26 October 2014

2014 EUROPE by Rail 3 - Over the Pond

We woke up with great anticipation to start our trip to Europe. Our departure was not until 1:34pm, so we casually finished our packing and prepped ourselves. We had arranged for our niece Teshia to meet us at 10am for breakfast and she would then give us a lift to the airport. Her dad arrived with her.

We treated them to breakfast at Food Dance, an expensive but special event breakie place we enjoy. Tom just had coffee as he was meeting friends for lunch shortly. Teshia and I had huevos rancheros (eggs on black beans and flour tortilla with avocado slices). Mike had a scramble with a large fresh-squeezed OJ. Teshia ordered a bloody Mary and I had a mimosa. We all toasted to a wonderful and safe trip.

When we got to the gate in Kalamazoo, there was a delayed flight to DTW that we asked if we could move up to. They said, "No." Just as well as that flight ended up leaving after our own flight. We left a few minutes after the posted time of 13:34 (switching now to the 24-hour clock used in Europe), but we still had plenty of time to catch our flight out of Detroit to Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. 

We had not departed from the Detroit airport in years. It was completely rebuilt. It is so huge now, that you take a long colorful hallway from one terminal to another (similar to Chicago-O'Hare).

Mike and I worked at Detroit Metro in the early 80's. That actually was where we first met. It seemed odd that those original terminal buildings appear abandoned now--no planes parked there or cargo carts nearby. We also looked for those we might have worked with way back when, but saw no familiar faces.

Our flight left DTW on time at 17:56. We had a window and aisle seat in Coach class, so fairly happy. Just wish Mike had a little more leg room. Shortly after take-off, it was announced that this was little Sara Somebody's 11th birthday and her parents were taking her to Paris.

Mike reminisced on his 11th birthday trip--a cruise to the dining room table. But to his mom's credit, it was usually a full Thanksgiving dinner as fulfillment of is birthday meal request.

But today I had ordered a veggie meal in advance, which seemed a bit pointless as one of the two normal options was the same meal. Only difference was I got fruit instead of a cinnamon brownie. Mike got the chicken and mashed potato option. A bit before landing they also served "breakfast." It was a mini miniature (not kidding) egg mc (with little m) muffin, a bit of cheese, and a biscotti. I guess you can't expect much from airline meals these days. At least it was warm.
The electronics on the aircraft are really great now. Each person has their own "theater screen" with numerous options--several current and older movies, music videos, TV series for binge watching, games, etc. I tried to watch "How to Train Your Dragon 2," but was too excited and lost interest fast.

We both ended up scanning the flight tracker most of the time. It gave all kinds of graphics and statistics. 

Here was the flight info at the very middle of our trip. It is hard to imagine that at over 38,000 feet we actually experienced temps of -70F degrees, had tail winds of over 100 miles per hour, AND we were traveling over 650 miles per hour. These tail winds helped us arrive about a half hour early into Paris. Incredible!

As we flew the sunset was lovely and the city lights below sparkled when we passed. In the dark of the night and over the Atlantic, the stars lit our way. When we arrived in Paris at 07:00, it was still night skies, rainy and dreary, but we were happy to get our land legs back.

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