This morning Helen and the children left for home at 10:05 on the KLM flight back to CT. I went to work in London on a 10:20 flight. Both of our flights left on time and arrived on time. 2 more flights completed by KLM on time adding to their 91% on time performance record. Compare that to Air France’s record (who own KLM) of 71% on time and you must wonder how there can be such a difference. What I didn’t say in my previous blog posts is that not only did the 2 USA families miss their connecting flight through Charles de Gaulle (spending a night in an airport hotel) but one of the SA attendees had her Air France flight to Johannesburg cancelled entirely and my other sister and her family missed their connecting flight to Venice and arrived eventually at 11pm. I checked out Air France’s record into South Africa and they have 10% of their flights cancelled. Seriously … 1 in every 10 flights to Johannesburg are cancelled. Why would anyone travel on them knowing that? I’m going to outlaw using Air France for company travel – too risky for business purposes!
So here are some random thoughts on Bordeaux & Amsterdam – firstly on Bordeaux:
- It really is quite beautiful and a very relaxing place to visit. Spending a week there is really a great way to unwind.
- The French do really know how to make red wines … especially in Bordeaux. We didn’t really ever have a bad Bordeaux while we were there. I am not so sure they are as good at making white wines in that region though. The whites were nowhere near as good as the reds.
- They have crazy speed limits. You can drive 90 km/h on a rural (what I would call single track) road. And what is even more crazy is that people do drive that speed. Swerving around a tractor at that speed isn’t my idea of a relaxing holiday.
- French cooking is very good (generally) but it is also very rich. It is the sauces that they always have on the food that makes it so rich.
- Eating cheese in France is another whole experience. Why is it that cheese tastes so much better in France?
- The French always get a bad rap about being grumpy towards tourists. We never experienced that at any time in France. In fact I would say it was the reverse that people tried really hard to go out of their way for us rather.
- French time = African time. Book for 1pm and expect to get started at 1:30pm. Happened everywhere we went. Air France clearly works by the same rule. Never expect anything to operate on time in France.
And then some thoughts on Amsterdam:
- It is a vibrant, alive city. That is probably because 50% of the residents are under 34.
- There are as many canals in Amsterdam as there are streets. I just hope the guy with his finger in the dyke never pulls it out.
- It is definitely worth visiting if you are coming to Europe. Just give yourself more than 1.5 days. We would have loved to spend more time there. The consensus of the family was that we would like to go back and spend more time in Amsterdam.
- It is a bit of crazy place though. You can get anything you want – drugs from the Coffeeshops (we actually had one around the corner from the hotel and only discovered it this am when we left!); prostitutes; every type of food you can think of etc.
- Everyone has a bicycle. They say that there are around 750 000 residents in Amsterdam and they reckon 600 000 bicycles.
- You can do anything on a bicycle (those were Michael’s words yesterday). We saw a man with a sleeping baby in his basket, women riding side saddle while sitting on the back, talking on your phone, taking a video/picture on your phone while cycling. You name it they were doing it and we most likely saw it.
- KLM is a very efficient airline. If you’re looking for comfort try another airline. If you want efficiency and on-time departures & arrivals – travel with KLM.
We had such a good 10 days that we have no desire to go home and back to real life. We were tempted to just stay in France or Netherlands. Unfortunately back to reality tomorrow!
Until next time (which will be October when I travel to Asia so watch this space) ….
P, H, S, M & C