Friday, August 8 - Paris and Back to Texas

There really isn’t a great deal of interest to report about this travel day.  However, Gary and I did learn something extremely significant – there is absolutely NO comparison to be made between coach and business class when one is going to be cooped up in a jet for the better part of a day!  Arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport only to discover that our flight home would be delayed at least an hour and a half, we were informed by François, our ticketing agent, that there were two seats available in business class.  Remembering the agony of the11-hour return flight from Frankfurt last June in the very back of coach, we made the spur of the moment decision to spring for the upgrade – and it was one of the best choices we have EVER made!  (One of the other nice things about attempting to make an upgrade – we were ushered by our Viking facilitator past the loooooong lines of travelers who were waiting to check in for the actual seats they had already reserved…)

While it did take a little longer than we had anticipated to accomplish our seat change (the airport was an absolute madhouse that morning), we still had plenty of time left to run the gauntlet of the totally INSANE French version of TSA security.  Once past that challenge, we were able to park ourselves in the Admirals’ Club on the upper level of the concourse, another perk that enhanced our travel experience for the day.  Comfortable seats, an abundance of power outlets for charging our electronics, and a (mostly) quite atmosphere (one can almost never completely escape exuberant children) made the extended wait for our flight much more bearable than it would have been downstairs in the midst of the mayhem of the high-dollar duty-free stores.  (Yes, I did manage to avoid being sucked into the Chanel and Hermés establishments; I’ll probably have my Super Shopper designation revoked.)
When the moment finally arrived for us to board the shiny new 777 and wing our way homeward, there was an unexpected snag.  Remember the French TSA security checkpoint?  Well, apparently in the midst of the chaos we endured there someone didn’t do his job that would have allowed him to affix the proper stickers to our passports.  So we were pulled out of the line and taken over to the side to answer questions about our carry-ons.  I had been doing what for me was VERY well in light of the stresses of the day, but all I could see at this instant was the possibility of our being pulled off the flight.  While I didn’t totally lose it in front of the young woman who was interrogating us, my stress and anger level must have been very obvious to her, which did nothing to lighten the tension.  However, things were ultimately resolved and I was even able to redeem myself before starting down the jetway.  Taking one last look back to our inquisitor to thank her, I noticed the absolutely fabulous shoes she was wearing and complimented her on them.  Immediately, all was forgiven as her face transformed from that of the stern martinet to that of the gratified Parisian fashionista, glancing back and forth between my face and her shoes.  Another international incident averted thanks to couture!

And speaking of thanks, I would like to offer mine to the person/s who designed the phenomenal seats that awaited us in business class.  These things would do everything but sing you to sleep; no, scratch that.  With their built-in earphone jacks, they could sing you to sleep.  To perfectly top things off, I was able to enjoy a mimosa before the plane even left the ground – heaven!
After a nice meal (and no, I don’t remember what was on the menu), we stretched out (more celestial bliss) and crashed for as much as we could of the 10+ hour flight.  Just being able to change position without feeling constricted or poking one’s neighbor in the eye was a Godsend, further cementing our resolve about future travel arrangements. 

Soon enough, the captain announced that we would be landing in the 103° heat of Texas, and we were back in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  All that remained was for our friend/chauffeur to navigate the perils of Highway 360 on a Friday afternoon to fetch us and we would be home. Naturally, there was a wreck which slowed his progress, but we eventually were able to load up our bags in what used to be my Mercedes ML320 and plunge back into the rush hour traffic.
Our fat cat Sammy was waiting for us as we opened the front door, although Miss Misty was a little stand-offish with us for a few hours.  The journey was over, and it was time to recover from our vacation – Thanks for sharing it with us!

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