Sunday, 22 July 2012

France: Adieu Paris; Bonjour Perth

14/15 May

From the journal:

““I just can’t believe that this is our last day in beautiful, wonderful Paris. The time here has seemed to stretch like a piece of elastic and before-Paris seems so long ago, but at the same time it’s been way too quick and I want to stop the clock. 

After breakfast we just had time for one more walk around, and so we wended our way through the Tuileries, up past the Madelaine to the Garnier Opera, and then back down to the hotel for a coffee and a final check of everything to make sure nothing was left behind. All packed, all secured, all documents checked and re-checked. Time to check out, sadly, from this great little hotel.

Our driver turned up exactly on time and so we were soon belted up in our seats and zooming, together with a German couple, out to Charles de Gaulle airport. We really wished the driver hadn’t turned up and we had caught a cab as he was a full on lunatic of a driver, really appalling. The ride to the airport was bumpy as hell, and all four of us were being flung right, left, right, left. I’m sure that guy even managed to swing us around like a whirlpool even while seemingly going in a straight line. This was one driver who would never earn a tip; probably only ever earn abuse – and well deserved.

Anyway, we were dropped off first at the terminal we needed to catch our Air Mauritius flight out. Check-in was fast and fluid, and we then went through security and immigration and into the business class lounge, where we settled down with some bubbly, some snacks, and a newspaper.


We hadn’t been in the lounge very long when our names were called over the PA and we were told that there was some issue with our luggage. We then had to go back downstairs, through customs and immigration – unbelievable – and to the baggage service office. When we arrived there we discovered the German couple who we had shared the minibus with on the way to the airport were also there. Two of our three suitcases were then brought into the room and placed in the middle of the floor, together with one other suitcase which we hadn’t seen before. Our brains were reeling – was this some drug smuggling thing and were we about to be arrested? Were these innocent looking middle-aged Germans actually drug mules or kings of some cocaine cartel? A very serious-looking airport officer pointed to the cases and asked us to identify which were ours, which of course we did, pointing to our two cases.  He asked us a few times if the other case was ours, and naturally we said that, no, we had never seen that case before. He then asked the Germans if the third suitcase was their case, and they also said that, no, it wasn’t.


Apparently what had happened was that when the Germans were dropped off at their departure terminal, their case was missing, and so they assumed that we had taken it. Of course, the driver had simply buggered off, not interested at all in what had happened to their case – we think he probably simply didn’t load it into the vehicle when he picked them up. Anyway, of course they then headed to find us, thinking that perhaps we had their case. We were concerned because one of our cases was missing and we were being asked about this third, strange case. After some minutes our third suitcase was located, and so we thought all was now well, although the poor Germans were pretty frantic as they had now absolutely no idea where their luggage was.  We assumed we could now head back to the lounge, but, no, we now had to take our suitcases and check in again, go through customs and security again, the whole rigamarole, and of course by now quite some time had passed and so we only had time to rush back to the lounge for a quick freshen-up and to grab some bottles of water before boarding the aircraft.

The flight from Paris to Mauritius was fantastic. The food was excellent, and the cabin service absolutely faultless. We were looked after by a flight attendant called Mr Barbe, an expert in his profession. The champers was good and flowed freely, as did his smile. We felt pampered and welcome. The pilot flew quite low right down the coast of Italy, pointing out places like the Isle of Capri, Mount Versuvius, and then, finally, Sicily, as we flew overhead. The day was a perfect one, and visibility superb, so it was a real treat.

After that, once we were flying out over the Med, we watched a movie and then slept comfortably until the plane started its descent into Mauritius. Coming into Mauritius with the sun just coming up was absolutely beautiful as the mountains slowly became more and more visible in the lightening sky. Lovely.

We had a few hours on the ground in Mauritius, but couldn’t be bothered going through immigration etc, and so we just spent the time in the lounge where we were looked after by charming staff. At one point one of the attendants – a very young, very thin, very handsome, black Elvis look-alike - brought us coffee and cakes. He waited until we had sipped and tasted, seeming to await our approval. I told him the cakes were “beautiful” and “lovely”, wanting to assure him that we were very happy with what he had brought us. He responded with, “Yes, Madam, it’s always lovely, and beautiful – and usually very delicious as well”. It was all we could do not to laugh, it was just so delightful and charming – and funny, you must admit.

At last it was time to board our plane for the flight to Perth. The food, the drinks, the service were all fantastic, but I don’t think you would anywhere find an attendant as good as Mr Barbe of the Paris to Mauritius sector.

It was wonderful to land in Perth, which always looks totally sensational from the air, whether by day or night. We were through customs and immigration really quickly, even with stopping to pick up our pre-ordered duty free booze-ahol.  Out of the airport and into a cab, and we were soon zooming along Leach Highway headed for home.

Home, lovely, lovely little house. We missed you, and it’s just beautiful to be back in you and to fall in love with you all over again. Can’t help but think, though, that it won’t be long before we want to put ourselves in a situation of missing you again as we explore somewhere else.”

Thanks for coming on this journey with us.  I will be back with a little summing up – you know, favourite bits, highlights, funny sights. Hope you’ll join me for that.

In the meantime, here's a reminder of why we fell in love with France:

The parks,

the flowers,

the river,

the architecture,

the artwork that is simply everywhere,

the great Metro entrances

and, of course,

the canal trip

and the villages we visited.

1 comment:

  1. Arent the villages just wonderful?! I adore the cities... but the charm, culture, and people found in villages is hard to beat.