3,2,1, Happy New Year and Bonne Année the flight attendant cheered over the public address system of our United Airline flight. Just 15 minutes before the announcement, they started passing out the small complimentary champagne plastic cups and the kids toasted with ginger ale. I could not help to think this is “very cool”. I have never celebrated a New Years count down from 35,000 feet above however I also had the quick thought, “I wonder if First Class travelers have crystal champagne flutes instead of this clear plastic cup and a better producer of champagne like Dom Pérignon”. The next thought was, “Bill always travels First Class with work but Economy with us.” Yes, it is different when the company pays but alas, we are about to embark on our grand adventure so I pushed those thoughts aside. The kids would start school on January 8th, so we wanted to arrive a week before, so that they could overcome their jetlag. We were jumping ahead 6 hours. It takes approximately a day, for every hour you jump ahead, to recover!
Before I continue, I have to back up a bit…
To tell you the truth, I was not very excited for the BIG move. I was entering this journey with massive trepidation. Bill was excited and I knew that this experience would be a “gift” for my children but I was sad to leave the USA. I had been in the hospital, for a week in September and my Mother and Father had driven from New York to Maine Medical Center, to be with me in the hospital; this way, Bill could stay home with Kale and Madison. My Father had mentioned something that resonated with me. Dad said, “What would happen if you or someone in your family became ill abroad? There is not the safety net of family.” He also said, “What if Mom or I became ill? It would be a hardship for your family to travel back to the States and might take some time to travel home.” I was feeling a tremendous amount of guilt from this conversation because he was right. When we moved abroad, it would become more complex in some ways. I knew that the medical system was a “good one” but family would not be near. My children were sad to leave their friends behind too. Also, we have two small Yorkies. “How on Earth will we get them abroad?”
A month before our departure, we had made the trek from Maine to Boston, to the French Consulate. We obtained long term stay Visas. This was a hurdle to check off the list. This ensured that we could stay beyond the 90-days allowed in France. We had to bring our US passports, each person had to have 2 passport-type photos, for the French consulate, so they could place the photo on the French Visa that were inserted into our US Passport. We also had to go through an interview from the French Government.
Bill undertook the packing up of the Yorkies. We figured out that we could travel, with the dogs under our seats, on the airplane. Each dog needed a plane ticket, which was a $125 per pet, plus it is important to note that there are other charges. In total, we spent approximately $500 to travel with the dogs. Each country has its own set of rules in which you have to comply when traveling with a pet. The USDA rules are rather convoluted. We had to interpret different rules and regulations for the USDA and the EU. We found a USDA certified Veterinarian in Maine. We had to ensure that Ozzie and Cinnamon, the Yorkies, were ISO (International Standard Organization) Chipped. This is a 15-digit microchip, that is the world standard for chipping pets. If your pet is lost, the micro chip would identify them. After being ISO chipped, the next day the had to go back to the Vet to get all their vaccinations. 10 days before travel, we had to bring the dogs back to a USDA certified Vet again to inspect all EU documentation and certify that the dogs were healthy and that all the vaccinations were complete. We then had to overnight the forms to the Northeast Regional USDA office, which is located in Albany, New York.
The night before was the BIG pack-up! I did not prepare very well. I figured that I could buy whatever I needed once we arrived. I packed the children much more diligently. In hindsight, I wish I had packed myself a little better. At times, I really wanted some of my products, just to have a little taste of home. In fairness, there are very comparable and sometimes better products in France however when you are homesick, a little piece of home helps.
So now back to our adventure! It all commenced on December 31, 2017, at 4 am. I was thinking, as we groggily awoke in the dark of night and made our way into the car, that I was a little perturbed that Bill booked a flight so early. We had to leave at 4 am to make our way down to Boston Logan International Airport. It was too early to grab my last latte from Starbucks on Forest Ave., Portland. I know that in Paris, there is Starbucks, at Gare du Nord but the lattes are different, not as sweet, which is probably better for your health. We jumped in the rental car (we were leaving our car at home) and drove to Logan for the 8 am flight with a layover at BWI. I was not anticipating, during our 5-hour layover, that the dogs would be such “divas” and not use the Pet Relief Area. I have to admit, the smell was rather pungent in that room dedicated to dogs. I almost lost my cookies, a few times, from the odor. The poor little doggies wet their pet carriers. We gave them water, during the layover, however we did not feed them until we arrived at Charles de Gaulle (CDG). I would recommend getting one of those “pee pads”, from a pet supply store, for travels with your dogs. I was pleasantly surprised that the hum of the plane, kept the dogs quiet the whole 7-hours. I had packed Benadryl for the dogs, just in case they were barking, but I never needed to use it. The kids on the other hand, were alive with excitement and did not sleep the whole transatlantic flight. No, I did not use the Benadryl on kids!
We arrived at CDG International Airport, in Paris, at around 7 am. We luckily found our bags quickly, realizing it was New Years Day and nothing would be open, hopped in our rental and drove to the Novotel Chateau de Maffliers, which was 10 min. outside of Paris and would accommodate dogs, had lovely trails for running and hiking, horse stables, a pool in the Chateau and restaurant. When we arrived, because it was New Years Day, we were told that our room would not be ready until 2 pm. Everyone had requested a late check out. I am speculating however my assumption was the lingering guests had hangovers from New Years Eve festivities! Ugh…so we found an ESSO Rest Area that was open, where at least we could pick up some baguettes, cheese and some S. Pellegrino. We were so jet lagged, we all took a nap in the car until we could check in at 2 pm. When we entered, we took showers and took another little power nap but not a long one or we never would have slept through the night, in our new time zone (CET), which was now 6 hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time.
To be continued…
By – Tara Magaw