lundi 17 octobre 2011

The Long Way Home from the Blue House: The Vagaries of Travel

Because y itineraries and plans change without much notice or plans, I end up in journeys longer than planned. Take this last one for example.
To get back home to Paris, It took me two days, visiting six airports, going through five countries!
I left the Blue House in the UmonHon Indian Reservation on a sunny afternoon to drive the 135 km to the city of Omaha. Stayed at the usual hotel by the Airport and had a mediocre tex-mex meal. It should have come as a warning as I entered the resto, there were many large TV screens all with sports channels on!
AVIS rent a car people are always friendly and it is a nice touch when one is in a strange town, to see familiar places and smiles.
A Continental airlines flight to Newark, enough time to go to their Airlines Lounge and check emails before embarking on another Continental Flight to Toronto.
A very pleasant lady at the KLM check in.
Two observations: regardless of the airports you are in these days, most of the workers are foreign born to that country, and there seems to be a kind of hierarchy or hidden messages.
The ladies checking you in seem to be young foreign born usually white or fair skinned. The security or people guiding you to the right lanes for cheking in seem to be from India usually a little plump, the guards are of African Origin. In Singapour, they prefer the better looking Malays than to the Chinese, in Paris,it is the better looking Arabs.. it shows you one thing, good looks can help you get ahead!
Recently learned that Singapore Airlines do not employ older Flight attendants, most of them are on five year contracts renewable just once. Whereas on long distance flights on USA based airlines, you get very senior attendants and I remember niew rgB one who were in their sixties! Why should the young have all the fun? I admire that really since it does show a broader approach to life.
Air France flight attendants for example, are there for show rather than service, and almost without exception they are young, fit and good looking. Very rarely have seen a black flight attendant on Air France long distance flights.
Frequent Fliers are treated very differently. and of course these days, the colour of the frequent fliers is changing, once the exclusive terrain of white skin businessmen, it is now sprinkled with a little brown and yellow, still not many black. Yesterday at the Amsterdam airport, I could see a couple of beaurocratic looking Africans waiting for their flights to Africa..It is amazing how one begins to tell the geography of the passengers: Indian travelers from India regardless of their tech saavy still dress differently from Indians living in UK or USA .. Chinese travelers from Taiwan are distinguishable by their peculiar behaviour, one can see the dress sense of Mainland Chinese travelers and of course no one can mistake the young japanese traveler from japan.
Frequent Flier perhaps also understand a little better the monotony and difficulties faced by those work in Airline Service sector, so they are nicer to the personnel?
On this trip, I enjoyed the KLM lounge at YYZ even though it was nearly full of chinese travelers on Hainan Airways, which also uses that lounge.
The flight from YYZ to AMS was very short, once you have had your dinner and hardly anytime was left before you are woken up for breakfast and before you know, you land in the still dark AMS airport.
Bilcart-Salmon Champagne Brut
Smoked Salmon presented with caper creme fraiche
Artichoke Agnolotti, offered with marinara sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesian cheese
MapMaker Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Cheese plate with camembert and cantal cheese and dulce de leche tart
The was just coming up on the horizon when i settled myself into the KLM Crown Lounge at 52 at the very interesting airport at Schipol..
it has to be one of the nicest airports in the world, along with Changi in Singapore. Most of the airports are just functional including LHR CDG EWR but few of them are worth a visit on their right: AMS SIN, but the pleasure of arriving at MIA or HAV is unparalleled for me!
The long wait began, sleepy but with internet connection and papers and magazines to read and nice snacks (who wants to eat?) and drinks (truly not appetizing at this hour and time)..
A quick flight to LHR Terminal 4 and as usual the welcome at Skyteam Lounge which is also a nice lounge..
The flight from LHR to CDG is a short 40 minutes and while my luggage had arrived at a different terminal than the one I had arrived, it was quickly resolved. I must say i have a good star following me on my journeys since very seldom am I inconveniened or stuck at airports or without luggage.. considering that I take more than 100 separate airline trips even though as you can see on this one: OMA EWR YYZ AMS LHR CDG five airline trips for one journey!
Paris at last after leaving the Blue house nearly 48 hours earlier.. The sweetest gift was that a french moroccan taxi driver by the name of Sam was waiting with a card with my name on it... at that time, getting home by public transport with two pieces of luggage to shlep was not a welcoming thought, very quickly through the mild night of parisian autumn, we sped towards the home at Asniers sur seine, from where i can see the lights of Paris!