We land, and abruptly stop taxiing to the gate. The captain comes on and says, "Ladies and Gentleman, when we landed there was smoke coming out of one of the wings. There is nothing to be concerned about; I'm sure it's just the de-icing fluid burning off. As a precautionary measure, however, we're going to be towed into the gate with a fire safety escort. It'll take them about 20 minutes to get out to us, and then we'll have you to the gate momentarily." Yeah, right!
We finally got in at about 8:30. I bummed a 50p coin from my British Lady friend to make a phone call to Michael. After getting through immigration and customs and up to where I could make a phone call it was about 5 till 9. I got no answer at Michael's (home or cell phone), which stressed me out a little. I finally just left a message on his home phone saying I was catching the next train to Victoria Station, where he was supposed to meet me.
I bought a round-trip ticket on the Gatwick Express train (for 21 Pounds, which seemed a little high to me -- about $32-$35), and caught the next one, which left at 9:05. It was a 30-minute train ride.
Thank goodness Michael was waiting for me at the other end. We walked to his flat, I took a quick shower and shaved, Steve (the first of the group of 17), and me, him, Michael, and Nick caught a cab to the Waterloo station at about 10:15. We passed Parliament and Big Ben on the way.
Several of the guys were there when we arrived and the others then trickled in. Alan Flack was one of the last arriving, and it was so good to see him. He had bound travel cases for us, each with a name label on them. Mine said, "Miss J Martin."
We drank at least eight, if not ten, bottles of champagne on the Eurostar to Paris. Our car was about three-quarters full. We had so many canapes it was sort of embarrassing. They were piled on top of each other and sliding off and falling over. We had smoked salmon, little sandwiches (chicken, tuna, SPAM!), chocolates, little cakes, etc. It was really somewhat obscene. We ended up offering everyone in the car some food.
A group of us played a card game called Chicago. It was great fun, played with two decks of cards and consisting of six rounds:
The two-hour ride flew by. We arrived in Paris at around 4:00, all took the metro to the hotel, got checked in, and then met in the lobby to head out drinking.
We started at a corner place, had a couple of beers, then moved on to another bar near by, where "Francois" was our host. After that we tried to be seated at a nearby restaurant -- a table of 9. For some reason or another, we think it was because Jacob stuck his head in the door, and said, "Garcon! We have..." Not a good start. Nick said, "Jacob, it's monsieur! Outside, rejected, four of the nine decided they were just going to move on to another bar, and have a liquid dinner.
The five remaining went back into the restaurant and said, "We have a party of five now." The group consisted of me, Jacob, Nick, Daphe, and John. I had a delicious chicken dinner, but was very, very tired. After we finished eating, Jacob, called the waiter over, and said, "Monsieur, that wine over there (pointing to a half carafe of wine left on a nearby table), may we have it please?" I thought Nick was going to die. He was mortified. The waiter just rolled hie eyes and brought it to us.
Daphe and John left before the check came, estimating their share, and leaving it with Nick. Nick left as soon as the bill was paid. Jacob ordered us both an Irish Coffee and we drank them there before leaving. We were both rather lit, and I was so very, very tired.
In the elevator we started kissing up against the wall. He had pushed "3" and I had pushed "6." The door opened rather quickly, and we both swung around rather surprised, and more surprised about the nice couple that was watching us smooch. We both got out even thought it was the second floor, and took the stairs up the remaining way to our respective rooms.
As soon as I got my clothes off and hit that bed I was out!