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….SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Jim McG says
Welcome to Europe, look forward to following your blog over here, and if you ever make it to York I’ll be happy to take you on a beer tour ’round this great city (voted Best Place to Live In Britain in the Sunday Times last week!) Looking forward to seeing your pictures too, you took some fantastic shots in the States and I hope you capture your travels in Europe with the same aplomb.
gayle fowler says
Yayyyyyy!!! So glad you are there safe and sound!!!! Oh my – to have been a fly on the wall when the cat escaped!!!! Too funny!!
Enjoy – enjoy – enjoy!!!
Looking forward to hearing about your adventures ‘over there’!!
Cheers guys! So glad all made it over and everyone is settling in. Oh, the adventures ahead for you.
We’ll miss you like crazy until next we meet, but so thankful we have this interwebs thing to keep in touch.
Sue Malone says
So very thrilled to see that it all worked perfectly, even the quickly retrieved kitty was nearly perfect. Your planning and worrying yielded great results. That last photo of Polly is truly breathtaking! I had no idea the south of France was that beautiful. Wow. Will look forward to your next post, whenever it appears. Congratulations on a plan well planned and well executed.
OMG, the picture of the boulangerie brought memories flooding back, and my husband had to make me stop licking the computer screen. I am soooooo jealous and happy for you
Jacky Arnold says
So glad you all made it safe and sound. I have to admit that on Satruday I did check on Air France flights from Miami to Paris (and wasn’t even sure if that was your route) but I was glad to see that all their scheduled flights on the 30th landed. Really looking forward to reading of your European adventures. And in five minutes, reservations open up for the season for six spaces at a military RV place in Newport, RI. Hope to stay there in September in conjunction with a stop at the Liberty Harbor RV Park that you wrote about recently. Thanks for all your very helpful advice!!
Sheila Wedegis says
So so happy you all made it safe and sound. Have been lurking and reading since we started our nomadic life 4 years ago and you both have helped so much along the way!! Huge sigh on relief all feet and paws are down and happy!!!
Written with great humor that I’m sure you didn’t feel at the time! Thanks for updating us all, we’ve been thinking of you and wondering where you were. The last picture of sweet Polly says it all. Looking forward to the next installment.
L A Burch says
I am so happy to hear that everything worked out and that last countryside photo is breathtaking. I am really looking forward to hearing about your transition. Congrats!
Anne S says
So very happy everything worked out according to your meticulous plan. C&C posted a clip of your plane taking off, and I figured you were safe at that point. But Rand escaped mid-flight? That is just too perfect.
Enjoy your well earned break — time to let the adrenaline slowly seep out of your systems. A bientot!
hector lopez says
Sooo excited for you all. I’m exhausted just thinking about your stress level and activity list of the last few days. Wow! But the background in your pics looks like paradise. Enjoy chers amis. Look forward to hearing more of your adventures!
Lee Brandt says
Glad all is safe and (somewhat) sound….. LoL…. We will look forward to the next adventure’s of ya’ll….. <~~~~ Yes I am in California but had to give it a southern twang. Do they have a southern twang in France?
Ellen Bates says
Congratulations on a successful move. Loved this post. Very enjoyable to read. Thank you and enjoy the beginning of your new adventure.
Glad you made it with no major problems! I think everyone stalls it a time two when getting back into a manual transmission, I remember coming up to a stop sign & wondering why the engine died…. half a second later remembering the clutch…:-)
Tim Chapman says
Have a great adventure and thanks for the US blog.
Big Torch Key
Bob McLean says
Congratulations! The travelling with pets and that much luggage is really and truly beyond my imagination, but you did it. Good on ya.
Now, there are a couple “at leasts” (something one of my brothers and I would rhyme off when trying to sum up a less than ideal situation) *At least* you retrieved the escaped cat, and *at least* your stick shift rental was outdoors and not in an underground parking garage, which is quite often the case at an airport car rental situation. I’ve on more than one occasion had to quickly relearn where the hell reverse was, and then go up the ramp to get out of such a location. And parking garages are kinda dark to boot.
Oh and, *at least* you were able to use your super duper credit card.
Cynthia Blaylock says
Et elle est un beau chien!! So happy to hear your flight didn’t get cancelled and all paws and peeps made it safely to the other side of the pond! Can’t wait to learn more about Europe from your perspective. Until then, rest well and drink lots of good wine!
David Michael says
Bravo! Congratulatons on surviving one of the most stressful undertakings of your life…I am sure. At least it would be for me. Looking forward to your observations and comments of traveling around Europe. My wife and I have traveled there on several occasions by bicycle using their abundance of campgrounds. Our next trip will include Denmark and Sweden on bike and then Norway on their “Norway in a Nutshell” train tour from Oslo to Bergen. Love bicycling in France. The French were so kind and supportive of our bicycle trip. Enjoy!
