The trip narrative might have ended here if not for all on drama at our departure. We had made such a smooth crossing of the Atlantic that the rocky seas and the boat bottoming out on the waves that occurred our last night was a shock. Some people had a very difficult time sleeping. I felt a little uncomfortable, but was able to go right to sleep. Due to the weather, the captain had to slow down and we were late arriving at the dock in Lisbon the next morning.
This put everything a little behind schedule, but we still arrived at the airport just over two hours before our flight. We were back on track. However, when we checked in we were told that the flight was delayed for 55 minutes, not great with only a two-hour layover in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. We found out there was an air traffic controllers strike that morning in Lisbon. We had fared better than those on the British Airways flight to Heathrow (London). Their plane had started to Lisbon early in the morning, but had to return for maintenance. It was grounded at Heathrow waiting for a part. One of the couples who we met on the cruise were transferred to our flight.
Then more drama. The delay on our flight’s departure continued and our “layover” shrunk to 10 minutes by the time we boarded the plane. Things looked good in flight and they announced our gate and that they were holding the plane. We landed 40 minutes before our next flight. I was ready to run, bad toe and all. But a 15 minute taxi and then getting off the plane left us with 10 minutes and we were stopped by Air France and told that even if we could reach the gate, our luggage would not. The flight was closed and we would have to be re-routed.
It was evening in Paris by then, so there were no more flights for the day. I had been working hard for a year on an event to take place in Houston the next day and was devastated when I realized I would not make it. If we had taken our original cruise I would have been home two days earlier. We had scheduled the original trip with extra time in case there was a problem. The fire on the first ship and the subsequent last-minute rescheduling had not afforded us that luxury. When we got our new schedule, we called Rocky who agreed to be my proxy at the event and pick us up at the airport. I know he will do me proud as my representative.
They scheduled us on a direct flight to Houston the next morning and gave us a hotel and meal voucher for dinner and breakfast. We left the Air France service counter and went first through passport control and then through the maze of the airport to catch the hotel shuttle. When we arrived at the hotel-which looked rather charming from the outside-we had been in France over two and a half hours. We briefly considered going into town, but they had not released our luggage to us. When the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down, the decision was made; we would stay at the hotel.
Now you could say that there are worse things than being stuck in Paris for the night, but it is almost worse to be a train ride out from the city and unable to go. The hotel was about as far from the posh cruise ship suites as you could get. A tiny room, a tiny bed, and the smallest bathroom I have ever seen. I have been on 23 cruise ships and seen small bathrooms, but this took the prize. The food was ok-of course the bread was excellent and it is France so wine is included with your meal. We were fortunate to have our friends staying with us, so that made the experience more fun.
A small breakfast at the hotel, the shuttle back, and then a parting with our friends at security started our day. Ironically, this is the couple we met in the line at passport control in Barbados. They were the first couple from the cruise we met and the last we said goodbye to, bookending our trip.
I am typing this on the plane. I can only hope the luggage makes it…