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Old April 24th, 2008, 06:07 PM
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I have been without internet service for the two days we\ve been on land. Here's a story about yesterday.

Les Miserable`
I’m not talking about the famed play. Today, it’s about me being “les miserable”, and almost all that goes with it. I am once again temporarily “miserable`”, and it’s been well deserved.

The curtain rises with a forlorn looking Kuki sitting in Charles DeGaulle Airport, outside of Paris, waiting for a replacement flight to Nantes, France. The replacement needed because we arrived 20 minute later from Athens than our scheduled flight departed.

The fortunate part is there is another flight with space for this group of weary journalists, in only 3 hours, rather than having to wait overnight for the next flight.

We’re diligently working, trying to get to Nantes to witness the keel laying ceremony of the new F3 at Aker Yards. After as difficult a travel day as its been I’ve come to the conclusion there is NO laying worth witnessing that is worth this much trouble, even if was me getting “layed”.

It’s no longer called Murphy’s Law, I think I’ve gone through enough airline misadventures of late to name one after myself; so now it’s “officially”” Kuki’s Fiasco Of Flying” Law (FO Flying, for short)

Of course, any new law requires specification and definition, so from this day forward to qualify as a Kuki’s Law the incident must include, at a minimum:
#1- When the only flight on your itinerary that leaves on time is the one you are connecting to.

#2- When the carrier you are booked with employs a seat map allowing passenger space ratios of 19 sq. inches per each supposed human body.\

#3- When the agent at check in hands you a boarding pass showing yours is a middle seat (and on boarding you find a 6’9” Drill Sergeant, carrying his infant child in his lap, has the window seat, and a Greek Goat-herder, together with his prized goat in the aisle seat. (I believe they’re there to try and join the Mile High Club, but I can’t say that with certainty)

#4- When the Pilot announces the departure will be delayed because of Military activities in the skies surrounding the airport (and you check to see if you remembered to wear your brown flying pants, or if the stain on your butt will be noticeable).

# 5- When after taxiing the runways for 45 minutes the flight’s Chief Purser announces that we’re 19th in line for take-off.

#6- When the “in flight meal” is served minnows are staring up at you from within sealed plastic containers, stamped with a best used by date of 2011.

#7 – When the flight attendant offers you a drink, and asks if you’d like ice with it – staring at you because they know the water for the ice is taken from the airplane toilet and only an unknowing tourist would say yes.

#8 – When an announcement is made that we’ve made up considerable time in the air, and you’ll have only missed your connecting flight by 15 minutes, rather than the expected 45.

#9- When airport designs are such that every connecting flight you’re taking requires exiting a secure area, then returning through security again; carrying with it the possibility of a full body cavity search. Or in my case, ANOTHER full body cavity search.

#10 – when the boarding gate is opened and families with children are told to board first, but are run over by the panicked rush of others to the check in gate, and one fatality during the process is deemed acceptable for on time boarding, for the sake of recorded airline safety statistics. (Most likely to occur in France).

#11 – when waiting at the luggage carousel, seeing damaged and destroyed luggage is viewed as a better option than not seeing your luggage arrive at all. Filling in reports for either missing or damaged luggage takes approximately the same amount of time, so no bonus points for either situation.

As everyone who’s been following along knows poor Sam Sonite” and poor me have been supplying entertainment of late for the mythical gods of the Aegean and Ionian Regions. There’s an old saying that seems appropriate to quote here: “As men plan, god laughs!” And I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been playing God’s Improv Comedy Club for two weeks.

After previous journeys to Europe I have often said the American airline industry needed to take a lesson from European Airlines. Apparently, and unfortunately, it seems the European Airlines instead have taken the lead from the U.S. Lines, and are following them on the way to the customer service toilet.

Today we got to experience the incompetence of Air France. The tube they used to get us from Athens to Paris had seats much like many a bus tour I used to take, and the reason I quit taking them when I can. I had to sit sideways, legs in the aisle way, for most of the trip.

The roomiest seat on the airplane was the toilet, and I went several times, intentionally extending my stay to as long as I thought people might not notice one person occupying it for soooooo long.

The 40 minute flight to Nantes (prounced Naunt) was on a slightly more modern member of the Air France fleet, and I struck gold grabbing an exit row seat, when an elderly lady didn’t want her assigned seat there. I trampled only 3 Turkish children to get there in time to offer to trade. (But they were young children so I do expect them to heal quickly).

This flight was in fact uneventful; the group gathered by the carousel in the terminal to play the game of luggage roulette. Everyone’s bag but mine had appeared, when suddenly a twinkle in my eye- there was Sam sneaking out through the carousel doors.

Alas, poor Sam took one for the team on today’s flights, arriving with a broken appendage. The kind woman at the Air France baggage desk informed me I could have the suitcase repaired here in Nantes sometime during my now 30 hr. stay, or when I returned home… and then simply send Air France the bill.

Essentially I probably shouldn’t have invested in any more of my time at this point even filling out the report.

From the Nantes Airport, our bus made the one hour journey to the Hotel de Golf, where we’d be staying during our visit. This “hotel” is a lovely, and quite scenic, two storey resort, stretched around in a large horse shoe shape. I’m not sure the hotel could have been located any further from the airport or it would have been in Spain.

My room, of course, was at one of the extreme outside ends of the horse shoe, and at the time of our arrival there was no one to assist with luggage. There I was walking down a darkened hillside path, with my two carry-on bags, and an injured Sam; asking myself what the heck I was doing here.

Arriving to my humongous Villa style room was interesting. The thing had a stove, microwave, cutlery, coffee maker (no coffee), refrigerator, television (with no English programming). The spot might make for a sublime weekend getaway for a couple of weekend lovebirds, or someone who drove to the area and brought some groceries with them. Without knowing exactly where we’re located, I think for us to get to a grocery store to buy a few items we’d have had to take a taxi to Italy.

We probably should have, as there is no restaurant available on site late at night, or after breakfast, until dinner time.

For our purposes, it sucked, other than perhaps containing a bed. There’s no in room internet available, and though they claim there are WiFi hot spots, only those using Macs had any luck connecting to the network.

Take a bunch of cruise journalists, many of them working on the net” and put them in a hotel without internet service? Yup… we become WHINERS! Even charging electronics became an issue, because they don’t have any adapters to borrow. I have one with me, so I’ve been loaning it out.

Though the villa is equipped with all manner of household appliances, flatware, pots & pans, even a strainer, there was no iron. I called the front desk to inquire, and was told I could come to Reception… which I did, and when I did they called housekeeping to deliver an iron and ironing board. I suppose they had seen me check in, and thought I needed the exercise, but surely they could have saved me that step.

Today I’ve obviously given you a peek at some of the bits of mayhem which occur when you (well at least when I) travel abroad. Some days, no matter how much you want to make the best of your vacation, you simply can’t… you are just simply the designated entertainment for the gods…. And hopefully the CruiseMates readers!
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