Always a Good Idea

Always a Good Idea

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Flag of Paris

When I was selecting my return flight following my repatriation trip in December 2015, I noticed there was one itinerary that had a 12 hour layover in Paris. As a side note, it also had a leg on the Airbus 380 double decker plane. I knew I had to book this, and I quickly set a plan to use my QCredits to upgrade the A380 leg to be in First Class.

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View of the A380

I have never been to Paris, but I studied French at MUS. Dr. Dalle always told us how amazing the city is. I also always find myself loving moving based in Paris. I knew that it was a must-visit.


Logistics

While 12 hours sounds like a large number, I figured that this time would be cut significantly by many different variables. All of my research indicated that I could take the train from CDG into the city. I was originally planning on using Uber from the train station to the Eiffel Tower, but I found that the train can take you close enough without a ride. There are plenty of transport options: trains, Uber, old-fashioned taxis, etc. Also, my T Mobile plan had coverage.

Getting from terminal to terminal at CDG is a big pain. The layout was not thought out too well. So the hike from the gate in 2 to even the connection tram is a long walk. Also, the airline gates do not open except for 3 hours prior to departure. This proved to be problematic for Qatar Airways, as there were only a handful of flights that day. After wasting nearly 30 minutes getting to terminal 1, I found that the Qatar gate wasn’t even open.

I had also read about a luggage storage area in Terminal 2. But I skipped that and opted to carry my bag instead. I wanted to be able to go straight to Terminal 1 before departure.


Train

I purchased my ticket and headed towards the train to Notre Dame. Once there I would connect on the train headed west to the Eiffel Tower. Once aboard, a man busted out his accordion and treated us all to some fine tunes. At the interchange, I asked someone for directions, as the indicators we not clear. I made it to the correct train, and I was on my way.


Eiffel Tower

I walked out of the tunnel, and there she was. Standing tall and proud in all of her beauty. It was just as I imagined.

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Finally. Through the haze, she beautifully peaks.

I had to weave through the street vendors and physically push myself past the selfie-stick hawkers, but I made it to the bottom. The steel and construction are breath-taking. I stood in awe of this marvel for just a second, while I gathered my strategy. As I looked up, a light snow or frozen mist began to fall on my head. It was perfect.

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I chose the North Leg for my ascent, paid my fees and went through security. I boarded the first elevator. Make sure that you stand near the windows. The views are necessary.

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View down the Shaft

I did not waste time taking selfies on this level, there was more height to climb. Up, up we went: to the top! It was cold but the brisk, damp wind brought life to my tired body. I hadn’t slept on the previous 7 hour flight. This wind was like nature’s Red Bull, giving me wings.

The summit was worth the wait. Granted with everything going on, the wait was minimal: under an hour. There it was, the City of Lights, Paris. Finally. The views of the city are encompassing. After a couple photo ops, I made my way back down and found a street food stand selling crepes. I enjoyed my crepe under the shadow of the tower.

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My view while eating crepes

 

City

With my 12 hour window slashed, I knew I needed to hurry. My Uber arrived, and I asked him to help me see some sights quickly and take pictures. We stopped by Notre Dame.

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Notre Dame Cathedral. Hmmm weird, no Hunchback

The driver waited while I hopped out to take a picture and a selfie.

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Then we swung by Panthéon.

We had killed almost enough time. I wanted to stop by Brewberry Cave à Bières for some tasty European beers before I got back on the plane. Brewberry doesn’t open until 2, so this was perfect. I was a little early, so I went to a nearby bookstore to pick up a notebook for a friend. I walked back and found the door. WOW. The beer selection was huge. They had bottles that are difficult to acquire in America. I selected several Cantillon selections, and she took them to chill. Then I saw the vintage Westvleteren 6, 8 and 12. #Jackpot. For those who don’t know much about beer, Cantillon and Westvleteren are two of the most coveted breweries made.

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Is it a bottle share if you kill 6 of the 7?

I killed some time, and I ended up meeting some cool Americans who own a bar in California. It was nice to talk with some American friends. They selected the beer in the middle, which was made specifically for Brewberry. I guess I now have somewhere fun to visit in Sacramento.


Airport

I finished up and grabbed an Uber back. Luckily the weather had held off, but it was now time for rain. I got in the car, and was surprised at my ability to communicate in French. It has been 15 years, but I Still was able to talk to the driver. We talked about the Middle East (he was from Syria) and France. It was a nice car ride.

When I got in Terminal 1, Qatar was almost open. I used this time to grab a baguette and some Perrier. When they finally opened, I made my way to the counter. There was 1 seat left in First Class. #UpgradeAcquired.

This flight was going to be amazing. Sadly there isn’t a Qatar lounge in CDG yet. They mentioned it is something they are working on. So that is good. I stopped by the Hermès store to pick up some authentic French items before boarding.


A380

Here it was: The Double Decker Airbus A380 that I had heard and read so much about. After waiting for hours at the boarding gate, we took our ramp to the top floor of the plane. I was greeted by my personal flight attendant and shown to my oversized chair. The whole First Class cabin was ridiculous. The bathroom was the size of three rows of economy seats. For the 8 of us in First, we had 2 bathrooms. Our meal offerings included braised lamb, caviar, champagne, and other amazing items.

The bar was the size of normal Business Class area. Sadly, Qatar hadn’t updated their media offerings, so I had seen every movie offered. Sad, I know. I fly too much.


Overall

If you get a long layover, take the adventure. It is almost always worth the tiredness. The A380 is a great airplane. I am glad to have finally gone to France. I recommend hitting up Rosetta Stone or DuoLingo before you visit. It just helps.

The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant.

-T.S. Eliot

Until next time.

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