9/2-9/3: Travel from Charlottesville to L'Etang-La-Ville. Left C'ville at 1 PM, arriving at the car rental place at 3. After a frustrating time returning the car (back and forth with the bike, waiting for a shuttle to the airport), got to the airport and carried the bike through mayhem. Dulles was a mess: long security line, winding around itself, nobody knowing where to go. It was 5:30 by the time I got my bike checked, got myself through security, and went on the ridiculous people mover. However, I got the nice surprise of a free upgrade to Business Class - no complaints there.
After no sleep, arrived in London at 6:20 AM. London was similarly inefficient: a long wait for a bus to transport me between terminals, and the need to go through security twice! When I got to the board to see where my flight was, I saw Last Call, and rushed to the gate. It was, however, a false alarm: they wouldn't start boarding for another 10 minutes.
I arrived in Paris at 10:10, not knowing whether or not Gabe was going to pick me up. He'd told me his aunt's cell number a few days earlier, so I had that, but I hadn't written down the number he'd emailed me for their home. I figured I'd have some spare time in the airport before my IAD-LHR flight, but that obviously wasn't the case. So I went to the baggage claim, looked around for my bike, and didn't see it. I activated my cell phone and got the number for it (or so I thought), and then called Gabe's aunt Jackie. She didn't pick up, so I left what I thought was my number on her voicemail. Another thirty minutes or so passed, and still no bike. deGaulle's baggage claim was another mess (all this makes me appreciate SFO, especially the international terminal), and asking around as to where one might find oversized items such as bikes yielded no good clues. Finally, one person said my bike should have been there by then, and checked up on it. "On the next flight," she said. They would deliver it to Jackie's house. Fortunately, I had her address.
By this time, I hadn't heard anything from Gabe or Jackie. I went through customs, and didn't see them, so I found an ATM, got some Euros, and then tried to find some sort of train map. No such organization. Instead, I hopped on the bus to Opera, which sounded central (train station nearby), and was on my way.
That bus did indeed take me near a Metro stop. I went into the Metro, and looked at the route Gabe had told me to take should I need to use public transit. He'd said to go to St-Germaine-La-Pays, and get off at L'Etang-La-Ville. Only one problem: L'Etang-La-Ville isn't on that line. Fortunately, I know how to read a train map, and I figured out the routes to take. An hour or so later, I walked up to the house, where Gabe and Jean-Paul were relaxing in the sunshine. They then informed me they'd been trying to get a hold of me for hours: I'd given them one wrong digit to my phone number. Good job, Mike.
After some food and a shower, I felt much better. The weight was literally off my shoulders: although I fortunately hadn't had to take the bike on the Metro, panniers are not the most comfortable bags to carry when you're walking around.
In the evening, we headed up to Versailles, walking around the outside and taking pictures. Versailles seemed on the scale of the summer palace in Beijing, but better maintained and less crowded. There are many amazing sculptures, some interesting landscapes, and of course some impressive buildings we saw only from the outside.
After that was a nice dinner chez Jackie and Jean-Paul, and a long awaited rest.
Here are the pictures from Versailles: