Such a Long Journey

Our flight from Chennai to Abu Dhabi was over an hour late; and we had only an hour and a half to catch our connecting flight to Paris. Despite that concern, I had a very comfortable flight. Etihaad Airways was fabulous: the crew, the food, the in flight entertainment and the service were all top notch – among the best on any international flight I have been on!

I ate a pretty tasty and hot breakfast, saw a strange Egyptian movie about three sisters who inherit a cabaret (I mean, it was really REALLY strange), saw a couple of episodes of Parks and Recreation, and then dozed off quite comfortably Β and woke up only on landing in Abu Dhabi.

In Abu Dhabi we were informed that we had missed our connection to Paris, and the airlines was trying to find the next best connection for us. Eventually we were told that we’d have to fly to Doha from Abu Dhabi, and then catch another flight to Paris from there. It was going to be a long, long flight.

My biggest worry was about how we would get the keys to the apartment in Paris – the apartment owner was leaving for Canada that evening, and we’d now reach Paris only at night. The airline guy arranged a calling card for us and I spent our time at the airport frantically calling the apartment owner in Paris. She finally answered on my fourth try (even as we were being asked to board our flight to Doha) and assured me that she would leave the keys at the all night store opposite the apartment. That was one problem resolved!

We had a short 30 minute flight to Doha, where they served us sandwiches and juice and then took them away even before we were finished because we were already landing! We then had a wait of another few hours in Doha. I liked the Abu Dhabi airport more than the Doha airport, which was more like a giant shopping mall (Dubai International Airport, now see what you’ve gone and done!). But it’s probably a good thing I liked the Abu Dhabi airport because we are going to be spending seven hours in transit there on our return flight (and you can ask me my opinion on the airport after THAT).

The last leg was Doha – Paris. I usually love international flights – I love airline food, I love watching movies some 30000 feet up in the air, I love all the free beverages, and I even love the static caused by the airline blankets – I’m eccentric like that, but all this plane hopping and lounging around in transit was getting even to me, and I just wanted to reach Paris now.

But it was a good flight. The plane was rather empty so we had the entire row of four seats to ourselves, and could even pop over to the set of two seats on either side. We were served drinks and snacks first, and a pretty good meal afterwards. I watched Brave, and then a Parks and Recreation marathon, and finally I stretched out across all four seats and slept all the way to Paris.

We cleared immigration and customs, got all our luggage (did not forget the tripod this time!) and headed out of the airport. And then came the most painful part of this journey: getting ourselves and all our luggage to the apartment. We first took an airport shuttle from the arrivals terminal to the RER station, then the RER to Denfert Rocherau station, and then we had to walk for over 20 minutes with all that luggage before we finally came to the apartment and the grocery store. And then came the unkindest cut of all: the apartment was on the fourth floor, there was no lift, the stairs were the narrow, curving kind, and there were no lights on the staircase. And we had to do this with a mountain load of luggage. By the time we made it to the apartment, we felt like we had conquered Mt Everest.

We would later feel that the apartment was worth it: it was a lovely studio, beautifully decorated and with lots of character. It was in a very lively area, full of parks, local markets and restaurants, and very close to public transport. The lady who stayed in the apartment was renting it out because she was traveling during this time – I found it through airbnb, and strongly recommend trying it out if you want to stay in a place which gives you a taste of how it is to live in a particular city or town.

But all this gloating about our apartment choice would come much later. For that night, we were just happy to have made it to the apartment without dropping dead somewhere on the way, and to have a sleeping surface that was completely flat. And that we were finally in Paris! What more could we ask for?

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8 Responses to Such a Long Journey

  1. hAAthi says:

    Sounds TOTALLY exciting yo. Im tempted to just pick up and go now. When youre back we must exchange details. please, please, pretty please? This budget thing is really where I need help πŸ˜› Im a sucker for getting duped.

    And a studio apartment in Paris?! I have totally done the dragging one giant Indian intl travelling suitcase up three floors in a dark narrow staircase thing.. OMG but it was so fun. I felt like Amelie llugging her gnomes all over the place πŸ˜›

    • I would love to exchange details with you when Im back. Too ma y details, you will realise soon πŸ˜€

      Oh, I’m usually a sucker for getting duped too, but since I’m paying for everything in Euros now, my cheating antenna (which I didn’t know even existed), goes up and becomes all hyper active. Usually, I travel in off-season/shoulder season, stay in hostels/couch surf, try to eat at least one meal at the hostel/home and use public transport. It’s a bigger challenge getting the husband to be budget conscious though.

      And I love how you equated that with Amelie…I feel less of a fool now for just packing so much stuff!

  2. Sanjana says:

    heyy! What’s wrong with dxb Intl airport? It’s awesome! Wayyy better than abu dhabi! (sorry, dxbian here, every other middle eastern place sucks for us :P).

    Airbnb is pretty awesome! I usually travel with a group of friends, and sometimes find the houses we stay at on that site.

    • Haha! Clearly, you’re a hardcore Dubai loyalist πŸ˜€ I didn’t care much for it because its like a giant shopping malls (and I don’t like shopping malls) and the facilities (toilets, chairs etc.) are spread out very far. Last year, my in laws were a accompanying my pregnant SIL from London to Hyderabad and they had a stopover in Dubai – and they had a very uncomfortable time there because bathrooms were so far, water was so difficult to get because those shops were far flung etc.

      • Sanjana says:

        What are you taaaalking about! There are loos every few gates, there are those moving walkways so you don’t actually have to *walk*, and there are water fountains outside the loos!
        The dxb airport has got to be the cleanest one I’ve been to! (Not that I’ve traveled all that much, but I’ve been to around 10- 11 countries and various airports).
        I agree with you on the shopping mall bit, but then it IS dxb! πŸ˜›

        • I don’t know ya…it wasn’t just me, considering other family members too had issues with the airport. Maybe its the terminal or something? But yes, its definitely one of the cleanest I have been to either – in fact, just came across an old email I had sent to my sister, where I had mentioned that the Dubai airport was all clean and sparkling! And yeah, I really cant complain about shopping malls when I’m in Dubai πŸ˜€

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m curious. How does the embassy accept yr acco plans when you couchsurf or or use airbnb? They usually want the hotel’s reservation or want someone to sponsor you.

    • So I always make hotel bookings which have the facility of free cancellation. http://www.booking.com is great for that. In fact, http://www.booking.com is my favourite travel tool: they have fantastic offers, a wide range of choices, and fabulous customer service. And no, they aren’t paying me anything for this publicity πŸ˜€ Anyway, so I make hotel reservations with free cancellation, and if I decide to couch surf or use airbnb, I simply cancel my reservation. I’ve used http://www.booking.com for YEARS, and I haven’t been charged a penny for cancelling.

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