France Diary Pt 1: Trying to Stay Chill While Traveling Abroad (and failing)

Good morning, zany babies! I’m writing to you from the beautiful Lacoste in the south of France, starting out my France diary series I will be writing over the next 3 weeks.

Y’all, getting here was a JOURNEY. In my head, traveling to France was going to be so glamorous (think Serena Van Der Woodsen jetting off to Paris, hair and makeup perfect, outfit on point, nothing but her designer bag to carry)…. HA. Nope. Not at all. Maybe the issue was that I was flying coach and had three connecting flights. Maybe the issue was that the weather wasn’t perfect (I don’t remember ever seeing a nasty, cold, rainy day in GG).

Whatever it was, this is what went down:

My first flight from Norfolk was delayed 2 hours, which is fine, if they would have told us it was delayed. Instead they just stood around while the passengers anxiously awaited the boarding process, not telling us anything. Turns out the pilot was worried about the rain, and wanted to see if it would let up… ummm, what? No. Start the plane, ya girl’s got places to be.

Once that plane finally took off, we landed in DC at 5pm. My connecting flight to Belgium started boarding at 5:05. Of course everything is going so so slow, and we sit on the plane waiting for someone to park the plane. The minutes tick by at an alarming rate, each minute a mini anxiety attack of missing my connecting flight. Finally they let us off the plane, but oh yeah, they checked our carry-ons because of limited overhead compartment space, and we have to wait to get them. WAIT FOR THEM? I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WAIT MR. RAIN PILOT. So I did what I thought would be a smart decision, and left the area we were supposed to wait for our bags, and went searching for a worker who could call my next gate and tell them to wait for me. Instead of finding a helpful, empathetic worker, I found a rude woman taking a personal call, who gives me a dirty look and asks, “can I help you with something??” and then responds to my situation with, “hurry”. Gee, thanks for the help.

Well fine, she’s not going to help, I’ll just go back and get my bag and then book it to my next gate. Nope. Not allowed back into the baggage area. I am literally held back by a security guard, at which I start sobbing, explaining my situation.

“I need to get my bag because I’m flying over seas and am going to miss my connecting flight, it’s boarding right now”, is what I tried to tell the security guard, but what actually came out was a bunch of wailing mumbled words accompanied by the occasional body tremble. The security guard points me to two other workers and tells me to speak with them. I run over, explain my story, and they say they will get my bag for me. Finally, I’m getting somewhere. It’s about 5:30 at this point. “Is there any way we could tell the plane to wait for me?” I anxiously asked one of the workers. “Ah, no girl. They don’t wait for people.”

SO I’M DOOMED??

The other worker came back, no bag in hand, and told me there is “a holdup”. OF COURSE THERE IS. I plead with them, telling them I have to be on my flight, and they tell me they will check my carry-on to my final destination. At that point I took off sprinting down the hallway. Breathless, tears running down my face, I make it to my terminal. I am one of the last people on this PACKED flight. Eyes starring at me as I flop my over-stuffed personal item and giant winter coat through the narrow isles to my seat (44D, a middle seat in the very back). I take my seat, and try to avoid talking to the strangers around me (sorry, I’m the worst, but like, it’s been a day, please don’t make small talk with me.)

Once I am seated, seatbelt buckled, headphones in, the pilot comes on the intercom and announces that it will be a little while until we can take off, due to delays. Great, thanks for announcing that after I cried, left my carry-on, and sprinted through the airport. That’s wonderful.

I relax with some white wine and F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes, and before I knew it, we were up in the air, 7 hours to go. The first three hours were a breeze. I was given a mediocre pasta meal, and watched the new Mama Mia movie (which by the way, LOVED). The next couple hours consisted of dozing in and out of sleep, waking up with killer back aches, waking up wondering how close we are to landing, waking up confused about where I am, waking up having to pee but not being able to get out because the two men on either side of me are sound asleep.

Aside from some serious motion sickness in the last hour of the flight, I made it to Belgium in one piece. Belgium was absolutely lovely (at least the airport was). I enjoyed a delightful chocolate croissant and fresh squeezed orange juice. The only trouble I had was finding an outlet to charge my phone, which took me a hot second because they weren’t all over the place like they are in the States. Other than that, Brussels was a breeze.

A fun wall in the Brussels International Airport.
Yummy breakfast & fun read.

Flying from Brussels to Marseilles was short and sweet, filled with deep slumber and muffled french conversations. From Marseilles I met some of my classmates and we traveled by bus to Lacoste. It was raining terribly in Marseilles, and for most of the drive to Lacoste. Most of us dozed off during the rainy trip, but woke up to find the most beautiful rainbow painting the sky over Lacoste. It felt like a dream driving through the hilly roads, the sun beaming through the rain clouds, reflecting brilliant colors in the sky.

Rainbow spotted from the bus on the way to Lacoste.

I ended the night sipping tea with my France roommates in the most adorable cafe. We don’t exactly know what to expect in the coming weeks, but we do know that 1. We have the best room, 2. Every view is breath-taking, and 3. We are going to have a blast doing whatever lays ahead.

My France girls sitting in the cafe.

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As you may have noticed, my experience traveling to Europe was not exactly how I intended it to be. It wasn’t glamorous. I associated with Serena Van Der Woodesen in zero ways. But you know what, that experience was mine, and it was real, and for that I am thankful. Not everything has to be a picturesque moment, coming from the biggest idealist. Realize that the life you are living, no matter how unglamorous, is beautiful (even if you are running through the airport crying).

I’m so excited to share the rest of my European experiences with you! More pictures and stories to come!!

Xoxo,

Reb

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