Of France, Food and Further mis-Fortunes (WIP)

What I love about life is that it can still surprise me after over 45 years on this Earth…

Above all I consider myself a very very lucky person- despite… well let’s not get ahead of myself.

It all started quite innocently July 15th, a bright and sunny Saturday, with me leaving from home at 11:30 to catch my 14:00 (Boarding time) plane from Hannover directed to Paris’ very own Charles De gaulle.
The road is about 40 to 45 minutes long so I allow myself a little slack, just in case.

Approaching halfway to the northern German airport I’m notified by Google Maps GPS assistant that due to an accident on the Autobahn it’s advised to detour and lose twenty minutes rather than wait in a queue for two hours…

So I think :“Here’s to past-me that decided to leave early. :beers: Cheers mate, you’re a smart one.”

I reach the airport (while I notice that the sun is rapidly being covered by very very thick clouds), park, and get my stuff past the security check to the assigned gate where I find a comfortable seat and I start reading Red Storm Rising.

As I wait and the boarding time is reached I notice two things.
-1 There’s a lot of wind that’s forcefully shaking every tree in sight and even some other man made structures
-2 There’s exactly zero airplane at the end of the jet bridge

In all this, no information is dispensed by the Airport authorities through any available means.
No PSA, no “Delayed” on the big screens in front of us, nothing on the Air France app… until half an hour after the alleged take-off time.

“Due to technical reason there’s no plane- here’s 11EUR go have something to eat.”
(The issue in the end was bad weather- those clouds and wind I saw were a massive storm front that ravaged the area- what a well timed coincidence!)

Ok, cool I guess. Not exactly a prompt response to the situation but free food is free food.
After some (strangely omnipresent in every airport) Italian Focaccia loaded of cold cuts and a surprisingly decent espresso I make my way to the gate once more where some French people I befriended share my same puzzlement at the lack of any information.

Finally at 1630 there’s a plane that approaches out jet bridge, goes through the whole cleaning and readying routine and we can board.

The worst part for me is knowing - thank to the ubiquitous AirFrance app - that my connecting flight, albeit delayed as well, will still be unreachable for me as it will leave 20 good minutes before I even touchdown in CDG, Paris.

The sense of Universal Dread grips my stomach in its glacial claw when I realize that the only other plane to Bordeaux was listed for 19:15 but will be delayed to 19:45 due to … unspecified circumstances.

At this point is painfully obvious that not only I wont reach my hotel in time to say goodnight to my kids via Laptop, BUT my car rental agency will be closed by the time my next flight will be wheels up off the tarmac of Parisienne airstrip. No car means I cannot reach my reserved hotel room, as it’s over 50 km away.

Being the weekend my travel office is offline- of course and rightfully so… My leader is a great person though and he’s not worried about me, he knows I can take care of problems- I just have to adhere to a few well reasoned Company policies.

This makes me feel better as I can choose what to do and how to do it so I elect to pick a reasonable priced [Hotel1] in the near vicinity of the Bordeaux Airport, spend the night there, and collect my car the next day and proceed as planned. All of this in the ample time I have before the (let’s generously call it “connecting”) flight takes off… at 22:10.

Cool Cool… all is solved.
Or is it?

The flight - despite the pilot’s warning of some turbulence - was relatively calm.
A charming hostess very pleasantly explained me how to open the emergency door in case of … well… emergency.
I giggled at the remark she felt she had to do of :“not open the door if you see” and I quote “tall flames from the small window”:smiley:
Her French-accented English was literally to die for and on top of that she shot me an absolutely killer smile that will stay with me for a long time.
(Nothing fishy- I swear. When she was delivering the passengers some sort of large sweet biscuit with the drinks, the man to my right refused it and I asked if I could have his.
She gave me TWO extra biscuits and with that sly foxy smile on top. :hot_face:)

But for all the genuine pleasantness of the flight and flight mates, things were not to last…

As I wait at the baggage claim carousel I receive a very embarrassed email from [Hotel1] that apologizes but Booking.com made a mistake as they have no free rooms.
Of course I had stupidly paid in advance. :man_facepalming:

Being slightly after midnight by the time I get out of the airport and try to orient myself in this new place, I elect to try again and hope for the best.
I find another hotel, [Hotel2], and I drag myself and my luggage to it- too tired to guess what mass transit system still runs past midnight.
It’s less than two kilometers away, I’ve done worse…
The host is extremely gentle and sympathetic and I finally can rest for the night.

Well sort of…

As I use the room’s services (shower and toilet) I feel that I’m roughly 25% too big - or the room is 75% of the size it should be. Everything feels cramped and slightly too small to be of proper comfort.

I am so tired that I really don’t care; nothing dramatic anyways… I am clean, in a clean bed and… the room is buzzing?!? :roll_eyes:
Low enough to be barely audible but loud enough to exist in a cognizant way in the back of my mind.
I eventually fall asleep but I keep waking up every now and then.

Breakfast time comes- included in the price luckily- and I compensate all I didn’t get with a massive amount of food.
Great food, to be perfectly honest.

I bounce back from my " just existing" state" to “very reliable happiness” now. :smiley:
:point_right: Food helps.:point_left:

Walk my way to [Car rental place] and after a minor tribulation I get my sensibly fuel efficient, modern, and pleasantly powerful latest model of VW Golf- of an hilariously horrid and brightly metallic tint of limey yellow-green. :rofl:

I drive back to the hotel to pick up my luggage and I notice that beside the one I rested (so to speak) there’s the one that cancelled the night before.

Ironically, during breakfast, I received an email that expressed all the possible happiness for my stay at [Hotel1] and gently asked for a review/feedback.


I head to their desk and calmly explain to the concierge my issue with how this is being handled…
Luckily he speaks a very respectable English (I realized it’s not that common actually), understands my point and takes all the logical data to solve this issue. Let’s see how that goes…

So in this sunny Sunday morning I finally manage to reach the original place of stay- all is nice and dandy, both on the way and once I’m there.
The Room is actually huge, modern and very well furnished. Oh and proportioned too.

I manage to unwind, undo my luggage, set myself up, make a quick dash to the Mall nearby… I’m truly happy and relaxed.

I meet my soon-to-be colleagues that night for a dinner at a nearby restaurant- Le Lake.

All I know is that I need to eat something awesome and well- France did not disappoint. :stuck_out_tongue:

An amazing beef burger, 200gr of fantastically grilled beef patty with plenty of cheese and plenty slices of smoked Chorizo sausage! OMFG! I’m in heaven!
(As a side note the whole crew of this restaurant is absolutely stellar. Both owners and all the waitresses are enjoyable to chat with, funny, available, and happy to answer my questions about the food.)

All in all my colleagues are great, smart, and engaging… I can see myself working very nicely with them. :+1:

One week of work passes by quickly and I confirm 100% of my initial impressions. :smiley:
I like this place a lot. Like, really a lot.
Work is hard, I don’t deny it- and the long work hours mean I don’t have much time to do anything, but alas this is not a vacation.

Then it comes the time I go to the pizza place. :smiley:

About to try French pizza. I think this is going to be great!

Real wood oven, proper Italian names in the menu, and no spelling mistakes. Interesting, there might be some real Italians behind this place. Inquiring minds want to know…

Edit 1: we don’t start well, I asked water without gas but the waitress understood the opposite. Whatever, I don’t speak French, my fault… This is on me.

Edit 2: the order was complex, one entrée and a pizza with not one but two variations.
I am confident it will be OK because even if I don’t speak French I can point with my index finger pretty good.

Edit 3: music is stunningly and solidly firm in the 70s and 80s and whereabouts… “We’re on a road to nowhere”, “I need a hero”, “Take my breath away”, “Two Princes”. Not bad but nostalgia hurts the hunger…

Edit 3-b: “Wild boys”?! :upside_down_face:

Edit 4: OMG the smell in this place is amazing…

Edit 5: Waitress forgot the entrée (I do have this effect on women!:wink:) but the pizza looks out of this world.

Edit 6: the entrée is delivered when I’m halfway through the pizza. Not convinced by the timing but at least they corrected it quickly

Edit 7: The pizza was extraordinary - thin crust, pleasantly loaded, passed the “slice fold” test…

Edit 8: the entrée was worth the almost complete debacle of the service.

