Sunday 9th September, 2001
At 7:30am we were up to complete packing and have breakfast. We pay our bill and check out.
At 9:15am we are downstairs and at 9:3am Arjen arrives to take us back to Schiphol Airport.
At Schiphol we collect our Avis rent a car and load it up with our bags. We say our goodbyes to Arjen who has helped us a lot these past few days.
At 10:25am we are on the road and headed for Paris. We drive into Belgium and bypass Antwerp and Brussels. Then into France and we stop at Charles De Gaulle airport where there are 8 airport hotels. All are booked out.
It is 3:30pm as we enter the airport and are stuck in heavy traffic and eventually see a bag taken out of the airport and watch as it is blown up by authorities. Eventually traffic is allowed to move on.
We search around the airport for a hotel without luck. We are getting desperate, it appears there are two major world conferences on in Paris and there is very little accommodation available.
After 7 hours of looking for a hotel we drive into Paris central – not something Gary is keen to do but at 11:30pm we find the Hotel Village with one room available.
We are tired, depressed and ready for bed. Firstly Gary has to drive 5 floors underground in a very narrow circular road. Very testing. We go up the lift and into our room and collapse into bed.
Monday 10th September, 2001
At 7:30am we are up and have an OK breakfast at the hotel. We ask to stay another night but the hotel is full so we go back to our room, pack and take our luggage back to the car.
At 9:30am Gary drives, Scott navigates and Rayls is on the mobile phone looking for another hotel for the coming night, our last in Paris.
Rayls does well and managed to get a Novetel hotel not far from the airport. We drive there and try to check in but no luck. So we drive the car back to the airport, park it luggage and all and catch a bus to T9 where we catch a train to Paris.
At 1:00pm we get off the train and walk to the Eiffel Tower – a 20 minute line for tickets and we are about to catch the lift up the tower Ryan rings. Gary find it funny to be talking to Ryan in Perth from the base of the Eiffel Tower.
At 1:50pm we reach the top of the tower. Very impressive and we call Amy and family back in Cedar City although it is just 5:00am there.
Rayls buys miniature towers, bears, a book and a coin. We spend some time looking at the view and eventually go back down the lift to the middle observation area and then the ground.
It was 65 francs each to go to the top of the tower. Rayls buys a windcheater.
Walk back to the station and catch the metro train to Arch De Triomphe station. Walks down Champs De Ellesyee and have lunch where beggars ask for money.
We walk towards the Seine River and end up at the Louvre where we talk to a family from Hobart.
We stroll through the Louvre and take note of the Mona Lisa and Venus Di Milo.
We catch the metro to the stop near the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed and check out the location.
At 7:30pm we go back to the airport and check flight details at the Qantas counter. Then we collect the car go to a service station to refuel and buy some goodies and go to the Novetel hotel where we check in to room 203.
Tuesday 11th September, 2001
At 8:00am we are up and ready for what will be a long and fateful day – a day we will remember forever.
Although our flight is not until midnight we must check the out of the hotel and return the car to the Avis facility at the airport. This leaves us with 13 suitcases and so Gary offers to sit with the bags whilst the others head into Paris for the day. No way! We are all tired and decide to kill the day at the airport.
At 10:00am we have a McDonald’s breakfast, getting tired of that, and then move to a window seat where we spend the day till 7pm.
We play cards and chat with a couple from Sydney, she is a Qantas flight attendant and he a NSW cop.
At 1:15pm Gary and Scott leave Rayls and the Sydney couple and look for some food. They wander into a restaurant and observe many people standing around a television set with a view of the New York skyline and the events of 9/11 for all to see. It is CNN and we are transfixed by what we see. Gary rings Ryan in Perth to make sure he is aware and then rings Amy in Cedar City to see how she is coping...... not well.
We have pizza for dinner – it is a long day with cards being played, talking and keeping up with the events in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. We are all shocked; we had just been in New York City a few weeks earlier.
At 7:10pm we line up for check in to our flight. At 9:45pm we are first to check in and find that we have all been upgraded to Business Class. Wow, Qantas Paris to Singapore in Business Class.
We go into the departure area and call Amy again.
At 9:45pm we go to the departure area at Satellite 5 – security is very obvious.
At 11:00pm we start boarding, security is enormous and all cabin luggage is searched.
At 11:25pm we finally board the flight and we find we have the front seats on the plane. We have 5 seats to ourselves and this is luxury. We immediately get orange juice and a hot towel – very nice.
Cabin doors close at 12:04am and Captain Collins is in charge of our flight.
At 12:06am we back out, start taxing at 12:13am and at 12:25am we are holding for takeoff. At 12:33am we take off and see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
We are well aware that we did not use our time in Paris very wisely but we are tired, stressed by the hotel shortage and ready for home.
At 1:06am we are at 29,000 feet and First Officer Andrew Percival advises we will land at 6:00pm Singapore time. This is a pleasant flight and it is a pity that some of the time is wasted sleeping.