From Canada to France

I slept well on my one night in Toronto on Wednesday. I wasn’t able to sleep in as there was too much to do, and Glen was in danger of being late if he lounged any longer. We both rose and got on with the day. It was such a stunningly beautiful day in Toronto on Thursday that my chest ached with how wonderful it was. Summer in Perth doesn’t have that kind of effect on me. I got a bunch of life admin stuff done, went to get my back done, went shopping, to the bank, and went to the gym.

Having gone from working out 4–5 days a week to barely going over the past couple of weeks, I was very pleased to be returning to the gym. It’s a little sad how quickly you can fall out of a good routine, though I’m happy that I miss it and want to return to the regularity. I’m already trying to figure out how to fit it all in when we return to Perth.

Glen got home from work around 5:30, we ate dinner and then left for the airport. Because we travel with hand luggage most places now and check-in online, there’s usually very little reason to get there more than an hour before the flight’s due to leave. We haven’t been able to break the habit, however, and arrived with plenty of time to spare, getting through security with ample time, and were sitting at the gate waiting.

Of course, that only works if you’ve got the option of still arriving with time to board the plane. When you’re cutting it close to the wire, with the threat of actually missing your flight looming, it’s a totally different story. More on that later.

Our packed flight to Copenhagen left at 9pm. The Air Canada plane was a new one but the entertainment system didn’t work. This wasn’t such a bad thing as it stopped me from watching anything and instead forced me to get some sleep. I think I slept for a good portion of the flight, while Glen only got a few hours.

We arrived in Copenhagen and then had to wait for our gate to be announced for our onward journey to Paris. I’m not sure why I’d booked a flight that had a layover, particularly when we had a later flight to catch from Paris to Marseilles, but I did. Perhaps it was the only flight available at a non-exorbitant price. Whatever it was, it seemed a poor reason to have to fly into Copenhagen only to fly out again a few hours later.

Unfortunately our flight to Paris was delayed by about 40 minutes which ate into our transfer time from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Orly airport to catch our Marseilles flight.

We were quick to get off the plane, having chosen to sit in exit rows somewhere in the first half of the plane. We ran through the airport, with me in the lead shouting at people to move over to the right on the travellators, and then careening through the exit hall to join the taxi line. We’d decided to forego catching a train from CDG to Orly as it looked like it would take a long time. Hindsight is a marvellous thing.

The taxi line took about 15 minutes to process. Eventually we got in a cab, told him we wanted to get to Orly, and off he went. Paris traffic on a Friday afternoon is abysmal. We had two hours before our flight to Marseilles was due to depart. As I looked on Google Maps at the slow traffic and the accidents marked, my stomach sank. If we made it to the airport at all, we would do so just after the doors had closed. I forced myself to not watch our slow journey through the streets of Paris on my phone, and resigned myself to looking out the window. I continued to tap my fingers on my thigh, as if this would speed us through.

The taxi driver was amazing, a real Parisian who ducks and weaves like a boxer taking on some heavyweight champion. A few times I had to close my eyes in fear that we were about to get pummelled. As the minutes ticked closer to our departure time, I felt for sure we had missed our flight (or would not be allowed to board) but we arrived at 5:10pm. We ran through the airport to our gate and I waved down one of the assistants and said our flight was soon departing, so we cut the queue and went through security.

My bag was chosen for secondary screening. I told Glen to go hold the plane. Having found nothing in my bag, the security officer let me leave and I ran to our gate, which was quite close to security. It was 5:18pm and I always thought the doors closed ten minutes before departure. I raced up to the gate and they let me through (without checking my ID. In fact, no one checked that the name on the boarding pass was actually me).

We needn’t have hurried.

About 20 people joined the queue after us and the plane took forever to finish boarding. I don’t know what people do when they get on planes or why they dawdle but it’s enough to make me homicidal. I eventually calmed down. The plane took off. We were crammed right at the back of the plane for the hour journey to Marseilles.

We landed at about quarter to 7 and exited pretty quickly, thankfully not having had any checked luggage. My uncle and aunt, Leon and Alice, were there to meet us as we came through and we jumped in the car and set off to their place in a town called Le Beausset in Provence. Unfortunately the traffic around Marseilles was terrible and what should have been a journey of an hour and a bit, took more than two hours. Thanks to daylight savings, however, we arrived just as the sun was setting.

We hadn’t been to their place for about seven years so it was great to see what they had done to do it since then, and also to see the familiar. I was looking forward to taking a dip in the pool on Saturday. We ate a delicious late dinner, had some wine, chatted some more, and then sought our beds, Glen and I keen to have a proper sleep after all that travelling – and to have a relaxed weekend.

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