Frazzled in France

I can’t get away without sharing our experience in France with you.
I’m going to start from the beginning, as this whirlwind of events deserves. Story time!

Characters involved (from left to right):
Eva, Kristina, Winnie, Jackie, Myself, Carson, Cassie

For starters, just getting to France in itself was chaotic. I won’t stress you with the details, but know that at one point (less than 24 hours before our departure) we had flights to Mallorca, but an Airbnb in Ibiza, and zero flights to Nice, France. On top of that – we were all very spread out and meeting in one place – Eva was flying from Madrid, and Kristina was flying from Bulgaria – the rest of the gang was flying from Barcelona. Regardless, it all was taken care of and we successfully booked flights and an Airbnb for less than $250 each for the entire weekend.

We arrive to the airport Friday afternoon, 2 hours early. At this point Eva is successfully at the Airbnb in Nice, and Kristina arrived in Barcelona safe and sound just in time for the flight with the rest of us. We get through security – all is well. Our flight gets delayed and we don’t have a gate assigned until about 30 minutes before boarding. As soon as it’s assigned we go to the gate and wait. We’re all very excited, chatting it up. Winnie runs off “to go to the bathroom,” and when it comes time for one last bathroom break before boarding the plane, we realize she still hasn’t come back. Right at that moment we receive a text, “I just met my next sugar daddy, hopefully no sugar.” That’s when we learned when Winnie “goes to the bathroom,” she may not be coming back anytime soon.

As we wrap up our bathroom break Kristina comes back in a panic, “guys they changed our gate again! It says, “Paris,” which is definitely not where we are going, we need to go to B27 and it says last call!!” (Thankfully, Winnie was back at this point). So you know what that means.

WE ARE RUNNERS, WE ARE TRACK STARS.

We all take off, Winnie is on Winnie speed (slow). As we’re running Kristina yells, “Mal your bag is open!” I hear my brush drop out right as she says that. As I stop to pick it up multiple items start pouring out of my bag. Kristina just keeps running past me as all my stuff is falling out (lol), and I’m yelling, “THANKS FOR THE HELP!!” By the time I’m done getting my bag together, Winnie has caught up to me with a beer in hand, and is burping as we hustle to get to our gate. This was a true comedic moment for us all. (My camera roll was funny this day because I have a video of us very lax, approaching our gate. Kristina is sipping champagne. Then the very next video is us SPRINTING in the airport. Haha. Stay tuned for the video, I already know it’ll be a good one and I haven’t even gone through all of the footage).

Side note: we’re pretty positive there was no announcement made regarding our gate change. If there was, the airport is loud, so hearing any announcements would have been difficult (especially when you combine all of our laughter) – let alone understanding them fully because they’re all in Spanish. Needless to say, we made it on our flight, sweaty and all.

About 10 minutes after we take off, a stench so strong started polluting the air. (Good guess, it could’ve been Carson after our long sprint to the gate, but it wasn’t). The woman sitting in front of us with a row to herself suddenly stands up extremely fast and is disgustingly upset. Shortly following we see a man in the row in front of her very quickly evacuate his window seat, hopping over the man sitting in the aisle seat and disappearing towards the front of the plane.

Aisle seat man threw up not only all over himself and the middle seat next to him, but also in the aisle (which came two rows back to where we were sitting, yum), and all over the floor and seats behind him where the woman was sitting. His bodily fluids got all over her belongings… that poor woman. To top it off, he was clearly drunk and was being a jerk – so she was valid for her level of distress. No one goes on a plane prepared to be vomited on. (Normally I’d have sympathy for anyone who gets sick in public because I know I’d be super embarrassed if that happened to me. But I also wouldn’t get on a plane plastered and then be rude to the people I threw up on).

BeReal timing is epic.

To add on to it, not one flight attendant attempted to help clean it up or even give him a bag to catch his inner fluids as they exited. So as he continued to throw up throughout the flight, it was just going wherever it pleased. At this point, the people seated in the surrounding areas in front and behind him moved (including us). So at least no one else was in the splash zone – but everyone was stuck in the smelly airplane air for another hour.

We land safely, and throw up man is peacefully passed out in his own juices. As we’re waiting outside for our Uber to arrive we see him leave the airport, covered in throw-up. We wished him and the person’s car he was about to get in the best.

As we are approaching our Uber outside of the airport, we notice our driver is standing and talking to some random man. The car we ordered specifically said it could fit 6 people, yet our driver was denying us, saying we needed to split into two cars with the man he was talking to – AND he was trying to charge us double the amount the Uber app was. Excuse me, sir? You have bad news written all over you. Why would we:

  1. Get into a vehicle that isn’t tracked in the same country “Taken” was filmed in?
    2. Pay double the amount the app gave us for a car that technically does fit us all?

