Flying economy to Europe from Australia never gets enjoyable. Arriving in Europe from Australia is always enjoyable. One requires the other. Grinning and bearing it, the order of the day. Or days, as the case may be.
I live a couple of hours from my nearest international airport. Our train service makes me weep every time I research trains in Europe. The two combined mean that for a 5am flight I need to leave home at 6.30 pm the previous evening, and sit in the airport for half the night, before the flights even start.
I’m not writing this to say how much I hate the process, but to show how much I love Europe. I did this for the fifth time in just over five years this June.
On June 8 I left home to begin my latest trip. Short drive to the train station, a couple of hours on the train, a long dinner in Melbourne then a bus to the airport and a long sit in at the airport before check in. The bus trip rates a mention. While regional trains here are terrible, the airport bus is fantastic, even though a train would be better. Even overnight they leave very regularly. I was the only one on it and had a seat upstairs at the front, Melbourne is a lovely sight at night, especially when you’re looking at that sight on your way to the airport.
Checking in for a 5am flight at Tullamarine is even more drawn out than for most, because even though the check in desk opens at around 2, security doesn’t, so you’re back to waiting for them to open before you can get flight side. It creates a kind of congeniality between all the people waiting and the occasional conversation starts up, comparing impending adventures, and previous long airport waits. We all have stories of those. I recall three of us sitting around chatting, all solo female travelers, but all different. I was doing my own thing, all self planned, another was a serial cruiser, the third a walker, doing a Camino. A reminder that solo travel can mean so many different things.
The next 20 or so hours is a blur. I think it involved many movies, a brief stop in Dubai and flight change, and mediocre food. Which I mostly avoided, since half the reason I was going to Europe was for food and I might as well be hungry on arrival. And not much sleep.
I landed in Paris around 8pm and was soon heading to my hotel via taxi. I’d managed to luck a free one via booking.com, an error on their part that I made them honor. Flying into Paris was special and as we headed over the city and spotted the Eiffel Tower, the discomfort of the previous twenty something hours faded and the excitement of being back in Europe started.
My hotel was lovely, with the smallest lift I had ever seen. In the 9th arrondissement, it was relatively quiet, yet still close to everything. And an easy walk to find a quick meal before crashing for a much needed sleep.
Haha, I jest, despite about fifty hours mostly awake, I hardly slept that night. Good thing I had a quiet day planned for my first day. Yeah, that’s a big fat lie too. Stay tuned for day one.