Bon Voyage!

planeYou know your first trip to Paris isn’t going to go well when two hours before you leave, you still haven’t got your Euros. (That stupid referendum weakening the pound is still a sore point). The panic stations were armed and ready for warfare. Cat had to make an emergency appointment to the doctors for her enormous tongue ulcers which sprung up on Wednesday, so Lynx and Neen walked Meg and Bandit. They returned to find Cat on the verge of a meltdown as our suitcase was too heavy. We were forced to switch our medium Red Bulls for smalls to save weight, and two cartons of soya milk were sacrificed. We’ll just have to eat chips instead and hope the Parisians don’t do what the Brits do and cook their chips in with the meat.

Cat and Neen went to the post office at midday. We’d gone the day before, but they didn’t have any Euros. We were promised them today. They hadn’t arrived. And the rate had dropped. They went to a different post office. They had the Euros, but Cat didn’t have her ID on her – it was already packed. After another near swearing meltdown in the post office, saved only by a note in a box saying “do you have a big one at home?” they returned, Cat fetched her ID and made another trip to the post office.

P1170146We made it to Cardiff airport on time, convinced after our mishaps, it could only go right from here on. How wrong we were. At home, our case weighed just under the 20KG limit. In the airport it was 20.9. We needed to get it down to 20.3. So we stuffed items in hand luggage. Then the lady uttered the fateful words: “you all need to weigh your hand luggage.” She’d obviously seen our clever ploy of moving stuff into our hand luggage and decided to stop it. We’ve never had to do this. Cat’s rucksack was under but Lynx, Neen, Alex and Jules’s hand luggage was over. We shifted a kilo from Lynx’s into Cat’s rucksack. But we couldn’t disperse anything else and there was no way we were leaving stuff behind. Lady “You could pay £40 and check one of the bags in.” Neen “Fuck that. I’m wearing everything.”

P1170148So we opened our cases and in the middle of check in, the three us started donning our heaviest clothes. Metal belt? That went on too. Hoodies went round the waist and jackets were donned. Neen stuffed her pockets with as much as she could. Neen’s hand luggage also contained a box of shortbread, so as we pulled skirts and tops over our dresses, we also shovelled the largest pieces of shortbread into our mouths to help reduce the weight. This is one of those comedy moments writers put in sitcoms. We personally don’t see the difference to our hand luggage being in the bags or us wearing it. We’ll be in the same place on the plane. And if anything, this was now dangerous, as should the plane land in the water, the extra weight on us would force us to drown. Is that what you want, Flybe? For us to drown by obeying your petty rules?

glasses 1Alex and Jules’s bags were weighed down by their makeup so Jules phoned her husband to come back and take some home. The bags then weighed 11 kilos and the lady allowed them through. Think she realised we were serious about wearing all our clothes and decided we’d made enough of a scene. And then Cat accidentally insulted the lady by saying as we’re only 7 and a half stone, we should be allowed two lots of hand luggage.  Us and our hand luggage combined weigh far less than an average man. Therefore, we should get away with heavier hand luggage. The lady uttered the words “so cos I’m fat, I don’t get hand luggage?” She wasn’t fat in the slightest and we’re pretty sure she was joking but Neen was silently willing Cat to stop talking. At this rate, we wouldn’t be getting on the plane.

glasses 2And from next month, Flybe are reducing the size of their hand luggage allowance, meaning our hand luggage will no longer be allowed. So this is the last time we’ll be flying with them. We’re not forking out buying on tiny bags just to abide by their rules. It’s probably to force people into paying for check-in luggage (which is more costly than other airlines’ check-in luggage). You have underestimated our stinginess, Flybe.

going to get our case

going to get our case

The moment we got upstairs, we whipped off our extra clothes and put them back in the bags before getting to security. We have enough trouble getting through there without the metal we were now wearing. The bags already had the approved label put on them. We could’ve loaded several bottles of duty free vodka in and no-one would’ve known. Our bags returned to being over the weight limit and guess what? The plane didn’t fall into the Channel with our cases bursting open and our clothes floating away on the waves. But at least now we’d stopped looking ridiculous. Well, until we all took selfies wearing comedy sunglasses. We weren’t sure which was funnier – the terrible styles or the prices. Some cost as much as our plane tickets!

P1170156But the flight went smoothly and Cat stopped accidentally insulting the staff. When we landed in Charles de Gaulle, we had to get on a train to be taken to baggage. This was the longest trip ever to get to baggage reclaim. We summoned a taxi and headed to our apartment. Except our street wasn’t coming up on the taxi driver’s SatNav. Uh oh. Neen found it on maps on her phone and had to direct our driver there. Paris seems to be a system of one way streets with a complete free for all on the roads and scooters riding on pavements. We got through the doorway of the building to find ourselves in some sort of narrow courtyard. We didn’t know which mailbox was ours for the key. Cat texted the apartment owner. He told us the number. None of the doors were numbered. We started trying random doors, until one guy appeared convinced we were trying to break in to his apartment. After assuring him we were tourists and not inept criminals, he relaxed a bit, though we were convinced he had the police on speed dial. Cat texted Allan again. The one with the brown door. We eventually got in.

