I must admit, I had a phenomenal Thanksgiving in Paris. Seeing my family was good and exploring the city of lights was even better! That said, Paris is an enormous, labrynthine city with more people in it than in all of Georgia. I’ll regale you with tales of Parisian splendor another time.
Yesterday I said farewell to my family and assured them that I could find my way to the airport myself. I’m a big boy and I speak French. It should be no problem! I got on the subway and only got mildly turned around when transferring to another line to get back to our hotel.
The clock was running down as I left the metro near the hotel. Despite being near the hotel and having found my way from the metro to the hotel a dozen times already, I got turned around on this occasion. I walked for a solid fifteen minutes before finding Hotel du Lys once more. When I got there I had to repack my bag so as to protect the fragile souvenirs I was bringing home (Maple syrup and blueberry jam for my family, what what!) and wear as much as I could to save space in my small backpack. It was a mess.
I dashed from the hotel, hoping to buy a coffee before leaving, but alas, I had no time for such frivolities. Back on the metro where I hurriedly bought a 9 euro ticket to the airport. It didn’t work. Despite my efforts I could not get through the turnstiles. I went up to a counter and asked, “J’ai une problem avec mon billet.” (I have a problem with my ticket). The woman glanced at it and said, “That’s a bus ticket, dumbass.” (I’m paraphrasing. She didn’t say “dumbass.”)
Having thus blown through my remaining euros repurchasing expensive tickets to the airport, I was in a mild funk that could only be cured by a healthy dose of OK Go and Boney M. (You’re welcome.) Charles de Gaulle airport was largely uneventful. I sipped a Pepsi and read The Economist and Science & Vie (A French science magazine. It was about the Sun!) while waiting for my flight to board. With my only bag checked my airport experience was pretty smooth sailing.
Side note: Emergency exit row has the best seats. First time I’ve ever sat there!
I arrived in snowy Munich a little early and bought a huge bag of M&Ms at the duty free shop. Why not, right? I had a pocket full of Euro coins that I can’t exchange anyway! Might as well spend them on candy! As soon as the call to board was made I began to feel more at home and at ease than I had in days.
The pack of Georgians shuffled over to the desk where the check-in lady was swiping boarding passes. The sight of two dozen people toting plastic bags filled with their belongings reminded me that I was returning home to Tbilisi. As two women struggled to find their boarding passes in their handbags some jerk asked them, “What is wrong with you?” and shoved ahead of them.
He was speaking English in a British accent and seemed like a real charming fellow. We all boarded a bus and a large, elderly Georgian man placed his plastic bag full of suit jackets on the seat next to me. I increasingly heard Georgian spoken around me, as two children shouted “Ki, ki!” while running about and their mother yelled, “Dajiki!” to no avail. Everything was becoming more Georgian and comfortable for me.
After three hours of waiting to take off (Lots of snow in Munich this weekend!) we left and I chatted with a very nice German girl over hot beef. I even helped the stewardess explain to a Georgian what his options were, “Katami tu khortsi?” I offered when the German flight attendant seemed at a loss to tell the Georgian man what he could eat.
We arrived at six am local time in Tbilisi and I breezed through passport control and baggage claim. When I got outside I soon found a cab that would take me to Mukhiani for twenty lari. The reminders that I was home continued to stream in. The cabby asked me in Russian if I smoked and if I spoke Georgian, thrilled when the answers were “No” and “A little bit; I’m learning,” respectively. His Russian technomusic thumped as we screamed through the city, stopping only for red lights. The few times we did stop, the car shut itself off–yet another welcoming sign that I had made it back to Georgia.
I arrived at my apartment at seven am and rang the bell. Tina answered and greeted me with a warm smile and a kiss on the cheek. She stood in the hall until I was assuredly safe in bed and then shut out the light and returned to bed herself. Yep. I was home again.