Getting ready for a trip is always exciting: thinking about your itinerary, planning the right combination of outfits, making sure you have all your toiletries and making everything fit it your suitcase. I tend to wait till the day before I leave to get it all together, and invariably, I end up forgetting something. This time it was no different.
Everything fit just fine in my carry-on suitcase (I roll my clothes instead of fold them), but it was still too heavy for my liking. I eliminated a light sweater, then a shirt, then a tank top, then another tank top, then a scarf, and then this and then that. I got it to where I wanted it, lined up my suitcase, my day bag and my jacket. When it was time to go, I grabbed my suitcase, my day bag…and forgot my jacket. Typical.
Well, no matter. It was off to the airport with the family, eating berries, reminiscing, and discussing plans. At the airport, Rick and I took advantage of our time by sharing some chowder, practicing our Skype skills with each other and reviewing our respective trip plans. Since we were fortunate enough to head off to Europe on the same flight (his final destination: Vienna, mine: Paris), we enjoyed our last seven hours together with engaging conversation, watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and indulging in 3.5 hours of sleep. As we said our goodbyes at Heathrow, we affirmed how happy we are for our togetherness, how excited we are for the other to have wonderful adventures, and how good it will be the next time we’re together. (As a sidenote: Rick gave me a copy of his Europe 101 book so I could brush up on my art and history for my tours. He signed it saying, “I know you’ll be a great guide. I am so proud of you.” Even now, reading that makes my eyes well up.)
I continued on my way to Paris and met an Indian-American (born in India) named Antonio and his 14-year-old and very mature for his age son Alex. We struck up a great conversation and chatted all the way to Charles de Gaulle Airport. They’re planning on staying in Paris for a month while Antonio works on his artwork and plans upcoming gallery showings and Alex brushes up on his newly learned French skills. We decided to take the RER together into the city from the airport. To help Alex work on his speaking skills confidence, I had him buy the tickets speaking only in French, and he passed with flying colors. As we rode from the outskirts of the city to Paris proper, we worked on other skills that will come in handy for the rest of trip: reading maps, understanding the train/metro system, basic expressions and cultural differences and similarities. While this may have been helpful to them, it was extremely helpful to me to practice my teaching skills to prep me for my upcoming tours. This chance encounter was a great omen for the start of my new adventures as an assistant tour guide. I think I’m good to go.