Saturday, September 14, 2013

Are We There Yet?

There was a time when arriving at an airport at the start of a journey bright excitement, and the exhilaration of expectation of things to come. Thursday, our 11 AM arrival at the Delta check-in area was the start of a string of frustrating events that culminated in two very long days of travel adventure.

Upon arrival at SEA- Tac, the reader board indicated our flight was delayed by 2 hours, meaning nearly a five hour wait as we had  dutifully arrived well ahead of the suggested two hours in advance schedule. Next, the check- in kiosk, which is being used now in lieu of human airline agents, refused our check-in information, with  "seek assistance" flashing in red letters across the screen. We found an overworked but very friendly Delta assistance agent who  examined our credentials, and entered same into the machine, only to reach the same result. This complication required us to move into a very long very slow "Special Assistance " line. An hour and 15 minutes after our arrival, we had boarding passes in hand .. wait! Only two of the three needed for our days journey! It seems Delta/KLM have no association with Hop! the airline of our third leg, meaning they could not check us thru, nor check our bag thru to our final destination. Hop! Is  operated by BritAir for Air France, and serves small airports all over France. This little complication resulted in us having to claim our checked bag in Lyon, get boarding passes there, recheck our bag, and locate our departure gate. More about that below...

Proceeding to Security, we learn the security area at the far south end of the terminal is backed up and we must go to the central area, about a quarter of a mile walk, where the serpentine line moved at a snails pace, and it was a full 20 minutes before we reached the inspection area. In my own inimitable fashion,set off the alarm, and found myself being inspected and re inspected by the TSA agent, the wand passed over and under and around my body parts, and finally a swab used on my palms and subjected to the machine that reveals suspect substances. If ever there were a case for acquiring the 
TSA Pre-check, I think it is me. After reclaiming all of my possessions and getting re-dressed (shoes, jewelry, sweater, scarf), we proceed back down to the south end of the terminal and find a cafe for a bit of brunch. Tummies satisfied, the shuttle takes us out to the Delta satellite  terminal where we finally are shoehorned into our seats, and begin the long nights flight to Amsterdam.
One of the many canals visible in the morning gloom over Amsterdam.

Amsterdams Schiaphol airport is huge, modern and beautiful. It is so large, that as you are transiting on foot (Europeans walk everywhere ), there are signs that tell you how many minutes to the section of gates you are heading to. It was about a 15 minute walk from  our arrival gate to our departure gate.
Above, a wine bar and shop at the Amsterdam airport. 
Below, Chocolate! What else could you possibly need? 

Our delayed departure in Seattle meant a much shorter layover in Amsterdam, and we shortly were boarded onto a KLM city hopper to Lyon, where we landed at the regional end of the terminal, hiked into the central area, claimed our bag, cleared security and customs...( yes, once again I was patted down inspected with a beeping electronic wand) and then catapulted thru a series of walkways and elevators into a teeming court of kiosks, airline desks and confusing signs, mostly in French. A nearly sleepless 24 hours was beginning to take its toll, but amazingly, the screen on the check in kiosks recognized us immediately with our confirmation number, spit out boarding passes, and even luggage tags! Once the bags were in the hands of the airline, we proceeded back to the regional terminal area, only a 6 minute walk on the people mover conveyor belt. 

The flight to Caen ( pronounced "cun", by the way) was an uneventful hour and fifteen minutes, affording us a little catnap, staving off the inevitable exhaustion.  Picking up our rental car and finding our way via our French GPS to our Gite was uncomplicated, and our hosts were welcoming, friendly and helpful.
Madame Roquier's English is far better than my French, and we had some good laughs understanding each other. We are wonderfully situated within just a couple of blocks of the historic section of Bayeux (pronounced "beh-euu" like view).  It is a charming and medieval city, and we love being so close in. 

Too tired to consider going out to dinner,  we made a brief foray out for coffee, bread and cheese, had a little snack and fell into bed at 8:30.
Not surprisingly, we were up with the chickens, unpacked, showered and took a walk to the very large and lovely Saturday Market at Place St Jean. Our larder is stocked with fresh local produce, we bought fresh bread at the boulangerie around the corner, and life is more than good! 

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