CHANGING LANES ADVENTURE WITH CAROLINE KIDD: FRANCE, LUXEMBOURG, GERMANY

What is friendship? It begins with holding hands in kindergarten and transforms over time in something stunning or in nothing. When we are little, we are believers. We believe in fairytales, we believe that mom and dad are superheroes, we believe in friendship. That powerful, unbreakable friendship. We believe in people, we only know good intentions and that everything lasts forever.

In time, we understand that people come and go, in and out of our lives, just as money travels through our wallets. As we grow older, we can point at people who were important once but now we can barely remember their family name. Happiness, grief, adrenaline. We exchange feelings and life experiences with people that happen to be around us. Many of our friends are “context friends“. You study at the same school, you work in the same place, fill in the blanks.
Then one day, at a crosswalk, you understand that you don’t have the same interests or lifestyle anymore. And each one of you takes separate roads. Now, I hope I didn’t depress you (that much). Let’s look at the good side of friendship. There are lucky people out there that nurtured relationships for years. They made compromises. There’s hard work in keeping a connection with somebody. This is also available for marriages and long-lasting love relationships. Some people are keen on keeping relationships with people they’ve known for a long time. For the love of habit. For the fear of the unknown. For the fear of solitude. Many people fear to be alone, with their thoughts.
Friendship is all about fixing and building but what if someday you find yourself asking for the attention of a friend that’s no longer your friend?

When do friendships end? And when do they really start?

As time passes and you grow older, it’s hard to make new friends. Is it possible to make new friends in your 30s?
It’s 16:20 and I’m searching for a parking spot in the subterranean parking of Luxembourg’s Airport. Caroline’s plane landed at 16:10 and she told me she only has her cabin luggage. I’m already disgusted by my host qualities. I wanted to be there when the gates open and she appears, documenting her arrival.
I’m pissed off. After this third round, I’m going to search for a spot outside. Who would have thought it’s going to be so busy?! And why did I choose the subterranean parking? I already know the answer. It’s cheaper. But I like to ask myself this, rhetorically.
I’m heading towards the parking exit but since I always have problems in finding it, I get lost and lucky at the same time and I find a parking spot. It’s the farthest parking spot from the terminal and I’m literally running. I arrive at the gates, no lost Irish automotive blogger wandering around. Phew. I’m trying to make a video for Instagram Stories but I’m nervous. And people seem to listen to what I’m saying.

F*** it. I’m not doing any video anymore.

I can see Caroline through the gates that open and close. I’m rushing to turn on the recording and make a big mistake. I hold the phone in a vertical position. So the material is useless for the main video of hour experience since everything else is captured with the phone held in a horizontal position.
Fast rewind.

October 2018. Paris.

I was still new in the automotive industry. I was participating at Mondial de l’Auto for the first time. I met Caroline Kidd, a top Iris blogger, online, a few months earlier. I took her an interview for my magazine. She’s a lady I admire a lot. I knew she would also be there so I thought it was nice to meet in person. She was on the run but she found time for a little chat. I drank a free coffee that I wanted to pay for and she had tea with milk, of course. She’s Irish. She should pack a bottle of milk in her purse, just as women in detergent commercials do with the big bottles of liquid soap they promote at any hour of the day.
In the upcoming months, we continued to exchange professionals emails about how we can make our magazines better and better. And one day we thought we should do a project together.
The initial concept was a French Lane Challenge. She would come to visit me, we’ll drive some nice cars and I’ll show her the region in which I live. She would have to accomplish some challenges and we would have lots of fun. Well, everything went as planned, minus the challenges. I think we checked just one of them. We actually decided to go with the flow and make from this project a life experience, not something scheduled. We both learned so much! And right now our lives changed in a very good way!
Back at the airport

Thursday, July 2019.

In the culture I come, people use to hug and kiss on the cheeks when they meet. So I did this when I said “hi” to Caroline. But she didn’t react that well. Her behavior said “take your hands off me” and I felt a little bit embarrassed. I told to myself, Bianca, hold your horses, these people from Ireland are not as friendly as you are. Don’t frighten poor Caroline.
On the road back home I spoke a lot. Since I spend a lot of time with my daughter, I don’t do “adulting ” that much. Caroline was tired, she traveled a lot in that last few days and I think I was tiring her even more, with my endless stories. I said to myself, if she doesn’t take a plane back to Dublin in the next few hours, she’s a cool girl. But she didn’t leave. Despite our dog who wanted to hunt her down during all her stay.

Friday

Our French Lannes Challenge official start, in the company of the beautiful DS 3 Crossback, “La première” edition. Courtesy of DS Store Thionville.

We drove to Malbrouck Castle, which is somewhere close to Luxembourg’s border. I already tested this stunning car and as always, I only have incredible things to say about it. We felt like modern princesses, traveling to their castle:) find out more about what I think about the DS 3 Crossback in the article I published here.

The road to Malbrouck Castle takes you through the French countryside, a poetic landscape with which sits on the banks of Moselle river. You can see the castle from far away and the view takes your breath away.

Eyewear offered by our wonderful partner, Mes Petites Binocles. Or as Caroline likes to say, ‘Les petites binocles“.

I basically starved Caroline on Friday. I know, such a great host. We were on the road a lot and I didn’t schedule a food break for lunch.

We bought a ticket for visiting the castle mainly for having access to its restaurant. Which didn’t serve food that week? So what do you do in this case, when you feel you’re going to faint but you need to visit a castle because you paid for the entrance? Yes, you’re right. You drink a Coca Cola. 10 minutes later we were not that hungry anymore.