We very tastefully let him know we aren’t stupid, and went about our way. Thankfully, we found an extremely nice woman who gave us a ride at a fair price – but that was a very sketchy (and smelly) welcome into France.

We safely got to our Airbnb, which was super cute and located right in Vieux, Nice – which is old Nice. We were on the 5th floor and had beautiful windows with shutters to open and look out into the alley ways of France, just like you’d see in the movies. It was very aesthetic and picturesque.

The only weird thing is that there was only 1 key available for 7 people, which isn’t ideal, but there was a lockbox hooked to the door entrance to the building so we all agreed that the last person to leave the Airbnb would put the key into they lockbox so we all could come and go as we please. There were so many cute boutiques, thrift shops, the beach, a promenade, and delicious restaurants all within a 5 minute walking distance from us – so we had plenty to explore super close. After walking about 10 minutes away we found a super cute stairway which lead to a waterfall and had an immaculate view of the city, and 10 minutes in the opposite direction was a marine port of sailboats, and an outdoor photo gallery. The architecture, the sculpture art, the colors, the layout of the streets… all of it was simply so cute. I just couldn’t stop looking at it.

By the time we landed and got to our Airbnb, it was already 11:30pm – so food was scarce but we did manage to meet a drunk waiter (who we later befriended while drinking Pornstar martinis), and after following his terrible directions that lead us astray, we managed to find somewhere to get some grub. While eating, a group of men approached us saying that they were a band called, The Sugar Daddies. They asked us to come to their next show – which we politely told them, “only if you pay for our tickets.” πŸ˜‰ After they left, we Googled them and they are indeed a real band – who have (fun fact) recently played at Paris Fashion Week, as well as for Naomi Campbell and Michale Kirk Douglas.

The next day we explored everything mentioned above – and I must say the thrift shops and boutiques were my absolute favorite part of the trip. We found some unique gems, which includes two rings that undoubtedly add a lot of character to my fingers. One of my favorite parts about traveling with this group is that we all go off and do what pleases us, and typically always all get together for a meal. Our group is great company, so sitting down with everyone after the hectic travel day we had and enjoying each others presence was nice. Thanks to Winnie, we had an evening tradition where we would each share what we were thankful for that day and it always resulted in laughter and healthy conversations – so I just always looked forward to that quality time together. It was also interesting to hear everyones different highlights from the day considering we were all experiencing similar things but each of us had something different. I love the energy of our dinners.

There was live music, plenty of wine, and the rain had finally stopped. I tried Socca for the first time, which is a staple dish in France. It’s basically a fried chickpea pancake. It kind of tasted like fried chicken, the seasoning they used tasted similar to KFC. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.

After dinner, we go back to the Airbnb to drop off some items and freshen up before deciding what our next move was. It’s almost midnight. Remember how I said there was only one key and we agreed for the last person out to put it back into the lockbox? Well, that worked well until it didn’t.
Here’s how the story unfolds:

  • Eva opens lockbox.
    – There is no key in lockbox.
    – We all look at Winnie.
    – Winnie messages the Airbnb people.
    – Carson and Kristina stalk the building for potential break in access.
    – Cassie confirms the forecast for the night is rain. Great.
    – We all realize none of us have a charger. Lovely.
    – Kristina finds a stick.
    – We brainstorm.
    – Cassie gets on Carson’s shoulders and Kristina and Jackie are spotting her.
    – Cassie fell. Amen for their spot.
    – SHE GOT BACK UP REAL QUICK THO!!
    – Cassie blindly tries to hit a button on the other side of the door which will unlock it.
    – Kristina and Jackie start guiding Cassie because she can’t see.
    – Eva and I are cheerleading.
    – People are walking by looking at us like maniacs and laughing.
    – (I’m recording it all).
    – 3 minutes of madness go by.
    – Cassie goes on her tippy toes on Carson’s shoulders.
    – I go grab the booty to spot for extra measure.
    – (Eva is now recording it all).
    – DING DING DING.
    – Cassie hits the button and we’re able to get into the building.

This is when we confirm that our Airbnb does indeed lock on its own.

  • I try the bobby-pin and credit card trick – no luck.
    – We find locksmith info.
    – Winnie calls said locksmith.
    – Carson and Jackie try the bobby-pin and card – no luck.
    – Jackie runs to a restaurant to ask to borrow a knife.
    – Someone yells at us in the stairwell to be quiet.
    – Jackie comes back with a knife, still no luck.
    – We realize door technology has surpassed our knowledge.
    – Winnie confirms the locksmith – 20 minutes.
    – We go downstairs to wait so we’re not too loud for the neighbors.
    – Winnie goes to get wine.
    – Winnie and the locksmith show up at the same exact time.
    – CELEBRATION!!
    – Locksmith tried to say it was 300 euros.
    – We said woah. 200 euros and a glass of wine.
    – He accepted.

