The next adventure: France (Jan. 13-14, 2015)

When I was in France in October, my friend Jacqueline had the idea of having me invited to an art exhibit for local artists in her town, Seichamps, a few kilometers northeast of Nancy (Lorraine). Somehow, she worked it out and now I’m on my way. It’s supposed to be an opportunity to show work, not sell, so I’m equipped with some enlarged photos of five pieces plus three pieces that I may have to give away. The whole import/export business is extremely expensive, even if you don’t sell but just want to bring the pieces home.

My adventure began uneventfully, with a taxi ride from home to the Tucson airport. It’s always a little silly to have to be there two hours in advance, because the airport is relatively small. I had a chance to look at a small show with works by an artist who’s a friend of a friend. And I rediscovered a piece by our local famous glass blower, Tom Philabaum.

Blown and slumped glass piece by Tom Philabaum at the Tucson International Airport

Blown and slumped glass piece by Tom Philabaum at the Tucson International Airport

Closeup of Tom Philabaum piece at the airport

Closeup of Tom Philabaum piece at the airport

The trip to Atlanta was uneventful – we even got a little package of pretzels. The airport is loaded with art, including a small display of glass from a collection at the High Museum.

Benjamin Moore piece at the Atlanta airport

Benjamin Moore piece at the Atlanta airport


John Littleton and Katherine Vogel piece at the Atlanta airport

John Littleton and Katherine Vogel piece at the Atlanta airport


The one thing I noticed was a lot of holes where pay telephones had been. I did find one batch, which I would have used if I’d realized the problems that I was about to face.
Missing pay phone at Atlanta airport

Missing pay phone at Atlanta airport


The further flight to Paris was fine. We had a few bumps from bad weather, but nothing serious. Delta had a vegetarian option that, while not great, was at least edible. And free wine, along with a little pack of pretzels and one of peanuts. As I recall, United now charges for wine on transatlantic flights. In the past some Delta pilots have landed at the wrong airport, but our pilot was right on, early even.

In Paris, we walked forever, down corridors and escalators. Following signs for luggage, I rode a train that had three stops. Fortunately, the second announced it was also for luggage. Somewhere along the line, we went through passport control, which went quickly. Another long walk, and eventually I found my suitcase. Then it was a matter of finding the TGV train station and getting a ticket.

This is where it all broke down. Thanks to a staff person at the baggage area, I got to the train station. But at the train station, I went through three credit cards to buy the ticket. Three BOOs for Capital One. Never mind that I had emailed AND entered the information with my dates and destination on the Travel Alert part of its website, both my Cap One Visa cards were rejected. I paid with an American Express card that I don’t normally carry and that I hadn’t notified I would be traveling in France.

After getting my ticket, I went out and used my Swiss prepaid cell phone (my American one doesn’t work out of the US) to call Capital One. I’m sure the people I talked to were in The Philippines, in part because it was the middle of the night in the US. After being transferred once, I was told that everything was fine. My phone informed me that the call had cost CHF 38, that’s at least $38.

With some effort I found the right track and the train, which was far from where the elevator down was. When I got to the Lorraine TGV station and my friend, I suggested we buy my return ticket. Another three BOOs for Capital One. My Capital One Visa card was again rejected, but the American Express card again worked. This is really interesting, because I haven’t used that card for at least three years. The point of Capital One is no transaction fees for foreign currency. AmEx charges 2 or 3% on top of the cost to change my money. As soon as I have an Internet connection, I’ll be back in touch with Capital One. I don’t have another CHF 38 on the phone to call again….

And it was just 10 a.m.

Jacqueline took me to her place in Seichamps. We were invited to have lunch at the home of her son, Frédéric. He organized the lunch to continue a post-hunting tradition her father had begun some years before. He had a long table set up in his basement (the house was originally his grandfather’s but he’s completely re-doing it — very modern and cool). Eighteen people, including us, were there — mostly men who had been out hunting. Two little roes (“chevreuil”) minus insides were on the grass outside. Those weren’t lunch — the traditional post-hunt meal was choucroute (sauerkraut with a variety of meats: sausages, bacon, pork,…), boiled potatoes, salad, bread and an apple tart for dessert. Beer and white wine were the drinks of choice. The event lasted about three hours and began with the “initiation” of Frédéric’s cousin who just got his first hunting license and killed his first roe.

Afterwards, André, Jacqueline’s husband, set me up to use their wi-fi so I could contact Capital One and read the rest of my email.

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