This post could also be entitled: What to do when things go wrong during a trip. Ditched? Stood up? Whatever you call it, this is my story of how I got ditched in France and how I recovered.
Many years ago, when I was working for a multi-national company, I got the opportunity to go to Germany to visit some clients. I decided to add France (bien sur) and when planning, was able to arrange to meet a colleague from our Montreal office. She was going to be travelling with her cousin in Italy before joining me in France. We decided on a date, time, and place to meet: at the AmEx office on Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France.
After a wonderful visit in the Black Forest region, I drove down to the Cote d’Azur. I dropped off my car and checked into the hotel with plans to meet this colleague the next day.
The next day arrived and I sat outside the AmEx office. And waited. And waited. I waited all day and kept going into the office to see if any message had been left. Had she been delayed a day? Had she been in an accident?
During the day, I kept being approached by some children who were gypsies and were trying to pick pocket me. I knew this because I had encountered the same tactic years earlier in Rome. The children would approach a tourist with a newspaper or piece of cardboard and speak in a foreign language while holding out the paper. Meanwhile, they would try to reach into one’s purse or knap sac, going after the wallet. I was pretty impatient with them and told them to “Bugger off”. Fortunately, they did. That kind of shook me up, but I had bigger problems.
I had no hotel for that night as I was expecting to join up with this colleague. (I can’t remember her name, but let’s just say it was Marie). We were going to rent a car and head off into France. So, I decided to find a hotel for that night and would go back to AmEx office the next day. Fortunately, it was May and not a difficult time of year to get a hotel room at the last minute. I found a room at the Hotel West End, which is on the Promenade des Anglais and overlooks the Mediterranean.
The next day I went to the AmEx office and waited…..and waited, and waited again. I was now really worrying. I called my company’s office and asked if anyone had heard from Marie. They said no. I booked my hotel for another night and did the same thing again the next day: waited and waited.
On this third day, I decided I needed to make plans. I still had 1 1/2 weeks before I would fly home. I decided I had to do something: I could cry and let this ruin my trip, or, I could look at this incident as an opportunity to travel where ever I wanted, but it would be alone.
It was a turning point in my life where I decided to make the best of it and the rest of my trip was awesome.
I rented another car and for the next ten days, travelled to some new areas in France and had a fabulous time drinking endless glasses of wine.
The most memorable visit was the Marche Aux Vins in Beaune. After paying 40 Francs (at the time, this was about $10 Canadian) you were given a tasting cup and directed to the cellar where thousands of bottles of Burgundy wine were stored. Sitting on wine barrels were open bottles of wine that you could taste. One could not get lost in this cavern. You just followed the path and moved from barrel to barrel tasting as many wines as you wanted.
From that moment on, I knew the rest of my trip would be great. Wine solves all problems.
Before heading back to Paris, I stopped in to see Chateau de Chantilly where they filmed the James Bond movie, “A View To A Kill”.
In spite of the glitch at the beginning of my trip, this vacation was one of the best.
P.S. So where was Marie? I found out upon my return that she and her cousin decided to spend longer in Italy. Nice, eh?