Thursday, October 22, 2009

Off to Languedoc!

We’re off for a 4-week trip to the Languedoc region in the south of France. Of course, we’re excited because it’s a wine region that we haven’t visited before. It’s even more exciting because Michèle (my wife)’s brother recently moved to Montpellier, which will be our base for the 4 weeks that we’re there.

This year, we’re trying Air France -- instead of Air Transat, which we used last year when we went to the Rhone Valley. Air France picks us up at the train station in Ottawa by bus and takes us to the airport in Montreal. We fly to Montpellier, changing planes in Paris. The connection times are just right, giving us (and our luggage) just enough time. Air Transat doesn’t fly into Montpellier yet (hint).

Taking the bus from Ottawa to Montreal, I’m reading a newspaper and Michèle and I are eating some fruit and nut granola. This is exactly what we were doing when we met on a bus on a ski trip to Switzerland. Instead of skis, we now have our golf clubs with us. It’s perfect.

Going through an airport these days reminds me of white-water rafting. It’s all calm when you first arrive and then – bang – you enter this swirl of chaos and stress. You pass through the first set of rapids, known as the check-in counter, where you at least can get rid of your luggage (Bye! Hope to see you soon!). Then there’s the second set of rapids: the security check. This time, for the first time in Canada, the metal detector doesn’t like my shoes! I’ve travelled around the globe in these same shoes, through countless airports.  The C in CATSA does not stand for consistency.  Finally, you’re spit out of the security area into the calm of the departure gates.

The flight is actually as pleasant as these things go. Air France turns out to be generous with the wine (at no extra charge!), even offering champagne before dinner to ALL. Vive la France! The passenger across the aisle wanted Chivas instead. Uh, that would be a no. Next time, try Air Hebrides. The downside to Air France? They've got the seats so close together that I’ve got my knees absolutely jammed against the seatback in front of me. I cannot move my legs. Soon, I cannot feel my legs.  Worse, the seat pocket where they put all the magazines and stuff is right at knee level, making it even tighter. What tiny person thought of this? Up in the overhead compartment go the magazines. So maybe the trade-off between Air France and Air Transat in flying across the Atlantic is good service or more legroom? After dinner, we pop our OTC sleeping pills and grab a few hours of sleep before landing in Paris, where we do the zombie walk until we hop on the connecting flight to Montpellier. We come into Montpellier over the Mediterranean, and we can see the beaches. We land just before 9 in the morning. It’s already warm and sunny; a brilliant blue sky. The apartment that we’ve rented is just a 15-minute cab ride away.

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