Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday 5 February 2009

Today dawned even earlier than yesterday (for people who were used to getting up 8 hours later than this) in Geneve, Switzerland. Going through passport control, I got to go through the EEC line (nobody was in it) while Todd and the kids went through the US line (long). When I started to show the guy my red European passport, he just said, "Oui. OK" and waved me through without even looking at my pic (and without stamping it, either, dang it!)

Adventure #1
I collected the one bag; Todd rented the car, and our next job was to get Todd's AmX card. The old one had been compromised and they had a new one waiting for us in Geneve. The address he was given for the AmX office in Geneve was 15, rue de l'Aeroport. We drove around looking, and asked several hotel clerks around town, and some people on the street. They all directed us to the same general airport area. Finally, Todd set off on foot to find the address and told me to follow him. But he was walking very slowly, so I had to double around and I lost him. I learned from another hotel clerk that there was an AmX office IN the airport, so I parked the car back in the Avis rental place and walked into the office IN the airport, where I learned that Todd had already picked up his card. They paged him, and a few minutes later he walked in the front door. (He says he never heard the page.) It was a very stressful 2 hours for us both.      
Adventure #2
Our next job was to get to France. We started driving west, but instead of finding the autoroute, we ended up on a small national route through the Alps. It was pretty exciting! We saw some peaks that were very high and pointy, but couldn't get the pic because it was across the car and through the window, and the road was twisty and trees kept getting in the way.
Adventure #3
Finally we got to Dijon, France, determined to get some cash and some lunch. We found an IKEA and lined up for lunch, but when we tried to pay, none of our credit cards would work. Todd had to drive to a nearby establishment, get 20 euros, come back and pay. The kids and I sat there, embarrassed, waiting. I apologized to the clerk, and she apologized to me. Next we found a supermarket and got some euros, but mostly from my account. Todd could only get 20 euros. I got 200 euros, but we needed 216 for the house we were renting. Hmmm . . . .

Adventure #4
We needed to telephone our proprietaire, Claudine or Alain Silvestre, to let them know we were at Dijon. I was sure I could dial from any phone with the access numbers for France that I had, but Todd was sure I needed a phone card. So we tried at several places to buy a phone card, but could not find anybody who sold them. Between times of trying, we drove west from Dijon, realized we needed to go north, and turned off into rural roads. The map we had was not very detailed, we had no compass, and the town names all started to sound the same. Plus, it was now pitch black.

Finally we pulled into a small town called Source de la Seine that WAS on the map. It also had a pay phone. I convinced Todd to let me try calling from it with my numbers. It worked (good news) but the line was busy (bad news). I was trying for the third time when a young guy drove up in a camionette, parked, and prepared to enter the building we were next to. I asked him if he could tell us where the Route Nationale N71 was, we were lost, we were trying to find a town called Quemigny-sur-Seine. He invited me in and we talked to a young lady at a computer in a dark room. I explained the situation again to her, she pulled up a map program called Mappy, the guy explained turns and things, to get to N71. I thanked them profoundly. They told me their town was called Blessey up until Jan 2009. Now it is called Source de la Seine (probably for obvious reasons), and it is the smallest village in France. Which is saying something, having seen lots of teensy villages that night, and since.

They were very kind.

We found the town without much trouble after than. Next problem: how to find our lodgings. It was a teeny village (another one). One building on the route had a street light and a pay phone. I think it was city hall. I tried the Silvestre's phone again and . . . IT RANG!! Mme Silvestre came on the line, I introduced myself, and she was very happy to hear from us (2.5 hours after we were supposed to be there). I apologized several times and explained what had happened. She was very kind and very understanding, told me to wait right there and she would come over and lead us to our cottage.

She and her husband came and led us down the route a short ways (to the next little village called Cosne) where they opened the gates to a little cottage and told us to drive in. Then they opened the door of the tiny house and showed us around. It had a kitchen, a living room, 2 bedrooms, a shower room and a WC. She had made us a chocolate cake (no frosting) and apple juice (home made, I mean) and some orange wine. She wished us good night and said she'd come back tomorrow and we could do the paperwork. We got settled quickly and . . . . zzzzzz

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