Friday, September 11, 2015

Departing from CDG

Tuesday morning, day of my departure. I arrange for one more night at the hotel for the kids because Alex is so sick--she needs rest, and plenty of it. We don't have a key to Vero's place (kids' next overnight), and Alex would otherwise have to clear out of the hotel by 10am and tote her bags around all day, because Vero has to work.

I take James out on one more attempt to obtain the adapter that the kids need. I also ask him to promise to take one of the backpacks over to Vero's at 6 and get the key, as well as to carry the other backpack over tomorrow, so Alex isn't doing anything too strenuous.

I hug the kids goodbye and get in the car to the airport. It's a 36-minute journey, according to Google maps, and I'm due at 2 for a 3pm flight. I leave the lot at 12:49. I get to the airport at 4:57. Yup, 4:57.

In Paris, roads move slowly. I mean, slooooooowwwwwwwly. I was tootling along happily until 1:12. Then: stoppage. Not just a slowdown, but a stoppage. There are moments of inching forward, then minutes of being stopped. This continues for the next 50 minutes.

I know that the NAV system has the airport pre-programmed, as it has been harassing me for a few exits, noting to me in French that traffic on the A86 is not moving. But the NAV has proved maybe 80% reliable at giving me the fastest way to get someplace. Once 2pm rolls by, however, and I still don't see any planes taking off or landing, I go with the NAV system.

I exit the highway and begin a tense trip on surface roads to the airport, knowing that my arrival will be late. After a whirligig turn at the beginning, the journey is pretty uncomplicated. After much too much time passes, voila, I see planes! Then, a sign: Orly Airport. But...the NAV was taking me to Charles De Gaulle! Wasn't it?!? I verified, and it was...LISTED as CDG. But taking me to Orly. Back, essentially, to where I had started.

Remember, I have no mobile phone, and no cellular data. I park the car at 2:52 and beg phone and wi-fi usage from strangers and shopkeepers, trying to reach my airline, Swiss Air. When I do, it is no help at all. It tells me that I need to call United, because that's who my ticket is booked through. (I have zero flights with United, this entire trip.) Repeated searches of United's website reveal no phone number that can be used in France. So I get back in the car at 3:22, headed to CDG, to talk to a live United clerk, in person, at a check-in counter. Maybe I can get on another flight.

Hence, I get to CDG at 4:57. You know what? All the United staff had gone home already. I finally found a number on the website (using airport wi-fi) that is listed as one for use in France. I call it, and reach a fax machine.

I don't give up. I spend 40 minutes on the phone with the service that booked this package deal for me. They can't reach anyone at United, either! I realize that I'm going to have to book, and pay for, another flight home.

Plus, I had another horrible food experience, a pesto sandwich at the airport that tasted like it was made of sand.

I hate Paris.

I rented a new car overnight and went back to the hotel.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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