20211227 Orléans-Paris-Seattle

Up lazily between eight and nine.  Last day.  Have to make my way back to Paris tonight since the early train isn’t early enough to make my flight.  I’ve messaged with Edgar and Fred so I may have someone to hang with until the wee hours when I have to depart for the airport.  The flight is at eight so I’ll probably leave Paris by five.  Also I have to get a test today so I can return to the US.  Hope I pass!  Fucking zombies.

Belly really bothering me after eating so much the night before so I spent much of the day lounging around, reading, getting things ready for travel.  But by the afternoon I really need to find that test so I head out in search of my test.

In Paris there were pop-up testing centers all over the place.  But this is Orléans.  They do have several pharmacie but even the self-tests are running out in some of them.  And not all of them perform the proper antigen test for flying.  I walk to the first one.  He can’t help.  I ask where and he shrugs.  I walk to the second one and read a sign indicating they are out of tests (we’ll come back to this).  I walk to the third one and wait in line.  By this point I’m overheated and my belly is annoyed with me.

I get to the person at the counter and explain I need a test for flying.  She offers me a test in a box.  I don’t think this will work so she asks another.  They think I need a lab so she looks up the address for this lab and offers to take a picture of this with my phone.  I pull out my phone and get the camera ready and am also trying to remove some of my layers because I’m overheated and I’m also trying to understand what she is saying because this is medical jargon and I’m pretty lost and my mask is keeping my face hot and wet and I’m stressed to find this test.

Long story short, I pass out before I can get myself cooled down.  Seemingly everyone in the shop leaps to my aid.  Super embarrassed.  They sit me up and help me get some of my layers off.  Then they help me to some chairs in a waiting area.  Terribly embarrassing.  Anyway, I sit there until I am ready and cool again.

No scarf, no hat, and my jacket open I make my way toward the lab.  Can’t find the entrance only the exit.  So I go in the exit.  I explain my situation:  must have test to fly.  They can’t help me.  I need a pharmacie.  I feel like Yossarian.

I start walking back toward the apartment thinking maybe I’ll talk to Flo, see if she can help me find what I need.  I decide to call the Embassy as I’m walking.  They shunt me to a recording.  The recording says I need an antigen test that comes with a QR code from a pharmacie.  I turn on my heels and walk back to the previous one.

I explain what I need:  antigen test and QR code.  Does the test in the box provide that?  No.  The very nice lady walks me to the street, points to another green cross glowing in the near distance, and says “go there”.  I go there.

That’s the one with the sign I mentioned earlier.  The thing is that one has a sign that says they are out of tests.  I was caught by the verb they used for “out of” which translates as “breach”.  This helped me to overlook the autotest (self-test) part of the sign.  They can test; they just are out of the self-test boxes.

They can test me.  I get into a second line to wait for my test.  Back up the nose they go (just one nostril here!) and tickle my brain a bit.  Come back in half an hour I’m told.  And half an hour later I have a piece of paper with my negatif.  Fucking ordeal.  Done.

I return to the apartment to rest and shower.

After that I venture out to get some nibbles for the plane (remember that Delta flight and no food service on account of the plague?).  I walk past the new apartment to see if Flo and Raynal are working but the lights are out.  I walk back and get my food situated in a plastic back from the bread purchase and stick that all in the fridge.  Mostly I’m ready to go.

The first morning train is too late to give me time to get to the airport so I will take an evening train instead.  I text Flo and they are downstairs.  I hang with them for a bit and tell them of my testing woes and my embarrassing moment.  It’s been a day.

We watch the President and the Health Minister on TV talking about the plague.  My basic impression is “don’t be idiots; wear your fucking masks!”.  The US State Department has France at level 4, which means don’t travel there.  You’d have to be an idiot to travel to France!  Zombies everywhere.

I’m going to take the train about half-past nine.  Flo suggests we get pizza.  I figure I’ll try eating a bit.  I eat one small piece.  I fucking love pizza!  It’s been a day.

I get everything ready and drag everything back down to say good-bye to F&R and hand over the keys.  I promise to come again before a decade this time.  Now I slog to the train station.

For the second time the stupid machine doesn’t like my card or something.  I have to switch to a different machine to get my ticket.  At least I’m ready for that this time.

I’m looking for the train since I can’t see an indication on the ticket for maybe which spot to find it and I talk to another guy going to Austerlitz.  I just follow him until we are situated in a train car.  Rest more for that hour train ride.

