- ALREADY SUBSCRIBED?
Fill in your credentials below.
a bit embarrassed by his passport photo. He wasn’t having a good hair
day and he thinks he looks a bit chubby. I don’t think it’s so bad—at
least he’s got a nice smile and his tongue doesn’t look too long.
I mention that Luka is an Alaskan Malamute? Yeah, he’s my dog and one
of the first to get an official EU Pets passport. He didn’t need it to
go backpacking or anything like that (I decided he’s got to wait until
he graduates from university), but to move from London to Paris, which
we recently did. And can I say just what a nightmare it was? I thought
that bringing my 95-pound dog from England to France would be a breeze
compared to the move we did last year—Los Angeles to London. But it was
actually an even bigger logistical nightmare.
with a dog is difficult. Especially when you have no car to get your
dog to the airport. Especially when your dog is the size of a pony and
his crate is the size of a small apartment. Speaking of which, if I
stuck that thing on Ile Saint-Louis, I could probably rent it out for
about 1100 euros a month. Not a bad idea.
transportation issues coupled with the cost of Luka’s flight made us
decide to make the trek via train or ferry. The Eurostar would be a
snap! But not so fast—no pets allowed. It wouldn’t work unless I could
dress Luka up in a frumpy muumuu and convince the Eurostar employees
that Luka is really “Lucinda,” my younger sister with an unfortunate
hormone problem that makes her sprout large quantities of hair and
which yes, does make her a bit unattractive (although she’s got a great
personality) and please—Lucinda is VERY sensitive about her appearance,
so don’t ask her any questions! Believe me, I actually thought about
it, but realized that sadly, it probably wouldn’t fly.
only other train that goes from England to France is the Eurotunnel,
which departs from Dover, 70 miles from London, and arrives in Calais,
180 miles from Paris. Pets are allowed, as long as you have them in a
car. This wouldn’t be so bad—we could rent a car in London, drive to
Dover with Luka and our bags, then train over to Calais and drive to
Paris, where we would drop off the car.
I went to book a rental car though, I found out that doing that would
be just as expensive as flying. If you rent a car in England and drop
it off in France, you’d better be prepared to part with some serious
cash—it was 800 dollars! Okay, next option. Maybe my boyfriend, Paul,
could go on the Eurotunnel by foot, rent a car in Calais, and come back
to pick up Luka and me at the Dover train station. That wouldn’t work
either. Eurotunnel doesn’t take foot passengers.
were down to our last option: a ferry. The Hoverspeed was fast, an hour
each way, and not exorbitant. It allowed foot passengers and also pets,
as long as they were in a car. Paul would train two hours from London
to Dover at an unreasonably early hour while lugging about 500 pounds
of luggage, take the Hoverspeed ferry over to Calais, rent a car at the
Hoverport, hop back on the ferry with the car and come back to Dover.
Luka and I would deal with our landlord and handing over the key, train
to Dover with about 300 pounds of luggage, meet Paul and the rental car
at the train station, ferry back to Calais, and drive three to four
hours to Paris. It would be exhausting, but we had no other options. I
made the reservations on the ferry, booked the rental car, checked to
make sure I could take Luka on the train to Dover, and tried to think
of every possible problem that could (and would) arise.
days before the big day I came across a problem I didn’t even think
about when booking the ferry tickets. The rental car office was closed
for lunch for two hours at exactly the time Paul needed to pick up the
car. He had only an hour and a half between when his ferry arrived in
Calais and his ferry departed back to Dover, so he couldn’t wait until
the employees were finished with their Bordeaux and foie gras. This is
something that anyone traveling in Europe needs to consider when
dealing with logistics: a lot of companies, even big, well-known,
American companies, are closed for several hours during lunch.
tried to get him onto the earlier ferry, which left at 9.00, but was
told it was booked. There was another car rental agency at the
Eurotunnel station in Calais, but it was about a half-hour drive from
the Hoverport station, so he probably wouldn’t have time to taxi over
there, rent the car, and make it back in time to catch the ferry. I
booked it anyway, and he left London at 5 a.m., early enough to try to
make it onto the 9.00 ferry standby. He made it to the Hoverport in
Dover in plenty of time to make it, but didn’t get on because there was
no 9:00 ferry. I’d been given misinformation.
now our only hope was that a) the ferry would leave on time, b) the
farther rental car agency wouldn’t decide to join their buddies for
Bordeaux and foie gras over lunch and therefore be closed, and c) he
could find a taxi driver agreeable (or insane) enough to drive the
requisite 90 miles per hour to make it in time.
some miracle, it worked. Paul got the car, made it just in time back on
the ferry, and Luka and I were lucky enough to find people to help us
with our luggage on our way to Dover.
were so relieved that our drive to Paris was fantastic. We didn’t even
care that we still had to figure out how we were going to get pick up
our key from Paul’s friend, who was going to be out and about in Paris
and that driving around Paris on a Saturday night and arranging a
meeting point could prove difficult. Nor did we care that we had no
comforter, pillows, or towels because the boxes we shipped were going
to take 3 times longer than we thought.
our pit stop along the way was a treat. Ravenous, we decided to brave
the gas station cafeteria. I use the word “brave” because in the U.S.
or U.K., if the words “gas station” and “cafeteria” are used in the
same sentence, most people would keep driving. Fast. But not so in
France. This gas station cafeteria was better than most of the
restaurants I went to in London. There was a cheese platter of about a
dozen varieties, roast beef and roast chicken, deliciously sautéed
vegetables, fresh baguettes, and gorgeous pastries. And not only was
Luka allowed at the table with us, but he was brought water and a plate
of giblets. With sel and poivre, of course.
Welcome to France!
we got into Paris, around 11 p.m., our journey became a bit more
difficult again. Figuring out a place where we could park and meet up
with Paul’s friend to get the key was tougher that we’d imagined, so we
basically ended up driving around in circles until we spotted him, so
he could hurl the keys through our open window. And unloading our
luggage was a challenge. Our new place is in Le Marais, a very lively
and quaint area, with narrow cobblestone streets. And absolutely no
parking. We ended up stopping the car in front of our apartment and
completely blocking the road. Paul hauled our massive suitcases up the
5 flights of stairs as fast as he could while I stayed with the car and
prayed that no one would come up behind us. I couldn’t move the car
because, as pathetic as it is, I don’t know how to drive a stick-shift.
two cars did come up behind us, at which point Luka and I jumped out,
made wild hand-gestures at the red-faced drivers (I made the
hand-gestures, Luka wasn’t much help), ran into the courtyard of our
new place and frantically screamed to Paul to hurry up so he could move
the car. Of course, it being midnight by now, this probably wasn’t the
best way to make our debut to the new neighbors. Lights went on and
curious (and probably annoyed) faces appeared in the open windows to
watch the haggard “ugly American” and her massive dog frantically
scream to her boyfriend, who was loudly stampeding down the stairs,
while increasingly furious honking ensued.
somehow we pulled it off. And was it worth it? I’ve only been here for
a few days, so I’ll have to get back to you on that once I’ve settled
in and done more than exploring my new ‘hood, eating Nutella crepes,
and walking Luka along the Seine.
Come to think of it, I think I can answer that right now.