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2023 Transit to Paris

Posted by on March 30, 2023

The Covid pandemic forced us to put off our travel and retirement plans until 2023. We are finally on our way, with plans to visit Paris, Lisbon in Portugal, Barcelona, driving through Provence, then on through Switzerland and then home. We are still conscious of health and personal hygiene, but to date I have had Covid twice and Jo has yet to catch it.

The anticipation and planning has been intense, Jo has been honing the itinerary for nearly a year, so we are fairly organised, as usual, with some very exciting travel ahead.

Living in Australia, we are plagued by the tyranny of distance. Travelling to the far side of the planet necessitates extensive transit and we have decided to put up with the long haul while we can, leaving closer destinations until it becomes unbearable.

Transit is a pox, and it is peppered with lots of things you cannot control like other people and their behaviour and personal hygiene, facilities and their condition etc. Scrunched together you sort of assume others will be considerate, we had a pair of constantly coughing people beside and behind us for the second leg, and are hopeful nothing eventuates from being exposed to them apart from disgust at how inconsiderate they were to all that surrounded them.

We have long decided that first and business classes do not offer us bang for buck, opting to spend the considerable savings of going economy on more things we enjoy while on holiday. That said, there is economy and there is economy. This year’s initial flight was divided into two legs, Brisbane to Dubai (14hrs) and Dubai to Paris (7 hrs). Given we flew out at 9pm, we chased the dark pretty well the whole trip and that is a looooooong night of more than 25 hours in transit. There are only so many movies you can watch or pages you can read to while away the time, but I marvel at people who can contort and sleep. Annoyingly neither of us have ever been good plane sleepers.

Try (lol, do they?) as they might, planes are about as comfortable as bus travel. As someone blessed (or plagued?) with legs that are not detachable, this cramped form of transport is uncomfortable, but various skeletal issues makes sitting cramped in one position for any period of time profoundly unpleasant. Couple that with no sleep and modular feeding at all hours of the night and it is tricksey to arrive fresh and ready to go. We try to control that as much as is possible, and give ourselves time to bounce back at our destination.

We flew both legs in a Boeing A380 Airbus, those bulging double decker planes that look like they have not got enough wing to actually fly (the bumble bee of the fleet). We get an aisle seat so it is easier to get up, and I walked a number of laps at 30000ft just to keep my legs working. Transit through Dubai was fairly quick, but we did see the sun rise there again, similar to our first ever trip.

The second leg gave us a second breakfast and a fairly seamless trip into Charles De Gaul Airport in Paris in the early afternoon. After a long queue at passport control (pretty sure officers were on a “go slow” protest, part of wider civil unrest in France at the moment, and something we will try to distance ourselves from as much as possible) and an even longer wait for the automated luggage system to vomit out our bags (beginning to suspect they had been sent to Venezuela by accident), we searched out the Train ticket office and bought our passage over to our Arrondissment and metro tickets that we can top up if we use more than 10 each.

The RER train service to Denfert-Rochereau took about 45 minutes, then we lugged suitcases from the station to our apartment, a relatively short walk on cobbled streets. We had clear instructions from our Air BnB host with the code for the front door, this lead to a central courtyard and a staircase CLIFF of 3 flights of spiraling narrow stairs. Jo established a base camp at floor 3 and then I manhandled the suitcases one at a time nearly rupturing myself in the progress. Doing this lagged and fragged was hard work.

Our standard practice when taking up holiday residence is to first survey heating, hot water, bedding and then kitchen facilities. This informs what we need to purchase, then we do a short essentials provisioning run: milk, tea, sugar, eggs, butter, water, wine, baguette etc (the essentials), then back to the apartment for soft buttery scramble before a shower and a long overdue sleep. 

Our location is always carefully chosen so we have good access to transport, supermarket, bakeries and coffee for Jo. Our block this stay has 4 boulangeries and patisserie’s alone, so I think we will be fine. Serious grocery shopping can wait until tomorrow, time for bed.

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