Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Longest Day of Our Lives

We finally left Atlanta at 8:30 that evening.  Immediately after takeoff, smells of our long awaited dinner began filling the cabin.  The elapsed time from our noon meal at Panera, coupled with the energy exerted during our airport sprint, made our meal of BBQ chicken and sweet potatoes taste like something I might choose for my future birthday meal.  The dinner + a sleeping aid = the perfect combination....ZZzzz.

Seven hours later, we awoke to the flight attendants clanging their carts down the aisles, asking if we wanted coffee with our English muffin.  I politely replied, "No, but thank you very much," while my inner voice was screaming, "Come on, people!!!--it's going to take more than coffee for this sweet-looking-person to do and say nice things at 4:00 A.M.!!!"

Jamie was just glad that we were in public.  Many mornings, he magically discerns my inner voice. 

As soon as the plane screeched to a halt on the runway in Belgium, my adrenaline kicked into high gear and sleep was the last thing that I needed.  I braced Jamie for the adventures that we were bound to face in the following twelve hours.  I didn't really know how to get from the airport into the town of Brussels, and we didn't have a train booked to take us from Brussels to Paris.  (However, we did have a hotel booked in Paris for the evening...)  But I was positive that if we could muster enough patience and determination to conquer both obstacles, the rest of our trip would be smooth sailing.

I was in for a surprise. 

First unexpected obstacle: 

No luggage.

After waiting in line at the baggage claim counter, the agent told us that there was only one flight from the US to Brussels each day...so we would have to wait until the next day for our bags to get to Belgium, and then they would send them on to Paris.  We kept trying to help him see the rationale in having the bags sent straight to Paris; unfortunately, that was futile.  

We left the counter a little disappointed, but trying to focus on the positive.  After all, we were only minutes away from world-famous chocolates. 

And those minutes turned into hours as we struggled to simply get out of the airport and into the city.  It was frustrating.  Really frustrating.  So frustrating that at one point we looked at each other and wondered what, in all of creation, compelled us to leave our own beloved soil.  And so frustrating that I don't even want to try to remember anything other than the fact that we made it.  We made it through the ticket-buying process.  We made it through the guessing game of when to get off of the train, as we didn't have a map and the stations didn't have signage.  We made it into the town of Brussels.  We made it to La Grand Place.

And I was giddy.  

That English muffin on the plane...I skipped it.  These frites with garlic sauce were my breakfast of choice. 

And we couldn't leave Brussels without seeing the city's mascot...the symbol of the French and Dutch cohabitation... 

If you are viewing this with small children, close their eyes....or quit scrolling...

Such a proud moment.

And if that wasn't enough...

We were surrounded.  We ate a few to make it less scary for the next tourist.  

After buying a week's worth of chocolates, we'd had enough of Brussels.  We began looking for the train to Paris.  The experience was similar to the one that brought us into the city...the one I am trying hard to forget...

We did manage to see all of these sights while we wandered around the city for...eeehhh, another couple of hours.  This friendly Dutchman would send us this way, and then that friendly Dutchman would send us that way.  You get the point.  I was constantly reminding Jamie that this would most definitely be the most challenging leg of the trip.  

And it was so cold.  Much colder than I anticipated it would be when I wore a sundress and sandals.  Within an hour, Jamie purchased this jacket.  I--fully believing that Delta would connect us with our luggage, pronto--purchased a scarf.  

Isn't that smile great?  After our bout of frustration, I was so glad to see it. :) 

We made it!  But wait, the day's not over.  We still have a two hour train ride to Paris.  Here's the train...stay tuned for the second half of "The Longest Day of Our  Lives."


  1. Those chocolates were soooo good....just had to get over the shape they came in :(

  2. Can't wait to hear more! Love the pics and adventures!