Note: the nominal date for this entry is May 14th - It spans May 13th and 14th and was written then, but not posted until May 22nd. Confused?
AA 5090 PVD to JFK 1:35 pm May 13th. Well, that's the theory. Nancy and I grab a sandwich at the airport, spend a few minutes together before my flight, then she leaves to buy some plants on her way back home. (I used to be the gardener in the family, but in the past year or two she has become totally hooked on it.) Then time was changed to 2:10. No problem, my flight to France isn't until 5:30, this will just reduce the waiting time there. (I swear that sometimes on these Providence to NY flights we spend more time taxiing than flying.) There are flashing lights, a collection of emergency vehicles down at the end of a runway. This naturally gets the attention of people waiting to get on a plane. Eventually we find out that a Boston to Kennedy commuter flight had smoke coming from their cargo area so they landed here. The passengers from that flight come into the terminal at our gate. Whatever fear they may have felt now seems on its way to being overwhelmed by the realization that their airline does not seem to have a way to get them the rest of the way to JFK (those flights being very full already). Eventually my plane is ready, although by the time we take off it is well past two-thiry, more than an hour late.
DL 8261 JFK to CDG 5:30 pm May 13th. This is a Delta flight being operated by Air France. It's a 747-400 and I have my confirmed aisle seat 45H. (I always want aisle seats, the longer the flight, the more I need the comparative freedom of an aisle seat... and this is a seven hour flight.) American Eagle uses terminal 9. Delta uses terminal 3. Take shuttle bus from 9 to 3. I hate terminal 3; it is chaos and confusion, very poor signage. I meet a Delta flight attendant and she confirms for me and a group of very tall black guys (who turn out to be Harlem Globetrotters) that we are indeed taking the right elevator and going through the right security checkin. Once inside I try to find the gate for my flight. It shows on the monitors but without a gate listed. Okay, get inline. Eventually get to a ticket agent. I'm in the wrong terminal; my flight is really Air France flight AF0011 and it's leaving from terminal 1. (Mea Culpa - I later found "terminal 1" on a printout from AmEx travel that I had received with my tickets.) Where is the shuttle bus to terminal 1? I realize that I will have to ride the shuttle all the way around (4W, 4E, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 before I come to 1) so I walk/jog instead, past terminal 2, finally reaching 1. Inside, many airlines, where is Air France? Upstairs. Huge line. Wait. Wait. I see a disturbing notice on a sign detailing the next three Air France flights to Paris. Mine is listed as an Airbus 300. Okay, I like them, at least the newer ones with the individual LCD screens, but it is a smaller plane than a 747. My fear is realized: I have an interior seat, trapped between people. Worse than that, I'm stuck behind one of those jerks who love to tilt their seat into the reclining position. (I would never recline my seat if there is somebody behind me; that is extremely rude and irritating... I think that seats should be locked upright.) At least we do have the individual LCD screens. They are showing a French movie (Le Vieux de Saint Paul or something like that) but one of the channels has dubbed English dialog. I found parts of it interesting but it is definitely a French movie. Mostly I tried to read (both technical stuff for work and a science fiction novel) and watched the progress of our flight on the flight information channel. I was interested to note that most of our trip over the Atlantic was at 37,000 feet but much of the last hour or so was at 39,000 feet.
DL 8302 CDG to NCE 10:05 am May 14th. My flight from New York was scheduled to land at 6:30 am but was about ten minutes or so late (It seems to me that we took off about that much behind and never made it up during the flight.) My original connection was to a 7:15 flight to Nice but it had only taken a moment's thought to call AmEx back and request a change to my 10:05 flight. They were trying to gather up people with connecting flights and move them to where they had to be, but I was happy not to have had to worry about it. There was a bit of a problem with shuttle buses, too many passengers at once creating a clog in the system, but I was in no hurry so I didn't mind waiting as the first three or four buses quickly filled up. Eventually I got to where I needed to be, with a couple hours left to kill. I set out trying to find an ATM machine. They seemed to be empty or out of order... I finally had to hike (through interior connections -- which made me think that if I had known my way around I might have been able to walk inside instead of taking the shuttle) to the TGV station to find a working ATM machine. (At first I thought that this was a Sunday problem, that busy machines just ran out of money, but it turns out that this was a result of a strike... the union representing the security guards who refill ATM machines was out on strike... which was causing increasing difficulties througout the week.) So I had lunch. Or whatever meal it was... 9 a.m. in Paris, 3 a.m. in Rhode Island. It was strange to see people smoking in the airport. Throughout the week there were smokers everywhere, even puffing away at tables in restaurants as they ate. I am having trouble staying conscious as I wait for my plane, trying to read a novel but my eyes keep wanting to close. Finally my flight is ready. I have a window seat but it is a relatively short flight (a bit over an hour and a half) and I am very interested in the view as we approach Nice. The roofs of buildings catch my eye, sort of a terra-cotta reddish brown orange color. And the Sea! It really is blue, an astounding eye catching blue. Boats. We circle over the sea, coming in lower and lower. Beaches and buildings and boats... there's somebody parasailing, towed behind a speedboat. And we're on the runway. I'm here.
Radisson SAS Hotel, Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. Taxi to the hotel. Check in. On the 4th floor (European style, 5th floor to Americans). Floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass door to a balcony the width of the room with a sea view. The hotel is on one side of Promendade des Anglais, the Mediterranean is on the opposite side of the street. Palm trees. Beach. Blue, blue sea. Beautiful.