Art Museums, Europe, Family Travel, Museums, Overseas Travel

Girls’ Trip to Europe- Part 1- 2003

This is the “will they or won’t they get together” story of a woman and her missing luggage.

In 2003, I embarked on a two-week European vacation with two of my fellow Muskingum Alum/sorority sisters/Virginia transplants. Thankfully I documented the entire adventure during and after the trip, so I’m able to share an over-detailed account that I’m sure is TMI.

Day 1- Norfolk-Layover-Paris
After boarding the plane to depart Norfolk, Wendy realized she left her camera in an Airport restaurant and ran (shoeless) to retrieve it. While she didn’t find it, she was able to get back through Security to make the flight. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean on our overnight flight.

Days 2-3 in Paris, France

With the time difference, we arrived in Paris mid-morning. Neither Wendy or I received our luggage, but we did get a care package that included toiletries, an Air France T-Shirt, and condoms.
We took a train to the Paris Hilton in the Le Defense business district, and quickly realized that Stef’s giant suitcase would be an obstacle for the entire trip. She did bust an entire bottle of perfume on the hotel room floor immediately upon arrival, so that lightened the load I suppose.

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, 2003

After resting, we walked tot eh Arc de triomphe and the Eiffel tower, and between the jet lag and stress opted for chicken nuggets from a food court for dinner.
My luggage arrived at 7pm. Wendy’s did not.

Day 3- Paris, France

We spent almost our entire day in The Louvre. Actually, we spent almost our entire visit to the Louvre looking at ancient sculptures before realizing that it was only 10% of the collection and would have to pick up the pace. We enjoyed lunch and wine in the museum cafe, and Wendy nearly left one of her few articles of clothing, a scarf, behind.

We concluded the evening with dinner, taking in the exterior of Notre Dame at night, and debated whether to ice skate nearby. (We decided to pass knowing that our adventure would have likely included an ER visit.)

We went to bed with no word on Wendy’s luggage.

Days 4-5 in Chamonix, France

Day 4- Paris- Chamonix, France

We took the Eurail to Chamonix, France, enjoying the views of the countryside and into the mountains. After arriving, we realized our planned hotel would be really far from town (I did note that we tried to put our luggage in a stranger’s car who offered us a ride), and we opted for the nearby Hotel Du Louvre. The hotel was frill-free, and our bathroom was merely a partition with a toilet behind it. 

Wendy received notification that her luggage had been located in Paris and would be sent to Chamonix the next day.

Day 5- Chamonix France
We woke up and opened our window for a view of the Alps and were excited to realize that we couldn’t see sky; only mountains. I had only seen the Appalachians prior to this, so it’s one of my favorite travel memories.

Chamonix, France 2003

In Chamonix we shopped, dined, and spent the evening over-celebrating Wendy’s 23rd birthday at an Australian-themed pub.

Wendy’s luggage did not arrive in Chamonix.

Day 6 on the Eurail to Milan, Italy

Amongst our many travel mishaps, I can take the sole blame for one of the biggest. In 2003, purchasing a Eurail pass on the internet wasn’t the intuitive process it is now. I put in my destinations, and they suggested a “France, Italy, and Benelux” pass. I assumed Benelux was a region of Switzerland. We learned at the Eurail station that it was actually the combination of Belgium/ Netherlands/ Luxembourg, and that we would have to purchase another pass to go through Switzerland. The more affordable option would have been a terrifying bus ride through the Alps, so we begrudgingly purchased new tickets from the unsympathetic Eurail staff.

The train ride between Chamonix and Milan was one of my favorite trip memories; rainy skies cleared to rainbows over the Alps.

Eurail from Chamonix, France to Milan, Italy, 2003

The views of Lake Como were stunning; the islands with palm trees were a stunning contrast to the snow-covered Alps that we had just departed.

Wendy’s luggage was not waiting for us when we arrived in Milan.

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