(Written 10 June 2008)
Yup, I think we do, if only because I'm out of leave time and I'd like to keep my job.
And we had to leave early. David's flight was at 9:20 a.m., so the airport shuttle people said they'd pick us up at 5:45 a.m.! Ah, well, the better to start adjusting for jet lag . . .
We came downstairs exactly on time (a two-stage operation, as the hotel's elevator will hold only one person with luggage at a time) and found the shuttle van already waiting for us, empty, which meant we were the first pick-up and would have to wait through as many pick-ups as it took to fill all the seats. So we made the rounds of three other small hotels nearby (I took down some of the names for future reference) and made such good time doing it that we showed up early for the last pick-up (from a private appartment rather than a hotel) and had to wait a quarter of hour. We were still on schedule though, so the delay was not worrisome. We got to watch various shopkeepers come out to sweep the sidewalks in front of their windows, check their mail, etc.
When the last traveler at last appeared, out of breath and apologetic about the delay, the only remaining seat was next to me, so we struck up a conversation on the way to CDG. His name is Alexandre Bigle, and he and his wife, Armelle Faye, together with an American collaborator named Patrick Amos, have just published a children's book, Nounouche sur l'île des animaux disparu. He writes the story, and his wife does the colorful illustrations. In the book, Nounouche, an anthropomorphic cartoon panda, befriends a little boy in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and takes him on a magical journey to the island of extinct animals, where he finds that dinosaurs aren't the only extinct animals—the inhabitants include a whole range of species, right down to the dodo, Steller's sea cow, and the ivory-billed woodpecker (a painting of all of them together on the fly leaves demonstrates the proper scale)—and he learns all manner of entirely authentic information about their habitat requirements, goes through many adventures, etc., before ending up back in the Luxembourg Gardens. Apparently a whole series of books is planned in which Nounouche takes different children on various magical journeys. Mr. Bigle was on his way to New York to talk about a possible American edition. I wish him luck—the book looked like a lot of fun.
We got to the airport in plenty of time to check in for our separate flights (mine wasn't until 11:30 a.m.) and reconvene beyond security for a little breakfast. The breakfast choices were fine, but I was pretty disappointed in the lunch possibilities—the butter-and-ham-on-a-baguette sandwich I had planned to buy for lunch was nowhere ot be found; everyone was selling boxed salads and triangular American-style cello-wrapped sandwiches. So after David's flight left, I went to the Fauchon duty-free store and acquired a small St. Marcelin cheese (which they vacuum-packed for me on the spot; I could probably even have taken it into the U.S.). With a couple of little crusty bread buns from another venue, it made quite a nice lunch. Its little ceramic dish now sits on my kitchen windowsill, holding the head of garlic currently in service.
The flight home was much more comfortable than the average—I highly recommend seat 20 F on the 767-300E. Aisle seat in a row of two, conveniently near the lavatory, and all outdoors of legroom. My seat had both a regular tray table and one that folded out of the armrest, and when both were open, there was still a good 4-inch gap between them. When my seat-mate wanted to get out, I didn't even have to close the tray table! I was able to set up my folding computer table, stretch my legs out, and get comfy.
So here we are, both of us and all our luggage home again, on schedule, with most of the summer still before us. Time to start planning the next trip.
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