GETTING STARTED

DL 34 to Paris

   Beginning back at home, this trip unfolded more or less methodically and according to plan and expectations. Claude was packed and ready to go the night before. I even thought I’d noticed a yawn and a languorous stretch from him on the couch, surprised perhaps I was zipping him up with room to spare in his confines, as if he had not overeaten his dinner and there remained appetite for dessert. I figure I can stretch it maybe to ten days at best before I’ll either have to do a laundry or face potential recriminations from my fellow train passengers like, “since when are Gypsies riding in first class?”

   I also averted issues, again involving my credit card. It was expiring in March, and by late February, I still hadn’t received the new one. I called, and it turned out I wasn’t going to get it by the time I was leaving. I arranged to have it Fed Exed, and I was warned I had to be home to sign for it. “March 1st or 2nd,” the rep helpfully informed me. The knock on the door came on Feb. 28, and just minutes before I was planning to go out for my walk\jog.

   The card arrived without the usual activation sticker with the number to call, so I figured maybe it had somehow already been activated. I decided to test it at the Safeway, and discovered it hadn’t been. After another call to customer service to correct that issue, I just happened, happened, almost as an afterthought at the end of the call, to ask if the old pin number was still valid. “Oh no,” came the reply,  ”you have to call the ‘pin now’ 800 number to activate a new one.” Didn’t even want to think what that mess might have looked like when I hit the first ATM upon landing in Paris. (I then made a small purchase and a cash advance before leaving, just to make sure everything was working.)

   It’s not good manners, I think, to talk too much about the flight over. Delta takes exceptionally good care of its employees, retirees and even surviving spouses, offering passes to anywhere it flies that may include upgrades to the lavish spectacle that is their Business 1. I will only note here The Chicken Milanese was superb, as was my movie choice (Murder on the Orient Express) from my fully reclined position in my seat pod.

AirBNB accomondations 

AirBNB accomondations 

   Ahem.

Cozy, no?!

Cozy, no?!

   As I write this from the plane, my ground plans are set. I have plenty of cash to start and have already booked my room walking distance from the train station I’ll be departing to Barcelona the following morning. I used Airbnb for the first time. but things appear fairly routine. At least, they accepted my credit card.

   The room for the night met my usual low-rent expectations, although it gives new meaning to the term “shared bath.” I’ve stayed places where that bath is down a hallway of several rooms. (Carolyn had declined to avail herself to the shower in that episode.) In my case here, the “shared bath” was used in its most literal interpretation. I’m in a two-room apartment. The sink and toilet part of the “share” is across from the kitchen that I share with another potential guest. The shower, however, is located in the other guest room. I don’t understand how…

   But so far, I’m the only guest tonight, so I’m pretending I have a private bath.

Spcious bed!

Spcious bed!

   A word about the eVest. It’s fully loaded now, and with a new NFL Saints hoodie and Claude strapped on, I’m quite the walking steammer trunk. With the wine cask I carry in front of me (and which among regular shaped human beings is known simply as a stomach), I have the look and feel of R2D2 as I waddle around. But the vest holds everything I can’t afford to lose, and will keep me from rummaging into and out of Claude every time I board a train. (I did draw up a schematic of what’s in every one of the fourteen pockets, and I’ve already had to refer to it.)

   On to Barcelona!