The longest day. From midnight in the Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi to arrival at the Airport Motor Inn in Winnipeg, my version of the 20th of March will last for at least 36 hours. And I still won’t be home in Brandon until afternoon of the next day.
Another capacity Air France flight and the same old B-747-400 equipment with no personal entertainment units on the seat backs. Once we’re in the air the flight attendants hustle about to serve a meal – which holds our attention and then distracts our blood supply – then they quietly disappear into the galley while each of the passengers quite predictably drops off to sleep. Does Air France regard this as full-time or part-time work since most of the passengers spend their eight hour flight sleeping?
The lady at CDG Information is the same one from two months ago (who suggested I take Shuttle #2 bus to Etoile/Place Charles de Gaulle and walk the Champs Elysees at sunrise). I thank her for that past info, and ask for another suggestion for today, she recommends taking the RER train to the south side of town and walk through the 5th and 6th Arrondissements, the ‘Latin Quarter’.
Great idea! Between 7-8am kids are already making their way to schools in the area, most with one parent or other, some alone. Vendors are busy unloading their panel vans and setting up their temporary market stalls on the sidewalk near Place d’Italie. As I pass the Mosque de Paris and turn into the rolling terrain of the Grande Galerie, early morning runners are puffing their way alongside the Jardin des Plants (nursery). Across Quai St.-Bernard to the Seine and a lovely scenic bikeway/walking trail alongside the river bank towards Notre Dame de Paris.
A turn inland brings me along narrow, winding Rue St.-Germain, boulangeries, patisseries, restaurants, etc. but when the word “internet” on the window of the Restaurant Le Buci catches my eye, I decide to stop for a E8.50 breakfast special and check/send some e-mails. Another hour of poking around Isle d’Orleans, taking pictures of people taking pictures, and it’s time to head back to the airport.
Departures board says that the flight to Montreal is delayed but there’s a plug in the waiting area that fits my two-prong India connection so I won’t have trouble finding things to keep me busy. Only 10 minutes late pulling out of the gate, then I watch the 2011 remake of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”. However, its while watching the opening scenes of Daniel Craig in “Cowboys and Aliens” that I realise I’m looking at the North American roots of the solo tour cyclist – the lonely drifter on his/her trusty steed, scruffy and unwashed, sleeping on the open, cooking meals for one, no fixed destination, no fixed schedule. Those days are over for me now.
A very long line=up in the Immigration area at Dorval Airport, supper of smoked meat & beer at “Moe’s”, and then the flight to Winnipeg.
Shortly after take-off the pilot informs us of reports of turbulence ahead and puts on the Fasten Seat Belts sign, half an hour later with no signs of turbulence at all, I buzz the flight attendant and tell her that I’m not impressed with the flight crew taking their frustration (with the government’s legislated contract with Air Canada) out on the innocent passengers – she promises to pass my message along. It’s a clear, calm night when we land and taxi to the new terminal at Winnipeg International Airport.
At the Airport Motor Inn I’m reunited with the computer battery charger that Charles has dropped off at the hotel Registration desk. Thanks, roomie! A few Skypes and e-mails while I decompress in my room, one to reconfirm my shuttle pick-up in the morning for the trip to Brandon. Head is feeling quite foggy, so it’ll probably take a week to get over this ‘jet lag’ when I get home tomorrow afternoon. Now, let’s get some sleep.