A New Paris Adventure – Our Year of Two Autumns
It’s nearing the end of October in Paris, autumn is getting ready handover to winter and Christmas season. It was Albert Camus that said, “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower”, and Lauren DeStefano sums it up wonderfully, “Autumn has always been my favourite season. The time when everything bursts with it’s beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale”.
To me autumn feels like a time to exhale. Mother Nature shows us how to let go of everything and get ready for a whole new year. How to celebrate the year that has been in a final magnificent flourish of golden beauty. And as the leaves finally fall to the ground and are blown away in the breeze, I exhale, feeling the freedom of letting go of the past. Finally laid bare, the trees and I are clean and fresh and ready to grow, to express ourselves even more beautifully than the year before.
Here at home the leaves have already turned golden and fallen this year, we have enjoyed the magical beauty that only comes with autumn and we have started to emerge from the very cold winter. Just as the new leaves have started to bud up and burst out in fresh tufts of green, we are about to do it all again in another autumn in Paris.
It is a year of two autumns, celebrating life and love in my favourite season, in a city that I feel so at home in, with the man who has breathed life into me and taught me to live.
Travelling to Paris feels so natural now, gone are those early traveller nerves of not knowing what to pack so packing everything, of uncertainty and the feeling of stepping out of my comfort zone. After living a very conservative life, one of saving everything for a rainy day I am now living and loving every moment of the present, the and milking all the joy and wonder that each day has to offer.
In these past few years, in this prime of my life, I have become a more seasoned traveller, very comfortable with the idea of change and able to move through the travelling part with simple ease. I don’t get flustered by all the getting on and off planes, I’ve got the security process down to a fine art. My bag is packed for easy and swift access to all the stuff they make you get out, laptop, iPad, iPhone, liquids heavily secured by the magic of a press-seal bag (really?). I can get it all out on one side and back in on the other in a flash and wander calmly off to to my departure gate.
This trip, however, added a whole other level of potential fluster that I had not expected. We had arrived at in plenty of time for our first domestic leg of the journey, done our security business with ease and were relaxing with our first champagne for the trip, when the announcement came.
“Due to significant storm activity the airport is closed until further notice”. Mmmm what does that mean?
We looked at the clock, yeah no problem, we have loads of time and storms usually pass through here in half an hour, It’ll be fine.
So we waited, and waited and waited, watching the rather eerie scene out the window of an airport where absolutely nothing is moving. Eventually things start to move again, luggage is getting loaded onto an aircraft that had boarded its passengers ages ago. I felt sorry for those people, at least we were waiting in the relative comfort of the airline lounge.
Finally our flight is called and we head to the gate. On board we look at the time and realise we are cutting it very very close for making our international connection. If we miss it, it is a full twenty four hours till the next available flight. That would mean not only getting to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of Adelaide for a day but also missing a very special dinner reservation. It has been a 2 hour delay!
Our flight attendant came to speak to us and we were pleased to hear that she was aware we had a connecting flight. She promised to keep in touch with ground crew at Adelaide and keep us informed. She tried to assure us it would all be ok but I’m not quite sure she believed what she was saying. What could we do – none of it was within our control so no point worrying about it. My love was trying to convince himself that we could make something fun out of an unexpected day in Adelaide, I however just decided that we were going to make our flight – end of story.
As we watched the time tick by, willing a tailwind to help us, it was feeling more and more unlikely that we would make it. Finally our little domestic bird plonked down onto the Adelaide tarmac and poodled its way along what felt like the longest taxi ever to the arrival gate. Our lovely flight attendant came with news. She had member of the Qatar (our international airline) ground crew standing by, ready to rush us straight through security to our waiting plane. We could see it parked only a few gates down thank goodness! They had also arranged to dig our bags out of the hold and rush them across.
First off the plane and the young man from Qatar was waiting. “Follow me” he said and then to his radio,
“”I’ve got them, we are on the way”. Oh god I’m going to have to run in an airport – please don’t ever show me that security footage!
And so we bolted as quickly as we could, the young man continually providing updates via his radio. I could only imagine what he might be saying “ yeah we are going as quick as we can but it ain’t pretty!”
Here we are security! All that practiced speed with the in and out of bag with technology and liquids is very handy right now and I think makes up a little for the less than exceptional speed in the run walk manoeuvre I had cooking. Oh you are joking right! The security chap had his ‘I’m very important and powerful’ cranky pants on and decided my love needed a full inspection. Our Qatar chap on the radio again doing his best to make sure they were still holding the plane. And we are off again, to the gate. The flight attendants waiting for us at the aircraft door were jubilant to see us “you made it!” whisked us onboard and to our fabulous business class seats and offered us a welcome drink. Puffing and panting as we plonked down, we both found the breath to say “champagne please!’ Oh my goodness we did it!
As we were served our drink our flight attendant told us just how close it was. Apparently they were ready to leave before our domestic flight had even landed. “We were about to depart and you were still at least five minutes out”. We were so very grateful for all the help we received and the efforts of everyone who made sure we made that flight!
At that point we weren’t entirely sure our bags would have made it from plane a to plane b but who cares! We are going to Paris!
This time we are arriving into Terminal 1 the space age designed round terminal that in my mind looks like something from a Star Wars film. Now inside I can really see just how unique the architecture is. From the little satellite hub where our plane stopped, we are transported into the huge concrete doughnut of the central terminal on travelators that move us through curved cavelike tunnels.
Once in the doughnut we can see the central open cylinder that is bridged by a fantastic labyrinth of travelators inside clear plastic tubes linking the various levels. We find our tube and gently get sucked up to the baggage claim level while watching the blue grey sky through the huge hole above us. This terminal was designed in the late 60’s and completed in the early 70’s and it really has a sci-fi vibe of that era about it. I am half expecting to see “Robot” come wheeling around the corner waving his pincers calling out “danger Will Robinson!”
Our taxi brings us through what are now very familiar but no less exciting streets to our home for the next weeks. It feels so very good to be back. Our apartment is just as we remember it and the Eiffel Tower view out the window is still so very pretty. After a little rest and nice shower we will be straight out into the city and off to our first of many gourmet adventures.
Walking along the Seine as the soft Autumn light starts to fade, golden leaves on the trees and crisp brown ones crunching below our feet is the perfect start to our new Paris adventure in this our year of two Autumns.