As we were too busy preparing for four receptions, we had less time on our hands to plan for our trip to Paris.
Months ago, we decided it was best to delegate. Since I’m the one who’s good at hunting for the best prices, I was responsible for booking the flights and accommodation. Since Reza is good with itineraries (his past itinerary to Europe consisted of a big fat file with maps and timetables), he was to pick the attractions and arrange ground transportation. We had a rough plan of how to go about the city, but nothing was really concrete.
I suppose that explains my lack of excitement before boarding the plane — I wasn’t adequately involved. At least not like my first trip to Tokyo, where I did a comprehensive study of the city, read about every other page of my Tokyo travel guide, roamed the streets with Google Street View and created a 30-page itinerary.
Because our schedule were packed, too, days of no rest took a toll on my body. I caught cold. Zyrtec-D and Panadol and I were inseparable throughout the whole flight.
We were scheduled to fly with Saudia, an airline totally foreign to both of us. The stopover was at Jeddah, so the majority of passengers on the flight were Muslims travelling with tour agencies, who were on their way to perform Haji or Umrah in the Holy Land.
At the check-in at the counter, there was a reminder by the airline, requesting passengers to:
- Dress appropriately and modestly
- Abstain from showing public displays of affection
Wasn’t I relieved to be appropriately covered in my favorite Zara cardigan!
Our flight was delayed for at least two hours, a change I welcomed because it meant a shorter transit time. From six, it became a manageable four to be spent at the King Abdulaziz International Airport.
Being on two separate planes wasn’t bad at all. I had the privilege of eating four times!
With the help of the generic sleeping drugs I’d purchased from a pharmacy earlier, I managed to catch some sleep on each flight, if I’m not reading a travel guide book on Paris. Before I knew it, we were about to land just before dawn.
If my brain often plays a Hoshino Gen or Aiko song by default, by the time I arrived, it was playing a song by Phoenix. How apt!
It was gloomy. We chilled at the arrival hall of the empty terminal and decided to wait until the Tourist Information desk opens, supposedly at 7:30AM, to buy our rail passed and museum tickets.
There were ample of vending machines for the hungry, however useless unless you have small change. We relied on the breads and water we’d saved from the flights.
While we had the time, we charged whatever that was necessary at the plug points stationed at different corners at the terminal.
It was past 7:30AM and there was no sign of the Tourist Information desk opening. When we asked any staff of the airport, they’d said it’ll be open soon and gave us an estimated time. But it never opened!
By 9:00AM, we decided we should just get on a train to the city. On the way to the train station, we passed another terminal which had a closed Tourist Information desk, too, but this one had a sign saying that they’re closed on the day (it was Christmas). Ceh.
At the RER B station beneath the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), we bought our 5-Day rail pass called Paris Visite at €59.50 each and took a train to the city.
The journey to Paris begins!