Day 266: We will always have Paris

9 April 2011

Location: Voray sur l’Ognon to Calais

High point: Steve remembering to pick his Mum up from Gare du Nord train station – the reunion we have all been waiting for!

French point: Spot the landmark- Eiffel Tower, Concorde, Madeleine, Musee du Louvre.

No point: The revelation that Coca Cola Light (ie Diet Coke in France) tastes better because it actually does have different ingredients!

Ah, Paris in springtime. The sun is shining, the blossom trees are blooming, the tulips are trumpeting in honour of Martha’s impending arrival. It’s the homestretch now! One day to go!

You see, some people like to walk around Paris, others take the Metro. Me, I prefer to call my mates Steve, Amy and the FTFE crew to pick me up in their FIRE ENGINE! After all, who drives a fire engine around the world for charity I ask you? Crazy kids!

It was straight in the deep end for this Aussie sheila. After negotiating on foot the heavy Saturday afternoon traffic in front of the Eiffel Tower it was into the front passenger seat for me! Or should I say the navigation seat as the Tom Tom was placed in my hot little hands. The task, should I choose to accept it, was to navigate from the Eiffel Tower to the train station in plenty of time to pick up a very special guest from the Eurostar – Steve’s mum! So no pressure then

After all the predictable jibes from the boys in the back (women drivers, women map readers, Australia losing the Ashes…) we settled in to enjoy our picturesque journey along the river Seine.

It was like seeing Paris in fast forward, my tour guide skills in full force, pointing out landmarks as this was Amy’s first time in Paris!

After spotting the Concorde, Madeleine and the Louvre and some marvelous driving from the lovely Amy, (including the best reverse park of a fire engine I’ve ever seen) we arrived at Gare du Nord. Phew. We made it. And we were early.

Seated in a café across the road from the station, some sustenance was needed whilst we waited for the special guest.  Nicoise salad for Amy and all the boys enjoying the same order of fromage sambos (that’s Australian for sandwiches and french for cheese.  And they say Aussies aren’t cultured!)

Steve, James and Amy set off to the train station to make sure they were there in plenty of time to meet the special guest.  After 9 months, over 31,000 miles, 5 continents, 28 countries, 1 Guinness World record attempt and 100,000 pounds raised for 3 amazing charities in honour of Steve’s Dad, it was going to be a Kleenex moment.

It’s like a Jane Austen novel.  The part in Emma when her and Mr Knightley finally get together at the end, but it’s not actually written about so you don’t know exactly what happens but you can imagine it was super emotional and an incredible moment. Reunion of the year. Ok, boys, back in the room now, all references to Jane Austen over.

Meeting Steve’s Mum was lovely. She’s just like your own mum – kind of a universal mum. Just before they were leaving, in true mum style she was asking – where are you staying in Paris, do you know where you’re going? How are you going to get there? Bless her! There was also a serious discussion about Steve’s hair. And no doubt about how proud she was about the journey!

So when people ask me ’Where’s the best view of Paris?’ From the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe? From Concorde down the Champs Elysees and up to Madeleine? Along the Jardin des Tuileries to the Louvre? Guess again people – it’s from inside a fire engine!

But not just any fire engine. One full of total goodness and inspirational people. A place where anything is possible. A place which makes life smile. And not just at the bad jokes from the boys in the back.  What an honour to have been on board for a moment. Thanks guys.

Special guest in tow, the FTFE homecoming team jumped back in the cabin to start the final leg of the journey. Paris to Calais and then home to London in the morning. I watched the big red truck drive into the distance and in the words of one of my favourite Aussie musicians, Darren Hanlon, thought ‘days like these don’t have price tags…’


PS – Don’t you think Steve with all that hair looks like a young version of the Captain Snooze guy? Only Aussies will know that reference. Google it.

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2 Responses to “Day 266: We will always have Paris”

  1. I’m sure that the “Sapeurs-Pompiers” of Paris were very proud to have you amongst them – especially Martha and a certain engaged couple!!

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