Monday, July 8, 2013

Adventures in Europe: This is why you shouldn't drink Starbucks

Picture this: you're speed walking through Charles de Gaulle while juggling a bag full of muffins, a bag with your new Paris Starbucks travel mug and a mocha cookie crumb Frappucino, and two caramel machiatos. Your flight is boarding, and you're freaking out at the thought that you may not make it to your gate in time. Your husband, son, and two other family members are already at the gate and, presumably, have boarded the plane. Your hands are shaking so badly that you're spilling coffee all over the place, but you're trying to keep it together so as to do your best to keep your daughter calm as she totes a couple of cappuccinos and frantically tells you she's scared that you're going to miss the flight.

Yep, that was me on Friday. Fun.

While waiting for the coffees, I watched the baristas grow increasingly agitated at the number of orders they had to fill. It was a bizzaro version of my local Starbucks, where the baristas flow around one another as if choreographed, and where I've never waited more than maybe five minutes to get a coffee, no matter how busy they are. But this was Europe and hurrying isn't really a thing in Europe, so I did my best to take deep breaths while I waited for them to give me my coffees.

I just want to note here that Europe does not need Starbucks. Europe is the land of magical coffee. I made it a point to drink all the coffee I could while I was there. It's not that I really have anything against Starbucks; I am a gold card holder, so I'm certainly no stranger to its charms. But, like I said, Europe needs no pointers on making coffee, as they've got that down and then some. I only stopped at the Starbucks because I was trying to use up the last of my euros. I scored a nifty travel mug and earned myself a heart attack in the process. What could be better?

If you're ever at Charles de Gaulle and in a hurry to catch your plane, don't stop at the Starbucks.

Anyway, I was already in a bad mood. While going through security, a couple of our bags were pulled out for closer inspection. One of them contained our stockpile of Belgian chocolate bars and some breakable items. I waited impatiently while the bag was inspected, only to receive news that seriously ticked me off: I would not be allowed to bring my two jars of Côte d'Or chocolate spread on the plane as they were 300 grams each and passengers are only allowed to carry on a maximum of 100 grams of paste-like substances. I hauled that chocolate spread all over France only to have it taken away at the airport. So that was at least 10-12 euros down the tube. My husband was very displeased and expressing his displeasure, and I whispered at him to stop arguing. I mean, I loved that chocolate, but it wasn't worth seeing him dragged off to some holding room, making us miss our flight. Well, it was almost worth it. But not quite.

Fortunately, we made it in time for the flight. Our plane was very nice, and when the pilot made his announcement before takeoff, he told us it was only the third flight the plane had made. It was brand spanking new and very cool. I took advantage of the nifty entertainment system and watched both The Host (the book was better) and Admission (I really enjoyed it). Watching two movies back to back is a luxury of which I don't often get to take advantage. Life was good. I was happy. Still disgruntled about my confiscated chocolate spread, but happy nonetheless.

Until we landed in Montreal, that is. We had only about an hour between connecting flights, and we had to collect our bags and go through customs. Now, I had already more or less deduced that we were going to miss our connection, but I wasn't exactly filled with joy at the thought that we'd have to take a flight that left three hours later than the one we'd intended to take. We'd already been on a plane for around seven hours, had another hour-long flight to go, AND were staring down around a four hour drive from the airport in Toronto to our home in Michigan. Not fun.

In the end, we got home much later than anticipated, but we made it safe and sound without one lost piece of luggage, so for that I was grateful. By the time we got to bed, we'd been up for something like 24 hours, and my bed felt like the most comfortable bed that's ever existed.

I love traveling. It's the getting there and getting back that I hate.