Friday, April 20, 2007

April in Paris Easter 1974 pt 2

Ooo, la la!
The Easter weekend was approaching and Iris was becoming a little nervous about the trip. I reassured her that it was no big deal; a trip to
France wasn’t much different from a trip to Scotland in travel time but she was worried in case she became sea-sick. I told her that I’d crossed the channel several times with no ill effects and it wasn’t as though it was a long crossing; just about two hours.
I stayed overnight with Iris on the Thursday before we set off. She was so excited she could hardly sleep. It was an early start and
5am saw us having a light breakfast. 5am is, in my opinion, strictly reserved for late night revellers and stray cats! However, we boarded the coach and were away just after 6.
I remember we stopped twice en-route to
Dover; once at Leicester Forest services on the M1 to pick up a few more passengers and again just after Dartford Tunnel for a coffee break.

We arrived at Dover around 11.30am in time for the noon ferry to Calais. Once on board, Iris was almost jumping up and down like a six-year old at Christmas! We stayed on deck as the ferry cleared the harbour and Iris gulped a little as the boat met the rollers as we entered the Channel. She was fine after the first gentle sway and we went below as it was rather dull and overcast and it was starting to rain. (Well, it was a Bank Holiday; what do you expect?)
We had a light lunch and Iris was looking out of the window at the sea. She said she felt fine and no queasiness at all. She was really enjoying the crossing.
We arrived at
Calais around 2pm; although it was 3pm Central European Time. There were no hold-ups and we were on our way to Paris!

The coach only stopped once, just outside AbbĂ©ville for a short break. We went into the cafeteria for coffee and croissants and something Iris said started me laughing fit to bust! She turned to me and said, “Isn’t it funny? Everyone’s speaking French!” Some members of our coach party were nearby and they too heard her and were chuckling away. As we approached the check-out with our snack, I reached for some money (Francs) and paid the cashier. She was asking me if I’d come far and I replied we had travelled from England and were going to Paris. Iris thought it so strange to hear me speaking in French. She had learned the language, albeit rudimentary, in her school days but had never spoken it since. I told her that now was the time to remember some of it! She made a face at me and said, “Mercy bucket! How about that?”

We got to Paris just before 7.30pm and the hotel staff were on hand with dinner as soon as we’d checked in and cleaned up. The meal was excellent and by that time, we were ready for it. Afterwards, we took a stroll round the area, although it was getting dusk by now. In the distance, the Eiffel Tower was lit up and I told Iris that we would be going there in the morning. We popped into a small bistro for a couple of drinks and then went back to the hotel for the rest of the evening. There was a piano-accordion player entertaining the guests and we sat around for a while. We were both very tired after the journey so we had an early night. We slept like logs until the morning.

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