Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nouvelles et divertissement fran├žais

Striking Air France flight attendants disrupt travel for 4th day

Sunday, October 28, 2007

PARIS: Air France flights were disrupted for a fourth day Sunday with striking flight attendants refusing to give in and the transport minister asking for both sides to restart talks.

The carrier hoped to get 60 percent of its flights in the air as travelers were growing tired of inconveniences and delays despite a pledge by Air France to reimburse those unable to find suitable alternatives.

"What the government wants is that negotiations restart and succeed and that we get out of this situation of conflict," said Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau.

The strike by flight attendants over pay and working conditions was expected to last through the day Monday, with the carrier saying it expected 70 percent of flights to be operational by then.

Unions unanimously rejected an Air France proposal Saturday night, saying it was too vague.

The walkout interrupted the start of a holiday in France when airports were jammed, and there were signs that passengers were losing patience.

"I am disgusted because I have the impression we are being held hostage," said one waiting passenger at Charles de Gaulle airport, identifying herself only as Maryse.

"If we want to be reimbursed we need to wait for the final cancellation of the flight," said stranded traveler Philippe Lefort, 45. He noted that a single flight can be delayed several times in a day, meaning a daylong wait to see if the plane will take off.

From the movie, "8 Femmes"

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Travels With Myself

Chapitre Un

The V.I.P.s: Clampett Style

Vendredi, 12 Octobre 2007

I wrote the following in my travel journal that I only wrote in for a couple of days. I didn’t make time to write in it like I said I would. Anyways, here goes…

Today I left for Paris, France. It’s so strange because saying that you’re leaving for France is always something that is said on television, or a movie, or someone else is uttering those words. It’s never you. It will never be me. It is though. It is me.

After much controversy at work, mostly in my head, about taking vacation time during the school year, I was given permission to take this trip. Leaving work today, after working less than half the day, I felt everything was in slow motion. My walk, the beams of the breezeway overhead passing me by, the students walking to class, the secretaries in the office on my way out. I was leaving and I was not looking back.

I went home to change shirts, do a last bit of packing and then left to my parents’ house where they were waiting to give me a ride to Louis Armstrong Int. Airport. On cue, my mother cried. It wouldn’t be a farewell without her tearstained face looking at me. My father was extra chatty giving me pointers on how and where to check at the airport. I hurried them along because they were making me even more anxious than I already was – edgier than a meth head without his meth. Scary, huh? (That’s the last thing I wrote in my journal before falling asleep on the plane.)

The following is what I remember of the first day…

After my parents dropped me off at the entrance to the Continental/Delta terminal, I walked over to the check-in area to get my boarding pass. Like a person who clearly does not read signs, I lined up in the Elite Travel line. Is it any wonder there wasn’t a soul in line! I was then herded over to the common folks’ line where I was made to type all my passport and green card information into the check-in kiosk computer. I’d run into Debbie while I was waiting in line, so it was nice to have someone to share in my misery. She was having problems getting an agent to help her. When she finally did, she had our seating changed so we could be next to one another. The flight wasn’t full, so we had an empty seat between us.

When we arrived in Houston we had a 90 minute or so layover, so we headed to Continental’s President’s Club. It’s their version of a First Class Lounge. It’s three floors of secluded glory in an otherwise busy airport. The second floor houses the free snacks and bar. We, I felt, looked like we didn’t belong because we were grabbing handfuls of free crackers and little rectangular slices of cheese. -Those crackers and cheese came in handy when we were hungry walking the streets of Paris. – Looking back on it now, we sort of stuck out, but we didn’t care. We got in! It’s all that mattered. The best part of the club was that the beer was free. All we had to do was tip the bartender. Free booze! Get out! I think if we’d stayed longer I would have been one of those passengers they don’t allow onboard because I’d been drinking to much prior to boarding. You know, like on that show “Airline”? There are always drunk passengers trying to fly Southwest, but I digress.

After a few beers, and grabbing more handfuls of crackers and cheese, we left the club and civility to join the throngs of masses downstairs in the main terminal waiting to be herded into a plane. Lucky for us we would be flying a Boeing- 777. Means nothing to you, but it was great fun for me. I’ve always wanted to fly a big airplane. My dream has always been a Boeing – 747, but it just hasn’t been possible, and not too many airlines use them anymore. A 777 will just have to do for now. When we got on board, we walked just past the wings, two rows back. I had the window seat, and Deb had the aisle.

I had Deb taking pictures of the aisle, while I tried taking a picture inside the cabin. We were served dinner about two hours into the flight, just over New York. I had the choice of chicken or beef. I hadn’t eaten a proper meal on an airplane in years. You only get peanuts thrown at you on domestic flights these days. The chicken with vegetables and the cake of some sort for desert were delicious. Our movies for the evening were “Evan Almighty” and “Ocean’s Thirteen”. I chose Evan. It wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to seem. Afterwards, I changed the channel on my screen and watched CSI. I didn’t make it past the opening credits when sleep took over. I slept for the next five hours or so until the flipped on the main cabin lights and started serving breakfast ( a croissant with fruit and juice.) We were an hour away from Charles de Gaulle airport. I was excited. I was nervous. I was happy. I was excited and nervous about being in a foreign country and not being able to speak or read the language. I was happy to be seeing MSH.

We landed at Charles de Gaulle, went through customs, collected our luggage and stepped out into the main terminal. We saw people with names on hand-made signs, but none of them said our name. MSH and Angela were late collecting us. They’d had problems getting on the right metro train. Eventually they worked it out and made it to the airport only a few minutes late. They even had signs with our names on them. We may have been like the Clampetts in France, but now we were true V.I.P.s being hailed by persons holding up our names on signs at anairport terminal.

We’d arrived!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kitty Francais Does Paris

Bonjour, everyone. This is Kitty Francais back from 9 days in Paris with my friend Breezy. We had a great time gallivanting along the busy, narrow streets of the City of Lights. Breezy will be detailing his adventures shortly, but for now I would like to introduce you to my cousin,

Kitty Marseilles.

Isn't she cute? I decided to ring her mobile since I was in town, and she invited me to this hangout near her home. Who knew it was a cemetery!

Pere Lechaise. Never heard of it. Have you? I know. I know. I have gaps, but there you go.

OK, so not only is it a hangout, but it holds the graves of such artistes fantastique as Oscar Wilde, Simone Signoret, Jim Morrison, and Frederic Chopin to name just a few.

By the way, I'd like to apologize for her rudeness. Walking through Pere Lachaise will simply make you tired and grumpy, or is it just that she's a Frenchie? I'm going to say she's tired. The cemetery *is* on the side of a steep hill, so that would explain her fatigue. Yep, that's it, she's tired.

Anywho, that's all for now. It's bedtime and I'm tres tired. Kisses and Bonne Nuit

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

J'aime France

In two days I'll be on a plane high above the deep, blue Atlantic Ocean on my way to France. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm impatient waiting for the day to come.

I finally bought a digital camera last week, so I'll be able to post pictures from the trip here. It's about time. I guess digital cameras aren't just a fad like 8-tracks. I always wait too long to jump on any kind of trend, so it's not unusual of me to be this late. I'm always late anyway.

So, I'll be keeping a travel diary. My goal is to write in it at least once a day. I can do it. It's easier said than done when you are walking around checking out the sights.

Wish me luck.

au revoir