What Happens in Paris…

Eiffel-1043

Traveling to another country is always exciting! We have had some wonderful experiences, some scary experiences, and some unbelievable ones. This story falls under all of those categories.

In 2001, a close friend of our family broke the news that she was happily engaged and she was pleased to invite us to her wedding…in Paris! We are not wealthy, and we simply don’t have the funds to go jetting off across the Atlantic for a wedding, no matter who’s getting married. But then my mother, God rest her soul, said, “We should all go. I’ll pay.” That changed everything! “Of course! We’d LOVE to attend your wedding!”

Time went by and we started preparing for the trip. We borrowed our son’s video camera so that we could video the wedding for the bride and groom. The wedding was to take place in a lovely garden in the 2nd arrondissement on Tuesday, September 18, 2001. And then tragedy struck on September 11, when the World Trade Centers were bombed. It was one week before the wedding, and no one knew whether flying was safe or whether we even wanted to get on a plane. Most of the wedding guests cancelled. We wrung our hands, we thought about it, we discussed it ad nauseum. Go? Don’t go? Go? Don’t go? Finally, I called a family member who is a commercial pilot and asked his advice. He said, “Right now is probably the safest time ever to fly. I would have no problem telling you to get on the plane and go!”

Decision made. We’re going. Upon arrival, we checked in to the hotel and our miniscule room. But it had the most gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower right outside our window. And if you stuck your head out of the window and looked to the right, you would see the shining golden dome of Les Invalides, where Napoleon’s tomb is. Aaah…Paris! One of our favorite cities in the world!

invalides dome

The wedding had to be moved due to everyone tightening security around 9/11, (even in France) but it was held in a lovely turn-of-the-century mansion and the ceremony was beautiful. The bride looked like a princess in her fur lined cloak as she walked to the bateau for the reception. And we videotaped the entire ceremony. Success!

Paris Vicki

One night after the wedding, (we were spending a few extra days in Paris…of course!) we were walking around the Montmartre district late at night. I was tired (and likely whining), and hubby had my tote bag on his arm, plus the camera bag, and our son’s video camera. Poor guy looked like a pack mule. All of the sudden, I hear him yell, “Hey!” and then see him take off running. Note: my husband doesn’t run unless someone (or something) is chasing him. So this was very uncharacteristic. I started the chase, too, not entirely sure what was going on. Had my husband lost his ever loving mind? No. A thief had run past my husband and yanked the tote bag, camera bag, and video camera off of his arm and ran off into the night with our valuables. The chase was on. We chased him around one corner, down the street, and around another corner, and then poof! He vanished, seemingly into mid-air. It was like an action thriller. I’m not sure what we would have done if we’d caught him.

At this point, it was about 3am, and we had to go console ourselves with our second crème brulee of the day. We now had no wedding video for the bride, we’re going to have to replace our son’s video camera, and all of our own photos were gone. We’d take care of filing a report the next day if anyone thought it would help. Breaking the news to the bride was going to be excruciating.

At 8am the next morning, our phone rang. It was the hotel concierge. “They have your camera!” Now, I was half asleep, but I said, “Yes, we know.” She said, “No, you don’t understand. The police have your camera. You have to go to the police station…now!” I woke up my husband, and told him to throw on some clothes. And then we thought, “Wait! How did they find us? How did the police know what hotel we’re staying in?”

When we arrived at the police station, we were greeted and told to wait. After a few minutes, a hunky looking detective sauntered down the stairs holding our belongings and wearing a huge smile. He invited us to his office for a chat. All of the officers that we came into contact with were extremely concerned about our country. “How are things in America after 9/11 last week? How are the people? We are standing with you! We are praying for you!” Their concern was so touching.

So we sat down with the hunky detective and asked him our biggest question, “How in the world did you find us?” He got a big grin on his handsome face. And here’s what he said, “I got several of my fellow detectives together. We watched your video. You took footage from your hotel window of the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides. We then knew what area of the city you were staying in. We called every hotel until we found you.” (We did have a business card in the bag). We were stunned! Literally gobsmacked. We could not believe that they would go to such an effort to get us our belongings back.

How did they catch the thief? They had apparently been watching for him, and we chased him right past the cops. Nailed him! Ha!

I was so thrilled that I told my husband, “Honey, we need a picture with this nice detective!” My husband promptly handed me the camera and went and stood next to Mr. Hunky with a big grin on his face. Ummm. That was NOT the plan. That’s okay. I got him back the next year when I made him take a photo of me hugging a cutie cheesemaker in the Netherlands.

Vicki and the Cheese Maker

So the story had a very, very happy ending. The bride got her video, our son got his camera back, and our love of the beautiful city of Paris grew bigger than ever!

That, my friends, is one of my most exciting travel stories.  

This story just may win a blogger contest in a campaign to launch a  new range of villas and apartments in Portugal by the Algarve. Click here to check it out! And stop by the property page to see where I’m heading if I win!

algarve

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