Date: Saturday 31 March 2018
There is usually a mention made at this point of my current weight. However, in line with my last blog dated 24 March 2018, I have decided not to weigh myself or worry about my weight for the duration of my holiday and I confirm that so far I haven’t. Again, as I was saying in my last longer than the usual blog, I traveled from Charles De Gaulle airport to my hotel, citizen which was based close by. The hotel was impressive with its quirky modern/mid-century decor. The common area was full of Apple computers for use by the guests and the check-in system was relatively painless. I did have to roll my 3 suitcases to the lift and then to my room but they have good wheels so navigating the lift was not too bad. The room was full of Vitra pieces of furniture and each guest got an iPad to control everything from the TV to the blinds, curtains lighting, ordering room service, laundry and so on.
I suddenly felt very hungry and remembered that in my rush to check-in at Heathrow I had thrown my bag of food into one of my cases. I now retrieved it and had a lovely meal of Ryvita crackers and peanut butter with an omelette seasoned with pepper flakes and soy sauce with Romaine lettuce. My water bottle was still full but I noticed that the hotel provided two small bottles of Evian water in the fridge which was great because I was parched. I managed to get the TV on and must have fallen asleep watching News today without pulling down the blackout blinds because I was so tired.
The next morning, I woke up and had the rest of my food. I then re-packed my cases and finally fixed my hair. I had a decision to make about going into Paris. My next flight would be at 7 pm in the evening so I had a lot of time to kill as it were. However, after the drama of the previous day, I didn’t want to risk missing my flight. I spoke to some of the staff or ambassadors as they are called in citizenM and they all said that I would be better off waiting in and around the airport to avoid missing my flight. I decided to go out for a walk and after about 30 minutes could see that I was effectively in a village of skyscraper hotels that service passengers to and from Charles De Gaulle airport. I decided to explore further by riding around in the hotel shuttle bus/coach. I didn’t see much but ate the packed meal that I had bought from citizenM which was a cup full of freshly squeezed pink grape juice and a beetroot and goat cheese salad. I stopped at the station and chatted with more people about going to Paris. The decision was then made and I decided to go back to citizenM and collect my luggage which they had placed in storage. I brought my luggage to the Airport and paid 22 euros for it to be stored in the airport luggage shop, and an establishment called Bagages du Monde. I then I purchased the equivalent I think of a London Tube travel card and made my way to Central Paris.
The way saw it, I was essentially doing the equivalent of traveling from Heathrow Airport back into central London to do some sightseeing. I was a bit worried about delays to the Metro in Paris but I knew that I would feel really bad if I did not see Paris so here I was on my way. On the journey through the outer boroughs, I saw a good number of black people of various hues ranging from glossy blue-black like Lupita Nyongo to Cafe au lait of Halle Berry. I found them curious, friendly and helpful and although it was clear that they all spoke French mainly, a lot of them were able to help me as they could speak a smattering of English. Based on my discussions with locals at the Airport, I had decided not to go to the Eiffel Tower which had been my first choice. I did not want to spend all my time queuing outside the tower and wanted to have a leisurely lunch.
One thing I will say with certainty is that London street fashion is much more vibrant and fun. This business about the French being so super stylish might be a myth. It was not that they were dressed particularly badly, it was just that unlike in London where there is so much to inspire, copy or emulate, there was nothing I saw that I am prepared to write home about let alone blog.
It was a long tube journey and I arrived at Arc De Triomphe feeling relieved, triumphant and excited. There were lots of other excited tourists and I spent the time wandering along the road meandering into shops and cafes as I pleased. I decided that I was not going to settle for a place to eat until I found a place that truly spoke to me. I eventually settled on an establishment called Unisex. I liked the quirky decor with bubblegum pink tables and grey seating. the Maitre D who spoke English as well as French ushered me in once I had a chance to examine the menu. He confirmed that they could prepare snails for me. It took at least 30 minutes for my good to arrive by which time I had begun to feel nervous and wish I had given myself a bit more time. I am pretty sure that the tipping culture is the same as London because my lovely good looking young North African looking waiter seemed put out when I did not give him a tip. If I had the time to arrange to take some Euros with me I would have tipped him because he was very sweet to me even though my food was later arriving than expected. In other words, I had a lovely lunch and plan to visit them again next time I am in Paris.
