16 January 2009

Ever been to New Bern?

Yesterday I bought my ticket for a February trip to the U.S. to visit my mother, sister, and other family members. I didn't go back to the U.S. at all in 2008. I'm looking forward to being there, but not so much to the getting there. I've never really enjoyed flying, though I've flown across the Atlantic Ocean 65 or more times in my life.

Late yesterday afternoon in the vineyard

The trip from Saint-Aignan to New Bern, North Carolina, is very long and pretty complicated. First I have to take the train to Paris. Because I need to be at the airport between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. on the day of my departure, I'll have to go to Paris the day before and spend the night in a hotel. I've got that all arranged.

Ice down the rows in the vineyard this morning

I'll take the train to Paris from the little town of Onzain, on the Loire River between Amboise and Blois. Walt will drive me up to Onzain, which is just across the river from the château at Chaumont- sur-Loire. It takes about 40 minutes to get there by car. Then it's a two-hour train ride. The train will put me out at the Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris. Arriving in Paris is always a thrill, even if it's only for a 24-hour stay.

This morning's sunrise, no. 1...

My hotel is in the Latin Quarter. It's only three metro stops from the Gare d'Austerlitz. I decided to stay in Paris this time rather than in a chain hotel out at Charles de Gaulle airport. I'll be able to spend the afternoon — if the weather cooperates — wandering around the Paris neighborhoods where I used to live and work, taking pictures and enjoying being "back on the street again."

It's a hard trip from there on. I'll get up at 1:00 a.m. U.S. East Coast time — 7:00 a.m. in Paris, with the time difference — and arrive in New Bern, N.C., at 11:30 p.m. the same day. The trip from Paris to New Bern takes nearly 24 hours, in other words. During those 24 hours, I'll be in four different airports: Paris-CDG, Philadephia, Charlotte, and New Bern.

...and no. 2. Thanks to Callie,
I'm up and out there early enough to see these.

If you take into account that I'll have to leave Saint-Aignan the day before, that makes it a 48-hour trip all told. That kind of sustained activity is hard on an old person's body. Not to mention the stress of all those connections, take-offs, and landings.

I'll be glad to get there and enjoy being back in my home town for a couple of weeks. I imagine I'll eat a lot of seafood. I'll shop 'til I drop. I'll see a lot of relatives and friends. It'll be a good time.

* * * *

I'm publishing this picture I took last June
at the château in Verneuil-sur-Indre, near Loches,
for Simon and CHM. See
Susan and Simon's blog for context.


  1. Wow, that's a long trip! The airport changes would be the hardest on me... I'm always stressed about making connections.

    I love learning about Paris hotels... may I ask which one you'll be staying in? Have you been there before?

    What kinds of food goodies are you looking forward to eating, and to bringing back with you to St. Aignan?


  2. Judy, I'll be staying at the Hôtel des Carmes, on the rue des Carmes just off the rue des Écoles. Friends of ours from California stay there frequently, and I've stayed once before, in Sept. 2007. A single room "sur cour" is 85 euros a night, with double bed, shower, TV, and telephone. It's very close to Notre Dame and le Panthéon.

    Food on the N.C. coast is a lot of seafood: boiled or stewed shrimp, baked or broiled flounder, roasted oysters, and of course fried seafood. Hushpuppies. Cole slaw. Sweet potatoes. Collard greens. Okra. As for food to bring back, I'm not sure. Probably some stuff from the Mexican grocery store.

  3. You trip sounds tiring, but hey you're still in your 50s! You've been across the pond a lot. I made a few trips across the Atlantic in all my decades with the exception of the first and third when I stayed put.

    Oh, just remembered that I was in my 30s when we went to American Samoa. That was my first trip flying over the Pacific. That was quite a trip and the one that we discovered that our children, who were 5 and 8 at the time, were good

    I still get a shiver when I see Paris, too. Your plans sound good.

  4. Hi Ken. Yes, we've been to New Bern! When we come back from the beach (Bogue Banks), Julian always insists on visiting Tryon Palace.

    I knew you had a Morehead City connection, but didn't realize your family was in New Bern.

    I realize it would add to an already onerous trip, but it's too bad you're not driving from Charlotte to New Bern. You could come visit us in Apex.

  5. Hi Ken,
    Thank you for the Verneuil photo which is better than mine which is better than Simon's. It almost look as there was some sun in your picture. Did you photoshopped it? It was definitely overcast that day, if not raining.

  6. Hello CHM,

    I think I photoshopped it very slightly for contrast and sharpness. Did I tell you I'm having trouble with my Panasonic camera? The automatic lens cover won't open and close correctly any more. I have to open and close it by hand. K.

  7. I know it's expensive and inconvenient, but I sure wish you were coming out to the Bay Area while you're so "close." I stayed at des Carmes just before coming to visit you, gosh, three years ago? It's a great location - and a great vantage point when the kids at the Sorbonne get all up in arms over something.


  8. Greetings from New Bern, where it's uncommonly cold tonight -- nearly as cold as in St. Aignan last week.

    I wonder if you're aware that Delta now serves New Bern, so you can fly CDG to Atlanta, then on to N.B. by 10 pm?

    A friend here told me about your blog and I've enjoyed reading it. Bon voyage -- enjoy your time with your family!


  9. Do you think the Japanese adopted the American way of business using the built in obsolescence?
    Could it be some dust in the mechanism?
    I keep mine in a small bag when I put it in my pocket so it will be protected.

  10. Hello Simon, no, my family is in Morehead City. The house I grew up in, which my mother sold in 2005, is about 10 blocks west of the Sanitary Restaurant, on Evans Street. I was born in the Morehead City Hospital.

    I may well be driving through Raleigh while I am there. Can you send me an e-mail (kenbroadhurst at gmail.com) to give me your e-mail address? I'd love to stop by to see you and Ginger.

    And can you imagine that I have never been to Tryon Palace? Maybe this time I'll do it. I wonder if BettyAnn has seen the Palace?

    Hi Gigi, nice to get a comment from you. Yes, I flew Delta from Paris to New Bern via Atlanta in 2007. It was more expensive than US Airways this time, and required a 4-hr. — or was it 7 hours? — layover in Atlanta.

    CHM, I've tried everything to get that lens cover to snap open and shut again. I tried vacuuming dust out of it, for example. To no avail. At least it is stuck in the open position, so it doesn't prevent me from taking pictures. I can get it to open or close by pulling up on the plastic ring with my fingernail.

    Susie, one day I will return to California. One thing that stops me is that nearly everybody I know in the Bay Area works for a living. What would I do all day if I came out there? Who would I spend my days with? Does your company, for example, have a "take a friend to work" day? When all of y'all retire, I'll come for a visit.

    Evelyn, still in my 50s! Ha! Yeah right, for 6 more weeks. Wish you were going to be in Paris when I'm there. Maybe later this year... Have a good time in D.C. on Tuesday.

  11. I have been to New Bern! We looked to perhaps move there some years ago but decided on Chapel Hill instead. I love North Carolina, and love the coast, but like it was 25-30 years ago and not the crazy mess it is today.

    Have a good time, and kiss the tarheel state for me.

  12. Hi Syd, I agree with you totally about the mess they've made of big parts of the N.C. coast. Development! Phooey! This is why I go in the off-season, when it's quiet there and there's not so much traffic.

  13. In February will tulips and wisteria be blooming at Tryon Palace? Let's hope for mild weather. No matter the weather you'll be having a good time with your family, as well as eating a lot of fried food and drinking sweet tea.

    Lucky you!


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