Eurotrip 2011: The prelude

I’ve never been a travel person. When I moved to Singapore, that was the first time I had ever been out of the Philippines. I suck at directions and I’m not brave enough to go about on my own, so I jumped at the chance to go to Europe with Ellen.

When I’m nervous about coming events or situations, I tend to work the whole process out methodically in my head, or in writing. What happens when, what I need to do if X happens, what I should have with me when Y happens. And so for months before the trip, along with a lot of saving up, Ellen and I worked out the trip details, sharing ideas and places to go and plans and expenses and spreadsheets via Google docs, since she was in the Philippines and I was, well, here.

Day 0 rolled around: we would be arriving in Paris at night. I was nervous, not just because of the trip, but because I had never been on a long-haul flight before. It was a bucket list thing, though, and it was a good kind of nervous.

I got my boarding pass and ran off to the boarding gate. I brought nothing on me in-flight, except for my phone, some small toiletries, my wallet, my Kindle, and my camera and lenses. I almost put my camera into my checked-in luggage, when I realized that even if my camera survived, my lenses will probably not. I brought my pancake and Voigtlander lenses (14mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/1.4, respectively). I left my zoom lens because it’s huge. My bag was still heavy.

I got into the plane, bundled down for the flight, flicked through the in-flight movie channels.

I don’t remember if I watched anything, but I know that I napped a little, and I read the Wheel of Time: I was on The Fires of Heaven. I had a window seat, which I regretted, because I don’t like having to bug people if I needed to have a go, and squeeze past and all.

We landed in Dubai, where we boarded an air-conditioned bus to take passengers to the actual terminal. Country girl that I am, I thought that was a little quaint, as the only times where I’ve actually been on the tarmac were in small provincial airports, not huge international airports like DXB. I was a bit too apprehensive about getting lost to enjoy the 10-minute trip.

Through the security gates (omg so many people), and then I finally met up with Ellen. Relief, excitement, etc. I had fries and water, but the break between flights wasn’t that long, and we went back to the plane, headed towards Charles de Gaulle, shortly after. I watched The King’s Speech, which was good; and then I read again.

And then we were there! We landed in Charles de Gaulle airport, and after getting our checked-in luggage, we went to look for the train to the city itself. We did not fully expect the number of stairs we’d have to go through: yes, stairs, not escalators. And I thought I packed light, but well, apparently, not light enough.

That fact would continue to bother me for much of the trip. You live, you learn.

There was still light outside at 8pm, and at 9pm. Twilight descended at 10pm. Talk about a long day.

We settled in with our AirBnb hosts, and headed out to have a quick bite to eat. Tired, and welcomed with just how expensive Parisian meals were, it was not quite the best welcome Paris could give.

But it was early days yet, and we felt much better after the meal. A good night’s sleep would only make things even better. We slept at half-past midnight.

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