WHEELS UP! Washington (IAD) to Paris (CDG)
Day 0 – Is there anything more exciting than arriving at the airport before a big trip? Tasks that are usually an annoyance, such as parking in a huge parking lot and waiting for a shuttle in the rain, become little more than temporary speed bumps on your way to the terminal. Your ticket isn’t a passport to work or business in some other timezone, its permission to leave your worries and cares behind and dive into the freedom of wandering aimlessly in a new place you’ve always wanted to go. As Kess and I approached IAD’s terminal on our departure date, no rain could dampen our spirits – it was time for vacation!
*Travel Tip* Unless you are a master traveler, arrive at the airport with plenty of time before your departure, especially if you are relatively new to air travel. Check with TSA’s website concerning any security issues you need to consider when packing. When you are in the airport, don’t be afraid to speak to the security personnel; they are, after all, friendly people working on your behalf.
Getting through security was relatively simple considering we planned ahead. I was taking my laptop, so I had it in a sleeve for easy removal from my backpack for the scanners. Our fluids, toothpaste, and the like were packed in our checked bag, so we didn’t need to worry about that. After stepping through security, we took our time moving through the terminals until we found our gate, and there we sat for about 30 minutes awaiting our flight across the Atlantic on a monstrous 757 operated by Air France.
*Travel Tip* – FLY WITH AIR FRANCE.
Seriously. In all our travels, we have had the greatest service flying with Air France. The food is good, the drinks are served strong and often, and
the flight attendants are great. If you haven’t flown with them before, you won’t fly with anyone else afterwards!
I don’t know what other travelers think, but I prefer to fly at night. Maybe its the view from the air of the millions of twinkling lights sprawling across the landscape, the feeling that I am using my vacation time economically, or the magical feeling of waking up in a new place, but I am most definitely a night-time flyer. This flight, however, was cursed with a crying baby that somehow knew to cry every 27 minutes or so just loud enough to wake everyone within three degrees of latitude. It was eerily regular, and in my tired stupor even suggested to Kess that someone was pinching the child on a schedule. So what was supposed to be an 8 hour flight to Paris that consisted of dinner and some shut-eye was instead an opportunity to
examine the many movies on the Air France seat back TV. Wonderful….
PARIS (CDG) to NAPLES (NAP)
Landing in Paris was uneventful, and after getting our passports stamped, our two-hour layover allowed us time to grab a quick nap at our gate to makeup for the baby-induced lack of sleep we were hoping to catch on our first flight. From Paris, a quick hop on a puddle-jumper deposited us safely in Naples, and also delivered us our first real test as lone wanderers. The taxi I had arranged to pick us up from the airport (complete with my name on a sign) was nowhere to be seen…..
Day 1: The Mystery of the Missing Taxi
My Italian can barely be described as rudimentary. If its possible, my wife’s may be worse. We stood together in the pickup terminal 4,771 miles (exactly) from home with no taxi, surrounded by people who were bustling to and fro, and of course the help desk was closed for lunch. Talk about a rough start. We waited 10 minutes. Then 20. At 30, I decided that I would make a go of using the phone. I figured phones in Italy must work just like the ones back home, and sure enough, when I dialed the hotel’s number the receptionist informed me that I had indeed reached the Hotel Forum. In the worst Italian imaginable (and with a lot of help from Google Translate) I managed to discover that our taxi had left on time to pick us up, and should have already been there. That was somewhat unsettling. We were advised to wait another 20 minutes to account for traffic, but if the taxi didn’t show we were to call back. It wasn’t much, but now we had a plan.
*Travel Tip* – Always keep a copy of you destination’s phone number and address on your person in case you need to contact them or arrange alternative transportation.
After 15 minutes, a short man came rushing through the terminal looking in all directions holding my name on a sign. We stood and waved, and when he reached us he began to speak the fastest Italian I have ever heard in my life, gesturing and articulating his point with great emotion. Looking back I realize it must have been quite comical, but at the time I remember thinking something along the lines of, “I surely hope Italian is not commonly spoken this fast, or I wasted all my money on that Italian CD”. I did make out the terms “motorcycle caput”, and at this I must have looked startled enough to slow him down. This is when he realized my Italian was pretty poor (i.e. nonexistent), and he began laughing as he retold the story in English. Apparently there had been a nasty accident involving a motorcycle that had backed traffic up for miles, and that was why he was late. At that, he grabbed my wife’s bags and lead us to his taxi, which I was surprised to see was a very well-kept Mercedes. As he fired up the car, our adventure felt back on track!
Check back soon for Part 3: Hotel Forum, Day 2, and Pompeii
As always, please comment and let us know what you think of the adventure so far. We love hearing from our readers!