Thursday, February 2, 2012

Le voyage à Paris

We made it. Two long haul flights in a row is always such a torture, but now that we're here and have had a whole (broken but complete) night's sleep I'll admit it could have been so much worse!

We were sent off from Auckland by Luuk's parents and brother, and my grandparents. We all had lunch together, and took lots of photos... which all turned out pretty terrible actually. People! Look at the camera and smile. So difficult? Someone's eating or looking away, in all but two. Here's the best:

Great Grandma, Oma and Louis!

Then we went through and, shortly after, boarded our flight. Louis had a seat and we put his car seat in place. He was probably asleep before we reached altitude.

But he knew it was nap time, not bed time, so it wasn't a long sleep. Fortunately, Singapore airlines caters for kids. Louis refused to keep his headphones on, but turns out Elmo is fabulous on silent!

The flight was packed, so we were confined to our 3 seats in the middle. Louis got a bit restless later in the flight but, frankly, who didn't? My legs were bothering me - bit swollen and achy, even with my fancy flight socks (thank god for those!) - and I'd had a little nap, but it didn't feel like it. I missed the snack, so I must have been asleep. No chippies for me.

We had 5 hours lay-over in Singapore. Headed straight for the pool (though we did go around in circles trying to find a cash machine, and got out far more Singapore dollar than we needed) and had a short swim out in the evening heat, under the airplanes. It was warm and humid, but in the pool it was kind of cold. I suppose that's the point, but it put us on a short time-limit with Louis, who was shivering a little. Refreshed, we were quickly getting sticky again out in the equatorial weather, so we headed back inside in search of a play area for Louis and a comfy seat for ourselves. Should have gone further afield than terminal 1, possibly, but Louis was happy exploring the area where we sat and flirting with strangers. 

Luuk was feeling the onset of jet lag, or just plain exhaustion, because he watched movies and didn't nap at all on the first flight (I tried to tell him) so he crashed out on the floor and I rocked Louis to sleep, then read my book.

I was starving and they were both asleep, so I pick-pocketed a few dollars from Luuk and tried to stay in-sight while I went to buy some chips. And that was us, until we had to go to our next flight. Terminal 3 turned out to be further than we thought. So much for arriving calm and cool for flight no. 2.

Singapore to Paris is nearly 14 hours, according to the itinerary. I think we did it in slightly less, but still, LONG flight. Fortunately, also a pretty empty flight. The flight attendant reserved a whole row in the middle for us - 4 empty seats together! I told her she was my hero. Luuk and I took turns lying down and sleeping. Louis had 3 or 4 naps and was sick of his seat, so they were reluctant naps. I held onto chimney sweep (his sleep-prop toy) so he couldn't throw it away, and hummed to him for like 20 minutes straight... sore throat. Luuk put him down for his last nap lying flat on the seats. That worked a treat.

We arrived in Paris at 6.30ish in the morning, and were first through passport control because we were the only ones in the 'other' queue! And then we waited for our luggage... and a while later headed out to find our taxi driver. I blocked everyone's way when I stopped to greet him... oops. But we found him, so that was the important thing. Stepped out and - woah! - turns out they're having a cold snap in Europe. It was well below zero but not in the car. Saw nothing but buildings and motorways on the drive, but what a drive! Insane roads. Je ne comprends pas! At one point there were no lane lines, just one big starting-line, and about six cars/vans poised, ready to shoot into the rather alarming traffic flow. Our taxi pulled up between two of them and waited a bit, then went - ignoring the honking - and crossed all five lanes to turn off on the opposite side straight away. Crazy.

Also noticed the sirens. Not because of our taxi or anything, just saw a few emergency vehicles on the road and the sirens are just like in the Bourne movies :D

Arrived at our apartment, feeling pretty woozy, and we were shepherded into the breakfast room while they finished getting our room ready. Croissants! And other things too, but let's stick to the really important stuff.

Our room (suite... but only just) is tiny. It's sufficient, of course, but small. Our three suitcases took over the lounge. Glad we didn't get our boxes from NZ brought here. They'll be staying at Luuk's work until we move into our permanent apartment.

Had a small-scale day yesterday - lots of naps and attempts at naps, walked over to the mall (about 200 meters away) and bought a push chair. Also found groceries and the like. Bought lunch. 

Delicious "sandwich" on mini baguette (though I'm sure it has a proper name I'll learn eventually). Mine was just plain ham and cheese (jambon et fromage) but wow! Delicious. They do the simple things so good. And something tells me this is just the beginning!

And everywhere we went I tried to use a bit of french... rarely getting past Bonjour and a big smile. My next line, in almost every instance, was Je parle un peu la francais. Had a nice chat with the check-out lady at Carriefour (gargantuan french supermarket and department store, where we did shopping). 

Today we plan to venture into the centre of Paris, so photos to come!

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