After hours and hours (or was it days?) of planes, buses, and automobiles, we finally made it to France, and the Lievin area hotels. Travelling to see the competition are myself (Seanna), John (Meme's dad) and Justine Davenport (former member of the Canadian team with Bounder, Chase, and Riot).
We got to the airport on Sunday morning about 9:00 am. Things were going smoothly until Teri realized she hadn't brought any shoes, which could prove a bit problematic (flip flops work fine for travel and tourism, but might not be the best competition wear). So we put in a call to Kirstin, still at home, to grab the shoes, pack Dominick up and run to the airport to meet us with the shoes. After waiting for an hour inside, outside, inside, outside, it turned that Kirstin had grabbed the shoes, packed Dominick up, and and come to the airport; but couldn't find us, and so had taken the shoes back home.
So it seems that some of our pre competition tourism will be shoe shopping! 🙂
We changed planes with a bit of a stopover in Toronto, where I found a couple of other Canadian t-shirts to show Canadian support for our incredible team (no place better than an airport for finding Canadianism and overspending!). Met up with some more of the Canadians in the Toronto airport (the Quebec contingent flew from Montreal) and were of on the next leg to Paris. (Battery is low, so trying to update quickly)
We had an incredibly easy time getting the rental can in Paris and after some false starts trying to figure out how to find reverse on the gear shift (it is NOT self evident and there are no "how to use the gear shift instructions in the glove box!) and after several trips around the tricky circuitous and sometimes downright scary (at least for those in the passeger and back seats :- ) ) airport roads, with some pretty scary Parisian airport drivers cutting in and out at breakneck speed, we finally found the team bus still sitting at the airport loading the team.
So we were able to follow the team bus across France, and didn`t have to depend too much on John`s brand new gps, which will get get a work out later on in the trip when we only have our own navigational skills to get us through France, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.
There was one notable stop at a little town along the way. It was one of those towns that if you blink you might miss it entirely, but there was a restaurant on the side of the road, and by this time everyone was feeling the hunger, so we stopped for a bite to eat. It was AWESOME. The food was SO GOOD! There were only a couple of other people in the place, so the Canadian team got the full attention of the only person there who seemed to be on staff. Not sure if he was cooking too, but he seemed to be pretty much in charge of everything else. We did manage to get a card from the place, and it is definately a stop I would recommend to anyone coming through that area of France.
After our lunch stop we headed back out, and with only one more stop for groceries, we all arrived at the team hotel. (Because we booked late, John, Justine, and I are staying in a hotel about 1/2 hour away from the Canadian team hotel). With still a couple of hours before we could reasonably call it a night, John Justine, Teri, and I decided to grab the car and head into nearby Arras. the folks at the front desk said it was a right turn at the first lights, then another right after two lights and we would be there, so it seemed easy.
We started down the road they had indicated and we soon came to a dead end (no lights) with a do not enter in front, an alley to the right, and a road to the left. So we went left, realizing that we were already way off track. Only a couple of blocks away we came across a woman just leaving her car, who was obviously just getting home. Since it seemed that she lived in, and so must know the area, we stopped to ask for directions. Imagine our surprise when she not only gave us directions, but actually offered to hop in the car and show us the way! So we squeezed her into the car and led us to the center of the beatiful town of Arras, through a maze of streets that the gps would have had difficulty making heads or tails of. But we found our way, parked, and for the next two hours our new Parisian friend led us on a walking tour of the town with talking points about particular points of interest.
The day was a really wonderful introduction to the wonderful country that is France, its people, its cuisine, its history and its rather suicidal drivers! 🙂
On to tomorrow!
(for those who wanted to set up live streaming from the Worlds, so they can watch the competition as it happens, the link is here... http://www.agilityworldchampionshiplievin2011.tv/mailing1/)