It was a stormy day. The clouds were grey, the wind was blowing. Thunders were playing in the sky.
As we were visiting the castle’s towers, heavy rain began pouring. Caroline regretted he didn’t take her jacket from the car. I told her “I told you so“. The protective mother in me couldn’t shut her mouth down.
We were stuck out in a tower, up high in the castle, under the black sky. We had 2 options. Stay or take the risk of the unknown. Since we never visited this place, we didn’t know what was next. We were in front of some stairs and the only thing we knew was that they led to heavy rain.
I’ll remember us running on a high bridge, on top of the world, through thunderstorms and rain, every time I’ll be afraid of taking risks. You might miss some wonderful experiences if you don’t have courage:)

On our way back home, we stopped in Schengen.

Caroline was touched by this place. The idea of being in France, Germany or Luxembourg at the distance of a step brought her joy.

Just look at her, how happy she is.

We eventually got to eat around 8 pm.

And had a really nice discussion that evening. We debated so many interesting subjects. We discussed different point of views. We reached conclusions. We helped each other understand things that weren’t clear until then. For me, it was something different. Because in the last period my only debates were around diapers, baby food, toys and kid activities.

Saturday

Take a look at this VW up! GTI, courtesy of Losch Luxembourg.

In a stunning sunset that embraced Kirschberg, the business quartier from Luxembourg, we took some photos and movies of the up! GTI.

This is the ultimate city car.

It’s never been easier to drive in heavy traffic, find parking spots or be amazed by fuel consumption. We went in some many places without having to fuel up this amazing car!

This girly, urban city car, that puts an evil smile on your face when you push the throttle. That noise! I have a saying… Once you go GTI, you can’t actually go back.

Trier is a city in Germany.

Somebody once asked me if I ever visited Trèves. I said no. But I did. It’s funny how at a few kilometers apart cities have other names. So now you know, Trèves is the french name for Trier🙂

The only challenge we actually did for our project was the one in which Caroline would get me to Trier without using GPS. She successfully did that. Finding a parking spot was actually a problem that day. Maybe that should have been the challenge.

The first thing we did? Went to a restaurant. We wanted to be sure we won’t starve again.

Walking through the city, I found myself speaking as a tourist guide, telling and showing Caroline all kind of amazing things about Trier. And I realized how lucky I am to live in this area. I can go to 4 different countries and be part of 4 different cultures on the same day.

Bernkastel-Kues was our next stop. I wanted to show her this lovely little town, built on Moselle’s banks. The landscape is stunning and I knew there is a bridge that Caroline might like (I wasn’t wrong)

On our way back we drove on Moselle’s banks, through a stunning heavy rainy sunset.

Sunday

The next day, I took Caroline to a third country: Luxembourg.

First, we drove to Vianden Castle. It’s on my list of favorite places to visit in Luxembourg. And the road to this castle is really nice, one of the best for a drive test, from my point of view. The up! GTI did so well on these roads. I’m proud of the little and light car that can conquer such great heights.

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The view is stunning, the silence paints the landscape with introspection. These walls bear so much history inside. I think being in a castle is such an amazing experience.

It makes you think about the evolution of humanity and it might also bring you some revelations. It makes you contemplate. Let’s take for example a ceramics cup. Caroline and I imagined how the creator thought about the design, talked with his wife about the color and size and reached the conclusion that it must have been a one day project. Nowadays, the world is always at rush hour.

We own the same things, that are being made in million exemplars. We love the saying “everybody is unique“. But how can you be unique in an indigo world? How big is the loss of our unicity when we own the same things as others?

As we were walking away from the castle with these thoughts in mind, I brought the word about lunch:
Caroline, would you like to have lunch in Luxembourg, the city?
Her answer hit me like a soccer ball in the face:
– Yes, we could have a sandwich.

Complete blackout.

What do you mean, a f***** sandwich? (I was already started to swear a lot in her presence, she somehow managed to transform me in a veritable Irish)
Is this what you eat for lunch in Ireland? F***** sandwiches?
– F*** yea!

So we ended up eating burgers. You see, it’s all about compromises.

We ended our day walking in Luxembourg’s city streets, drinking coffee and taking crazy selfies with shopping windows from luxury brands we don’t afford.

o

Monday

Gates open. We are returning the up! GTI at Losch Luxembourg headquarters.

This kinda marked the end of the French Lanes Challenge so it was an emotional moment. We took some pictures, Caroline forced a smile and a speech. Silence embraced the atmosphere, while we stepped away from the car.

Although I had an amazing time driving and visiting beautiful places, I missed my baby a lot. My husband did such an amazing job these days taking care of everything while I was away and I’m thankful he offered me this holiday. Because it was a holiday. Although I was sleeping at home, I was away all day long.

Tuesday

Together with my kid, I took Caroline to the airport. I bought her a french automotive magazine, to keep her company during the flight back to Dublin. She doesn’t understand the french language but I’m sure she liked the pictures.

I think the goodbye would have been really emotional if my daughter wouldn’t begin to crawl on the floor, trying to find an angle from which to see something underneath the security desk (?!).
The thing is that I was happier than ever to run after my toddler while having the exhausted mom face. So among many other things I learned from this experience, I have two I want to write here:

1. I love being a tired, always on the run mom (despite many mothers complain about their lack of sleep or “me” moments, they couldn’t actually live otherwise anymore, it wouldn’t feel right)

2. You can make new friends in your 30s.

Stay tuned for the Iris Lanes Challenge 🙂

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