And then there were two — Virginia and me. After returning from Dijon, we loaded up the car with our bags (mostly wine), the kittens, and ourselves for the drive to Paris. We made sure to walk through the house one last time, both to make sure we had everything and to lock in some memories.
The drive to Paris was completely uneventful, taking just about three hours to get to our hotel near Orly airport. We got everything into our room and settled the kittens with food and litter before heading back out. The car return was thankfully easy and we got a lift from the company back to Orly, where we took the RER B train into central Paris.
This was our fifth time in Paris together (we’d each been there once without the other), and at this point we just wanted to be together someplace we knew. So rather than explore a new corner of Paris, we got off the train at the Luxembourg Gardens to wander a bit, get a coffee, and sit back for a little while. Paris is where we STOP and let life happen more slowly, and we fell into our pattern fairly easily.
Having finished our coffees, we walked around the Latin Quarter, mostly north to the Seine. Of course, we had to stop in at Shakespeare & Company just to take a look around. We also walked along the Seine and over to Ile-Saint-Louis to meander through the shops. Finally, we had dinner at Mon Vieil Ami, which he had visited some years ago. Virginia was dismayed at the number of tourists also eating there, and I reminded her we were early, eating at a time only Americans would. By the time we had our main courses, the restaurant was full with both French and English spoken. The food was excellent, and we paired it with two Burgundies (why break the streak?). We took an Uber back to the hotel to get some sleep, knowing the next day would start early and stay busy.
We were up around 4:00am to go to the airport. Having packed the previous evening, we were able to get going quickly. We took the shuttle to Orly and started our journey through the lines. We had cashed in miles to fly home in business class for two reasons: to be more comfortable at the end of the trip and to get extra checked bags for the wine. We remembered a third reason at the airport: the business class line is always, ALWAYS shorter and easier. By the time we had checked in and handed over our bags (eight in all! So unusual for us!), the lines had started to extend out into the common walking area.
We made it through security without problems, even with carrying the kittens through the metal detectors. Unfortunately, one of them decided to use the carrier as a litter box on the shuttle to the airplane (liquid only, thankfully), and that went right through the pad and carrier onto my jeans. Once on the plane, we were able to shift them into the other carrier we had so they could be clean. Then I got wet-napkins from the flight attendant and cleaned my jeans as best as possible. I was an unhappy camper on the flight (two hours to Madrid for our connection home), but was okay by the end.
From there, everything went smoothly. We made it through passport control and United States security in Madrid without incident and our flight left on time. The business class seats were arranged so Virginia and I could sit right next to each other, and she had the kittens on her seat and footrest. Passport control and customs in Chicago went quickly as well, stopping only to pay the customs fees for the wine (about $10 per case). We realized we couldn’t take just any taxi home so we got an UberXL, which turned out to be a Ford Expedition. It ended up being a luxurious ride home, at which point we had a lot of bags to bring into the house. Virginia focused on dropping her vacation bags and getting her work bags, as she was immediately off to the airport again. Back to real life, having finished one of the best months of our life.