Today begins my fortnight-long journey across Europe. There were two small — perhaps almost inconsequential — things I have always wanted to do: fly direct to Paris, and fly in an Airbus. As a Francophone, my first wish is understandable. The second was something I fulfilled earlier this year on a trip to Sri Lanka. This time round, it was a business class A330 on an (approximately) ten hour flight to Paris.
Boarding at Bangalore started at the strike of midnight, delayed by ten minutes due to security concerns of some sort. Once the plane took off, two things became clear: first of all, sleeping in planes is hellish; second, the earth is stunning. Cruising at nearly 950 km/h, the 8,000 km–long journey lasted seventeen minutes lesser than planned.
CDG is somewhat similar to BIA in more ways than one would want. This could be a one-off experience, and indeed I hope it is, but there are long queues, pointless security checks even for connecting flights, and even Sky Priority passengers like myself waited a good 30min at passport control — only four out of eight border police posts were in operation for some reason — and many missed their flights.
I pen this as I sit at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, waiting a three-hour period as my flight to Lisbon comes in. Having previously been to Germany, it seems to me, at first glance, that the French are friendlier. I would attribute this partly to the rich, multicultural society in France as opposed to the mostly white, Christian population of Germany. Nonetheless, these are two wonderful countries to visit. Portugal, now an hour-and-a-half away for me, is an unopened book.
In a series of brief write-ups that published here over the coming weeks, I will describe the interesting bits of my trip, focusing on any observations I might make that may entertain or inform future travelers. My itinerary for the coming days is as sturdy as flan: it has a shape, but is not set in stone. Flexibility, mingling with people, and diving into other cultures with a blindfold is how one must travel — those who haven’t travelled, said a wise man once, have only ever read one page of the book of life. ❖