P1170171We had about half an hour before we had to leave for food before the Moulin Rouge. We whipped off our flight clothes, yanked on our fancy dresses, touched up our makeup and were ready to go in ten minutes. Alex and Jules took a lot longer because of re-doing hair and makeup. We’re a bit lazy when it comes to makeup. If it takes longer than 15 minutes, it’s not worth our time. The Hard Rock Café was a ten minute walk from our apartment so we headed there for chips and Red Berry Press, dressed in our Moulin Rouge finery. We had half an hour to eat before we had to leave. After stuffing our faces as quickly as possible, we got a taxi to the Moulin Rouge. We had enough time to take two photos and to make a quick video call to Tom to taunt him that we were there and he wasn’t. The dress code for the Moulin Rouge was ‘elegant’, hence us forking out for new dresses, something we never do. As we queued, we scanned the crowds, expecting to see hundreds of beautifully dressed people. There were none. Everyone else was in jeans or shorts. Our corset dresses with the lace skirts really stood out. Since when has ‘elegant’ and ‘stonewash denim’ ever been used in the same sentence?

Moulin RougeWeirdly, there was a building beside the theatre for us to queue in, which kept the queue off the street. We eventually got in and were shown to our table. We were on a slight balcony so we had a great view. The show was phenomenal. The costumes were incredible, despite nothing being left to the imagination. First night in Paris and we were bombarded with perky naked boobs with high, tiny nipples. This would become a theme for our trip. As would one dance move that we repeatedly performed for the rest of our stay. Though whilst the women were all bare breasted and showing arses, the men remained fully clothed. Neen was very happy about this. There was one male dancer who was trying so hard to come across as manly and straight that he just ended up looking stiff and awkward. Dude, you’re in the Moulin Rouge in a pink outfit. Puffing your chest out like a toad isn’t going to help.

Moulin RougeOne dance involved a man and woman on rollerskates on a small platform. Theirs was by far the best dance. At one point, a strap attached her head to his neck and she corkscrewed while he spun. And then she landed smoothly and carried on dancing. Another time she held on simply with one skate hooked around his neck. When we went on the roundabout in the children’s park in Temple Newsam, the three of us couldn’t walk afterwards, yet she was able to dance. Another amazing dance had a man and woman dancing with a large hula hoop, at some points standing inside it and dancing. As people who have never master the art of hula hooping, we were mesmerised. Our least favourite bit were definitely the clowns. Nobody warned us there’d be clowns! There was also a strange part where a guy had puppets. Moulin RougeAlex and Jules later said he was from Britain’s Got Talent. It seemed odd to have that part in the middle but the crowd seemed to love him. We were just perplexed and not overly impressed. One thing we couldn’t understand was how the women’s boobs just did not jiggle. They were definitely real boobs. Yes, some were small, but we’re also small in the boob department and we still need sports bras for Zumba because of the shimmying and shaking your boobs like maracas. Yet theirs didn’t move. Witchcraft! We pondered the mystery of the anti-jiggle many times.

We’d had no idea what to expect from the Moulin Rouge. We hated the film but the show was absolutely incredible. But €17 for a vodka and lemonade? No thanks. We’d rather spend that on going up the Eiffel Tower. Afterwards, we headed for the eroticism museum. It was apparently open til 2 a.m but we got there at 1:30 and it was closed. So we went into a sex shop instead. Well the Pigalle is the red light district. They had really nice clothes in there! We were tempted, but not at that price. We returned to our apartment around 2 a.m and for the first time in a long while, actually had a good night’s sleep. Paris was definitely agreeing with us.Moulin Rouge

8 Comments

  1. Have been there both with Euros and overweight luggage. For Euros, I use Tesco which always seems to have them in, and the luggage thing is why I no longer fly budget airlines. Mr C, meanwhile, is able to pack hand luggage for a long weekend away with his retro geek mates by finding two clean t-shirts, two pairs of underpants, two pairs of socks, a pair of shorts or chinos, trainers and a retro computer. And that includes what he’s wearing…!

    On one occasion when we went to the States, my hand luggage was overweight and his was under but because we were travelling together the check-in staffer allowed us to continue as the combined weight was under. Considering the amount of techy hardware I consider it is necessary to keep upon my person when travelling, I am very surprised. (I can’t cope with a 10 hour flight without adequate distraction, let’s be honest.) And my laptop is not light.

    Last time we went to California, as repeat visitors, we knew we would buy t-shirts while we were out there, so we packed enough clothes for the first four days and then bought or washed the rest. Apart from t-shirts, we took a couple of pairs of trousers, a pair of trainers, undies and a fleece each. We bought lots more out there, t-shirts, shoes, fleeces…next time we go, I want to buy a pair of real cowboy boots. They’re supposedly built to last and have a heel that I can cope with too. They’ll not be light to bring back though, so I might wear them on the way home and pack the trainers instead.

    Looking forward to the rest of this tale in due course.

    • Ours was mostly our books (might switch to kindles in future), our laptop which is quite heavy, external hard drive for photo storage and as we use older video cameras, they’re heavier.

      • I recommend a Kindle each. It’s MUCH lighter than half a library of books (mine travels with me to work as well) and buying the books for it is cheaper too.

      • yeah, we have Kindles, they’re just never charged 😀 We prefer paper books, but for holidays, they’ll be better.

  2. Brilliant blog. Really interesting and eventful first day.

    • it really was! Other people manage to travel without as many mishaps as we have.

  3. Could identify with the problems you had – I always have trouble going through security & get frisked a lot. I often forget about ‘Sharps’ – one time some expensive Hairdressing scissors were going to be confiscated so we had to go & buy a Jiffy Bag to Post them back home. The rules re Bag sizes & weights are always changing, as a result I have a room filled with varying suitcases & flight bags. Really enjoyed reading about your travels & seeing all the pics.

    • Thanks! We once nearly had cranberry and raspberry squash confiscated at Gatwick because the bottles were unmarked, even though they were in a bag that had an aeroplane on it. When we told another security officer about it, they couldn’t understand why the first guy took them off us and they let us keep them. Different sized bags is a good idea! Flybe are reducing their hand luggage by a third. No bag we own will fit 😦


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