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Let’s Burn Some Miles Part 3: AMS-LYS and Lyon to Grenoble by Bus

July 26, 2009

Even though the journey only took the better part of 16 hours, I’ve managed to pull it out into several months! Dan Webb has been complaining about feeling stuck in Amsterdam for the last few months (there are worse places to be stuck Dan!) and to make everyone feel better, I figured I’d better finish at least half of the weekend trip I took to France for a friend’s 21st birthday.

A quick recap of the journey thus far: There was bad weather in Grand Forks, Delta assimilated the airport in GFK, my original flight out got canceled, I got stuck on a Saab 340, and I flew in business class from MSP to AMS, where I proceeded to drink the weight of a small child in Chilean wine thanks to an overeager and generous purser.

The report last left off with me stumbling off of the A330 into the lair of the KLM Blue Demons and European Airline Employees in Funny Hats with a few Frumpy Northwest Flight Attendants thrown in for good measure. This was a foreign land, filled with the sounds of people from around the world arguing with one another (argument being the preferred form of communication when traveling by air) and the incessant, but somewhat sexy voices of the “Mind Your Step” and “Your Luggage Will Be Offloaded” sisters. What I was looking for on this layover was a solid breakfast, a shower, a quick phone call to my friends in France, and a quick check of e-mail. What does that mean? This calls for a trip to the Schengen-zone KLM Crown Lounge, with a slight detour through Duty Free!

The only thing standing in my way was Netherlands Passport Control. According to the current Dutch Constitution, it is against the law to have more than three passport lines open (2 for EU passport holders and one for the rest of the world) during the early morning US arrivals time…at least that’s been the case on every single one of my transits through the airport. The line extended a good 30-40 people back, and I saw my hope of a shower quickly diminishing…that is…until…miraculously…THEY OPENED ANOTHER DESK! Thanks to the stellar line-blocking skills of a family from India and their hand luggage (coincidentally, arguing!), I ended up as the third person in the new line. Passport control was customarily short (I sometimes think they don’t even look at my picture) and I made it through security with no problems. The stairway to heaven (and a hot shower) awaited me!

After sufficiently cleaning and feeding myself, I took the time to put to use my iPod Touch and iPhone headphones to make several phone calls. It worked like a charm! I guess I don’t need the iPhone :-p.

Soon after my stomach and mind had settled, I made the walk to my next flight, operated by Air France on an Airbus A318/319/320 (or so the itinerary said). When the plane pulled up to the gate, it ended up being the A318, marking my first flight on the self-titled Short Bus. My seat: 1C, “L’espace Affaires” with a row to myself. I found the makeshift middle seat/armrest interesting and much better than what I would have faced on KLM in “Euro Select.”

While boarding, the Air France flight attendant offered sparkling water, flat water and coffee as well as a fine selection of French newspapers. I don’t speak French, so I didn’t worry about picking one up. The door was soon closed and we pushed back, headed for an indiscriminate runway that was not the Polderbaan. I dozed for a while on climbout, and was awoken by the “meal” service.

You may notice from hereon out that the term “meal” will be used lightly:
Air France L'Espace Affaires "Lunch"

In BUSINESS CLASS we were treated to: cold chicken breast, cold pasta salad, processed fruit salad, and a roll that at one point likely did time on a 1700s French frigate.

Granted…it was a short flight of no more than an hour. What really got me, however, was the fact that the purser was able to heat up and eat lunch with her coworkers! For a country so proud of its cuisine, I was not that impressed. Of note–the catering was done in Lyon, as noted by the stickers all over the food.

After choking down the “meal,” I dozed my way through the rest of the flight into Lyon. In an effort to make me feel better about the food on the flight, Air France treated me to this nice view of the airplane I just flew on while on my way out of the airport:
Air France A318

After clearing the airside part of the airport, I made my way around the landside shopping mall areas of Lyons St. Euxpry. For a smaller airport, there were quite a few offerings and a fairly confusing layout…especially when looking for ground transportation! After about 20 minutes of misdirects and searching, I found the bus counter, played the “stupid American non-French speaking tourist game” and bought a ticket to Grenoble.

AMERICAN FRANCOPHOBES BEWARE: The French are actually incredibly nice people. I was treated well throughout the rest of my time in the country, even by people who originated from Paris!

After another 30 minute wait, I boarded a bus toward Grenoble, where I was to meet my friend Clement and participate in helping him celebrate his 21st birthday. Without getting into too many specifics, he celebrated like a pro, most of the people at the party wondered what the hell an American was doing there, I found mojitos and Kronebourg went well together, and I was amazed by the fact that Clement’s friends cleaned up after themselves when the party was over. The next day, Clement and I hopped a train to his hometown of Lyon (I felt like a pinball bouncing back and forth between Lyon and Grenoble in those four days), where there were more celebrations and meet-ups with friends to be had.

That, sadly will have to wait for the next installment of this trip report :-D.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 1, 2009 11:38 pm

    Yes, this is all well and good, but my god, man, HOW THE HELL DID YOUR TEST GO?!!

    –REID!!

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