muenster cheese, croissants with chocolate in them, hot chocolate, mueslix, an orange, an apple, fresh grapefruit juice, orange juice and other items I didn’t try.

We got to Chartres Cathedral about 8:45 a.m. and walked through it. It was very overcast outside and dark in the cathedral. The stained glass inside is beautiful and the cathedral is massive. They have what they believe to be the Virgin Mary’s veil she wore when Jesus was born. It is in a glass container surrounded by gold angels.

We drove to Paris and attended Rachael’s ward in Versailles. Grant Stevens, a counselor in the bishopric of the Versailles Ward, is the son of Hal(?) and Dottie Stevens of the Ensign 6th Ward in SLC where I grew up. He is in real estate development and just recently spent three years in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

We visited Rachael’s host family in Le Pecq and spent time visiting with them in their living room. They obviously liked Rachael. He is in the real estate arm of a large insurance company in France, investing the insurance portfolio.

We visited the Palace at Versailles. It is massive. Lots of very unhumble Louis XIV in many pictures. My favorite part was a hall with paintings of significant battles in or for France. One was of Charlemagne in the 700s. Several were of Napoleon. One showed George Washington and a Frenchman at the Battle of Yorktown in the U.S. The grounds behind the Palace are enormous. It appears that the reflecting pools which stretch for about a half mile were probably the model for the reflecting pools in Washington D.C. near the Washington Monument.

We are staying at the Ibis Hotel just a block or two from the Palace in Versailles.

We had a hard time finding a place open to eat. We found a place then Sam refused to eat there because of the smoke. We ultimately each kind of found our own place – none of it very good. Judy, Rachael and Andrew got Chinese food, Sam got a Greek sandwich, and I got a lobster with mayonnaise salad, salmon with pate, bread with chicken and drinks.

Midnight Mass at Versailles Cathedral. The Bishop presided. An organ recital went from 11:15 p.m. to midnight and then mass went until 1:15 a.m. when we left as they were passing the sacrament. The singing and the organ in the cathedral were beautiful as it echoed in the large building. People were wrapped in coats and scarves. Altar boys and the Bishop walked the aisles wafting out incense.

December 25, 2000 (Monday):
We woke at about 9:00 a.m. The kids came to our door and we opened stockings and presents until about 10:20 a.m. We went to breakfast until 11:00 a.m. It was crowded at the hotel and understaffed. We drove to Auteil, parked the car and took the metro: we bought a three day ticket for each of us (600 FF or $84.86).

Le Madrigal.  We ate lunch at Le Madrigal on the Champs Elysees. It was pouring rain and the restaurant was very crowded and full of smoke, as were most  French and German restaurants, and Sam threatened to walk out, as he had the night before at a bar we were looking to eat at in Versailles. However, the inside of the restaurant was a respite from the continuous rain and Sam stayed. Andrew and I each had moules frites (mussels with a mound of french fries), Sam had a ham and grilled cheese sandwich and Judy and Rachael each had a large chef salad. Lunch was 324 FF ($46.48).

We took the metro to the Charles de Gaulle stop and came out on the Arc de Triumphe. It started to rain again. We saw the tomb of the unknown soldier underneath and walked around it. We walked down the Champs Elysees to the Concorde metro station, passing the presidential palace. It was raining heavily and constantly the entire time. We crossed a bridge over the Seine River to an island in the river upon which sits the Cathedral of Notre Dame. There was a long line to get in, helped by the desire of people, us included, to et out of the rain. The cathedral was packed and a mass was going on. The smell and smoke of incense filled the air.

Cold and tired of rain and lack of sleep, we headed back to our hotel.

December 26, 2000 (Tuesday):
I went for a walk from 6:25 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. I walked up by the Chestnia de Versailles. To the west is a street called Avenue of the American Revolution.

We drove to the Maillot area to catch the metro. It is only two stops away from Franklin D. Roosevelt Avenue on the Champs Elysees. Judy forgot the metro passes, so we drove back to Versailles and returned: we finally have the route down. We walked by the Pompidou Center which is multi-colored with all of the plumbing, etc. on the outside of the building. There was a crazy fountain with wild colored figures outside. We walked by the building Rachael went to school in, which was close by.

We bought several panini sandwiches (goat cheese, olives and tomatoes pressed flat by a grill) and then went to Notre Dame de Paris. We climbed up into the towers and saw the crazy looking gargoyles and a bell. We then went into the church and viewed the beautiful stained glass windows (some of the best we’ve seen – better than Chartres).

