January 29, 2023

I wasn’t sure what it would be like leaving Morocco with my daughter. She had arrived on a different flight and day with her mother and was leaving with me while her mother would be staying for a bit. The Moroccan immigration guys were funny. They were on it though. With me, they were like “You lived here and had a residence card before.” Yes, I did. A long time ago. “What was your address?” It was a long time ago and I didn’t remember but my Darija was good enough and I was able to describe my previous job and address well enough. Then they turned to Sophia “You were born here, so you are Moroccan?” She was shy answering in English but gave a little bit. We explained that we were heading home to school and her mom was staying a bit longer for Eid and family time. They were satisfied and as I said, funny guys. They understood that in some sense, Morocco is home for both of us but that home home is back in Hawaii – and off we went.

The first class lounge in Fez-Saiss is modest but they have one, which honestly surprised me. So we had a nice free lunch and comfy chairs with wifi and no crowding. RyanAir – as always was a total disappointment. We’d bought the early preboarding which they ignored. We’d bought the sweet treat for each of us which was like a danish and coffee or hot chocolate. No coffee, no danish, just a snickers bar for each of us and the worst hot chocolate and green tea ever. The flight attendant was like “Never pre-buy on RyanAir, never.” Fair enough. Lesson learned. I guess I knew that before – but the $15 snickers + a tea bag is a great reminder.

Customs and immigration in Beauvais, France was ridiculously easy. Just a stamp. No questions. Tres simple. Also, I probably wouldn’t have booked in Beauvais at all if I had known the bus from there to Paris City Center was just 17 Euro and about one hour but – I’m glad we had the chance to enjoy Beauvais, it was lovely – the village, I mean. The airport was lackluster, no problem. Caught an Uber from the airport to our hotel. Easy – nice to be back in Uber land – expensive but convenient.

I’d booked through Hotels.com. I had a printed confirmation for two days, prepaid. The clerk at the hotel who was very nice – couldn’t find the reservation.My bad French and her bad English were not complimentary towards communication. She simply couldn’t find it – even with all the printed paperwork. I kept telling her Hotels.com but she kept replying Expedia and that she couldn’t find it. This went on for a while – I pointed at the paper Hotels.com – all to no avail. I realized staying there for two days would be kind of sucky anyway – it wasn’t a particularly nice hotel – sort of like a roadhouse with a motel attached. I told her that I wanted to cancel the second day, she still hadn’t found the reservation. It was still light but late enough they had closed their restaurant. I told her we’d just come from Morocco, we were tired, I’d paid in advance, I had a confirmation printed in my hand – and she still couldn’t find it. Okay, maybe I’ll just cancel the reservation completely – I checked but they had a policy of charging for one night stay in the event of cancellation. Perfect, I showed her, I tried to limp out in French – I’ll cancel, you’ll still charge for one night, and give us a room for one night. Yes, she said, good. So I cancelled. Then she found the reservation. I tried to make sure everything was good. She said C’est Bon. Gave us a key and off we went to drop our bags in the room then hopefully find some food. Almost immediately she was knocking on the door. “You cancelled the reservation! No room.” This was ridiculous. I showed here the cancellation, showed her the notice from Hotels.com that they would be paid for one night, and told her I was tres fatigue and hungry too. She directed us to a nearby fast food restaurant – we arrived just after the indoor part had closed. The nice girls working there let us ‘walk’ through the drive through. We liked Quick Burger a lot. Yummy shake, nice burger, awesome employees. I barely slept, sort of angry at the unresolved hotel stay and not sure where we were going to spend the next night now – but knowing we would go to Paris.

In the morning, I called Hotels.com – they were almost no help at all. The typical policy of ‘Zero Customer Service unless you can somehow force us to help you’. That was the first hour of my day. Then I went out to see the desk clerk. The morning guy spoke English pretty fluently and said it was no problem, we were good to go. He told us to go eat breakfast. We did. Things felt better. We took an Uber into Beauvais Ville and walked around the market, explored the stunningly beautiful Cathedrale Saint Pierre – almost 1000 years old and truly awe inspiring. We walked back and on the way met four British guys with super cool cars that let Sophia actually sit in one of them (behind the wheel).

Next we called for an Uber to the train station. We had plenty of time. Notice said 6 minutes. Our driver must have accepted and decided to finish his lunch. 6 minutes turned to 20 minutes and in the meantime the clerk from the night before showed up and restressed the situation. Told us our car had arrived, but we went out and no car. On the map we watched him drive past the entrance twice, then he called and said – take your bags and walk out the long driveway to the road. I said no – we have bags, you have a car, our other ubers had no problem getting in. He finally made it – nice guy from Angola in a plaid suit – almost made us miss the train – but we barely made it. I’d made a reservation and off to Paris we went.

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