Friday, June 17, 2011

36 hours and counting

I have to say, the Paris airport is probably the most F’d up airport I’ve been through. I flew over the pond on a large A340 that seats upwards of 400 people. I was second to last row. We left Boston late because our plane came in late. So I figured I would have to run down the terminal to my next gate to make my connection which was originally a scheduled 1:20 layover. I had no idea.

You deplane out in the middle of nowhere. Literally. No buildings around. You are bussed to the terminal from the tarmac. When the buses filled, those of us remaining stood for another 15 minutes for the buses to come back. When I finally got to the terminal when my next flight was boarding, I was relieved to see it was in the same terminal. I ran.

Then I hit another long line. Guess I don’t understand international travel. I wasn’t staying in France, so why did I have to go through French customs? It was interesting to see packs of guys walking around with fully automatic riffles though. I cleared that hurdle and had just enough time to get to my gate before they closed the door.

Again, not so fast. I had to leave the secure area. WTF! This meant I had to re-enter the secure area again, which meant the whole security checkpoint thing. And there was a line there. I pretty much was resigned to missing my connection now. The girls behind me also came from Boston and where going to Venice, but on a much later connection. They helped me get the attention of staff, and I was ushered to the front of the line. That would certainly help.

I didn’t even bother to re-lace my shoes. I grabbed my backpack and booked. I was one of the last few people to board the plane. I wondered if my bike and gear made it.

I didn’t sleep a wink overnight. I even took a Xanax, which did absolutely nothing. I gave up half way into the flight and watched a movie instead, “The Adjustment Bureau.” Friday was going to suck. We were fed decent food on the red eye. Dinner was at 7:30pm, breakfast was just 3hrs later. It was light out both times. There’s just something not right about less than three hours of darkness.

I got to Venice on time. My bag and bike even made it. Major score. I wasn’t sure of the best way to get to the hotel I spend one night at before Thomson Tours picks me up, so I took a Taxi. From Airport entrance to Hotel is 900m. It is a busy highway with no shoulder or sidewalk. I would love to have walked it. It cost me 15 Euro (about $22 to go half a mile)!

Second major score was that my room was ready at 9:30am. I dumped my bags and bought round trip bus ticket to Venice for 2,40 Euro. That was like 25km round trip, so a bargain relative to a cab. I think that same bus goes through airport too. Wish I would have known that it stopped so close to my hotel.

This ain't Cow Hampshire

Basilica di San Marco

Venice was worth seeing, but it essentially is one massive tourist trap. I did not go through Basilica di San Marco. The wait looked very long. Instead, I wandered around completely aimlessly for two hours. I brought my GPS just so I wouldn’t repeat anything. The maze of water cannels, bridges and alleys is bewildering. You can't always get there from here in Venice.  I’d like to see Alex orienteer something like Venice!

While I was heading back to the bus depot, some nasty lightning storms moved it. I was satisfied, and called it good. I’ve already learned shops that deal with tourists handle English well. The bus stop was a few hundred meters from my hotel, so I stopped in at a small café to get a coffee and slab of pizza to dodge the rain. The woman did not know any English, and I haven’t had a chance to learn any Italian. She had to write down the price to communicate it. The coffee was espresso and extremely potent, the way I like it. The pizza was chocked full of olives, which I normally don’t like, but it was good too.

I’ve been wide awake for about 36hrs now, a complete zombie. I’m killing time by writing this, holding off going to sleep as long as I can so I’ll adjust more quickly to the 6hr difference. I’ll probably be up early Saturday and may go for a 5k run before breakfast. Then it’s a long haul in vans up to the Dolomites.


DaveP said...

Sounds like quite an adventure so far, keep it going. If it makes you feel any better, I was woken up around 1:30 am to Xena barfing up a rawhide and other bits of stuff. The liquid part was still warm when I cleaned it up.

Skipped out on Housatonic b/c of the 3+ hour drive. Instead, I did Exeter and Loudon.

Mathias said...

You have to clear customs in a country at the first port of entry regardless of destination

Scott said...

When I arrived in Germany in 2005, they asked me if I had alcohol or cigarettes in my luggage. When I said no, they stamped my passport and said, "Welcome to Germany." If that was a trip through customs, it sure was fast.

Alex said...

Just catching up with your blog - there is actually a map of venice, apparently it is one of the coolest city maps around. I'd love to run there! Sounds like a good trip, so far... =)