Final thoughts on my first European experience
So I got back on Monday after a flight delay that left us in Hong Kong and Shanghai for a forgettable day. Apparently Iceland received record snowfalls this Winter, so we didn’t get to see the best of an Icelandic Winter, oh well I was expecting snow any way, and we did get a couple of clear days to see around Reykjavik at least. I wouldn’t exactly call Reykjavik a city, it’s more like a town considering that you can walk from the suburbs to downtown in 25 minutes, but it has all the amenities, didn’t see the night life at all, but that’s not a big deal considering I’m currently sober :D. What I found a little amazing was that even in Patreksfjordur, population about 1000, they have proper 3g coverage and broadband internet, it’s about as remote as you can get in Europe I would think, and yet they pretty much have all the amenities. I did have a pretty scary ferry ride from the Westfjords to Snaefell before driving along some dark and dusty roads back to Reykjavik. I am thinking that I’ll go back in the future, probably in late Spring/early Summer time, although I would like to go again perhaps in the late Autumn/early Winter to give myself another chance to see the northern lights, in a better location with a clearer sky, that would still be ideal.
As for Paris, in the little time I spent there and without actually getting around the downtown area too much and especially not seeing the night life, I could tell that it was a place that I would definitely really like. It’s such a busy place and the people (especially the girls) are very good looking :D, they must be so vain, or just really lucky. There’s no shortage of anything it seems, although the Vietnamese food is certainly not as good as Melbourne from what I tried. The metro system is great, just like the one in Mexico City, and they have use-once tickets as well as the re-usable card, they know what they’re doing. Winter there was not as cold as I expected, there were a couple of cold days right around 1-2 degrees, but then the two days before we left were about 10 degrees and positively balmy! Any way, I bet it’s an especially magnificent city in the warmer weather.
And now the rant, bloody Air France, and bloody QANTAS, I can tell you, I will not be flying Air France again if I can help it, and I won’t be flying QANTAS unless they have super special deals that are so cheap as to be insane not to buy, also I have frequent flyer points that I will need to use rather than waste. Air France got all the passengers on to the plane on time, and then sat there waiting (for half an hour with no information), then drove out to the runway and waited again for half an hour before finally notifying passengers of a maintenance check that needed to be done, then finally after two hours we finally took off. Initially they were telling us on the plane that we would arrive only thirty minutes later than the initial arrival time, so passengers with connecting flights need not worry. After a bit of sleep, and checking the flight route and destination details, it became apparent that we were not going to arrive in time for our flight, and in fact we were arrived exactly two hours late, ten minutes after our particular connecting flight was due to leave, so they made up no time at all. On the plane, the cabin crew told us to go talk to the ground staff for further information, so a bunch of Aussies with connecting flights to Melbourne and Sydney were possibly expecting that we’d walk through and be lead to our boarding gates by someone only to find that our QANTAS flights had already left. So Air France, who were operating a flight for QANTAS from Paris to Hong Kong did not do anything to help those passengers that had connecting flights with QANTAS to get on their flights on time. Instead they provided us with $90HKD worth of food vouchers for the airport and half a night’s stay in the airport hotel. Air France obviously working with their partner airlines only, provided us with airfares to get back to Melbourne, but not until over 24 hours after we were meant to.
So we were stuck boarding a second rate plane with China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai bright and early in the morning and spending the whole day there until a flight in the evening back to Melbourne. OK, China Eastern Airlines didn’t actually seem so bad up until then, apart from the service being a little abrupt. They were running on time and everything, and with a whole day in town we decided to head out to see what Shanghai was about, I didn’t see anything that I would say will warrant a return visit. Any way, our flight was meant to leave Shanghai at 8.15pm, but it was eventually delayed by over and hour and we eventually took off, they also never gave us any indication of how long it would take or what time we would arrive in Melbourne. So QANTAS having bailed on us,is now pretty much on my boycott list, and Air France, I should have known, I guess we’re fortunate to be back in Melbourne in one piece.
But the rant is not over! For some reason, the airport in France (Terminal 2 at least) seem to think that it’s a good idea to only have one person working the departure desks (and arrival desks when we arrived) which makes for a lot of waiting before you can enter or leave the country by plane, get to the airport early! Maybe it has to do with the financial crisis and they are cutting costs. Now rant over, and we can look at some pretty pictures! I will hopefully start posting pictures on flickr this weekend.