Wed 25 May - long leg, cap, river fog, speedy processing, TGV, Lorraine, unwrap
Singapore Changi Airport was back to its bustling self, although some of the shops (including my favourite electronics store) were closed for the night. So I took advantage of the three hours transit time to catch up with some emails and other stuff that I hadn't got finished before leaving Taggerty. And at a little after midnight (Singapore time) we were back onboard for the long 13 hours leg to Paris. The plane was again full. Because of the Covid restrictions still in force with Singapore Air, we had to wear masks for the entire trip, unless eating or drinking. But prolonged mask wearing can get painful with the elastic strings behind your ears, so I took some breaks from mask wearing by holding a glass of water and pretending I was drinking whenever a flight attendant walked by. Being in a window seat again, I managed to get some sleep on this flight leaning against the window, and after one of these sleeps I realised that I'd lost my "French cap" that I always wear on flights these days to combat the downdraft of cold air. I realised it must have fallen down between the window and my seat and gone into the foot space of the seat behind. I reminded myself to ask for it after all the lights were turned on in the morning and everyone was awake.
After napping and watching a movie about Gustav Eifell, the 13 hour flight was coming to an end as we descended towards Paris. After opening the window shade, and retrieving my cap from the lady behind me, I noticed from the flight map that we were passing just south of Nancy. On looking out the window, I saw this countryside with morning fog lingering in the valleys.
My mind starting working, and I soon realised that the "valleys" were actually the rivers and canals surrounding Nancy and Toul (which I recognised from the hours spent working with CanalPlan as I planned this years barging itinerary), with Nancy on the right of the closed loop and Toul on the left. In the next month or two, we will be seeing all this again, but from a barge at ground level.
The other thing I noticed as we descended was the plethora of small towns and villages (from 10 to 100 houses) scattered in close proximity across the landscape (so different to Australia, which is either big towns and cities or nothing). Also, there were many windmill turbines, but not in huge windfarms. Rather they were in groups of 2 to 10 on a single farming property with other rural activities, where the farmer was just supplementing their income with a few windmills.
Soon we were on the ground at Charles de Gaulle airport. The arrival processing was extremely efficient, and within 10 minutes of leaving the plane, I was through customs and waiting at the baggage carousel. It was here that I started to have some doubts, as the number of people waiting dwindled significantly, and my bag had still not arrived. I started checking my watch, as I soon had a TGV train to catch, but to my relief the bag appeared (must have been in the last baggage container to be unloaded from the plane). I then walked to the TGV station and arrived with 10 minutes to spare - oodles of time! I boarded and found my assigned seat and, unlike my trip last year, I was taking the train on the same day as my ticket was for! Strangely, on this TGV trip I spent a lot of time messengering with a mate from Taggerty - I love how technology has opening up such possibilities.
I was met at Lorraine TGV by Rita (weirdly, the neighbours of my Taggerty mate that I had been messengering with are named Rita and Lorraine!). Sadly, they had run out of croissants at the snack bar at the station, so I would have to wait for that proper introduction to France. We then drove south to Auxonne, and 2.5 hours later we were standing next to a neatly wrapped package, that was just waiting to be unwrapped - it felt just like a Christmas morning!