We bought some of the best pastry I’ve ever eaten: chocolate eclairs with chocolate cream inside, millfoys (like napoleons – layered pastry) and almond cake.

Then to the Orsay Museum where we saw numerous Renoirs, Monets, Manets, Whister’s Mother, Van Goghs, etc. – it was hot, crowded and claustrophobic.

Then, in the rain, to the massive and impressive Eiffel Tower, which was lit up in the dark and at time, sparkled with alternating lights. We traveled to the top (the third level) but could see little or nothing because of the fog. At the second level we saw great views of the city and met Paul and Marie Newberg and their 6 kids. They live in London (he works with Cisco Systems) and she is the first cousin of Mark Richey and he knows Tony and Marilyn Larsen (Tony helped support him on his mission).

We also visited the catacombs where we walked down quite a way below street level, went through many long passages, and then ran into massive stacks of bones, skulls lined up in rows on tops of massive numbers of leg bones, arm bones, tec. Markers indicated the cemeteries the bones came from and the years. They were from the 1700s and 1800s (the cemeteries got full and this was a place to put the bones). It was an impressive sight.

December 27, 2000 (Wednesday):
In the morning I walked west into Versailles, saw the cathedral. Left about 6:40 a.m. and got back about 7:40 a.m. My notes indicate that our 3 nights at the Ibis Hotel, including 3 breakfasts and 2 hot chocolates, was 2,585 FF, or $371.54.

We took the metro to Sacra Coer, a beautiful Catholic Basilica on a hill in Montemarte. The dome is beautiful. Sam climbed the dome stairs. Art stills were near the Basilica.

We went to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery and saw Fredric Chopin’s grave and Jim Morrison’s (he died at age 28 of a drug overdose – a member of the Doors).

We visited the Bastille, a tall monument in the middle of the street celebrating the French Revolution in July 1830.

We then visited the Louvre. Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, Venus DeMilo, Winged Victory, two sculptures by Michelangelo. Egyptian antiquities. Other Da Vinci’s.

Louvre.  The Louvre was originally a fortress and palace built by Philippe Auguste in about 1190. In 1546, Francis I commissioned Pierre Lescot to erect a new building on the site. During his reign, a number of works by Italian masters, including the Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci, came into the royal collection. In 1564, Catherine de Medici commissioned Philibert Delorme to build The Winged Victory of Samothrace. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci. Aphrodite, known as Venus de Milo. Sarcophagus of a Married Couple, an Etruscan antiquiity. The Dying Slave by Michelangelo.

We had Chinese food at Le Lychee in Chesney.

December 28, 2000 (Thursday):
We got off late from the hotel, about 10:30 a.m. We wanted to leave at 10:15 a.m. On the wayh to the airport, we ran into diverted traffic because of an accident on the freeway. We were diverted into the streets of the center of Paris. Before getting off, we were stationary or close to it for a long time. We sped through the streets of Paris and with divine help we miraculously got back onto the right freeway.

I drove to Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle and Judy went in with Rachael (who was flying home separately from us). When she returned, Judy told us they had told Rachael shw would miss her flight (we arrived there about 12:10 or 12:15 for her 12:40 flight). Rachael started to cry, so they pulled some strings, said they would let her on, but that her bags might not make it. Judy left her at that point because we were running late. Judy said, they may not let us on, if we don’t hurry.

We drove to Terminal 1, where Judy stayed with the car while I went to check in with the boys. After going through passport check and x-ray, the lady at the United counter would not let us check in unless all four of us were together. So Sam went to get Judy. We waited and waited and finally Judy arrived, only to get held up because of a duty issue (the paperwork was in my suitcase in the blue folder). We decided to scrap the duty return and got Judy checked in. We lost about 20 minutes or 30 minute because of this problem with the United counter (making all of us check in together).

I then rushed to Information to find out how to get to the rental car place off airport. She said it was in Roessyville and to take th opposite direction of Paris and there would be a turn off to it in about 10 minutes. I rushed to the car and set off. I stopped at a gas station off the freeway after going a ways and asked if I was going in the right direction. Neither people spoke English. I pointed at the name fo the town and pointed to the direction I was traveling. She said it was that direction and I would then turn left and go over the road. She may, as I think about it, have been telling me I was going in the wrong direction and to turn around at the next offramp.