Sue Siegel says
So glad you all made the trip safely. Looks like Polly is ready to GO! Thank you for the update and look forward to your next adventure of shopping for the new home on wheels!
Carolyn Burelbach says
So glad it all worked out! Love the pictures with the Pyrenees in the background. Remind me of my view of the Olympics (sans Elliot Bay). Can’t wait to read all your posts from your new travels in Europe. How exciting. Hope your family is doing well.
Jodee Gravel says
Congratulations on making it to your destination with 12 paws and seven bags!! Great to have the parents along for support and extra hands 🙂 So excited for your new adventure and looking forward to hearing and seeing what you get up to now that you’re Europeans!!
Larry S. Worsham says
Wow! What a trip. I am wishing you the best and look forward to read about the next chapter in your lives. You are fortunate to be doing this when your young and have your health. Be safe, aware, and most of all have fun. Larry
Jo/Gary Lewis says
So very excited for y’all. We are full time RVers but too old to do what you’ve done. You are definitely living the life that many only get to dream about.
Pat Hall says
I’m so happy for you! And thankful to have found your blog when I did- you have been so helpful over the years as I planned our adventures out west. I missed the opportunity to meet you in person but will continue to follow you and be inspired by your tenacity❤️
Martha in PA says
Congratulations Nina and Paul! I admit to wondering and worrying about you more than once over the last few days. Moving your whole life plus pets overseas is not an easy or simple feat. Glad to hear everything worked out so well. I’m REALLY looking forward to hearing all about your adventures in Europe. Meanwhile kick back and enjoy some wonderful French wine!
Lisa Reich says
We’re so happy for you! You made it! It’s a great story and enjoy your well deserved break!
Lisa and Jason Reich
Marcia GB in MA says
So glad everything worked out well for you in the end. You made it! Here’s to many more cool adventures We look forward to hearing all about them.
John Graves says
What town are you closest to
Toulouse is the nearest big city.
Cheers guys on a successful move. Time to chill and relax from the stress of the past few weeks. Looks like your header pic and subtitle will need to be reworked, eh. Love the photo of Polly. Enjoy your new adventure!
Brett Burguard says
Are you really in France or is this the most elaborate April Fool ever? ‘Cause your website section “Where are we today” says you’re in Miami! LOL!
Seriously, congratulations on making it to France safe and sound. Thank you for taking us along. Cheers!
HA! Well observed. I totally forgot to update our location on the blog.
Betty B Rountree says
Breathed a sigh of relief when you posted your new location and how your expert / precise planning paid off so well. Oh, so much fun to see your happy shining faces~~ ! I’m jealous! Love all of your photos, the adventure details, and the things you used to calm your animals ‘review’. Can we get a photo of the kitties, too?
Getting your blog from France will take all of us on a fun new adventure!
Have fun and be safe!
Steve Alexander says
Looking forward to your European RV Blogging. Someday it’ll be volume 2 of the coffee table picture book by Nina.
Dolores Tanner says
wow… my heart was in my throat a couple times there…. don’t know how u do it, but as you say one step at a time, until u r thru….. can’t wait to see everything u guys do
Sally Gilbert says
Awesome news, so happy for all of you 🙂 Relax and take deep breaths for a while! We look forward to following your European adventures.
Koos de Heer says
Dear Nina and Paul,
Welcome to Europe! I hope you have time to settle down and relax after a few stressful days. And I would love to meet if there is a chance. Let me know if and when you plan to travel north.
Have a great time!
I don’t make comments very often, but I DID want to say I was worried sick about your paws on the flight over. I said a prayer for them. Sooo glad they made it across and landed with all 12 paws on the ground. And appreciate the tip on the calming aids for them. My best to you both and the paws. Sounds like the adventure is only beginning.
Very, very happy for you. Great picture of Polly. A contented Frenchie!
Jill Henderson says
Fantastic news! I was thinking of you guys and the paws and if you were able to fly. Glad to hear it all worked out. Love the Polly picture, it sums it all up! xx
I do believe you guys are glowing :-). So happy for you guys and jelly all at the same time. What a wonderful adventure awaits you and what better time to get out of dodge! Safe travels, I can’t wait to follow along.
wow round the world . boxed and littered, love you, wish bon viaje.
Wow! What an adventure! You are there! Congratulations from this long time reader. I look forward to following your new adventures, too!
Ron Seitz & Mike Platt says
You ALL made it! Time to relax, chill, and then thrill about what lays ahead! Happy RV hunting!
Gary Wood says
It looks wonderful. I’m glad you had a safe trip. My sister flew to France on Saturday. I can’t wait to see the pictures and hear about the experiences.
“To our new lives” what a great photo. Cant wait for your newsletters and vinyard notes.
So happy for you both.
Denise Taylor says
A toast to your new life!! Enjoy your well deserved rest!
Glad you all made it safely to France. Relax a bit, then let the European adventures begin!
