The long trek homeSeptember 27, 2017 in Australia
In an ideal world, if one wants to go from Carcassonne to Lyon's St Exupéry airport, one would drive it. It takes about 4.5 hours, so if the flight was departing at 10pm, one could leave Carcassonne maybe mid-morning then take a relaxing scenic drive while exploring the picturesque countryside. You would arrive at the airport about three hours before the scheduled departure time feeling relaxed and comfortable.
Without a car, the schedule is quite different. First, having been let down badly on our arrival by the Carcassonne taxi service, we decided to play safe and use shanks's pony to get ourselves to the railway station. We'd already walked the 1.5km route several times during our stay, so we knew where to go and which were the (relatively) pedestrian-friendly streets to take. In France and many other countries, pedestrians are given a fairly low priority, so one has to do battle with narrow potholed footpaths and parked and passing vehicles in this rather one-sided contest. It can slow things down.
Our train was due to leave at 1033, and that provided the one and only option for us to get to Lyon airport in time to catch the flight home. We booked out of our great little hotel in good time, bidding fond farewells to the lovely young couple plus cat who run the hotel, and probably own it too. We made sure that we were at the station nice and early for the three hour trip down to Marseilles.
We then had to connect with another train which took us to Lyon Part Dieu, the city's main railway station. Once there, we discovered that Lyon city runs a marvellous special modern tram which travels the 25km route every few minutes with only one stop en route. We had a six hour wait for our flight, but as we had all our luggage with us we'd already decided the best way was to wait at the airport rather than lug our bags on a sightseeing tour of the city of Lyon, which we'd already visited. The airport is very modern and wasn't too crowded so time passed quickly enough. As in many other parts of France it was impossible to ignore the large numbers of armed police and soldiers patrolling the two terminals. It is a sad fact of modern-day life in so many parts of the world.
Our flight to Dubai was pleasant enough. We'd heard a whisper that there were a number of spare seats on the flight, so we got cheeky and asked the check-in lady if she'd block a seat off for us. She readily agreed, and that allowed us to spread ourselves across three seats, making the 6hr 20min flight much more comfortable. It was then a four-hour wait for the flight home. With its vast terminals, oversized retail areas and long distances between departure lounges Dubai is a place that one could easily grow to dislike. One thing we won't miss, either there or at the other airports, are the long queues and the intrusive security checks. Sadly, they are necessary, but they still take the edge off modern airline travel. From the time we booked in at Lyon to the time that we boarded our flight to Brisbane we went through five security checks of ourselves plus hand luggage, all of them requiring us to wait in long queues then go through the rigmarole of emptyng pockets and removing belts and shoes. It used to be that transit passengers weren't subject to these checks, but now, with the tightened security checks, everyone has to go through them for every flight. Every so often, it seems that an additional unscheduled security check gets thrown in at random.
Helen has an impressive range of friends and contacts, mostly in the travel industry but elsewhere as well. When we had checked online before leaving Carcassonne we discovered not only that the airline had stuck both of us into middle seats, but that we weren't even sitting in the same row for our long flight from Dubai to Brisbane. Not happy. As soon as we found out we messaged Helen to see if there was anything she could do to help. Not only did Helen's contact get us seated together, but we found when we boarded that we were in one of the bulkhead rows, Apart from it giving us 2-3 times as much legroom as usual it meant too that we could get up and wander round without having to clamber over or disturb any fellow passengers. As a result we arrived home feeling reasonably relaxed. We were happy.
We now have to start thinking about our next trip. Watch this space.Read more