1990-03-13: Newark to Bordeaux

France 1990 ~~ Next: Bordeaux, Day 1

Arrangements had all been made, including some that required me to make phone calls from work to France, and speak (in English) with helpful people. This was in the days before everyone was on the Internet. Arrangements were made primarily by long-distance (do you remember that?) and international telephone, and by paper mail (pen and paper, envelopes and stamps!).

Our plan was to depart the evening of March 13, and fly via UTA (Union de Transports Aériens, a French airline that no longer exists) to Bordeaux, arriving the morning of Saturday, March 14. A representative of Europcar would be present to complete the paperwork involved with leasing the car, a Peugeot 205.


1990-03-13, 2034, Newark Airport, UTA, Gate 62

Waiting to load passengers onto the flight to Bordeaux. I suppose our trip started about 1pm when we left the house, stopped briefly at Carl’s to drop off a box of paperwork, and drove to Newark. Now we are waiting; the plane was delayed in its departure from France, because of a broken toilet.

The three of us have determined to keep journals of our journey, but we have not discussed the reasons much, and we have not discussed for whom we are writing: our audience(s).

For myself, I want to record the bare surface descriptions of the places we go and things we do. I hope to be able to compare these with others’ descriptions (my companions’ and those of so-called ‘travel writers’). For this purpose I intend to be ‘objective’, but to evaluate things as to their worth as objects of travel.

I also want to record the ‘subjective’ impressions these things engender in me. I hope to recreate from the records of these impressions the impressions themselves, i.e. the memories of the things & places.

In some ways I expect this to be a difficult trip, because of the language. But this is no reason to avoid it, and I hope to record the trials and, I hope even more, the successes of dealing with people across this greater-than-usual communication gap.

As for audience, I am explicitly addressing my future self, in order to recall better the facts & impressions of the surface journey and the mental one. Of course Susan and Chrissy will share this and their own journals, and I expect our discussions of the journals and the act of writing them to be interesting highlights. I also expect parts to be extracted for letters, and so family, friends and others I don’t know will be a secondary audience.


1990-03-13, 2034, Newark Airport, UTA, Gate 62

The first entry was made after a frustrating drive to the airport. We had determined it to be cheapest to rent a one-way car from BWI to Newark, making a similar reservation for the return. On departure day, we set up info about the bills that would need paying while we were away, and left it for Carl to take care of for us. What a friend.

We also called the agency for our fifth gite, in Brittany. This was the one I had called, and we had not received the forms until departure day. I called them and told them there had been a delay in the mail, but that we definitely still wanted the gite, and would mail the check and form from Bordeaux the next day. I think they weren’t sure they understood what we trying to do, but then we weren’t sure either.

We also called UTA and found that the flight was going to be at least two hours late, so we delayed leaving for a while. On the way to Newark, we stopped a couple of times and called UTA to try to get a firm idea of the departure time, but got conflicting info. This made us nervous.

Once we got to the airport, dropped off Susan, Chrissy and the luggage, checked the car in, and checked ourselves in at the ticket counter, it was clear we had no time problem, except for more than we needed. The first hint of non-domestic travel came as we attached UTA luggage ID tags to all our bags. Then we had to show our brand-new passports to check in.

Once in the gate area, we had a long wait, since the plane was late. All announcements were in both French and English, French first. Even though the flight was supposed to have dinner, they served snacks in the gate area, since departure was so late. The snacks were pretty bad sandwiches. Many of our fellow passengers were French. (1991-03-15)

Chrissy: The airplane was delayed (U.S. time) until 9:30 P.M.. They served refreshments around 7:30 P.M.. We had a good view of New York as we flew over it. The ride was very smooth. Dinner was: chicken – carrots – green beans – crab saladé – bread & butter – strawberry pie.

France 1990 ~~ Next: Bordeaux, Day 1


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