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Kicking It: A Month in Paris Series – Day 1: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2012

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Some weeks ago, I came across my travel box filled with mementoes. In it was the journal I kept while on our favorite trip of all times. And here it is because I will no doubt go down in history as the world’s best salesmen. What makes me the GOAT (greatest of all time) in the history of sales is in the Spring of 2012, I finally convinced my leery husband that we should spend a month in Paris.

Just the same, even after he agreed to “think about it,” he wouldn’t commit until he knew “What is this going to cost?”

He was relieved when I agreed to split the cost of everything right down the middle, but even that said, no one in the history of the world has ever grumbled about a vacation more than my guy.

Naturally, there were conditions to be considered. Where would we stay? How would we get there? What would we do every day. And how would we get back home? What if we got sick or injured? It was a long list of worries that needed to be squelched.

Furthermore, the last time I was in France, they were still using the franc, back in the early 90’s. But, in 2012, all of Europe was on the euro. Since I needed cash to pay the balance of our 30-day Parisian rental, I wasn’t confident about pulling out several thousand euros with an ATM card. That is why we took BART over to San Francisco’s American Express office on Market Street to exchange U.S. dollars into euros.

Prior to the internet, booking this trip would have required an experienced travel agent, but I said a big “Hail Mary” and trusted my gut. I wish to add: Don’t do as I did, do as I say.

Looking back, I’d strongly caution against making advanced cash payments to foreign countries. I foolishly sent a non-refundable cash-wire transfer to a bank in Luxembourg for half of the month’s rent plus the agency’s booking fees. All in all, I wired more than $3,000 US abroad before we’d even left Lodi.

Looking back, that was crazy! Although, in my naïve defense, this was years before Airbnb or VRBO had established a foothold across Europe.

Do not do this, I repeat.

After months of planning, our departure date arrived. With everything we’d need for our trip in a 3-ring binder and with passports in hand, we were finally standing on our front lawn waiting for our driver at o’dark thirty the second day of October 2012. To our delight, a brand new spotlessly clean Toyota Avalon pulled up instead of the rattly blue-shuttle van we expected.

Three hours later, we landed in LAX. It was an easy walk across to the international terminal to grab our direct flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

To save money, while increasing our flight experience, I committed all 187,000 American Airline airmiles to upgrade us into business class.

The only hiccup being American Airlines didn’t fly to Paris. Instead, we were booked on one of their partner airlines called Air Tahiti Nui. Just the name of this obscure airline struck terror in my husband’s heart. “Rinky-dink” comes to mind as one of the ways he described this obscure airline; however, he did add more than once, at least, “We’ll die together over the Atlantic.”

This nonstop litany of doom continued even as we waited in the LAX American Airlines First-Class lounge. When our boarding time was announced, we headed down the jetway.

It wasn’t until he finally looked up that he saw a vision standing in the middle of the open doorway. Waiting to welcome us aboard stood a beautiful black-haired Tahitian miss dressed in a traditional shape-hugging sarong. He melted when she smiled at him and escorted us to our comfy business class seats, a glass of chilled champagne followed.

Wiggling back into his wide-aqua-leather seat, he helped himself to warm macadamia nuts. Then. My husband released a big sigh of relief. At last, we were on our way to Paris and for the first time in months, he smiled.

To be continued.

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].


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