We get to Paris and it’s raining pretty good.  My plan to walk to the next station sucks.  Fuck it.  I walk the forty minutes.  I marvel at all the testing pop-ups.  Keep in mind it’s nearly eleven.  I could get ten tests right now.  Ten tests and a fucking cocktail.

I have some real trouble finding the entrance for the station.  There was the helpful bus driver who thought it was best for me to take a bus from the next street to a totally different station.  I walked in the direction indicated but really just went looking for someone else to ask.

I circled that entrance like a stalking cat.  Well, like a stalking cat with Alzheimer’s and no clear objective.  I’d ask someone and they’d point just over there and turn left.  I’d see nothing resembling stairs or an escalator or anything.  Finally I turn some corner and there is this huge subterranean entrance with long glorious escalators four wide descending into the bowels of the Earth.  I go down and buy a ticket for the train.

Then I walk back up and mark this location on my map.

Now I go in search of a bar.  My plan is to hang out not at the airport.  I find this great bar called Mamie where I have a juice cocktail and listen to the great DJ music they are running.  I chat with the owner.  He tells me that after he closes there is a bar around the corner which has a stage (a stage bar) and live music.  So when he closes I walk around the corner.

I find it but at first it looks packed and overflowing.  I stand behind three other guys with suitcases waiting for the bouncer to finish telling some asshat to piss off.  Then it’s scan our QR codes and in we go.  Turns out it’s just the outdoor patio that’s packed and overflowing.  There is plenty of room inside.  I sit next to the stage.  I mean it’s a small place so everywhere is next to the stage.  Those three other guys sit at the table next to me.  It’s a hip little music club.

They are from further South in France and are on their way to Columbia for a wedding.  We talk and the music plays and we are having a great time.

I order a Kriek but it’s not 10e so the bartender doesn’t want my plastic.  I offer to pay for a tea as well which I will drink later.  We do that.

Mostly the music is American rock covers (Nirvana, ZZ Top, Queen (UK), others) but they do slip in a French punk classic (Antisocial by Trust).  Everybody is into whatever they do.  It’s a fun night.

We talk about getting to the airport.  I check the train times.  If I run down now I can catch this train.  They suggest I come with them via Uber.  The train is only a 10e loss and we are having a ball.

More music it is then.  And I kinda want to be going to Columbia for a buddy’s wedding.  Eventually the hour comes and we head outside to find that Uber.  France isn’t allowing anyone in the front seat due to the plague and Uber can’t count so send cars that can’t hold four humans in the back.  We order a special car (read:  van) for a bit more coin.  Off we are driving for the airport.

Air France only allows 12kg of carry-on luggage.  I have no choice but to check my suitcase.  This sucks because baggage takes forever.  Not submitting it.  That took no time.  It’s at the other end.

Anyway, I get through security and meet back up with my new friends.  Our gates are close so we settle in at a table and get some nibbles (for them) and coffees (for them) and some water (for me).  I also eat some of my carrots.  I offer, of course, but they say something very French about it being the wrong time (of day).  I explain my belly situation.  They are sympathetic.  I figure the fiber might help.

Their flight is called first so then I walk over to my gate to wait the last little bit before boarding.

Descent flight.

Amsterdam airport must be the best I’ve seen.  It’s like someone made signs.  Intelligible well-placed signs.  Nice job.

I can’t use the machine to print this boarding pass.  I think it’s because of the test requirement.  A nice lady hooks me up.

Another nice flight.  Sat next to a kid from Valencia on his way to see a friend who is an exchange student in Seattle.  And a guy who works in remodeling here in Seattle.  Mostly I read my books and nod off from time to time.  Making occasional long-legged walks to the toilet or around the plane to keep my knees from seizing up.

Back to SeaTac and the long slog through all the check points.  Fill out this piece of paper.  Show it to this person who stamps it.  “Do you have any food or stuff?”  No, I lie.  Go there to get your luggage.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Get your luggage.  Show your paper.  “Do you have all your luggage?”.  I do.  Welcome to the USA!

Long walk to the train.  My phone is going nuts because it’s in range again.  I have to disable the Euro SIM to get everything working again.  Beep beep boop.  I’m on a train.  I think I forgot to pay.  My friend C meets me at the ID train station so I don’t have to deal with the bus thing with the snow.

Back home.  Dump both bags on the living room floor and take a fucking shower.  It’s been a day.


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