“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
As much as I love Paris, I dread passing through Charles de Gaulle Airport. I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve commiserated with many fellow travellers about terrible experiences at this airport, and was almost grounded here one Christmas. Whether it’s the terrible traffic or getting there on the RER B, the ligne priviligée of the grévistes (striking union workers), getting to and from is often a huge pain. Once you do get there, the lines are never-ending. Cones and caution tape block off passageways and doors for seemingly no good reason. “C’est fermé … ben … parce que c’est fermé, madamoiselle.” Your gate has moved across the airport, yet no one has thought to alert any of the 250 passengers on the plane until 5 minutes before everyone needs to be on board. Cue mad dash across the terminal. You quickly realize you’ve entered a sort of free-for-all zone operating entirely by its own rules, and you’re stuck here for the next few hours (or worse …).
Since I had basically packed my entire life into a few huge bags, the RER was not an option. Super Shuttle, overall a pretty dependable operation in the US, can be pretty spotty in Paris, which explains why I have never been in one of them with another French person. But they’re cheaper than a cab, and the student budget won out. Luckily it all went well. They got me to the airport a full hour before the check in for my flight even opened! With this much time to sit around CDG, I noticed it’s actually got a kind of retro cool thing going on. Am I wrong?
I stopped by Brioche Dorée for a ham sandwich, the only food option through security. When I found a seat and started eating, I realized there was absolutely no ham in it — just a ton of shaved Gruyère and 2 arugula leaves. I’m not expecting greatness at airport concessions, but this was a bit ridiulous. I brought it back and the woman behind the counter kindly offered to replace it. Minutes later, she comes back empty-handed, shrugs, and tells me that none of them have ham. Apparently no one else who had bought these sandwiches all afternoon had noticed. Not wanting to waste, I opted to just finish my cheese sandwich. But, it remains a prime example of the kinds of things that happen at Charles de Gaulle. Of course the ham sandwiches have no ham. You’re through the Looking Glass now.
Since I was flying Icelandair, my next stop was Keflavik International airport in Reykjavík. Knowing I would be connecting here, I was tempted to do a stopover. But, time and budget didn’t work out, so Iceland with all its volcanoes, hot springs and Northern Lights will have stay on my bucket list for the time being
I didn’t have much time at the airport, but I did stop to pick up a few souvenirs – a few Icelandic beers to share with Z and some skyr. Z told me that skyr is now pretty easy to find in the US, which sucked a bit of the novelty out of it. But, can you eat it while looking out the window flying over the tip of Greenland listening to fellow passengers chat in Icelandic?
Overall, it was a good flight. The staff was really nice about my overweight luggage and my bulky and also overweight carry-on, which included a molcajete. (Don’t ask. Some things are worth the schlep.) Z was hassled about the bags he took back for me on his Air France flight the week before, so I considered myself lucky.
Now, I’m unpacking in DC and settling in to our new apartment. I’ve got my Capital Bikeshare key all set and ready to go and I’m exploring a new part of town that I haven’t spent much time in: Capitol Hill/Southeast. More on that soon.
And, this arrived. It’s gonna be a long next couple of months.
Why is the food so abysmal at Charles de Gaulle Airport? (by David Lebovitz)