Whoever said “Getting there is half the fun” was an idiot.
Andrew and I left the house at 1:30 PM yesterday for our 5PM flight to Paris. Why so early? We first had to hop on the Metro to get to a shuttle to Dulles — there’s no good way to get directly to Dulles (usually I drive, and park there, but since our stay is going to be nearly 2 weeks, I didn’t want to pay for the parking, even in the economy lot).
Mental Note: if the airline you’re taking only has two flights per day, be prepared for a bit of a wait at the check-in counter. Fortunately, we still had enough time after checking-in and going through security to grab a bite to eat before boarding. There were lots of annoying children in the gate-area, so we worried that the flight might suck. However, the plane was large enough, or the children quiet enough (yeah, right), that we don’t remember hearing them at all.
Our flight left DC at about 5PM and arrived in Paris at about 7AM, so we knew that we’d need some sleep on the way. But AirFrance actually served dinner (!) — I didn’t know that any airline still did that — so, I had to wait until after the meal service to try and sleep. I tried watching The Constant Gardener on the in-chair screen in front of me, but had to give up when the woman in front of me leaned her seat back so far that I couldn’t make out the picture anymore.
The airline had given us sleep masks, so I popped mine on and slept on-and-off for about 4 hours. Of course, this was airline sleep, so it was not exactly refreshing. Still, I think it helped me stave off some of the jet-lag.
The Paris airport was…um…fun to navigate. Even though Andrew knows French, and I remember enough French from high school that I could read most of the signs, it wasn’t enough to help. We blindly followed the crowd, but couldn’t tell from the signage if we were really in the right place. Eventually we made it through customs and into the rest of the airport, but that was only part of the fun. From there we stumbled around, trying to find the signs for our gate, but never quite sure if we’d made the correct turn (one problem I remember is that the airport used the down arrow to indicate both “straight ahead” and “go downstairs”, which ends up being confusing).
Before we passed back through security, we stopped at a cafe for a bit of breakfast. Can anyone tell me why the tea and coffee were so expensive in Europe? It was €4 for a cup of tea. €1.50 for a pastry. Diet coke? €4.50!! Yikes!
It’s a good thing we grabbed something before going through security – after security there was only a single vending machine, no restaurants, and there were no refreshments on the plane due to a strike. I slept much of the flight from Paris to Genoa. Poor Andrew didn’t; nor had he slept on the flight to Paris.
Next we hopped a bus to the cruise ship. The ride to the port was only about 40 minutes, but there was such a line of buses loading people onto the ship that we ended up waiting another 40 minutes or so. We saw our first Eurpoean kitty while waiting, but I was unable to get a picture.
Once we got off the bus, we….waited and waited and waited and waited in the Costa building for our boarding number. Sigh. Andrew had not slept, and we hadn’t eaten anything since our morning croissants. We were both getting a bit cranky, and just wanted to get to our rooms.
Finally, our number was called, we boarded the ship, surrendered our passports, and were shown to our room. Surprisingly, the luggage was already there, so we unpacked, read through the materials in the room, and freshened up. I wanted to go upstairs for our departure from the port, so we popped above-deck before dinner.
Not many people were above-deck, but I thought it was fun. My first cruise. My first time out of North America. The beginning of a grand adventure, and we were finally off!