Back to the regular program.
A quick blog on the Shanghai to Paris leg of my trip. I had about a 4 hour stopover in Shanghai, the airport seemed huge and semi deserted at the time I flew in. Signage wasn’t particularly clear but I managed to find my way through.
Of note was the insistence of immigration control to see my flight details, luckily I had requested a copy, and printed out my e-ticket! Flight Centre hadn’t supplied this without my prompting and it was needed! Luckily my printout seemed to suffice after it had been looked over by a couple of people and they stamped my passport and let me on my way.
I found my way to the departure area, and was passed through not one, but two security checkpoints. First my baggage got a cursory scan then I had the full empty pockets, laptop out, face scanned by a camera, body scanned with a wand treatment.
From there to the departure lounge, which had a long row of duty free shops, but a very poor selection. A few clothes, some perfumes and chocolates etc, but no tech gear. I had really been hoping to pick up a small video camera for Tania but nothing like it to be seen.
I was tired, and hungry so I sat down in a little cafe there and paid some ridiculous amount for a ham/cheese sandwich, some fries and an awful apple/celery juice which tasted like water.
I was also hanging out for a cigarette, and I had overheard someone mention a smoking room, so I sought it out. A dingy tobacco stained room, walled with tiles and metal benches. I think I’ve posted a photo on Flickr. Certainly put me off enjoying the smoke, so I returned pretty quickly to the gate and stretched out on the seats and tried to get some rest.
The flight itself was pretty uneventful, if a bit long. Over 12 hours. Again I had two seats to myself, my neighbour having spotted a free row of four and taken himself off there to stretch out and sleep! In fact it seemed half the plane reorganised itself to get more comfortable the flight must have only been half to 2/3rds full.
The predominance of frenchmen/women aboard was notable, and the inflight “Sunshine Callisthenics” had none of the participation I had seen on the first leg, rather I think I was one of the few who took part, and it really helped again!
Paris, zipped through immigration, short wait for my bag and out. No customs check! felt weird to just be allowed to walk out without having my stuff inspected, I guess I’m used to Australia’s stringent requirements. I made my way to the train, absolutely stuffed by this point.
Trains are trains anywhere, I got on, got off, shoved my way through peak hour crowds of parisians, got on another, got off made my way to the platforms where I needed to be for my train to Briare.
Of course that makes it all seem rather simple. Not so! I’m not travelling light, and really couldn’t sit down. Escalators were out in one station and I had to haul my baggage up a long flight. I’d left my Paris to Briare train ticket back in Australia and with a few phrases of french hastily texted to me by Helen I tried to sot out a replacement. This is turns out, is impossible. I had to buy a NEW ticket. Fuck. Except, they had my reservation, so they sold me the same seat again. Red tape gone mad. It was lucky I did have a reservation though, as I hadn’t realised I was travelling at the start of France’s biggest national weekend and the trains were all full.
So on train to Briare, next stop, seeing my Mum and John for the first time in 5 months!