Fun_People Archive
10 Oct
France 2000, The Flight Over

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 100 21:08:26 -0700
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Subject: France 2000, The Flight Over

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France 2000

OK friends. it looks we've finally got with the program this time.

After five straight years of coming to France for one reason or another,
we've finally learned how to get here with the least amount of grief.
Don't get me wrong, 16-1/2 hours on the move, whether first class or last
class, is a grueling experience, especially when you leave at 4:00 PM after
a full day of getting packed & ready.  But after enduring four years of
coach class in seats designed to punish you for not spending more  money,
we finally picked an airline we like (Northwest / KLM, for reasons I'll go
into later in another tome) and went all out in an effort to get flyer
miles in any way possible.  We changed our phone to Sprint which got us
20,000 niles (one Business Class upgrade on Northwest), we signed up for
a World Perks card that got us 2500 miles and about two to four thousand
miles a month (we even buy groceries with it but we pay it off completely
every month so we can get more miles).  And of course there is the
occasional flight to France or somewhere.  In any case, all of this got us
Business class tickets on the top deck of a 747/400 this year.  And what
a difference!!!

The top deck has only thirty seats so even the flight attendants say they
like it much better.  There's lots of room to walk around and it's not so
frantic having to deal with the other 270 people.  So the flight over was
the best we've ever had.  The food, the wines, the service, the little
personal video screens, the hot towels, the built in foot rests, the way
the seats go way back and actually let you sleep -- all made it a great
trip.  One other thing -- on KLM Business Class they have a custom.  At
the end of each flight,  they bring around a tray of porcelain miniatures
of actual houses in the Netherlands and they are filled with 'jenner', kind
of a Dutch Gin.  There are 78 different houses and each passenger gets to
pick one on each trip.  I picked one that was from the town where our flight
attendant lived.  Miki picked a smaller one with a great roof line from a
different town.  What a great little bonusand what great people!

Amsterdam airport, our two hour layover, was terrific, as usual.  Don't
ever go through Paris if you can help it, it's worse than Chicago!
Amsterdam is like the Great Mall of America and Reno in one place.  Duty
free shopping for anything you can imagine, casinos, great restaurants,
video gaming, pristine restrooms, showers.  They have taken the airport to
the next magnitude!  If only they could do this in America...  traveling
in the US wouldn't be so difficult.

When we got to Nice, we were in for a big surprise.  The truck drivers are
all on strike, protesting the high cost of fuel so airports and just about
everything is a bit more complicated.  When we went to get our rental car
where we got it last year, they had moved to the other terminal, a 45 minute
walk away.  We tried to get a cab but it's a short run and none of the cab
drivers will do it, they tell you to take the bus,  But because of the
blockades, the bus doesn't go to the bus station any more, you have to walk
(with all the baggage) about a half mile to where the bus will take you to
Terminal 2.  So we finally got to the bus and they had to wind through the
airport runways (the only paths that aren't blocked)  to the next terminal
to get our car.  But we lucked out on that.  Avis (also mileage points)
didn't have the Volkswagen Passat we had reserved, all they had was a
Mercedes, four door, automatic (usually a $600.00 upgrade).  So we settled
for that and off we went, winding our way through the maze of trucks
blockading the airport, to the main road and finally to our little home in
Nice, Le Petite Palias.

This place is so great...  It's a small hotel, run by the same family of
people that we met when we first came here five years ago, that sits on a
hill looking over all of Nice.  This year they saved room 308 for us.  It
has the best view in the hotel.  It's a small corner room that looks out
on the entire Cote de Azure, from the airport to the fortress.  They met
us at the door with big smiles, carried the luggage to the room and
delivered a bottle of cold Rose.  What a treat after the craziness of the
trip from the airport.  The blockade aside, the French way of driving in
the city still takes some getting used to.

We had two hours till we were supposed to meet Jean-Claude for dinner in
town so we just flipped on CNN to make sure the world hadn't come to an
end yet and wound down for a while.  We took a cab to the restaurant, we
drive as little as possible in towns.  He met us at a really popular seafood
place / market that was packed with people.  There was a long line of people
to get a table, inside or outside.  Jean-Claude went around to the side
entrance and said a few words to the owner and we had a table right away.
Normally we'll just go down the street to the next place but he wanted to
eat here tonight.

And it was a great choice!  He ordered for us after we told him we're not
crazy about the sea urchin.  They brought two trays of oysters (about 2
dozen), a tray of sweet shrimp (in the shells with the heads on) and two
whole crabs (cooked and cut in half).  We sat and talked and ate and talked
and ate for over two hours, piling up shells.  The waitress spoke perfect
English but Miki made me ask for anything (like a glass of wine) in French.
I think she's trying to convert me.  Anyway, when we finally finished,
Jean-Claude took us over to the antique / art shop that runs to get his
car to drive us back to the hotel.  He said he has four antique French
pistols for me to look at tomorrow.  Then it was back to the hotel and to
bed.  What a day!!!!

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