She’s my niece :)

Here we are, at the airport, we packed light: 2 suitcases, 2 duffel bags and 7 little carryon’s (3 purses, computer case, camera bag, Grace’s bag of pet shops, my bag with books), we left the house clean, we paid the bills for a month in advance, Max is in vacation with our friends in Vegas, we did research for this trip like never before, booking apartments rather then hotels, events, tours, cars, insurance, we have travel books, I even brought weights for my workout, everything is good in the world, or is it? Just a parenthesis about the set of weights, one has miraculously disappeared, when we got to France, it was the only thing missing (hmm, did Adrian left it home??).
We realize we have to change airplanes twice: Chicago and London, but everyone is very good about it, no complains, maybe they are thinking a little shopping is in order, or maybe they are just too tired to complain. We stretched our legs between flights, we rush to change planes, we survive screaming babies (Clea: I never want to have kids!!) in each flight, somehow they all sit in the row immediately behind us ( let’s not forget that our kids were screaming babies ones, maybe not this loud, anyway…), poor babies, I am thorn between sympathizing with the mothers, covering my ears and trying to remember that I would actually love to have another one of this little cute screaming babies…Good thing I purchased 6 pairs of silicon ear plugs which come in handy and they work very well, I cannot even hear my own kids 🙂
Somehow the 3 different flights make it easier, the 14 hours total, broken down in 4+8+2 hours.
We arrive in Nice, I am making calls to the housekeeper that is supposed to meet us at the apartment and give us the keys, no answer. I make calls to all the numbers I have related to this rental, no answer.
I am getting chills on my spine, thinking , here we are, kids, luggage and all, and it’s all a big scam, thank you very much, and who’s fault it is??? Mine, because I found the web site, I booked the rental, I even paid in advance the whole week…
But no time to think about it anymore, we are at the rental car agency and the beautiful french girl at the counter tells us we cannot have the car we wanted ( automatic, any maker) because as per insurance rules, the cars in that category cannot be returned in Budapest, so we have to rent a stick shift car. Adrian looks at me terrified, he learned how to drive a car on a stick shift, but that was 20 years ago and only for a few months, he cannot remember at all how to drive it… I am trying to explain in my forgotten french that we booked through expedia, which is a reputable company, and they didn’t say anything about us not being able to return the car in Budapest. The blue eyes look at me suavely and she says all she knows is that we cannot have an automatic.
Adrian decides he is going to remember eventually, so there we go, in a Ford Mondeo, with the GPS sexy lady voice telling us in a rapid sequence a series of turns we are supposed to make, in a new city with a car we cannot drive… We enter a sort of highway, Adrian is trying frantically to change the gear, he cannot, the car stops in the middle of the highway, girls terrified, I am frozen, push the emergency lights on and pray we don’t get killed now, after we survived the 14 hours flight, that would be a shame…
Somehow we manage to arrive, very slowly…and stopping the car 3 more times…adrenaline rushing through my veins, quietly replacing all my blood…
But no time to think, I am praying that someone is actually waiting for us at the apartment, I ring the bell, nothing, I ring the doorman bell, nothing ( it’s Saturday afternoon  in Nice, nobody is actually working, even if they are suppose to…), I ring the bell 100 more times, then I ring all the others 20 bells, nothing…maybe nobody lives there. In a desperate inspiration, I look through the glass door and realize there is another entry in the garden, I run there, ring bells, nothing… ring 100 more times, nothing.. I look around to see if I can jump over the gate, no way it’s like 10 feet high, then a little lady that was standing there, smoking  a cigarette, is asking me who do I want to go to? I tell her I am looking for Valerie, she embraces me, It’s me!!! I am Valerie!! I was waiting for you here the last 2 hours ( this is approximately how long it took us to make the 20 min drive from the airport…)!!!
