We Made It To France!
Given how I finished my last post I’m sure many of you are wondering what happened last week-end. Did our flight take off? Did we have to make any crazy last-minute changes? How did the pets do?
Well I’m VERY happy & relieved to say we all made it safe and sound. We’re now officially in France!!
It Was Super Stressful
I can’t deny that it was one of the most stressful 3 days that we’ve ever been through.
Before departure I had several panic attacks and spent 2 days obsessively checking the Air France website for our flight status (a deep thank you, by the way, to all the blog readers and friends who sent us so many positive thoughts and support!!). When we finally found out we were leaving on time, as planned we were deeply relieved. PHEW!
For the pets we loaded up on every natural pet calmer I could find including Feliway Spray for the cats, Sentry Calming Spray for the dog, Rescue Remedy and something called Zen Licks (individual liquipacks with L-theanine as the main active ingredient, a good natural calmer). This last-minute addition to my traveling pet cabinet actually turned out to be one of my best buys. All 3 pets loved the taste and I could tell they were visibly more relaxed around 1/2 hour after I gave it to them. If you have travel-stressed pets, I definitely recommend giving this a try…
A Predictably Long & Uncomfortable Flight…
We traveled heavy, with 7 suitcases (!!!) as well as Tom & Maruja (Paul’s stepdad and stepmom) who’d graciously agreed to help us across to France w/ the paws. I don’t think I’ve ever traveled with this much luggage, but we managed….
The ~8 hour passage went pretty much exactly as expected. It was stressful to check-in, horrible to go through TSA and the flight was predictably loooong and uncomfortable. But we had our paperwork in order, and the only real hiccup was a moment of near heart-attack panic when Rand escaped her carrier mid-flight (only so many places a cat a go on a double-decker Airbus A380, right??).
Thankfully both Paul and I were wound so tight that tracking her down happened in record-breaking time. I’d care to wager that no passenger in the history of modern aviation has ever jumped out of their seat and catapulted themselves over their neighbor with more lightning speed than I did when that cat escaped….it was quite the sight…
When we finally got on the ground in Paris, we all breathed a giant sigh of relief. All 3 pets had traveled well, and despite needing to go to the toilet rather promptly, they were all surprisingly relaxed. No pet pics since I was too stressed beforehand (and too exhausted afterwards) to take any, but it was a 12 paw crossing success!
We Become Van Dwellers (Kind Of)
We spent the night in an inexpensive & superbly pet-friendly hotel (Novotel Suites) just ~20 mins from the airport and picked up our new RV the next AM.
Well technically it’s only a 9-day car rental, but I felt rather #vanlife hip for the first few seconds we posed outside her, before we realized that neither of us had driven a stick-shift in ~15 years. I won’t say it took us 20 minutes to figure out how to put her in reverse, nor will I admit to manually pushing the thing in neutral, and I certainly won’t concede that we might have stalled slightly once or twice, but I will acknowledge that we (eventually) succeeded in driving it like a pro. Call it training for a soon-to-come European RV, right?
Our ~7 hour drive down to the Southwest of France was easy and super pleasant. We stopped several times at the free Aires, enjoyed multiple French espressos and got rather overly excited when we used our no foreign transaction fee Barclay’s chip & pin Credit Card at a gas station for the first time (it totally worked!!!!). Smooth roads and almost zero traffic to boot too.
When we finally arrived at my dads it was sunny, warm and beautifully clear. The cats promptly went to sleep, Polly bounced around the grass like a dog in heaven and we all drank a glass of red wine overlooking the Pyrénées. Sheer perfection!
After 42 crazy, intense hours of door-to-door travel we’d made it, safe and sound. It’ll take a few days for the pets to settle down, and it’ll likely take a few weeks before it REALLY sinks in (can you believe we’re actually living in France now???), but we’re HERE!! What seemed like just an idea a few months ago is now reality, and although it felt at times like a far-fetched dream it actually, finally happened. I always find it amazing that you can change your life like that…one purposeful step at a time…
And Thus Begins A New Chapter…
This is it, the beginning of our next chapter. We will miss our lives and friends most dearly back in the USA (it’s both the beauty and the curse of a nomadic life, as my good friend Cherie so perfectly wrote in a recent post), but we’re VERY much forward to our upcoming adventures here too. I’ve got lots to write (there are several more “Moving To Europe” posts yet to come, plus at some point we start RV shopping here) so fear not that I’m leaving the interweb or giving up on the blog (it’s here to stay), but it might be a few weeks before you hear from me again. Gonna take a well-deserved little break now….