Couldn’t wait to find out if you left with everyone on board, so checked Twitter and FB to find out the Happy Ending of this adventure. Very well done, indeed. Enjoy your new home. Looking forward to your next posts.
I wonder what Polly is thinking?? She looks quite content. Glad you guys, paws, and all that luggage arrived safe and sound. Enjoy!!
Congratulations! You did it. Let the adventures begin (once you are over jet lag). 🙂
Russ Simmons says
Thanks for the update. We have been wondering if you made it and if your still married LOL. Can’t wait to here more after you get your break. Can’t wait to see what you guys end up shopping for.
Wow i just binge read your blog mid January to current. In Early January i caught up to your plans to move and felt sad and excited (for no reason LOL) and got swamped by my own day to day problems and joys. Just resurfaced and read all about your journey — what riveting writing i was spellbound. Loved the new shiny front of the rig! It is amazing that you made it to France — thanks for your encouragement saying that everyone face abject terror,…that helped because I’m feeling a big change coming up, am experiencing too many hurdles, and am dealing with the resulting procrastination and terror Congratulations! So glad the pets were pretty relieved to have arrived at your dad’s and made it fine. Good job on flying through the air in flight to retrieve your cat…. can’t wait to see your new RV. From a few miles east of Del Mar in Carmel Valley. So many many moons ago yu were housesitting here. And i went on a mostly raw diet a few weeks ago to try to get to better health and have lost the same 10 lbs as that time with you guys LOL. You two are an amazing team and i loved your Valentines Day blog too, xxx E
So glad that all went well on your trip. Always look forward to your blogs. Am interested in seeing your new rig. Take time to adjust to your new life. Thank you for sharing your life with “us”.
So glad you and fur babies arrived safely. I can only imagine how stressful the whole process must been. Looking forward to seeing your European adventures. Hopefully you can get some rest and peace now after mighty leap over the pond.
Suzanne in Maine says
Glad to know you all made it safely. Enjoy the next part of the journey!
Alvin Chin says
Glad you made it! Are we going to hear how you planned and executed your Euro RV purchase. I suspect its going to be smaller than what you have gotten used to so you can get and out of those medieval towns and roads.
Mark Watson says
I was sure hoping when you were packing boxes, you would not pack the cat in them. And under the ” it was super stressful”, for a moment I thought the Zen relaxers were for you. I know I was stressed out just reading about the preparation for your over seas travel.
Bob Martel says
Glad you all made it safely! I’m looking forward to your posts over the next couple of years (?) about this chapter. Remember, that driveway near Ann Arbor is always open to you folks! 🙂
Beverly Wood says
Looking forward to hearing your RV adventures in Europe and beyond.
Oh wow! I wish you both all the best, and I look forward to your next post. You two are the ones I first found while researching living on the road. (We had a close encounter at Cape Blanco a couple years ago.) I refer to you (when talking to the hubby) as “You know, my couple.” Ha!
Caryl Marie Kirk says
My dear Nina & Paul: Truly, you and your adventures have given these hearts … a couple of 70 year-olds with a dream and a journey…the strength, inspiration and the where-with-all to pull ourselves up and DO IT!! After this recent post and all the hilarity that you’ve intended, amid your tension, well, you are the bees-knees (spoken like a true 100+ oldster!!) I’ve thought for a very long and hard time about doing a blog. Yours has been a hard one to follow, but now I’ve realized that I need to do it… I’m working on it and will eventually take the domain of RVDreamtripping.com. It still is in the formative mode, but I now feel that I’ve got the direction that I would like to head in.
Thank you…you’ve been a serious contender when I’ve thought about the direction I needed to go. But, do not take that as a challenge but a sincere compliment…I just knew that I really wanted to do it RIGHT…AND, MY LADY, YOU DO AN INCREDIBLE JOB!!
CONGRATULATIONS ON REACHING your destination. I know that you will be happy in France with your sweet Paul and your Dad. I wish I had taken that step when it presented itself regarding my Dad’s care, but I now know that my Dad needed to be right where he ended up.
I’m a few years older than you are, Nina, but I’ve made some serious mistakes which can’t be changed. You, sweetheart, have made the move that I could not. You give us all a little more push in the direction of LOVE!
Enjoy France…it so fits you both.
Congratulations on navigating the journey successfully! Looking forward to hearing how European nomad life differs from the US version.
Susan Akridge says
Despite the stressful trip you look wonderfully happy and amazingly relaxed – it is obviously the right move for you. Polly looks like she has been there always. Cheers!
Loved the gripes and the beauty shared. It sounds amazing. Loved the details about the pets and looking forward to hear more about the post-move emotions. Aww and the kitty snore-purrs herself to sleep. God they love it, although they are acting like they were tortured before. Even the animals know they are in the south of france – way COOL. Thanks for posting updates. The markets and the fresh food sounds divine. Day old eggs wth!