I cannot believe my luck, I am just so happy I don’t have to tell Adrian I rented a bogus apartment…
Valerie, walks with me at the parking garage around the corner, to explain us how to get in and out. Adrian drives there with the girls and the luggage, takes him 20 min for those 150 feet…What’s so complicated I ask, we’ll figure it out… No, she smiles strangely, you will see…
We get in with a magnetic card, then an enormous lift opens and Adrian is supposed to get the car just right in between 2 rails, with 2 inches space between the tires and the rail. Another 30 minutes later, he succeeds, then we have to keep the magnetic card on a box with one hand, press C with the other, take the card and punch in a code, we do it, the car leaves alone, and gets slide out of the elevator and into a specific slot at the 3rd floor…That was easy… not…
Then Valerie takes us to the apartment, a lovely building Palace de la Couronne, pushed back a little from the street, with a garden, oceanfront, only the famous Promenades des Anglais between us and the Mediterranean Sea, sky is suddenly bluer, flowers blooming, everything is Rose…
Of course by now we now ,our family cannot take the elevator together, we are just too many people for the french elevators. So we go one by one the with the luggage, the girls together, we are in the apartment!!!
Beautiful, antiques everywhere, things irreplaceable really if they should brake…antique mirrors, antique chandeliers, antique rugs, everything antique…
This might be a problem I am thinking as I hand Valerie the hefty deposit, should anything brake…
Anyway, I am trying to be positive, nothing will break, right?
We open the beautiful french doors to balconies, overlooking the ocean, fresh air welcome, the air being antique too in the apartment….
We unpack, and with our last drops of energy, we walk by the beach, we walk for 40 minutes, to historical Nice, it is a long walk after all we’ve been trough, but the girls are great, don’t complain too much, we found a restaurant and finally sit down. Adrian orders a bottle of wine, that takes the edge off immediately…
We have a soup au pistou, bouillabaisse, prawns, spaghetti bolognese, salade nicoise, a lovely white fish that melted in your mouth, broiled salmon, creme brulle, everyone is happy…
but tired, nobody wants to walk home now. Adrian insists, it’s good for us to take a walk , inhale the fresh air, burn calories,save money, etc…
Reluctantly we walk home, 40 minutes, I tell the girls the history with the Romanian Revolution, it kind of goes quicker that way, and we all crash and sleep for 12 full hours, it is 1 PM when we wake up the next day and we brainstorm about the car, should we take a train, a plane, hitchhike, or just drive this one and hope for the best??
The girls have an unanimously opinion, they will not get in that car no mater what… So we make phone calls, expedia, the car rental place, the insurance, we decide we will try to exchange the car for an automatic and return it in Vienna, which is possible.
We drive to the airport, about 45 minutes, Adrian made some progress in remembering how to drive it, and we rent an automatic car and decide to take the train from Vienna to Budapest. The girls are all happy, we will be alive, life is good, death, not so much…
We come back, tell the girls we will go to Vence, a medieval village 20 min away. They all scream and cry, they want to go to the beach instead! Power struggle 20 min, we win, we go to Vence…
We get there on a very scenic route, the girls are so happy with the new automatic car ( Mercedes) that they forget they didn’t want to come and actually just enjoy the drive and the beautiful scenery.
We get there, park the car and walk around the beautiful plaza, fountains, bistros, cafes, ice cream. They all want ice cream, fine says Adrian we get ice cream, the lovely lady speaks English, we start a conversation, next thing we know we exchange addresses for house exchanges, they have a bed and breakfast in Vence, lovely!
We go inside the old village, pedestrian with small streets, it’s breathtaking, the girls are in awe…
