We’re Off!

We decided while on our trip to Europe in May that we missed not having the time for Paris. It just wasn’t possible with the arrival and departure city being fixed in Milan, to make a huge loop to Paris and then back, along with the other parts of our itinerary. So, we scheduled another trip!

We’re flying through to Paris, with an overnight there before taking the train from Paris to Amsterdam. We’ll be in Amsterdam for four days before we take the train to Brussels, then on to London, where we’ll be for four days, then cross back under the English Channel to Paris!

It’s been a number of years since we’ve been to Amsterdam, so we’re excited to return! Checking my digital photo archives, I couldn’t find photos of Amsterdam, so that means it’s been pre-digital photos (prior to 1998) since we’ve been.

Laten We Gaan. Google Translate will have to be my friend. I don’t speak or read Dutch. Fortunately, English is widely spoken in the Netherlands.

Travel tech will mostly be the same this trip as last, except I’m taking one more Canon lens (50mm F1.4). With the Sony to Canon lens adapter, this will make the lens not quite 50mm any more, but I’m hoping that since this will still be a lower F-stop, it will be better in low light conditions. I’m also taking Gorilla Pod mini tripod. It has foldable legs, which let it take up less space. I debated about buying a monopod, but the minimum lengths (even when compressed), meant that it wouldn’t fit inside my camera backpack.

Our objective with luggage is always to ‘roll-on and roll-off’, which means a single suitcase for each of us. Sometimes the airlines thwart this, as in returning from Milano in May, where the carry-on limit for Emirates was 7 kilos! But coming over on the same model plane, same airline,there wasn’t any such ridiculous limit.

The flight to London was uneventful, but cramped, as the plane was full. No wifi on the Boeing 777, but I was able to stream some video from my Kingston WI-drive (wireless flash drive that creates it’s own hotspot) to my tablet. In flight entertainment looked abysmal. The Bose noise cancelling ear buds cut out all the jet’s roar. But too cold and cramped to sleep.

In London’s Heathrow, even transiting to another flight means going through security, again (though you never left the secured area) . With carry-on, you always risk getting tagged for another secondary inspection. So my suitcase, that had all the liquids, dutifully hidden, wasn’t tagged, but my backpack with two cameras, four lenses and two tablets, was pushed off to the side for further inspection. They have one person working the secondary inspection, and she unpacks virtually the entire bag and swabs it all down. Repack and we’re ready to…. wait, because the gate didn’t post for another 20 minutes.

Who knows what they wanted to look at. In the US, I never have to take a tablet out of my carry on, but this seemed to be a common denominator of those selected for additional screening. And I had a bag full of electronics!

CDG Airport looked like Paris was evacuating, the lines for airline check in were so long. Thank goodness we were taking the RER (regional) train into Paris. Roissybus, though the same cost, seemed like it would be slower.

As expected, you have to change from the rail station to the Metro station, then take the Metro to the closest stop. However, changing at the Chatelet les Halles station required a really, really, long walk to get to ‘les correspondence’ (connecting subway line ). I wouldn’t be surprised if we walked the better part of a mile underground. When we were young, suitcases didn’t have wheels. Now they mostly have wheels, but this doesn’t help when the escalator that goes up two levels isn’t working.

It’s great to be back, if only for the night, until we return at the end of this trip. Off to Amsterdam tomorrow.

Photos will be posted on Flickr, and a few here, as time and bandwidth permit.

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