Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Getting to Paris from Chicago (and back again), December 2015

Apologies to those of you who have seen some of my photographs on
Instagram; I promise that there are a lot more photograph that you
haven't seen coming up soon!

If you're considering going to Paris soon, DO IT! If nothing else, the trip over was MUCH easier than it's ever been before, in my experience. A lot of people on my flight were no-shows, which meant that lots of us had a ton of space. On both of my flights - to and from Paris - I had a window AND an aisle seat all to myself. On the trip over, some people had ENTIRE middle sections (three seats wide, maybe 4?) in which to stretch out and sleep somewhat comfortably. 

I know that a lot of this is the result of no-shows, because I seriously considered upgrading my seat on both legs of the trip, and decided not to because of cost. When I viewed the seat maps online, they showed that there were very few free seats on both flights. But when it came time to actually take off, the amount of available room (and overhead bin space!) was delightful, if somewhat sad. The flight boarded quickly, with very little crowding or jostling about, and no oneupsmanship in the competition for storing bags. Pretty nice...

But two things about flights irk me:


  1. The movies have become SUCH a thing, that we are all asked to close our window shades so that the movie watchers won't have any glare. I don't know quite what the solution to this is, but for those of us who would rather gaze out the windows at the clouds, we're out of luck. I find it quite gloomy to be in a dark metal tube for 9 hours...
  2. If you have a cold that's in that highly... liquid... stage, where you're constantly coughing, sneezing, and/or blowing your nose, STAY OFF THE PLANE. Yes, I know that changing travel plans is a really big, and sometimes quite expensive, hassle, but you have to think of the people around you, sometimes. I am absolutely guaranteed to have a horrendous cold sometime soon, even though I wiped down every possible surface with disinfectant wipes. The airborn ickiness on my flight yesterday should be considered as a military weapon...
Okay, got that off my chest...

The other thing I can't recommend highly enough is the train (the RER B) from Charles de Gaulle airport into the city. Even if you have to take a cab AFTER you get off the train, you will save a ton of money. In many cases, you might be able to walk to your hotel, too.

My trip into the city, on the train: 10 €
My cab back to the airport: 50€

(can someone in Europe clarify for me (because I've completely forgotten!!!), does the symbol go before or AFTER the numeral for prices, in Euros? Thanks!)

I'm not going to get really crazy about recommending an airline, but I have to say that I've been on the American Airlines flights between Chicago and Paris about a bajillion times (flights 42 and 41, respectively), and I have nothing but good things to say about them. It would be nice if they would pick a time and stick with it, but other than that, I find the flight attendants to be WAY above average, and the food, amenities etc. to be perfectly acceptable. 

But any time you get two adjacent seats to yourself, a flight is going to feel a lot more comfortable!

much more to come...
love,
Janice


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17 comments:

  1. When in English, EUR goes in front of the figures; when in any other European language (I can name French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, but also Polish and Romanian) the EUR or actually the euro sign go after the figures, like in speech.

    Mind you, financial reporting always puts the EUR first, no matter the language.

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  2. In Germany, we put the Euro in front of the number.
    Glad you are back. A few years ago, I decided to upgrade to business the first time I travelled without my children (and thus justifying the expense...) and I am hopelessly spoiled now. I know the price is horrifying, but I arrive rested and relaxed. And all that attention that I receive makes it (just about) worthwhile.

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  3. Was fantasizing that some of your no shows were home sick! Really is amazing how inconsiderate travelers can be. Your trip looked lovely. I got the impression it was a solo adventure. Will you report what the ladies of a certain age were wearing and doing? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Good question. Images of Parisian fashion are always of 20-somethings, size 0. Would love to know what the "seasoned" woman is wearing.

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  4. I second your enthusiasm for the RER train--and your ticket will get you a transfer anywhere in central Paris on the Metro, too. The only 'trick', as you have been teaching us all for these several years, is to pack light in one carry-on and a handbag/tote. Doing that also gets one through customs and immigration far ahead of the rest of the passengers with bulkier luggage and into Paris much faster. :). Cheryl

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  5. Agree with you entirely about the windowshades. I used to love watching the landscape go by as I flew across the US or Europe or Australia, and the little down- facing cameras on the new big jets, while better than nothing, are not at all the same thing. I have always suspected that part of the reason for the darkened cabin is to keep as many passengers as possible dozing for as long as possible, making the attendant's job easier. Also agree about the RER, except when you arrive, as a I did once, in the middle of a heat wave, to l'interruption on the train and a looong wait for non-existent buses. Loved following you on Instagram, it looks like you had a great time!

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  6. Hmm, I just put the window shade down a bit leaving enough room for me to look out the window. I'm usually flying the polar route from the Pacific Northwest and look forward to seeing Greenland from the air! Haven't taken the RER into own, but can recommend the Air France bus as a no-hassle alternative.

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  7. We flew London Heathrow to Denver via Chicago in the summer on American Airlines and it was the BEST! The staff were friendly and attentive especially to the 3 teenagers we took with us. The food was really good and plentiful and drinks were offered many times. Our flight home from JFK with British Airways was not worth talking about :(

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  8. So glad you're safely back, Janice, and that you had a great time, despite the gray skies and all the armed gendarmes about.

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  9. I usually take the Air France coach into Porte Maillot or L'Etoile. It picks up in the terminal, is reasonably priced, and surprisingly fast. It is easy to pick up a cab at Porte Maillot or change into the public transport system.

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  10. I'm with you on both complaints. The closed-windowshade thing makes me crazy (although I've been known to leave mine up anyway). And the worst upper respiratory infection I ever had came from a plane trip (TWO round of antibiotics and three days of literal immobility). Thanks for all the tips.

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  11. Janice,
    An article in our local newspaper last week reported that the streets are fairly empty in Paris, and that there are armed men everywhere. It was also felt that the joy de vivre and free feelings were absent. What was your observation ?

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    1. There are armed officers on the streets, and those streets are slightly less busy than they might be another year. But I personally felt that everyone was warm and welcoming, and very determined to make things normal. Maybe it's because I live in Chicago, where guns - on police, security guards, and average people - are normal. Maybe it's because I don't live there. Or maybe I don't like a good news story!

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  12. Oh I cannot imagine how uncomfortable I would be sitting close to someone for 11 hours while they were sneezing and coughing! One would most certainly come down with a cold after that and it would really put a damper on the holiday...I so agree with you!
    Happy to have followed you in Paris on IG and the pictures were wonderful.

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  13. I recently heard that you may avoid getting the cold after close virus exposure. You just need at least 8 h of good sleep during the next days.

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  14. Sometimes one doesn't have a choice about flying while ill -- for example I was scheduled to fly from Shanghai yesterday and I had developed a head cold (or something like it) while there for work. My office would not accept postponing a flight due to an illness that does not require hospitalization or at least a visit to the doctor. I took as many meds as possible to control symptoms, but I still could not keep from blowing my nose at times and I thought about how annoyed I would be if I saw someone like myself on the flight. I would love any tips on how to minimize exposure when the flight cannot be avoided.

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  15. I learned from a friend who travels a lot to smear Vaseline inside your nostrils just before boarding - it acts as a wonderful barrier against both germs and the dry cabin atmosphere. My boyfriend has done this ever since, and the only time he forgot to pack Vaseline (there are tiny travel-size tubs) is the only time he caught a cold flying, whereas he used to get one every single time he traveled...

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