Edit 9: I’m seriously conflicted. The place is surprisingly expensive, all things considered, BUT the pizza is so good I’m thinking about ordering another.
Edit 9-b: Oh yes. I will.

Edit 10: the “Olio piccante” is disappointingly ineffectual.

Edit 11: ok the music is messing me up badly…
I mean Limahl’s “Neverending story”?? Samantha Fox’s “Touch me”?!? This is by design, no Radio station! I’m going to get to the bottom of this!

Edit 11-b: Ha! The waitress confirms it’s a Playlist. Ok ok, I’m willing to let almost everything go, but I want to shake hand with whoever made it. Or strangle them.

Edit 12: when the waitress (she’s so impossibly young) came to pick up the empty dishes apologized profusely and the grandpa in me just reassured. Nothing terrible happened and the food is so good that there’s no issue…

Edit 13: asked a pizza Margherita. Waitress is surprised but happy.

Edit 14: I will leave a glowing review… I will not mention whatever the waitress did wrong. This place deserves it…

To Do -post pic


Intermission music… Dam da dum…


Thay don’t have a after hours key pick-up service…?

I know here, the rental agencies stay open until the last incoming flight with a rental lands for the night (we usually have about a 2-3 hour window with no incoming). If they know a pax got delayed to a later flight they’ll still stay open.

I don’t know what it is, maybe because tipping is customary? maybe return business/word of mouth means going those extra yards is normal? maybe because most people in the US that I have met will go out of their way to help you? maybe a bit or all of the above?

Customer service in the US isn’t representative of everywhere else I have been in the world!

I haven’t rented many cars outside Scandinavia. Only two times, that I can recall.
Maybe it’s because the airports where I usually rent are so small that they need a key delivery system anyway?

Update time.


Where is the update?

john travolta bolo tie GIF

1 Like

I’m appending the text to the first post…

PS: Fixed some text… I’m tired and my English suffers


@Harry_Bumcrack, please tell me where in America you reside and I will uproot and relocate there yesterday! Granted, I am in NJ. That’s not my America unfortunately.

1 Like

Texas, apparently. :rofl:

1 Like

Maybe it was because I am not American… and I have never been to NJ?

But each time I have visited every single waitress, shop assistant or perfect stranger was nothing but polite and helpful. The only exception were rude and/or arrogant TSA staff!

If you want the guaranteed Basil Fawlty experience, holiday in Australia.


Further update to my first post.


That’s really a thing in France. I thought it was “just old people” but there really seem to be more people who don’t speak/write English particularly well.

Compared to scandinavian countries, the netherlands, even germany and the balkans the contrast is noticeable IMO.


Absolutely agree.

I actually felt discriminated at a specific shop after the two young kids in there clearly insulted me (I know just enough French) while serving me.

Unpleasant but I moved on… Needless to say I didn’t go to that place anymore and found a much better one (and cheaper) around the corner.


I thought most of the europeans are well aware of that fact that english isnt really favourite foreign language in France :slight_smile:

so then maybe its just some kind of sympathy with the poor strange foreigners or something :smile: cause I had similar positive experience as @Harry_Bumcrack on multiple occasions in different US states.

btw never been to NJ though :smile:

1 Like

I dont know about any good tests for pizza but the best pizza I ever had was in US and Croatia.

I know you are italian kome, and I had pizza already in Italy, but I remember more the very good looks of it than the taste for some reason :slight_smile:

going to spend this year holidays in IT, so will pay better attenzione this time around.

nice write-up btw, will have to come up with something similar about IT :wink:


To be fair I think pizza can (and will) be good everywhere there’s someone that learned how to make it… Which isn’t hard at all, by the way.

I had awesome pizza made by this Egyptian cook in Hannover and horrible pizza in Italy made by Italians.

Edit: also the only real test for pizza is this one :

If you’re thinking that you’d love another pizza right now, even if you are full - then that was a great pizza.

If you think that your definitely going to come back for another pizza - then it was a great pizza

1 Like

To be fair I found ample love for the English language when I was in Normandy but then again, you know… Logical I guess?

1 Like