I rushed back to the Metro and began making my way back to the Airport. As we passed one station after station I began to feel a mixture of elation and relief that my plan to enjoy a glimpse of Paris had worked. The flight was scheduled to take off at 7 pm so my arrival at 4 pm meant that I would have plenty of time to collect my luggage and go through a leisurely check-in process. I felt smug about the thought of being first in the queue.
When I arrived at the queue, there were so many people on it that wound right around the allocated area for Asiana Airlines. I was the only black person and everyone else seemed to be Asian – I suspected Chinese but there were other passport colours that I could not immediately place. So much for my fantasy about being in front of the queue! Knowing that I had a long wait ahead of me, I decided to keep myself busy checking out the fashion and style in the queue of which there was plenty. There was a young lady dressed in an oversized Tweed coat that looked like something she had picked up from a Salvation Army shop in the UK. She wore this with boyfriend jeans, a pork pie style hat, and clumpy shoes. I loved this look and she carried the theme through to her luggage which had old vintage style airport customs stamps and stickers all over it. She was my stand out. There were other ladies dressed in the predictable stylish way I have come to expect of Japanese, Chinese and other Asian women in designer gear with immaculate haircuts.
Then it felt like all of sudden it was my turn to be checked in and I noticed that one of the airline staff was a black lady. I hoped really hard that I would get to deal with her and my wish was granted. This turned out to be fortuitous as I had not appreciated that I would need to apply for an ESTA visa to visit Saipan. I could tell that she was trying not to make me panic which made me panic even more to such an extent that I began hot flushing. That is one annoying thing about menopause – it robs you of the ability to look really calm when under fire as the hot flushes make it clear that you are sweating and concerned. In the end, she asked me whether I had any addresses in Saipan and I was able to provide this following a quick Google search. She completed the application for me and checked me in. Phew!
Then it was through security and the process of watching the screen began again until the flight gate came up. I found that I was to be seated next to a lady and her mother. The first thing the lady did was offer me what I initially thought was a health food bar. My people pleasing instincts kicked into high gear and I opened it in front of her to eat it and realised that it was a cheap tasting milk chocolate bar. I had to go through and eat the bar trying to display obvious relish and thanked her. I really do make myself cringe sometimes – sigh! I don’t really have forbidden foods but if I was to plan a cheat day, I can guarantee is that a chocolate bar such as the one I ate would not be on the menu.
As we were taking off at 7.40 pm I knew that we would be served dinner or a meal of some sort and I was relieved about this prospect. At lunch, I had eaten 12 delicious snails prepared with a garlic and buttery herb sauce. This was served with 3 rolls and a lovely green salad. I would normally ignore the carbohydrate but wanted to try the rolls as I was in Paris. The bread was fine but it means that I became hungry a lot quicker. Having run out of nuts and Ryvita that I had been carrying from the start of my journey I was looking forward to dinner which when was served did not disappoint. The flight attendant offered me potatoes which nearly made me laugh out loud. I think that this in-flight meal was my first taste of Korean food and the lovely who had given me the milk chocolate bar showed me how to mix it all up. The end mix of rice and vegetables looked like Nigerian Jollof rice. It was effectively steamed sticky white rice with mounds of vegetables and other-other cooked bits and pieces which had to be mixed together into and d seasoned with red paste from a small tube which was so delicious I kept as a souvenir. If the food deserved a high score, the in-flight entertainment compared to American Airlines and British Airways was disappointing.
The headsets were weird and the sound quality bad and the choice of movies on offer were boring. We were served another meal of rice and chicken which was not as good as the first meal. However, there was a lovely fluffy cake that tasted of coconut and fruit. I think we might have been served something else as well which just tasted like standard airplane food. Anyway, I arrived at Seoul Incheon airport and set about looking for my luggage. To my relief, I was told that it had been processed and sent ahead. However, I still had a longish layover so I spent the time looking around the shops in the airport and even managed to catch some entertaining singers. You must wonder where my healthy eating resolutions are going with all this food. Hopefully, you will catch up with me on my next blog.