Thursday, December 4, 2014

Our big Virginia trip, part six-- going home

We got up Sunday morning, enjoyed one last breakfast at the Hummingbird Inn, and hit the road for northern Virginia.  I thought maybe we'd get Bill some new pants for work, but we never managed to get to an appropriate store.  I think we were too focused on the long trip ahead of us to worry about shopping.  We feared heavy traffic as everyone made their way home after the holiday break, but it didn't turn out to be too bad going north on Interstate 81.

The one big decision we had to make going back to Dulles Airport was where to stop for lunch.  I wanted something we can't get in Germany.  We were going to get Mexican food which, while available in Germany, loses a lot in the translation.  We ended up at a Five Guys instead and had a couple of greasy cheeseburgers with fries.  Then we went to the airport and dropped off our rental car.

I was kind of impressed by the TSA screening at Dulles, both coming and going.  They seem to have streamlined it quite a bit so that it's faster and easier to get through.  No need to take off shoes or remove electronics from our bags.  I did have my hands swabbed, though.  Good thing none of my cousins brought any firearms this year.

We had plenty of time to kill, so we stopped by a bar/restaurant that served Dominion beers.  We had enough time that I was able to try them all...  And it's a good thing I did, too, because Bill and I ended up being seated in the two middle seats of a row.  Just as I was about to sit down, the lady who was to sit next to me hollered, "That's my seat!  I'm sitting next to you."


Mmm... beer.

The lady sitting next to me turned out to be a very annoying Jewish woman with a penchant for Sudoku.  I wouldn't mention that she was Jewish except that she made it obvious by loudly mentioning it several times.  She'd also ordered Kosher meals and was served ahead of everyone else.  She'd get her food, then Bill and the lady sitting next to him would get theirs, because the flight attendants on their side were somehow faster.  I'd then get mine twenty minutes later, after everyone else was finished eating.  Not that it really mattered.  I didn't have much of an appetite on the flight back to Europe.  It was just awkward having to be dead last.

The woman sitting next to me hogged the armrest and needed constant help from the flight attendants.  She wasn't particularly unpleasant about asking, just loud and persistent.  She was part of a large tour group on their way to Florence and she had lots and lots of questions.  It didn't help that the woman sitting in front of me was a notorious recliner who kept herself leaned back for the entire flight.  I will give her credit for at least putting her seat up when we were eating.  I have been on several international flights where the people in front of me weren't even that considerate.

It was all too fitting that I'd choose to watch the film Anger Management on our way across the pond.  I had not seen it before and I must admit it was a rather funny film starring Adam Sandler and the ever adorable Marisa Tomei.  I noticed Tomei's character was named Linda...  Wonder if Adam Sandler has an ex named Linda, since he seems to use that name a lot for the females in his films.  The film was in English with no subtitles.  I'm not sure if I'd requested it in French if it would have been dubbed or subtitled.  I guess that's something to test out next time I fly across the pond on a European carrier.

Transatlantic flights are uniformly boring and uncomfortable, but at least the longer flight to the States was more comfortable than the flight going back to Europe.  Happily, the flight to Europe was also about an hour shorter than the flight to the USA.

We were delayed about an hour leaving DC, too, which aggravated a lot of people.  For Bill and me, it was a non issue.  Our one hour flight to Stuttgart didn't leave Charles de Gaulle Airport until about 8:00pm.  We had originally planned to take a train to Paris and fart around the city, but by the time we landed in Paris, we were both totally exhausted.  Fortunately, Sheraton came to the rescue.

Back in 1997, I spent the night at CDG in a hotel called "Cocoon".  It was a no frills establishment designed to allowed travelers the chance to rest during long layovers or before early flights.  The place wasn't even an official hotel and wasn't allowed to rent rooms for more than 18 hours at a time. Cocoon closed years ago and was evidently replaced by a full service Sheraton.

Being a corporate owned American establishment, the Sheraton at CDG takes full advantage of the exhaustion of weary travelers desperate for a nap.  After spending about a half an hour or so searching for the Sheraton, Bill and I rented one of their "day rooms" and we paid dearly for the privilege.  For about 200 euros, you get a room from 9am until 6pm.  Want Internet?  That's another 19 euros.  Breakfast?  Another 37 euros please.  Yes, it was expensive... on the other hand, had we gone into Paris, we probably would have spent just as much or more and likely would have been even more exhausted.  Besides, the weather wasn't all that great for sightseeing.


Touch the minibar at the Sheraton and you'll surely be charged...





Ahh...


Marble bathroom!

One thing I will say about the breakfast offered at the CDG Sheraton-- it's HUGE.  We ordered one and it was more than enough food for both of us.  We had enough leftover that a third person could have joined us.


Sideways breakfast...

I took a very nice shower-- the shower at the CDG Sheraton is of the rainfall variety and felt heavenly after our long flight.  Then, after eating eggs, fruit, and breads, and washing it down with coffee and juice, we passed out for about four or five hours.

Looks very space aged in the hotel...

Since check out time was 6:00pm, we left the hotel at about 5:30 or so and made our way to the gate where our flight to Stuttgart was.  We found a little gourmet market and had quiche and wine for dinner.  Then, we got on our flight.  Fortunately, it wasn't full and I was able to change seats and sit by Bill. We finally got back to Stuttgart at about 9:20pm or so.  Despite the delay coming out of DC and annoying seat mates (which you will find on any airline), I was pretty happy with Air France.  I'd fly them transatlantic again.


Quiche and vino!



I was impressed the Air France highlighted Armenia in their most recent flight magazine.




Homeward bound!

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