Friday, 27 May 2011: Tallahassee to Paris!

Written 28 May 2011

Probably our least eventful and least stressful trip to Europe ever. Our ride to the airport was provided by one of David's graduate students, all eminently reliable, so we were spared that excruciating period during which you exchange multiple phone calls with some Tallahassee taxi service, trying to get somebody to pick you up within an hour or so of the time you arranged in advance. Our layover in Atlanta was perfectly adequate for the connection, without being long enough (sigh) for shopping or eating.

On the Atlanta-to-Paris leg, though, we lucked out. Our code-share flight earned us Delta Skymiles but flew Air France equipment, and that's the next best thing to getting upgraded to first class —seats that recline to a better angle and have adjustable headrests; better-designed (and either sturdier or better maintained) tray tables (with fold-down drink-holder usable even when the table is stowed); individual video screens offering on-demand flight updates, three dozen on-demand movies, plus several TV series, nature shows, etc., and a dozen video games; individual adjustable footrests; and way better food and beverage service.

David was able to begin the meal with a glass (well, plastic cup) of champagne, followed by a couple of glasses of a French red that he's been known to buy and drink at home. The side dishes and bread were pretty routine, but the main courses were both winners: chicken with wine sauce and noodles and salmon shepherd's pie. In Delta's hands, both would be recipes for disaster, but we had one of each, and we both believed we got the best of the deal. I'm going to try to duplicate the salmon at home.

I managed to find a more comfortable position than usual and dozed for a while, but the night was marred by a 2- or 3-year old girl a few rows ahead who showed truly amazing stamina. She was inconsolable and indefatigable. She cried loudly for hours at a time. Every now and then, someone would manage to distract her for a few minutes, during which she would laugh and chatter loudly, only to remember her intolerable grief/pain/whatever and resume sobbing and wailing. It can't have been her ears, because she started as soon as we boarded and screamed continuously, even while we sat motionless at the gate, with the boarding door open. I don't think she was quiet for more than five minutes at a time during the 8 or 9 hours we were on the plane.

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