I Went To Europe! Part I: Getting There (with Intro)

When my family would go on vacation -- which was every few years -- my dad would take lots of photos. Good photos, taken with a good camera. And from his myriad rolls of film, he would create slides.

Remember slides?

Watching the slide shows was always such a production for my family. We'd have to wait until it was dark, for one. And we'd have to haul out the screen from the basement, which was never an easy feat. But hauling it up was easier than setting it up. The screen would inevitably be lopsided and sitting at a precarious angle. But once the lights were shut off and the projector turned on, it didn't matter.

We'd all sit, spellbound. My father would have painstakingly gone through his contact sheets and selected the best images, and would downplay how excited he was to show us. And we'd watch with bated breath, there in our darkened kitchen, to see what he had compiled. He'd click through the batch, taking his time, and we'd ooh and ahh over the colorful still shots, retelling the stories behind the pictures and delighting in their reflected glow.

Occasionally, there would be a few "bad" slides in the bunch. Images that were slightly off-center or a bit blurry or dark, or not very interesting. But this was back before the digital age, when there was no on-the-fly editing, no Photoshopping to speak of. You had to take great care with your picture-taking. And for the most part, my dad did.

My father was a very talented photographer.

I am not.

I have a perfectly mediocre camera that I take perfectly horrible photos with. I have no sense of things like, "composition" or "not sucking." And sometimes, like when I try to take "artistic" photos? My okay-at-best shots become downright laughable.

And yet here I am, post-vacation. And I've gone through my contact sheet (iPhoto) and circled the best ones (uploaded them to Photobucket) and had them made into slides (cut and pasted their html tags) and hauled out the screen and projector (Blogger). And since you're kind of in my kitchen (She Walks), why not fix yourself a drink, turn down the lights, and enjoy as much as possible.

* * * *
November 3

On Saturday morning, we opted to take a taxi to the airport. It was very early (too early to ask friends to drive us), and the problem with shuttle companies is that they insist on picking you up several hours before you need to be. Given the hour of our departure, I'm pretty sure the shuttle would have tried to pick me up sometime on Tuesday.

Pictured: Ish is in the cab, tired. Cameraperson also in the cab, tired.

When we approached the airport, the cab driver asked what airline, and then he asked, "domestic or international," and I felt quite overjoyed. I have been asked that question many, MANY times in the last few years and it was a bit amazing to hear myself say, "international."

It was very thrilling to be in a new section of the airport!

Until we got to the terminal to discover that no one was working yet!

Pictured: NO people standing at the various silver podium things.

And then when the ticket agents DID show up, and we finally got to one, we learned that even if Paris is your final destination, if you're stopping in DC first, you're actually traveling "domestic."

So we had to traipse back to the same stupid terminal I'm all used to.

Pictured: generic domestic terminal. Also, are you not thrilled with this photo? Does it not scream, "I am a worldly sophisticate"? Mmm.

But whatever! Paris!

Now, here is the point of the post where I point out that I am maybe not the best flyer. I'm not exactly terrified of flying, but I have some incredibly irrational moments. Generally I can contain them, but not always. And I really didn't want to have that be an issue on this trip overseas.

I discussed this with a physician.

Pictured: Not a photo of the discussion so much as the solution. (Also, note the super-cute passport holder in pink!)

And then got a second opinion.

Pictured: Second oPinion Grigio. Next to the INTERNATIONAL gate in DC.

Sure enough, it worked! I wasn't totally knocked out, but I was awfully comfortable. For example, rather than see the inside of the plane as freakishly large and unnatural and impossible to get off the ground (wtf!!!), I remember instead thinking, "Hey, this is neat."

Pictured: Completely unremarkable plane interior. At the time, thought it was "neat."

So a few games of solitaire, episodes of Sex and the City (on my new iPod) and like, maybe some unremarkable plane movie later, who remembers(?), we were descending!

Pictured: Screen in front of me, kindly reminding me where Paris is located. According to this image, you will note, our plane was in fact as big as Paris. I suspected as much.

Pictured: Woo! 12 minutes!

We arrived in one piece(!), and from there, it was perfect. Just, perfect.

