flying on september 11th

So Dan and I bought our tickets to France, and several weeks later looked to one another and said “What day are we flying?” We were amused when we realized that we’d booked flights for September 11th, and even more amused that the the United Airlines agent hadn’t mentioned it. I wasn’t worried, because this seemed to be the least likely day for an attack. The possible cavity searches due to heightened security worried me more.

I avoided reading the newspaper on the morning of the flight. I didn’t feel the need to re-live the horror of September 11th, 2001. It had been bad enough the first time around. I can understand how some people need to go through this again, to convince themselves that it really happened. Even a year after happening, the events of September 11 seem unimaginable. Given the choice, I prefer to remain shocked and unbelieving.

Our flight (and the security checks) were uneventful. Contrary to what we’d expected, the plane was full. Almost immediately we noticed a middle-aged lady wearing a bright yellow and black outfit and buzzing from seat to seat like a bumblebee. When Dan complimented her on her outfit, she ran back to her seat and brought him a $1,000,000 note in thanks, featuring her picture and the name ‘Captain Fun’. Around her neck she wore a medal on a red, white, and blue ribbon. When I asked her about it, she told me that she had won it in the Sex Olympics. Captain Fun continued to visit me through the flight, telling me about her kids and her 7 grandkids. (And yes, she did show me pictures.) Dan, damn him, slept like a baby through the entire flight.

We landed in Heathrow at 6:30am on September 12th and finally in Nice at 9:30. Our rental car was waiting for us and we plunged into french traffic. Our friend Robin is letting us stay at his home here for a month. Originally we were supposed to be guests of our friends Heather and Sorin (Robin’s daughter and son-in-law), but they had to cancel because of a family emergency. So we are here alone for the next month, enjoying Robin’s hospitality.

Getting to Robin’s home was fairly simple. We dumped our stuff, cranked up the storm shutters, and opened the doors. A warm breeze blew in from the Mediterranean, which fills 150° of the view from Robin’s balcony.

View along the coast from Chateau Vandermolen

Robin’s place is located on the hillside in Éze Bord du Mer. Éze is divided into two parts by the vertical geography of the coast. At the bottom, along the sea, is Éze Bord du Mer. A thousand feet above is Éze Village. Éze is about halfway between Nice and Monte Carlo. Just to the other side of Monte Carlo is Italy. The area reeks of old money, with romanesque mansions clinging to cliffs and huge yachts at anchor in the harbors.

After a little settling in, we made a trip to the Carrefour market in Nice for provisions. Carrefour is like a Wal-Mart, but still very French. There are 50 types of salami. Cheese has an entire aisle in the store as well as a separate cheese counter. There is a meat section dedicated to ‘cheval’ (horse.)

Today we’re taking it easy. After an excursion to Cap d’Ail for bread, and we’re spending the rest of the day reading and listening to Edith Piaf. Tomorrow we fly to Vienna for a few days, while Dan attends a conference.


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