Monday, August 02, 2010


This afternoon, I arrived in St. Louis, France.  Yes, readers, I am in France.  And, this isn't just a plane change at Charles De Gaulle.  No, this is me, Layla S. Gigax, sleeping in France. (It's a one-night-only affair.)

I traveled from Murren today.
I hugged and kissed goodbye the sweet family that has held my company for more than six weeks.
I got on the cable car and headed down to Lauterbrunnen.  From there, I got on the train to Interlaken-Ost.  At Interlaken, I got on the train to Bern.  Bern looks AMAZING from the train.  It is a city I hope to explore more!  In Bern, I got on yet another train to Basel.  I arrived at the Basel downtown train station and Basel looks FUN. Very very chic city---I would just be so thrilled to city-explore this fantastic Country!  One day....One day.....

So, from downtown I hopped right on the bus to take me to EuroAirport, the Airport in Basel that services Basel, Mulhouse & Freiburg, among other cities.  Basel is in the north of Switzerland, on the border with France and Germany.  From the EuroAirport, I was to take my shuttle to the Ibis Hotel Mulhouse St. Louis (That's France, people).

I arrived at the airport.  And, this is where I discovered more so that language and travel sometimes need to be in sync.  And, the beauty of such small country borders.  I was on the Swiss side (inside the airport, though at the time, I didn't know this) and I found the hotel kiosk where you ring the hotel you're after, they come pick you up, VOILA!  Well, the Ibis Hotel I'm reserved at wasn't at the kiosk.  Hmm.....

Next to the kiosk was a Hertz rent-a-car counter.
Excuse Me?
I asked the young dude probably facebooking while waiting for eager travelers to rent his fantastic cars:  Do you speak English?
Yes, he said.
Where do I find the Hotel Ibis?  
He continued:  You need to go back to the bus station and go back to Basel Downtown. The Ibis is behind the Basel Downtown Train Station.

Oh.  I said, and continued.
Well, So, I have a reservation at the Ibis in St. Louis.

Oh.  He said, and continued.
You then need to go upstairs and cross over into France, cross the border, up there on the French side there is a kiosk for the French hotels.

(I walked away but inside I was grinning and skipping...I get to walk across the border INTO FRANCE! Inside a building!!!!)

So, I did just that.  I took the escalator up (heavy bags=escalating) and walked into France.
When I was crossing over I thought, "OHMYGOD I'M IN FRANCE."  I tried to contain my excitement.  To not carry on like that crazy American, "OhmyGod, y'all, I'm IN FRANCE!!" (said with way more syllables than possibly necessary).

I found the kiosk and found my Hotel Ibis in Mulhouse St. Louis, and there was no phone with which to call!  WHAT?!?!?

Good grief!

I have my laptop--let me fire it up and use Skype to call.
Great idea, except the wifi at the EuroAirport doesn't work.

Next idea?

There was a darlingly cute blonde woman sitting behind yet another car rental counter.  I walked to her and asked, 'Do you speak English?'  'A little,' she said with her envy-provoking French accent.

I explained my plight:  I don't have a phone to call the hotel, and the internet isn't working.  Is it possible I may use your phone to call the Ibis?

Of course, she said.
Oh, oui oui oui! Merci Merci!!

She dialed the number, and I asked for a ride from the airport to the Hotel.  The sweet lady on the other end of the phone directed me where to go.  "Outside, by the Taxis"  (I wish accent could be typed.  This post would be ripe with accent).

I went outside and waited by the Taxis.
About ten minutes later, a very nice Frenchman came to take me to my hotel.  He put my heavy bags in his trunk and away we went.  The song that played from his car's radio was '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' by The Rolling Stones.  Oh, Mick.  To hear your ironic voice at this lovely time!  I smiled, and peered out at this French city life.  So near to Switzerland, and busy with streets and cars and buildings older than my native Arizona eyes know.

I made it to my hotel and the driver asked me, in French, 'Parlez-vous francais?'  'Non,' I said. 'Anglais.'  He said, 'Enjoy Paris.'