I got on and continued toward Lille (in France). I then hit a stretch where I could do nothing but continue to go on as there were no turn offs. I started getting frantic because I knew I had gone too far. Finally I reached a turnoff and hit a toll road. I payed the toll by credit card and then did an illegal turn to turn the other direction. I then went through the toll booth again, paid another toll by credit card and headed back toward Paris. By this time it was about 1:20 p.m. and I knew I was in trouble. Our flight left at 2:15 and the United ticket taker sounded horrified when I’d asked her if I could make the flight if I got back by 2:00 p.m. She said she would call and let them know.

At any rate, I saw a 25 km sign for Charles de Gaulle and then I felt I was sunk – that the odds were I wouldn’t make it. I worried about whether I would have to purchase a new ticked – which might cost $1,000 or more when done at the last minute. I figured I could get the car turned in and then stay at the Ibis Hotel near the airport. Then I decided I would try my last option of parking the car in the no parking zone, calling the car rental company and telling them what I was doing. I reached speeds of 170 km/hour (105 mph) as I sped back to the airport. I drove up to Terminal 1, unloading area 12 and parked in a no parking zone right behind a policeman who was still in his van. I ran to the Information Desk and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to make the local call or pay for it – as Rachael and I had trouble at a pay phone the night before and my French change was low.  I asked the lady at the Information desk to call the company and she did and they told her I had to return the car to their place. She hung up. I told the receptionist I would miss my flight and wanted to leave the car. She called them back, talked for a second (in French) and handed the phone to me. The person said I had to return the car. I said I couldn’t or would miss my flight – where did she want me to leave the key? She said it was against their rules and I would be responsible for charges – the car might be towed away. I said I realized it – all the while she was telling me I had to return the car to them. I said I would leave the keys at Gate 1 and I was on United. I realized I had left my backpack in the car. I rant to area 12 and saw a tow car backing up. I thought it was picking up our car. Then as I ran out the door it was back-up further. My car was parked behind the policeman – still. I grabbled the backpack and literally sprinted to the gate and up a ramp.

I hit customs and a line about 50 yards long waited behind one person at the counter. I butted in at the first of the line explaining that was now 1:54 and my flight was leaving in 20 minutes. As I handed my passport my name was announced over the intercom. I told customs I was late and she let me right through. I sprinted down past gates 3 and 2, worried I was going to miss the flight. It had been several minutes since my name was called.

I hit another long line at customs for inbound flights which blocked my path. I waded through a large group of people and started to spring up a large set of stairs. A man coming the other way asked if I was Robert Cannon – I said yes and he said “up to the top and turn right.” I was sweating now and the adrenaline was flowing. I got to the top and it was unclear where to go. They asked if I was Robert Cannon and then directed me forward.

The stewardess checked me on – then when I got to the door she asked for my boarding pass. I’d misplaced it. Another stewardess asked if I was “Cannon” and I said yea – she told the other stewardess it was alright and told me where the seat was. By this time sweat was pouring down my face.

I finally saw the welcome smiles and waves of Judy and the children, obviously concerned I wouldn’t make it.

The car was concerning me. When we got up in the air and the seat belt signs were off, I used the satellite phone on the airplane to call the car place. She could barely speak English and was not happy with me. But to the best I could tell, she found the car after looking for half an hour and got the key back. I don’t think it got towed. [This last entry was written on the plane. We never did get charged anything extra by the rental car company which we were shocked and thrilled about.]

Leave Paris – Charles de Gaulle (CDG) at 2:15 p.m.
United Airlines flight 937 (Boeing 777 Jet)

Arrive Los Angeles (LAX) at 4:45 p.m.

Later, we received a Christmas card/letter from Dr. Green, head of BYU’s Study Abroad program in France, stating, “It is common knowledge among my program colleagues that Rachael was the top student. She has every thing: beauty, brains, and a huge measure of creative flair and musical ability. You did an awfully good job raising her. Thanks for ‘loaning’ her to me for an all-too-short amount of time.”


1 comment:

  1. This trip had a few of the most memorable events of all of our travel: mysterious and magical Ulm Cathedral in the fog and the next morning Mom guiding you out of the parking spot and through the farmers' market; seeing Mom's hometown and that haunting cemetery memorial to the bombing; Rachael as our tour guide in France; the horrible experience of dropping off the car at the end. Good times.