We are back at the traveling thing again but this time for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebrations. They chose to invite the whole family (and original wedding party) to France (Bordeaux region) to join them in the celebration. So last night we left Cape Town on the KLM flight for Amsterdam. It really isn’t the most convenient flight to take as it leaves at 11:20pm. After you take off they still try to serve you dinner and all you want to do is go to sleep. The family was split this trip with 3 of us traveling upfront and the other 2 at the back. It was pretty full in the back except Michael had the seat next to him free (probably the only free seat in economy). Michael did suggest that the way to get a few more empty seats next to him was to start scratching and say loudly “Wow but this eczema is really itchy tonight”. I suggested he could also stand up and say loudly “Did you hear those voices or were they just in my head?”. Those two in combination might clear a few seats around him.
If you regularly read this blog when we travel you will know that I travel a lot overseas and so I have a fair base for comparing airlines. On the ‘Peter measure’ for airlines KLM is at the bottom. The seats were terrible. They were the type of seats that other airlines had in the 70s and 80s. Whoever designed them should be sent to do dyke watching – on second thoughts the whole of the Netherlands might be flooded shortly after that if he/she’s chair design is anything to go by). While admittedly I did not eat dinner (as I was trying to sleep), the breakfast was appalling. It said ‘Poached egg with bearnaise sauce on bacon on an English muffin’. Something must have been lost in translation because it was really ‘A hard yellow round thing on top of some ham on an English muffin’. No sauce could be seen anywhere. And if that was a poached egg I would hate to see the chicken that produced that egg. I got some sleep but it was very uncomfortable and I now think I need physical therapy to recover from all the pains that seat gave me during the night.
We landed just before 11am. I think we actually landed in Belgium and taxied to Amsterdam – it took us about 15 minutes. Then they couldn’t get the airbridge positioned against the door and that took another 15 minutes (thought that sort of thing only happened in Africa). Once we were finally off we discovered our connecting flight was leaving from B2 and we had arrived at F6. Those two points are about the farthest apart you can get at Amsterdam airport. Fortunately we had lots of time because the connecting flight was only at 14:25. Schiphol is a sophisticated airport including free WiFi. We found a spot for drinks and then lunch. I had a baby chicken (yes Janet – a whole one and I thought of you and wanted to take a photo to send to you) with fries. It was the best airport food I have ever had (seriously). Helen had barbecue sausages and potato bake (and you wouldn’t believe the size of the portion she got).
The flight from Amsterdam to Bordeaux was uneventful and exactly on time. We saw them load our bags onto the plane so we at least knew they had made it too. We landed at around 4pm. Bordeaux airport looks like it was stuck in the 1960s. They clearly haven’t considered doing any work on it since then. Once we had our luggage we found the hotel board and called them to send the shuttle to collect us. We are staying at an airport hotel – Novotel (http://www.novotel.com/gb/hotel-0402-novotel-bordeaux-aeroport/index.shtml) – nothing fancy but perfectly adequate for the one night. We were all quite tired from 19 hours of travel and so decided to chill in the hotel (read: get connected to free hotel WiFi and catch up on Facebook, Whatsapp, email etc). We had dinner at the hotel – sitting in the garden – sun out, about 30 degrees, no wind.
At about 10pm the noisy group arrived from London. There was a large group of them on the flight including my parents, my brother and his family (they make a party by themselves), my uncle & aunt, one cousin and one longstanding family friend. Some of our family had never met some of these family members or had last seen them 17 years ago. So it was quite a rowdy reconnection and introductions in the foyer of the hotel. They dumped their luggage down and then were back for drinks at the hotel bar and a general catch up until sleepiness finally caught up. There are 18 people staying here tonight at the hotel. That is about half the entire group. We all meet up (assuming everyone’s flights work out ok) tomorrow.
Until then …
P, H, S, M, C