Sunday September 13
After packing and a farewell lunch, Jose-Maria drove us to Gare Montparnasse so we could get the train to Chartres. Standing out in the rain for an hour the day before took its toll on Nick, who now had a head cold, but compared to any other medical issue that could have befallen either of us, this was minor.
It took awhile to find the track from which our train would depart, but when we did, we saw a couple of about our age who had one piece of carry-on luggage each, looking somewhat confused. “Are you on the Rick Steves tour?” they asked. The four of us relaxed, as we knew we were neither lost nor alone.
After an hour on the train, we reached Chartres. We checked into our room and discovered that we had a view of the cathedral. Shortly after, we met our guide, Toni, our assistant guide, Rich, and the rest of our fellow tourists. There were twenty-three of us: ten couples, a mother and daughter, and one solo traveler. Most were from Washington, Oregon and California. About half of our co-travelers had taken a Rick Steves tour before, while the other half were, like us, first timers. Together we took an orientation walk, which was followed by a dinner of fois gros, poule au pot (chicken), and Grand Marnier glace. Ooh, la la
I was immediately at ease with Toni and Rich. Toni made the remark that the maids might be “Hoovering.” That’s not hovering, it’s Hoovering. Hoover is English for vacuum cleaner. Many years age we had a child in our nursery school class from England. Upon noticing the messy floor, she said, “Get the Hoover!”
Rich worked in the office at Rick Steves’ Europe, Inc., and as such, he was required to travel for six weeks a year. That’s not a bad job requirement!