You know when you build something up in your head and you dread it and dread it and dread it? And then it happens, and it really isn't as bad as you thought it was going to be?
Well that was the car trip with TM, Boy and Girl. I really did think it was going to be hellish, really and truly. But the kids got to watch movies the whole time and I got to practice my French with TM. So it really was quite enjoyable. Except those last three hours. It was still fine but I really had to pee. (Insert my father's eye roll and "T.M.I." quote.) But really, it was all consuming. I really couldn't think about anything else (which made conjugating French verbs very difficult). I spent a lot of the time freezing (stupid body warming my stupid pee) but didn't want to cause a fuss by turning up my seat warmer. Good lord what is my problem? Well it was snowing pretty hard so I didn't want to lose any time by making us stop, and I really thought that one of the kids would have to pee soon enough anyway. I kept glaring back at Girl and thinking, "You're six!! Don't you have to pee every half hour?!" Apparently not. We almost had to stop because Boy was getting carsick (staring at his Nintendo DS screen) and I thought, "Yes! If he ralphs then I can pee!" But no such luck. I finally did get to go once we got to the house.
And by house, I mean mansion. We pull up to this gated estate in Reims on Friday around seven. On the way the mom was explaining that her step-father owned a champagne vineyard. At first I thought it might be a smaller, farm to bottle operation. But then she said he was turning his massive house in Reims (because he mostly lives in an apartment in Paris--although he spends approximately three weeks a month traveling to exotic locations) into a hotel. So I started thinking, "Alright maybe this guy owns a big champagne house." Well later in the evening, while drinking champagne bien sur , the conversation turns to where I'm from. When he finds out my parents currently live in Minnesota the Step-Grandfather (S-G) replies that he's going there next week. Of course I had to ask why (I mean when he spends his time jetting off to India and New Zealand and cruises around Alaska one has to wonder why this man is going to the Twin Cities). He explained, in French so I'm a little hazy on the details, that there's this Spanish Cava that is peddling a "Crystanlino " and that's copyright infringement or something or other because his top-shelf champagne is Crystal. The man owns Crystal. I nearly spit my Crystal out when I realized this. I thought, "I'm living a rappers dream right now!"
So I spent the evening in the mansion of a famous champagne house owner, had a great dinner, didn't have to wash a dish/glass/pot/pan (when I offered the Grandmother said, "Oh no, we have a woman that comes in the morning to do that." But of course you do). During our dinner (which began at the crack of 10:30 pm) Boy comes in. He is scared. Want to know why? Earlier when they were going to bed Boy decided it would be a good idea to make up that there is a troll under the bed. And now what is afraid of? The troll (that he made up) under the bed. Do you see what I have to deal with here!?!
Saturday I woke up and hit the road (I had forgotten how nice it was to travel on your own) and walk around Reims. I went to the tourism office (where they responded to my queries in French even though they gave me maps in English) and got set up with a champagne house tour in an hour. I toured the Notre Dame Cathedral (which is prettier than the Parisian one I have to say) and then looked for the bus to take me to the Pommery house (I wanted to go to Mumm --the champagne I liked best when I did that tasting with my parents, but this seemed easiest) except I couldn't find the bus. I didn't know if Reims was like Zürich where you can just get on, or like Barcelona where you had to show your ticket. I hopped on the back only to have the doors close on me. I put my stuff down when the driver called me up front. Busted! How did he know I didn't have a ticket. I went to grab my wallet when he started explaining that I couldn't get on the back, and I looked and every door/window had a sign that said, "Enter at the front." D'oh! Griswold move. So I didn't pay in money but definitely in embarrassment. Once I finally made it to the Pommery house (which was not where it said on the map thank-you-very-much) I had to reschedule my tour, but they didn't have an English one for an hour. So naturally, I signed up for the French one. The champagne caves were very cool, at least I think. I understood a bunch of what was said, mostly from when my parents and I went to the champagne tasting at Bright Wines in North Saint Paul where the process of champagne making was explained in English. After the tour I drank my two complimentary glasses and set off in search of a train station, food, and champagne to bring to Paris (not in that order). Finding all with less ease and grace than usual (lets just say my new boots were christened by some French dog feces) I managed to make it to Paris and to Mr. Phil and Marti's apartment around six pm.
To Be Continued...
Pictures later this afternoon (promise!!) I just have to run to my French lesson!