We walk around the old city hall, and this old lady sees us all in a stupor, touching the thousand years old walls, looking around, and just being happy to be there. She decides right there and then to give us an informal tour of the village which she does, it’s incredible, I am translating to the rest of us who don’t speak french, she lived there for 45 years, she knows everything… At the end of the tour, I give her our address, tell her she is invited to stay at our house, she asks how many hours is the flight, I think in her mind she already bought the tickets 🙂 she is very nice and we really want her to come over so I can give her a tour of LA, I think she will find it at least as interesting as we found Vence!!
We find a wine shop, Adrian buys some wine, the young man immediately books us his favorite restaurant in the village when we ask for recommendations for dinner.
We go there, Le Cassoulet, amazingly good food, locals only, non touristy place, we eat everything except the pasta Grace ordered, it was enormous.
All  happy, we drive back, put the kids to bed at midnight and go out for a run by the beach for almost an hour, then we sleep for a long time…
Third day, it’s finally beach day, but not before loading up  on groceries from a gigantic store, Carrefour Hipermarche, kind of 10 times bigger then Costco, we go crazy, $350 worth of groceries for the next 5 days, but when you consider the price of restaurant meals (around $150 for all 5 of us) it’s actually very cheap.
Cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries, red currants, 5 different kinds of yogurt , juices, smoothies, prosciuto, french ham, raspberry tart, apricot tart, plum tart, baguettes,15 kinds of cheese, vegetable soups, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, crepes, nuttela, eggs, fresh pastas, apricots, etc…
We get home carrying the 20 bags from the garage, we all have a humongous meal, that’s it, my 4 months diet ruined, I know I cannot resist the food, I can only eat it here, I made my decision… we will just take a break from the diet, and do it again in 3 weeks…I eat the whole raspberry tart by myself, it was for 6 people…
Then we go to the beach, girls delighted, loving every minute of it, me too, to see them so happy…
When we come back, things miraculously start to break, the french door handle is falling apart, the drying rack fells off, the antique mirror is cracked and the key doesn’t work anymore (or was it like that from the beginning?), the little delicate porcelain box has mysteriously 2 flower petals broken ( incidentally Grace was in the room when that happened and she told me about it), and the is a mysterious smell of gas in the kitchen even though all appliances are electric.
Well, will deal with that later, won’t we??? tomorrow is another day, day 4 in Nice…
As I write this,I suddenly want someone to read this before I post it on fb, I am all insecure ( maybe it will bore people to death, maybe I am the only one in the family who cannot write, we have 3 published authors: Adrian (cancer vaccine), my mom (social work) and my brother (surgical), and all the girls are writing different things, Celine a book, continuation of Twilight, Clea made a poetry book, amazing , for a school project and Grace makes little books all the time…).
Celine says she is doing something very important (games), Grace says Mom, write the whole book and I promise to read it then, Clea says: not now mom, I am writing an email to Natalie and Adrian is too busy enjoying his Rose wine and prosciuto to read it now, in a minute dear, in a minute…
Then I am thinking , I don’t want to write this for anyone, it’s just for my own pleasure so there we go, I will just post it…

That’s my niece  😛

De multe ori scriu si eu doar pentru mine si cei care-or fi interesati dupa …

VACANTA PLACUTA VOUA, DRAGA MEA SIMONA!

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Acest articol a fost publicat în Nepoata mea si familia ei și etichetat , , , , , , , . Pune un semn de carte cu legătura permanentă.

4 răspunsuri la She’s my niece :)

  1. When I write only for me, i writing on a sheet, put the letter in a bottle and then i bury her in the earth…
    it’s the truth

  2. Elisa zice:

    Is your opinion 🙂

  3. Roxana zice:

    Faina povestirea. 🙂 Sper sa nu am si eu o experienta similara in Franta. Noroc cu reteta otetului de mere de la care am pornit cautarea, caci uite asa invatam una alta. Succes.

  4. Elisa zice:

    Roxana,
    pana la urma nepoata mea colinda lumea,de curand a fost in China,este o femeie desteapta si stie ce sa faca cu viata ei,stie fiindca poate,ma rog,traieste in California…Dumnezeu sa le ajute !
    Succes si tie in Franta sau oriunde!

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