I laughed, and checked into my hotel.

My room is delightful.  I have a bathroom shaped like a pod and clean floors and a very comfortable bed.  I have an internet connection.  It's raining here and I ventured out to find some food.  Dinner didn't start until 1900 and I was HUNGRY.

I found a market and bought the YUMMIEST tofu ravioli, dark chocolate rice cakes and sweet sesame crackers.  All Vegan!  YAY! Vegan snacks!!  With the help of my darling Whitney I translated the dinner menu via gmail chat, and it was all meat choices for me, so I thought some snacks would be nice to have--I could go into dinner and just have a salad, that would be perfect.


Walking around the French-speaking streets of St. Louis was so fun.  It was raining, and the streets are cobblestone.  I sploshing in puddles and giggling at the fact I'm adventuring in France!!! Even though I know so little French it's embarrassing and I'm so in love with all things French I should know more French!

I came home to my cute little room, chowed on my yummy food, and enjoyed some solo time.  At ten of seven, I went down to the hotel restaurant and asked the cute little French only speaking server if she had any vegetarian, vegetable only salads?  She said, OUI! The Italian Salad would be parfait!'

I ordered a glass of almost too sweet Pinot Gris and enjoyed Desert Solitaire while I waited for my Italian Salad.

And it came.

Six slices of tomato layered with six slices of mozzarella cheese dressed in a pesto dressing and three, yes, I counted, THREE lettuce leaves as decoration in the center.

And, you guessed it,
I ate the entire thing.

I thought once, "Yikes, I hope this doesn't upset my tummy for tomorrow."  And then I took another bite.
It was delicious.

I finished my dinner with an exceptionally dainty and delicious espresso.
My only regret is I didn't take my camera to dinner to exhibit proof of such amazing Frenchness.

If they have croissants at breakfast tomorrow, I don't think I'll be able to resist.

So, that's my Vegan Tale in France.  I love it here, and I'm only 5km from the border of Suisse.  Not Paris, but France nonetheless.

I leave tomorrow from EuroAirport at 1225 for London.  London greets me with the long flight, London to Chicago.  Then, Chicago to San Diego.  I land tomorrow night at 2205 in San Diego.  I will be tired, stinky and ready for a huge squeeze from one Nate B.

We begin our adventure on August 5.  More to come on that!

Me! With a world-traveler's new found way to curl her hair, and the yummiest dark chocolate rice crackers ever.  
Oh! I want to leave you with the coolest, most lovely and awesome video.  This song is the first in my iTunes playlist, titled, 'the Swiss life 2010.'  The lyrics follow the video. This song rules!

Modern Drift by Efterklant

I can keep my head inside
when the modern drift is all I have.

You can pull my head aside
but the modern drift is all I have.

When the moment dies 
and I come to you
with a broken lie 
that I made for you.

If I wait to see you
with the living ghosts
will they catch your sight
or the back of you?

I can keep my head inside
when the modern drift is all I have.

You can pull my head aside
but the modern drift is all I have.

We appear so strong
but we're all afraid.
They will play your hands
like a puppeteer.

And the dreams aren't true
but we know it—we know that tune
that the angel sings to the hollow death:

"I can keep my head inside
when the modern drift is all I have.

"You can pull my head aside
but the modern drift is all I have.

"It's all I have". 

Good night, France.  
It's been an unbelievable pleasure. 


AngBussey said...

I can't believe you'll be state-side again so soon! I've loved reading of your adventures in Switz. and now, France!
I'm going to think about you dreaming in France, while I have my afternoon coffee-break in Texas.
(Texas is roughly the same size as France.)
Welcome home soon!

She answers to Layla said...

Thanks for the love, Sweetness...
(I think my dinnertime espresso is keeping me awake..perhaps a good thing as I hope to be quite tired to be able to sleep on the plane(s) tomorrow.)
I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.
Look forward to seeing you November 6!!!!