We entered our apartment. Had a moment of decompression. A pep-talk cheers. Finished our wine. Got ourselves up. Went to therapy. (A.k.a. the afro beats bar down the street to DANCE. IT. ALL. OUT). When it came time to move to the next bar, we ended up finding ourselves at the (extremely rocky) beach. We all had been talking about wanting to get in the water in Nice because it was SO CLEAR. So that’s exactly what happened – at 2am – and it was beautifully refreshing. This is probably the highlight moment of the entire weekend for me – it was like for the first time in a few days we could just stop and be, with no worries. That lasted until our walk home when suddenly a bunch of cops started swarming a bar we were passing (and we all have heard the stereotypes of French police, so it was just uneasy)… but we kept our heads down and attention off of us (which is hard to do when you look this good) and made it back safely…. WITH THE KEY!! Bless.

We make a pact that no matter what, we are getting up early enough to get croissants (the morning before they were already sold out by 10:30am – which was early for us considering our jet lag was still very much so lagging).

That next morning it’s pouring rain. Completely thunder-storming. It was such a mood though because:
1. France has an energy that welcomes thunderstorms.
2. They also have the perfect windows to watch rain fall, as well as hear it hit the shutters.

It was so serene with the soft morning light and the rain hitting the building like music. It felt like clarity. Like some things are meant to be heavier, and the events that unfolded over the weekend only made us that more connected. We get ourselves out of bed quickly and run down early to get croissants. We get 1 regular and 1 chocolate for everyone. We go back upstairs and get right back into bed with our croissants and the rain soothing us. How could we not fall back asleep to that?

After a relaxing nap, we have a phenomenal last day in France. We go to a creperie and have the best waitress. May I suggest trying a shot of espresso in your hot chocolate? Amazing. Also, if you ever see a sugar lemon crepe, get it. You won’t regret it.

The rest of the day we walk around the town, exploring the architecture and art that is so effortlessly showing off. The earth tones of the buildings were so vibrant, yet subtle and sultry. The balconies accompanying the buildings added character and texture without labor. From the intricate railings protecting the balcony, to the worn shutters – it’s truly just so beautiful to walk around and look at. Oddly enough, as much as the French love their extremely strong cigarettes, I not once witnessed someone taking a drag on their balcony. Though I hope it’s often, because let me tell you if I had a balcony like those in France I would be so dramatically over the moon for it. You’d never see me leave it.

It was a fittingly rainy day in France – and after the chaos that occurred over the weekend, the slow morning was a blessing. It was an opportunity to get some real rest, as well as an opening for some reflection. The aimless walk around town was soothing and allowed us to soak it all in before our flight the next morning. Then to complete the day with tapas and games at home? Priceless.

We met some friends along the way, some welcomed and some not – there was a very interesting girl who was extremely warm and welcoming (it could’ve just been the alcohol or maybe even just an impression she was trying to give the guy who she claimed was her boyfriend but he said they just met at the bar that night, haha – WHO KNOWS!) but either way — she reminded me how cool strangers can be to one another. Not that I didn’t know this, but in all honesty, France had a heavier energy to me. It didn’t feel the most welcoming, and I personally really appreciate places that make me feel hugged when I arrive. So for me, the nice people we did encounter really boosted my moral with how I felt during the trip.

Aside from the non-coupled couple we met, there were so many people who made the trip memorable – the woman who kindly got us from the airport. The drunken waiter who lovingly messed with us. The Sugar Daddies. The boutique owner who hyped Jackie, Cassie and I up so hard that we felt like milfs with money. The ring guy at the market who clearly didn’t know how to negotiate his prices (but hey, worked in our favor). The locksmith who had a fun attitude. They were all golden gems of human beings.

But the people that made the trip the most, were the gorls (and Carson).

If there’s anything traveling to France screamed at me, with all of the events tied in – it’s that who you travel with matters. Who you spend your time with matters. The interactions and experiences you have with people matters, and constant knowledge of where the key is matters. Nothing is abundantly wholesome in every way possible if you aren’t within good company, and the people I was blessed to experience France with turned a trip that inevitably continued to nose dive, into the most thrilling international rollercoaster I have ever been on. Events that could have easily broken us, only linked our bonds exponentially – and more importantly, ruined the trip for no one. We continued to persevere, keep our heads-up, and keep the laughter loud.

I can’t express how much this incredible group of humans feeds my soul, and how I could be in any situation with them and know I’ll be alright because we’re on the same team.

The next day we get up bright and early to make our flight. As we sat at our gate, we see throw up man. In the same clothes as the Friday flight, except this time they were clean. It was the funniest full circle moment after all that had happened.

So all in all, France wasn’t my favorite – and that’s okay. I’m definitely glad I went and explored it, but I’m even more so grateful it was with this group.

Thanks for reading and being apart of the chaos.
xx, Mal

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