Tashie squealed with delight to be back in France. The irony was not lost on her, as she had professed that it was all too hard speaking the language, last time. And now she embraced it; we were both a little more proficient than when we had left home, and comfortable finding our way around the city.
We were a mixed group on the tour. Most of our companions came from Australia, Canada and the USA. English was the spoken language, of course.
The youngest were two girls from Virginia Tech, who were there with one set of parents. This was only a few short weeks after the massacre at their American Campus. They seemed to be handling the atocities caused by the lone gunman well. The oldest of us were retirees.
Our special pals were Vicki and Dan from Canada, whom we estimated to be somewhere in their early forties. They were great fun, in a quiet unassuming way. Also, Tashie made friends with a young couple from Melbourne, Danielle and Simon who were still so romantically entwined, on their special trip.
We had the Character, who turns up almost everywhere. His name was Rob, and he was opinionated, loud and quite endearing after the initial familiarisation rite of passage. He always knew where we were and how far it was to the next place and went to great pains to help anyone who asked a question. His perennially worn peak-eared cap was useful as a location beacon when we were separated from the group, as also his raucous laughter as he found amusement in everything. His long suffering wife was kind and kept her individuality by moving in his wake without being totally dominated by him. They took the sensitive single lady under their wing, listening to her traumas with patience and kindness.
John and Hilary were retirees from Safety Bay or thereabouts. They were in their late sixties or seventies, always cheerful, walked all day without a problem and always had smiles. They were avid Eagles supporters and kept us all up to date with scores from home. They were delightful.
Two couples from Adelaide were on the middle leg of their extended journey; they were off to Egypt after they left our tour, and had already spent time in the south of Italy. They were delightful, but fully self contained in their little group. There were other couples from all over Australia and America. Amongst the latter, another mother and daughter pair was with us. The daughter was tall and slim and had left her husband at home with the children to take her mother on the trip of a lifetime. She was a big hit in Italy with her long dark hair and fair complexion. She dressed like a model and was a favourite with the ladies on the tour.
The Americans were interesting in that they flew over to Europe for just a week or two. They have far less distance to fly than us, so their trips could be shorter. Mind you, some of them had connections that added kilometres to their trips.
The tone of the group was friendly and comfortable. We were sorry to leave them and move into the next phase of our tour.