Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Europe08 Flying to Europe

We now live much further from the Airport. Michelle took us to the airport. We eventually took off at 10:10 pm about half an hour late. My watch has duel times so I set the second time to France's time. (Actually I set it to England's time not realising that even though Paris and London have virtually the same longitude France uses European Central Time rather than GMT so there is an hour difference.)

Philip (Calder) had advised me to move my activities to the time of my destination as soon as I entered the plane, to minimise jetlag at the other end. Given that I find it difficult to sleep on a plane for more than a few minutes at a time, it changing to Paris time probably didn't make much difference.

I read Misha Glenny's masterful book The Balkans and when I became too tired to read (but not enough to sleep properly) I switched to playing solitaire on the personal monitor. (For those who haven't been on an international flight recently, each passenger has a video monitor with a wide range of entertainment features.) I also kept a check on our progress using the Airshow feature of the monitor. Margaret watched three movies: The Bucket List, Bonnie and Clyde and The Bourne Identity.

We arrived in Dubai at 5:30 am local time, after a 13 hour trip. The plane has two cameras that can be accessed by passengers - one pointing to the front one looking down. I watched the landing from the front pointing camera. The lights of the ariport could be seen from a long way out. Dubai airport is being upgraded so our plane didn't stop at an air bridge, instead it parked way out in the boondocks and we took a shuttle bus to the terminal. Although it was very early in the morning it was already very hot.

Airline food literally "gives me the shits" so I had to find a toilet quickly. I apparently wasn't the only one in a hurry and I had to wait in line, getting some sense of a regular problem for women. When I got to the cubicle it was a squat down one!

Dubai airport - home of Emirates - is very large. Our flight was from gate 38 which we found quite easily. The 2.5 hour wait passed fairly quickly.

One trap in flying is excessive meals. This morning we were offered two breakfasts. The first on the flight from Melbourne to Dubai before landing at Dubai; the second soon after we took off from Dubai (on the way to Paris). I declined the second one. I thought of Hobbits who have who routinely have two breakfasts.

The flight to Paris took 6 hours. When we arrived at Paris we had to find passport control and luggage pickup (an easy task just follow the other passengers). After that we had to find where to meet our Airport / Hotel Transit driver and find that location. During our last international trip, I damaged the experience for both of us by panicking and stressing too much. Before we left I made a resolution to be relaxed and take it "one issue at a time", as I was sure that we could resolve any problem that arose. Here was my chance to put that resolution into practice. After we retreived our luggage we found a phone and rang the Transit company. We were told to wait outside exit number 8. We found the exit easily where we come across some people who were doing a mild stress about their transit. I decided that if the transit did not arrive we could easily catch a taxi, so there was no need to worry. After about 20 minutes our transit arrived. We were taken to our hotel by a round about route, taking other transit customers to their hotels.

We arrived a day early, as the air fare was cheaper, so I had booked a room at the hotel on the Internet last year. At home I had been stressing about the booking - "what if we arrived at the hotel and the booking had not worked?" When we arrived at the hotel, in my new relaxed frame of mind I was confident that the hotel book in would work well, and of cause it did.

The Hilton in Paris is quite an old hotel. It was state of the art when it was built, 40 years ago, and was still acceptable, though not as flash as some others we have stayed in.

Philip, Bev and the kids came around at 7:00 pm and we went to a local restaurant for dinner. We found a waiter in the restaurant who could speak English so the ordering went without a problem. We then walked around to the Eiffel Tower, less than a block away, and made plans to meet there the next morning. We then returned to our respective hotel rooms.

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