All packed up and about to head off to the bakery and airport (sorry about the image quality but it's the best I could get from my near-dead camera).
The morning started woefully early thanks to my roommate, who rose at the ungodly hour of 5:30 to be certain to comply with our trip coordinator's desire to leave the hotel at 7:30, even though our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:55 and the airport was only a few kilometers away. Everyone else took taxi vans while I simply strapped my bag to my back and pedaled off into the early morning coolness, first stopping at a bakery to pick up what would no doubt be my last authentic croissant for a while before heading to the airport.
The ride was terribly uneventful, and not having to deal with any traffic or traffic lights (the bike path follows the shoreline straight to the airport) I arrived at the terminal well ahead of the others, and already had my bike ready (bars turned and pedals removed, this time remembering to remove my allen wrenches from my seat bag - which doubled as my carry-on - so they would not be confiscated by security) when they arrived.
The steps involved in getting our bikes registered as our luggage were insane as we were shuttled back and forth between two counters, but eventually after forking over 24Euros (which at an exchange rate of about 1.50 is somewhat higher than the $30 Air Transat charged me on the way in) and returning to yet another agent I emerged with a tagged bike and a bag to put it in. Unlike Montreal, though, there was no tape at the oversize luggage counter I could use to seal said bag, but Michael saved the day by producing some, and then it was all over but the waiting.
When we arrived at the airport the displays had listed our 11:55 departure time as having been adjusted to 12:05, and the agent who checked me in suggested the delay would probably be more like 20 minutes, so you can probably guess where this is going (because we weren't, at least for a while). To cut to the chase: our boarding cards suggested we would board at 11:00; we eventually started at 12:15, I got to my seat at 12:40 (and the plane was an oven because there is no ground-supplied a/c in Nice), the engines rolled up at 1:05, we started to taxi at 1:13, and were finally in the air at 1:20. Just to keep things interesting we hit some pretty aggressive turbulence only 10 minutes in, but it lasted just a few minutes, and even though there were 2 RSIs (requisite screaming infants) in my vicinity (1 directly in front of me, in fact) things didn't get too bad. Or perhaps I am merely mellowing as I age.
In contrast to the personal entertainment centre I had on my eastbound flight. the homeward leg had shared screens and offered no choice in what was displayed. Fortunately I was interested in at least 1 of the movies shown, Collateral Beauty
- a film I had wanted to see but missed when it was in the theatres. The plane did have wi-fi, though, but apparently I needed to have downloaded an app beforehand in order to access it so I was SOL there.
In a reflective mood after the film, I noted that even though I've been retired for over 7 years, it still felt like I had had a good vacation, coming home feeling relaxed and maybe even a little recharged. Even getting back to blogging seemed to have been the right thing to do (well, at least I appreciated it). Of course all that was slipping away as the infant in front of me started exercising her lung-power, but if I could just hold on to even a little bit of that feeling, I mused,.....
When we landed in Montreal I learned something new about the airport: for some reason there are 2 oversize luggage counters in the baggage claim area, and of course I (and 2 others of our group) chose to wait at the wrong one before finally cluing in. And then we were thrust out into the humidity which was quite intense, especially after having spent two weeks in the dry heat of France. Even though it was the Friday afternoon of a long weekend, traffic was surprisingly light, although the lineup at Tim's in Hudson almost made up for that, and before too long we were back in Ottawa, where I couldn't stop marveling at how smooth the pavement was.
It had been quite a long day, having risen at 5:30AM Nice time (11:30 PM Ottawa time).and rolling into my driveway some 21 hours later. I looked forward to sleeping, perchance to dream.
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