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Paris Travel Tales


November was a month I will never forget. I planned to spend a week in Paris with my BFF from college, Samantha. We live across the country from each other, and meet up in Paris once a year to catch up on "girl talk". The motto of this trip was "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Tomorrow our Dollar will be Worth Even Less".

A few weeks later, I would return to Paris with my two little boys, because my husband, the World Traveler (WT), was working in Europe over Thanksgiving. So, I was going to have "my cake and eat it too" - a decadent time indulging in eating great food, drinking champagne and window shopping, then hanging out with my kids and living like a local in Paris. Since I believe that a trip to Paris without visiting the famous museums and churches is sacrilegious, Samantha was psyched because it means that I won't be dragging her into visiting the Louvre or the Musee d'Orsay for the 100th time. I can do all the "culture" stuff with my kids, and focus on partying with her.

Chapter 1: The Mystery of 21J (read below)

Chapter 2: The Most Expensive Cab Ride of My Life

Chapter 3: Tea for Two

Chapter 4: Crazy for Costes Cafes and the Enormous Profiterole

Chapter 4: Part Two - Crazy for Costes Cafes and the Enormous Profiterole

Chapter 5: Café Life and the Eternal Question - What Makes Parisians So Stylish?

Chapter 6: A Night Out in St. Germain des Pres - Le Mondrian and Mabillon

Chapter 1: The Mystery of 21J

My husband basically travels full-time for work, with the majority of the travel being international. Truthfully, I'm not very fond of the arrangement. Its hard with him being gone most of the time. However, I do love the perks. When you spend two days a week on a plane, the airlines shower you with free upgrades and Frequent Flier miles. So when I travel I always fly first or business class. Except this trip. I was booked in coach.

I was cool sitting in coach, but when I got to the gate, I was surrounded by a mixed group of party-goers. I first noticed this group in the bar while I was waiting to board. They were drinking martinis, dressed to the nines and having a blast. It was like a scene out of "Sex in the City." Since I spend most of my time working on a computer, then playing games with a 5 and 6 year old, the scene reminded me of my carefree, happy hour lifestyle before kids. Sigh..

One of the tall blondes sauntered up to the gate in her four inch heels, and came back giggling to her group, "We're in Business Class. Score." She high-fives her group. Her friend, a statuesque Naomi Campbell look alike says, "I'm going to try it, too". Minutes later she returns. "We're in Business, too. I hope they have enough champagne for all of us."

What's with this? When I fly business its usually boring with a capital B. All old men traveling for business. And, no one partying it up. This group reminds me of the glory days of travel, when flying was actually fun. As one never to pass up a chance to party, I call WT on my cell phone. "All these chicks next to me are getting upgraded to business. Can I get upgraded too?"

"Yes," WT says, "I can't do it for you from here. You can use your miles. But, I wouldn't do it. You're sitting in "21J". I'd rather sit in 21J than business. Its the best seat on the plane."

"Better than business"

"Better than business."

"But, you get free drinks in business."

"I gave you five free drink coupons. Isn't that enough for you? Trust me. Stick with 21J".

Trust me. How come every time someone says "Trust Me" I expect the absolute worst. The sixth member of the "party" party walks back from the desk announcing that she and her boyfriend also got upgraded. Their screams of glee got to me. That's it. I'm sitting in business, too.

I walk up to the desk. "Can I help you?", asks the fresh faced attendant.

"Is it possible for me to upgrade to business class?" She click clacks her keyboard.

"Yes. We can put you in sit 6A and ..."

She wrinkles up her nose and scrunches her face. Oh no. This doesn't look good.

She leans forward to me like she wants to tell me a secret. "Miss, I'm really not supposed to do this, but you realize that you are in seat 21J."


"21J is the best seat on the plane. When I fly, I'd rather sit in 21J than business class."

"Its that good?" I ask.

"Yes, its a great seat. I'm only mentioning it because you're using miles to upgrade and ..." I must have not look convinced because she starts to back track, "but, business class is also superb. You'll get a better meal, It's up to you..." She trails off.

What is it with this seat in coach? I'm now curious to see what all the raves are about. "OK. I'll keep 21J". The attendant beams. She flashes me a huge, perfect smile and says, "Great. And, you have 21J on the return trip also. Lucky you."

I board the plane, looking at the seat numbers above my head. I almost walk past 21J. I didn't notice that this was an actual row. Its a huge gap, with two seats. My jaw hangs open. This seat seriously has the most leg room I've ever seen on a plane in my life. I dump my 22 inch suitcase under the seat in front of me, and sit down. My feet do not stretch to touch it. I lean down farther and stretch. My legs still don't reach the sit in front of me. I finally slide down so far that my head is on the bottom of the seat, and I am laying flat, and my feet still don't reach the seat in front of me. I'm short, but this is ridiculous. I have as much room as typically four seats in coach. Awesome.

As I settle in, content that I am going to be able to rest and relax on the long flight, an older gentleman calls to his wife. "Honey, write this number down. 21J. This is the seat we have to get on our next flight. You won't believe the room."

I arrange my free drink coupons, smile, and silently tell myself that I need to work on "trust".

Next - Chapter 2: The Most Expensive Cab Ride of My Life

Author: Cheryl Montgomery

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