Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ciao, Adios, Au Revoir

Celia and I said goodbye to our journalists and their guests, tipped our attentive cabin crew and wait staff and finally disembarked the Voyager of the Seas after a flawless tour of Italy and France. Despite my personal hurdles (fear of mountain driving; Grappa-induced chest pain; working too much instead of relaxing), the ship, the staff, the food (oh, the food!) and the ports were just the change of scenery I needed. I wasn't ready for Lady Gaga, mozzarella, Pompeii, limoncello, gladiators and ice skating at sea to be things that already happened instead of things that were happening, but I guess all vacations are that way.

I'd intended to spend disembarkation day exploring Barcelona on my own before an evening flight to Paris, but the last night on the ship was a bit more eventful than I expected and I was dragging. (Eventful = closing down the club with my dozen new ship friends, interpretive dancing together to Bohemian Rhapsody and attempting to bribe the DJ to play one more song. Integrity prevailed – he wouldn’t give in! Luckily the 24-hour pizza bar was still open for our revelry.) Since I didn't go to sleep until the wee hours and since I am sure I’ll be back for a longer visit, I skipped sightseeing in favor of napping the SkyTeam lounge.

My Barcelona nap was just the first scheduled airport snooze of the day. I had a 20-hour overnight layover in Paris to look forward to, so I planned to sleep at the Charles de Gaulle that night. Why spend my precious Euros on a hotel when I could just rest in a corner, or better yet, in the cushy, quiet SkyTeam lounge? First thing in the morning, I would take the RER B into the city to visit my cousin who was studying abroad. It should have been a foolproof plan*…

My flight was about 45 minutes delayed, and that teeny holdup made for quite the interesting evening. When I finally landed at CDG at 11 p.m., just about every employee had gone home. I meandered toward another section of gates, when suddenly and without indication, I was outside the terminal in a public area out front. I saw no SORTIE signs, but I apparently sortied myself right out the door. No worries, I assured myself. I’ll just check back in, go through security and find a nice cozy corner for snoozing.

If you’ve ever tried to check in for a flight 20 hours early, perhaps you’ve found that YOU CAN’T. It didn’t matter that I accidentally ended up outside the terminal and that I was already technically checked in. Since my flight to JFK was not yet on the schedule, I was prohibited from re-entering the terminal and going through security. I wandered around for a few minutes, looking completely moronic and lost, as I tried to find someone I could sweet talk into letting me in - but everyone was gone.

Disappointed but not defeated, I resigned myself to sleeping in the public area in the front of the terminal. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d slept out by baggage claim, so I wasn’t worried at all.

Then I met Sebastien.

Up Next… French People Get a Bad Rap

Note to self: There aren't any foolproof plans in travel.

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