Paris to Sydney

I’m safely back from my trip of a lifetime to Australia to visit Caiti. The travelling was exhausting, and to say I was stressed in the couple of weeks running up to it is the understatement of the year (I only found out with ten days to go that I needed a visa!), but it was worth all the aggro a hundred times over. I had an amazing holiday and didn’t waste a single second of my time there. Caiti had mapped out a detailed itinerary for me and so we managed to take in all the main sights and experiences of Sydney in my short week there.

There will be quite a few blogs about my holiday since we did and saw so much, and Sydney and its environs are quite simply stunning. You have been warned!

But I’m going to start in Paris. Trains from our part of the world to Paris are few and far between and so I was left with four hours to fill in the capital before I could check in with Etihad Airways at Charles de Gaulle airport. I had a medium-sized case on wheels with me and for that reason had already decided to avoid the main tourist spots since it would be a hassle to negotiate my way through the inevitable crowds. I’d therefore decided to go to a park to fill the time, and the one I chose was the Floral Park next door to Château Vincennes. It had been hailing when I left Garre Austerlitz and walked down to Gare du Lyon to take a direct Metro train to the park. That was a bit of a blow but by the time I alighted at my station, the weather had improved to brooding and chilly. And once I finally found a gate to the park that was actually open (I had to walk a fair way to do so), I stopped noticing the elements as the park was brilliant. Within the first few moments I’d come across this fellow.

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And very soon afterwards this beautiful display of tulips.

paristosydney

I pottered happily around the grounds and the various pavilions. I particularly enjoyed the bonsai and fern displays, and the Jurassic pavilion was great too with its horsehair ferns and other ancient plants. The afternoon galloped by and I covered miles and discovered many new and wonderful shrubs and trees. I was footsore but very happy by the time I had to head off to the airport.

My stress levels increased exponentially again as this was my first encounter with a truly long-haul flight. I went to Canada a few years ago, again to visit Caiti, but the first short section of my trip to Abu Dhabi was longer than that flight had been! However, I was excited too and so I boarded the Airbus more enthused than resigned.

Here’s the route we took.

paristosydney

And here’s the first of the many meals that were dished up, usually just as everyone was falling asleep! I was eating the cheesecake over Sarajevo (sounds like a good title for a book…). I had a window seat and spent most of the trip literally watching the world go by as it was a clear night. That was an incredible experience.

paristosydney

Abu Dhabi airport was heaving, and I felt slightly fragile there. Not only was I tired as I’d only had a couple of hours’ sleep, if that, but I couldn’t work out how to get online to contact Chris and Caiti and let them know that all was well so far. However, a humungous cinnamon bun dripping in sweet, sticky icing and walnuts and a large cappuccino jolted my brain back into coping mode and I soon mastered how to hop onto the airport’s free WiFi. The hordes of fellow travellers of every nationality no longer seemed overwhelming and I people-watched in fascination until we were called for the thirteen-hour flight to Sydney. It was mid-morning and 36 degrees C when we left, and I shot off some views of Abu Dhabi as we departed. It’s a surreal-looking place.

paristosydney

paristosydney

The flight passed uncomfortably but uneventfully, by far the best way, and the sun was just rising as we touched down in Sydney. More about which very soon!

paristosydney