(Continued From Part 1:
Day 3 – Paris: There I was, trying to negotiate the bazillion floors of Charles De Gaulle. I had to collect all my stuff in International, take it to Domestic, re-check in and fly to Strasbourg. Easy, right? NO. I barely made the flight, got lost, couldn’t find anyone who was willing to speak English (and my French is very limited), got bad directions (and a multitude of shrugs), had a wonky three wheeled cart that kept tipping over, was sweating profusely and was nearly convinced I was going to miss yet another flight.
So far, this trip had taken me three days to get to France…and I still wasn’t caught up with my tour. A flight attendant got me checked in at Domestic (thankfully) and pointed me down the hall to International. As I redoubled back towards the elevator in the bottom floor of CDL after hitting another dead end, I started to cry from frustration. This was now the current winner for Single Worst Travel Experience in my book. A kind French woman took pity on me and pointed to the right shuttle. The shuttle driver came down and helped me with my 8764 bags. I just made my flight. One nice thing about Europe is that if you’re already checked in, they will usually hold the flight for you figuring you’re either lost or held up in the airport somewhere. They don’t do that in at home…but then again, a bottle of water isn’t $5.50 either.
Another thing I like about the French…they aren’t afraid on emotion or to show it. I saw a fed up flight attendant go off on an idiot customer…it was refreshing! It’s not uncommon to see exasperation or emotional outbursts from professionals in this country, which is socially acceptable. I like that.
Day 3.5 – Strasbourg: Made it. Barely. Got straight off the plane from the all night/all day flight and went right to the venue where I faced Portia Perez…and I got pyro! Bad ass!
Portia was short and stocky, like a Japanese wrestler, I found out very quickly that she was as safe as one, too. I started feeling much better about putting my back in her hands and we began to have some pretty decent matches on the tour along with the help of her charming manager, Justin Shape.
She would also be my roommate for much of the tour and had just gotten over a wicked case of swine flu. “When someone tells you it’s the sickest they’ve ever been, it’s no joke. I was getting blown up just eating. A meal. Had to stop because I was out of breath.” We were quite opposite on our schedules. I’d get up early and go find a gym with the Irish or hike the streets and she’d stay out late drinking with the Irish. As the tour bus left a city one day, Paddy said, “Well, will ya look at dat. There’s an entire city there beyond dat Irish pub!” I was wondering if the Irish ever slept…and starting to get jealous if they didn’t.
Day 4 – Caen: A nine-hour bus trip, each day. In the morning we would meet in the lobby bright and early, drop off 689,000 pounds of luggage, have breakfast and board the bus for a long ass ride to the next city. France and its food to me were like a Vegas orgy to a recovering sex addict. After months of strict dieting, this was a terrible temptation to be dropped into. Warm, crusty bread…soft, oozing Camembert…smooth, creamy chocolate…flaky, buttery pastry with sweet, soft fruit inside…arrgghh. The hotels breakfasts were amazing.
And I did my best to avoid them. I got coffee. And shitty, mushy eggs, ham and any other protein I could find. But the routine of stealing “bus lunch” was that I’d grab as much fruit, yogurt, applesauce and hard cooked eggs as I could fit into my oversized purse for the days’ travel. The reason for this was that we were told once we got to Europe that our meals would only be provided on show days. On travel days, we’d have to fend for ourselves. We had almost as many travel days as show days and Europe ain’t cheap. This was Unexpected Financial Setback #1. I had been told that two meals would be provided each day of the tour. Also, Europe was in a recession, so many weren’t spending much on post show autograph sessions. Our show pay was directly deposited into the bank at home so we were living on whatever we made in autograph sales. Some days it was nil. I often grabbed food for Portia (who was heel; heels never sell as well as babyfaces) or others and shared protein bars.
Joe E Legend, being the angel that he is, lent me his DVD player until I could get a replacement.
The guys kept pissing up the toilet seat on the bus. I understand that even when toilets are NOT attached to lurching vehicles being driven by a crazy chauffaud Frenchman their aim ain’t so great…so this was exceptionally awful for the token females on the tour to maneuver around. The “water closet” was full of …erm, “water”. All over. At one point, I thought I had it sorted…go out, close the narrow door to the tiny cabin…pull pants down and crouch/hover above seat while stabilizing by placing hand as far up on walls as possible…then we lurched around a roundabout and I fell backwards into the seat…as did the rim of my pants. Disgusting.
By law, every French commercial driver must stop after a 3-4 hours for an hour. Long drives became even longer. I started to hate that stinky, wet, toilet with a passion. And the mood this day was sour because it was Ireland vs. France in soccer finals and the drive was taking so long we were missing the game. We’d left at 10 am and hit the hotel around 10 pm.
I’m not sure the route of this tour was very well thought out. We started out on Strasbourg, which is on the German border, and proceeded into France from there. We ended our France tour on Nantes, literally the furthest west point FROM Germany…and then headed to Germany. Indyriffic.
What made things a bit better was that the bus was packed with bottles of Kronenbourg beer and water. We also had sandwiches waiting for us in the bus at the end of the night.
When we got in, Portia was feeling ‘swiney’ and went right to bed. Sid Vicious decided he was officially done with the tour, since the (not air conditioned) hotels were too hot for him. (They really were ballsac hot.) And, I adore X Pac, but he smelled kinda interesting. He was on something that made his eye roll to the back of his head. I’d heard about the drugs wrestling before, but had never seen it this bad. Several of the guys were just off their heads.
To be continued…
Photos - Emon Kazem Photography