Unfortunately, however, the perfect nature of being in Paris inspired my many and varied attempts at "artistic" photography. Beginning with the following:

Pictured: A photo of chairs in an airport. Because, you see, it was an airport in PARIS. And the chairs were PARISIAN chairs. I don't know what else to tell you. I had arrived in Paris, and took a picture of chairs in an airport. Artistic? Maybe? No, I know. Hopeless.

My apologies.

Also, since I knew I'd be blogging, I took several photos of things I considered "humorous."

Behold. A different (humorous??) airport chair:

Pictured: Nevermind.

Uh huh.

And this concludes the "getting there" portion of our slide show.

I promise it gets better.


  1. Ooo, I actually like the pictures! There's a very natural progression that gives you a good step-by-step feel which makes me feel like I'm almost there.

    Yeah, I totally would have just gone with the wine. Oodles and oodles of wine. To keep me sedated.

  2. So glad that "getting there" worked out so well-also glad you made it there in one piece!

  3. The first time I went to London, I was in a fugue state of convincing myself that I was in London. (Huh. I just looked up "fugue" at dictionary.com, and you know what? Close enough.) I repeated everything to myself -- as if I were suffering from some kind of amnesia -- "I'm walking on this sidewalk. This sidewalk is in LONDON. I'm crossing the street. The street is in LONDON. I am touching the side of this building, which is in LONDON, which means, I AM IN LONDON." The sense of wonderment lasted until the next morning -- when I got on a train and went to Oxford. And then it was all, "I'm in OXFORD...."

    Am loving the photos! Hurrah!

  4. Wow the first part of your post brought back memories. I've never been to Paris, but I had a Dad who did the slide projector thing in much the way you described. Thanks for the memories. :)

  5. I love your artistic chair photos. Fabulous. Totally Kristy-like. I also love your thrill at being able to tell the taxi driver "international".

    I'm almost glad you went to Paris, I'm enjoying this so much. Err strike that. I'm not glad. But I am enjoying this.

  6. Totally Knocked Out Flat on my Ass (or OK--lets just say "sedated") is the only possible way I could enjoy a plane flight, as I am one of the easily-freaked flyers.

    I'm always convinced that the slightest turbulence will shake the plane right out of the sky. And for years I thought the little bell I'd hear occasionally was a secret signal to the flight attendants that something was wrong with the plane. (Um, found out it was the flight attendant call button. Something I'd never use myself because it might annoy the flight attendant, and I figure it's best to have her on my side when the plane starts falling out of the sky in case there are a few parachutes stashed away somewhere or at least some liquor bottles.)

    Anyway, glad your flight was pleasant and uneventful! Can't wait to hear more.

  7. As my only experience with Paris was touching down at the Charles de Gaulle Airport and a two hour wait at a nearby train station, you have brought back such beautiful memories of that layover. *Sniff*

    Can't wait to see your artsy, around-Paris photos!

  8. The reserved chair that is a foot taller than the others. Lovely shot of the pregnant stick figure and the apparently about to puke drunk stick figure, priceless.

    Ha well there are other people in the world who are amused by the same things you are. Are you scared yet?


  9. I can't wait to read the next installment. I, too, follow your prescribed travel accomodations. Xanax and a glass of wine. I'm a very happy traveler.

    Where did you get the cute pink passport holder??

  10. We didn't have an actual screen, so my Dad would put up a white bedsheet on the china cabinet. Rustic, but it worked. And you know, it didn't matter what slides we were watching, it was always fun.

    I'm glad you had a fun trip.

  11. I read lots of blogs and I'm always interested in yours. But when the photos are dark or unfocused, it is a turn off. Not that you're trying to turn me on. But I think you understand. You are so creative so why not explore that whole photography world? You may surprise yourself!
    Don't worry, I'll still keep reading your blog because I've grown attached.
    Hope you have recuperated from your trip!

  12. I recognize the first few letters on that bottle. Love me my Lorazepam!

  13. I totally would have taken the same picture of the chairs! They were French afterall!
    I'm glad you made it all in one piece!

  14. I absolutely LOOOOVE your passport holder! It matches my iPod case. Where did you get it?!


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