First off, I'd like to send a shout out to Kristina (I apologize if I butchered the spelling...) who I met at the departures area while waiting for my flight to open the other day. She overheard me speaking to a friend and somehow came to the realization that I was Krysta, and that she reads my blog! It's always funny to randomly encounter people who read it, especially since in the beginning I'd beg my boyfriend to read just so that I wasn't writing it only for myself.
I've done two trips since my last post, but the first was so typical that I didn't feel the need to dedicate an entire blog about it. I went to Seoul, South Korea and as per usual I dined on tasty Korean food, relaxed in my room, and wandered the chilly streets the next day. Nothing too different from the ordinary, except that I was fortunate enough to fly with my beautiful friend Vanja. We spent a few hours at the breakfast buffet having a great conversation. In this industry 90% of conversation ends up going back to our job, so chatting to people who don't have "Plane Brain" is always a nice break. It was an uneventful layover, but a good one nonetheless.
Next up was Paris. I'd only been once before, and I was super excited to return. There is something so glamorous about flying to Paris. I generally try not to talk too much about my awesome job so as to not make others jealous, but I'll admit... I bragged to everyone on Facebook and Twitter for a few days prior. I had my heart set on wandering the beautiful city and soaking up every amazing moment.
The flight over was a breeze. We had a half load and everyone was happy to be there, including the crew. Having a good crew can make all of the difference in the world. I'd been up since 3 am, but even that couldn't bring me down. Ooooh la, la... I was going to Paris!
Once we'd landed and arrived at the hotel, a few of us agreed to meet up after we'd changed and rubbed off the red lipstick. I tamed my disaster of a hairstyle, put on my warm clothes and headed for the lobby. We caught a bus to the airport and then headed to the train station to buy our tickets to the city. It was at this point that one of the crew members began to irritate me. New to the job, I'd expected her to have a bit more enthusiasm. I mean, we were in Paris, France! Instead, she complained about the high price of the train ticket as if whining would do anything to change it. I shrugged it off, as we are given an allowance that is more than enough to cover meals and transport to the city. Fortunately, I was with another girl who was a stark contrast to Miss Grumpy Pants. She was a sweet Irish girl named Karen, who had one goal in mind for the trip: Buy chocolate from an amazing shop on Champs de Elysse. Obviously, we clicked immediately, bonded by our love of chocolate. As we emerged from the train station and out onto Avenue Champs de Elysse, I found myself staring right at the Arc de Triomphe. I rushed to join the mass crowds of tourists taking photos. It was a perfect day, cool but sunny and much warmer than my previous layovers in Seoul and Toronto.
We began walking down the beautiful street lined with expensive shops until we approached our very own shop.... Laduree Paris, which has been hanging around since 1862. Inside the gorgeous shop they sell the most beautiful and delicious chocolates, baked goods, and macaroons. Karen and I waited in the extremely long line for approximately half an hour while the others stood outside. We were determined. I forked over a small fortune in exchange for a pretty little bag filled with macaroons and gourmet chocolates. I was completely satisfied with my splurge of a purchase.
It had been a few hours since we'd landed, and we were all beginning to feel quite hungry. I immediately shot down the suggestion of dining at McDonald's, and we made a collective decision to head to the area near the Notre Dame Cathedral in search of a nice place to enjoy dinner. As we returned to the train station there was some confusion over which direction to go. I like to think that I'm somewhat of a pro at navigating metro stations by now, but a few of the others insisted on stopping to ask for directions. I was slightly irritated as I'd already scanned my ticket and was standing on the other side waiting for the rest, but I let it go... it wasn't worth getting annoyed over, I was in Paris! (In case you'd forgot...) We eventually found our way and as we headed back into the streets I was once again blown away by the historic beauty of the city. I'm so glad that all of the people who ever said that Paris was overrated were wrong. I love this city. We were just a few minutes from Notre Dame and I was dying to take photos of it before it was dark. The others insisted on going for dinner that very moment, so Karen and I headed to the cathedral and told them to save us a spot at the restaurant. It was a beautiful time of day for photos, and I was happy to have somebody willing to tag along with me. I went snap happy as we approached it, thinking of the amazing history behind the cathedral, and of course thinking of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I remember watching the Disney movie as a child and saying that one day I'd visit, and here I was! The architecture was incredible, and there were even gargoyles!
I was content just to take photos of the outside, understanding that Karen had been here before and was getting quite hungry. To my surprise and joy, she led me inside. Though swarmed with tourists and worshippers, the massive cathedral had a great sense of calm inside. Only the sound of faint music and cameras filled the building. People knelt down in prayer seemed oblivious to the visitors taking photos around them. Every inch was covered in elaborate detail, lit by candlelight and the soft glow of natural light flowing through the colourful stained glass windows. It was hard to imagine that this building had stood for hundreds of years in that exact spot, built in an era long before cranes and the machinery that fills construction zones throughout Dubai.
We spent awhile just staring at the awe inspiring beauty.
After we'd taken our photos it was onwards to dinner. By this point my stomach was growling and I was looking forward to a delicious French meal. We met the others, who were finishing their meals as we sat down and looked at the menu. Starving, we both decided to go with the set menu in order to have 3 courses. I was spoiling myself this layover, and there was no sense in holding back now. In the spirit of being in France, I ordered a glass of white wine. For my appetizer I was brought an amazing salad with some sort of yummy dressing (if the menu had been in English I could probably explain better) and topped with 3 sticks of fried gouda cheese. I was in food Heaven. After I'd cleaned my plate off, I was delivered the main course. Salmon cooked to perfect with potato wedges and garlic mushrooms. Again, delicious. Most importantly, was dessert. Unable to choose just one, Karen and I decided to each order a different one and share. First up, was crepes. In my opinion, no trip to Paris is complete without them. They were topped with mandarin oranges and the waiter brought a small dish of Grand Marnier alongside it. He proceeded to light the liquor on fire and pour it over our crepes. We took the leftover chocolate sauce from another crew member's dessert and poured it over our still flaming dessert. It was yummy, but couldn't hold a candle to the creme brulee. Words can't describe how delicious it was, so I'll just say that it was the best that I've ever tasted. I left the restaurant completely satisfied.
We were all feeling quite sleepy by this point, so we decided to return to our hotel as it was quite a journey from our current location. Before we reached the metro station, we spotted the glowing Eiffel Tower in the distance. It was the first time in Paris for a Brazilian crew member, so of course we paused to take the necessary photos. Grumpy pants girl was complaining again, so we proceeded to the metro station and hopped on the train back to the airport. It was a mission to catch a bus back to the hotel, but we made it eventually. After a hot shower I crawled into my bed, falling asleep immediately despite the constant sound of massive planes landing at the airport across the street.
I woke the next morning with only a bit of time to spare before the wake up call. I'd originally intended to go for breakfast at the buffet downstairs, but I was short on time and instead enjoyed my delicious macaroons. Oh my goodness, they were worth every Euro! I was in a blissful "I love my job" mood as I headed to meet the crew and return to the airport. We had some time to spare, so I picked up a baguette sandwich with chicken and sundried tomatoes. It was the most delicious meal I've ever bought from an airport. It was time to say goodbye to Paris and return to Dubai, sadly. I'd had another great layover, which stood as a great reminder to why I'm still here. This is what it's all about.
In other news, I think that the gym is calling my name today.