May 24, 2007

The Long Road to Paris

The Long Road to Paris

A long day! We drove through some rain and thunder to get to the airport in Cedar Rapids. Unfortunately it was also windy in Chicago which was a bad omen for us. Our flight was delayed getting to CR and once we got out to the end of the runway the dreaded ground stop announcement came. Chicago was not allowing us to take off because they had no landing slots. So we sat at the end of the runway for 45 minutes and one more rain squall before we could finally take off.

As we began our descent into Chicago we watched helplessly as the time ticked closer to 4:30, our scheduled departure time. Our only hope was that our outbound flight was as delayed as everything else. This was not to be. We got off the plane and ran across 2 concourses to get to our gate only to find out the plane had left without us. We were told to go to K6, the rebooking gate. The line there looked 2 hours long at least. Jane tried to talk to the gate agent for the paris flight but they told us there was not enough time to get our bags on the flight.

So there we were standing in line, using Kaia’s cell phone to call the rebooking number with a hold time of more than 28 minutes. Finally I was able to flag down a manager (Shawn ) and I asked him why we couldn’t get on the Paris flight. When I explained that it looked like we were going to miss an entire day of our vacation I think he felt sorry for us. So, he looked on the computer and said we could fly to Frankfurt and then back to Brussels. That flight left at 7:00. When he went to change our booking he discovered that we had already been rebooked on a flight to London connecting to Brussels. How we were ever supposed to discover that is a huge mystery.

On the flight to London we were given the very back row of seats in the 777. This means we were even behind the bathrooms. The flight attendant told us he would move us up because it was a very smelly place to sit. He was a really nice guy and moved us to bulkhead seats in row 20, which made for a pretty comfortable flight.

We had five hours in Heathrow to kill, so we tried to get some sleep in the international lounge. Once on our plane to Brussels we were seated in front of three obnoxious women (kind of like the nightmare version of Bridget Jone’s Diary)

Once in Brussels everything went very smoothly, all the luggage was intact, we zipped through customs and didn’t even have to wait at the car rental counter. We had a little fun trying to get our first tank of gas since I went to the Belgium card side of the gas station and none of my credit cards would work. I finally learned that we need to go to the other side of the gas station to fill up.

Now we are enroute to Paris! So far the GPS has been working and have not gotten lost yet. We hid major rush hour traffic in Brussels and were zooming along toward paris until just a moment ago when we hit a big slowdown. Josh is enjoying our drive to Paris by looking at all the cars he would like to drive.

As I write this in the car, we are all tired and hungry so are very much looking forward to getting to our apartment and having an evening meal.

After Jane and I left the kids in the apartment and parked the car we all went for a walk to check out the eiffel tower at night. Beautiful.

We had late night pizza at La Gourmandise. A little Pizza shop that seated about 16 people max. Josh and I split a Pizza Margherita avec chorizo and Jane and Kaia split the four fromage pizza. Very good.