A Bit Worried

OK, first not to worry anybody, I made it to London safely.

I arrived in Roissy early as I knew it would take longer to get through the formalities. I was right! It took about 2 hours to go through the check-in process. To make matters worst, the hostess requested I only keep my wallet with me and check-in my small black day pack. I was not very happy about this as I had heard this was only for USA-bound flights and did not think it would be enforced on flights to London. No liquids of any form, OK. But no carry-on!!! I don’t really like to part from my camera, my IPod and especially my notebook and the CDs with the pictures from my trip. I have travelled through all Middle-East and I had not to do that at any time.

Well, I didn’t want to get anybody anxious so I complied. Unfortunately, I would discover later it was a huge mistake!

The trip went OK. Of course, I had to go through 10 controls before I could board the plane. And of course, we got delayed at every possible occasion arriving in London 2 hours late. But that was still alright as I understand the situation and I was not in any kind of hurry except that my friend Rav was waiting for me at the airport in London.

It is when I went to get my bags that it all turned sour. I collected my two big bags but after waiting more than 30 minutes, I had to accept the truth, my small blag day pack had been mishandled and I would not see it coming out of the conveyor belt today.

So I filed a complain with BA and am waiting for them to locate it. Hopefully they do it fast because loosing the pictures of my trip would suck big time :(.

On a side note. Heathrow is a big mess with tens of flights cancelled and thousands of people stranded. The departure level parking lot looked more like a refugee camp than an airport parking lot with heavy security, people lining up under the rain in order to get in the terminal and distribution of water bottles and prepared food. I hope it gets better by Thursday or I might have to find another way back to San Francisco.


According to my initial plan of 5 months ago, today I was flying to London to spend a week meeting some friends before flying back to San Francisco on the 17th.

Well, as often, the plan did not work out as expected. As I arrived at the airport, I was greeted by a screen showing that all the flights to London had been cancelled!

The only explanation I got for a while was that Heathrow had been closed for the day by the BAA and I had to book another flight. So I queued in the very long line leading to the BA sales counters and started waiting in order to reschedule.

After discussing with other passengers and through two interviews (yes, I am that on demand!) with journalists from BBC and Le Figaro that were gravitating around the queue with tens of others, I finally understood that the British government had closed the airport following fears of a terrorist attack.

1 hour had passed and I had only progressed 20 meters in the 100 meter long line. It was worst than the lines at the Buzz Lightyear attraction at Disneyland or at the Eiffel Tower some days before! The reason was that there were only 2 BA associates to help the hundreds of stranded passengers so it could not go any faster. For their discharge, it does not seem like they are equipped to do any better.

Some very nice Paris Airport employees were on duty to help the passengers distributing bottles of water and giving British Airways reservation line and Eurostar reservation line phone numbers. Too bad they did not have more information to provide us though. Still, most of the people were calm (and resigned?).

After seeing a guy bound to New York (that was holding every possible gold membership card of every possible airline) get transferred on another flight and a family bound to Montreal get rescheduled for Saturday morning, both after calling the BA reservation line, I thought I could also give it a try. Not having any cellphone, I tried to use one of the public phone but it turned out the phone number was not toll-free so I had to give up that option and thought it should not be that long before I get to the window. 

Strike that! 3 hours since I arrived at the airport and I had only progressed 40 meters in the now 150 meter long line (how much I had left to do is left as an exercise to the reader). To make matters worst, one of the airport employees came around telling us there would not be any flights to London today so I should better just go back home and call the reservation line from there.

Well, I thought it was not a bad idea and made my way back home. $160 poorer but safe.

From there, I managed to reschedule my flight for Saturday morning. On the bright side, I have two more days to be with my parents and enjoy Paris.

And if you wonder why I am still going to London, you can read what I think of terrorism on a piece I wrote previously about Dahab.

The Marmotte Family

My friends Sandy and Arnaud just had a baby boy named Nohan last month and since I have some free time, I thought I would get off my lethargy, jump on the TGV to Geneva, and pay a visit to the Marmotte Family.

So it is what I did yesterday afternoon. 3 1/2 hours later, I was in Geneva where Arnaud was waiting for me. The trip went well and reminded me of how much I enjoyed TGV rides: smooth and fast ;).

I was a bit worried though since I realized halfway through the trip that I had not taken my passport and I was not sure if the French ID card was enough to enter Switzerland (since it is not part of the EU). But either it is enough or the Swiss border patrol does not care since they just waved me pass as I was holding my ID card in my hand. They did not even check it out!

We later crossed the border back to France as Sandy and Arnaud live in France and again, no controls.

The evening went very well as I had a chance to meet Nohan and finally talk to Sandy I had met only twice before and very shortly. We had a great time sharing stories of our respective trips. Of course, as usual with travellers, we came to talk about different scam stories that we experienced and it made me think that it is definitely difficult to trust someone when you travel. Maybe I will write some of my stories another time but in the mean time, just know that if someone is too friendly or speaks your language very well, be very careful.

And sadly, this applies to locals as well as foreigners as even foreigners might try to scam you while you are on vacation.

This morning, I crossed the border again, twice without anybody really checking anything and am now back to Paris.

Yes, I was in Geneva and I did not visit the city or the famous lake. I should be a bit ashamed ;).


Not a lot to report this time and no stories to tell so it will be a very short entry.

I have been very lazy since I am back in Paris spending time with my family and my friends and enjoying good food.

I still managed to upload a lot of pictures and have also caught up with July entries I had no time to publish earlier. I hope you like the entries and the pictures. I will also try to catch-up completely with the entries but it takes time to write them and publish them.

Today, I took my nephew to the zoo of the Jardin des plantes close to the “Gare d’Austerlitz”. I had been there several years ago but I did not remember there was that many animals. And the reaction of a nine year old kid are definitely different than mines and worth the visit :).

The next days should be more interesting though so stay tuned.

A Cure to My Addiction

I am back in Paris after a lot of time spent in airports and airplanes. So much so that I don’t feel like seeing any of them for a little while!

I had a very interesting discussion with Libby, a vegetarian Jewish Canadian woman expatriated in Senegal, on the plane between Kayseri and Istanbul. We were able to have a calm discussion about the situation in Lebanon and the way people react about it in Israel where she spent a week before joining her brother in Turkey.

The rest of the trip was uneventful if not boring as I had to wait a long time in Istanbul.

The only bad thing about the trip is that I somehow manage to break the LCD screen of my camera. I don’t know when and how it happened. I just know that once in Paris, when I turned the camera on to show some pictures to my very good friend Mathieu (that is kindly hosting me every time I am in Paris), the LCD was broken!

It is very annoying though as I cannot set anything on the camera anymore and it is difficult to take pictures now. Also, I had this camera on my pants pocket for more than 4 months and I break it the last day of the trip!

This is actually the good thing about it. Glad it did not happen earlier as it would have been very annoying. Also, I did not loose the pictures in the camera and it seems like everything else is working. I looked a bit on the web and I can get a spare LCD for a reasonable price once I am back in the states.

The bad thing, of course, is that I will not be able to take pictures in the next month or so.

Thinking about it and looking at the bright side… This is a sure way to get over my addiction ;).