...where it is - and I'm sure all of you in wet, horrid Melbourne will be pleased to hear this - supposed to be autumn.
It was 29 here yesterday:
And 27 the day before:
And going to be 27 again today.
Even though I'm glad I checked before I left and packed some t-shirts, I still could have done with a pair of shorts. Or a dress suitable for wandering around the city, rather than all the work ones I bought for the next stage of my trip.
Lest you think I entirely escaped the Melbourne weather of the last few days, alas, I did not. Remember that giant thunderstorm with much rain and lightning and, I believe, blackouts? Yes, well, that was gathering as I was preparing to leave my office for the aiport early on Wednesday afternoon. All I cared about at that point was not getting soaked walking the one block from the office to the cab rank with my bags.
I got into the taxi 1 minute before it started to rain. So, all good. We then got diverted because of an accident on the freeway entry ramp, and stuck in Ring Road traffic driving badly in the rain. None of this was a problem, because there was tonnes of time. No point rushing to the airport if you don't need too.
All was fine at the airport, leisurely buying of foreign currency, small queue through security and immigration. Lovely lunch with great service waiting in the Qantas Club. Boarding on time. Spare seat next to me for the leg to Singapore.
Then the storm hit. The airport was closed because of the very obvious lightning and driving rain. Two cargo doors on the plane were still open and couldn't be closed until the airport was re-opened and the ground crew was allowed on the tarmac. And, as the pilot advised, there was no way he was taking off in that weather anyway.
We all agreed. Sitting in a metal tube in the open in the middle of an electrical storm.
For four hours. Actually, the last hour was in the taxi queue trying to see if there was a weather window in which we could take off.
But, I have to say, for a 4 hour wait on a plane, it was fine. I've been stuck on the tarmac before, when the air-con isn't on and you're not allowed to get up and there's no entertainment. Here that wasn't the case. Until we joined the taxi queue we were allowed to be up and around and use our phones; the crew kept us well-watered and bought around icecreams; the air-con was on and all the entertainment systems were working so I just watched a movie and ran down the battery on my phone. They kept us informed of what was going on the whole time. Airport open, airport closed again, doors closed but another storm front so can't take off, etc. And as all you needed to do was look out the window to see how rough the weather was, no one was arguing.
The only concern was knowing as the hours ticked away that there was no way I was making my connecting flight to Paris once we got to Singapore. But then again, half the people on the plane had connecting flights, so there was no reason to be anything but zen about it. A little depressed about less time in Paris, but that was all.
After we did take-off we were advised that they'd closed the airport again behind us, this time because there was such grid-lock on the runways that no one could go anywhere.
Once we got to Singapore they directed us to the transit desk, where they had boarding passes ready. Rebooked on the flight to London - i.e. on the same plane that we had come on from Melbourne - with a BA flight London-Paris a bit later in the morning. Bags checked through. So, sure, I'd have to do the Heathrow Terminal Transit Shuffle, but really, as much as people complain about that, it's not hard. No sitting in Singapore airport, no overnight, no 24 hour delay. Easy as.
From the lounge I called my Paris hotel, which I'd booked for the night before I arrived because I had expected to arrive at 6 in the morning, and told them I'd be late. They were lovely.
My next fear was getting stuck in a middle seat on the flight to London, but no, a C seat on my boarding pass, an aisle seat. Yay. Then, imagine my delight when I got the quiet word from the flight attendant that I could relax, they'd just closed the doors, and the two seats next to me were empty. Yes, that's right, three seats to myself for the leg to London.
Glory. And sleep. I think I slept about 7 or 8 hours, and that made all the difference.
Nevertheless, I was feeling rather ratshit by the time I was wandering aimlessly around Terminal 5 waiting for them to allocate a gate to my Paris flight. But a change of shirt and some clean teeth fixed that - having slept on the plane, and tried to align my body clock as best as possible - I wasn't all that tired.
So, easy flight to Paris, a ride to the hotel in a cab filled with New Car Smell, and a sympathetic and lovely greeting by the owners of the small boutique hotel. Here I didn't need to ask any questions, they answered everything up front. Breakfast is here between these times, do you need wifi? how many devices? here's the passwords for each, yes, it's free. Come up to the room, here's the lights, here's the TV, the phone is here, if you need anything just ask.
Oh, and here is this, hand delivered a couple of moments after getting into the room:
And the room is lovely. Small, as with most in Paris, but neatly arranged, stylish and with plenty of room for everything. If anyone needs a recommendation for a boutique hotel in Paris just ask.
And because I wasn't really tired, and it was now mid-afternoon, after a shower I just started to wander around Paris.
That was always my plan for my 3 2.25 days in Paris. Just to wander. And do a little shopping.
I have only been here once before, on a family trip when I was 14, but in the few short days we were here then we did all the big stuff. Went up the Eiffel Tower, went to Versailles, into Notre Dame, to Montmartre. And even though that was a long time ago, I do remember all of that fairly clearly, and given my limited time here I don't feel the need to do it again.
I just want to wander. To look at all the fabulous buildings. I do love the architechture here. See, look at this, the apartment building around the corner from the hotel in the sun yesterday morning:
To buy, as I did yesterday morning, a warm crusty baguette and some jambon and go and sit in the park and eat it for breakfast watching all the fashionistas gather around the tents for Paris Fashion Week.
To sit in a cafe (trying as much as possible to avoid the ubiquitous cigarette smoke), and drink a glass of wine and just watch the world go by.
To maybe, perhaps, buy myself these little babies (what can I say, last pair in the store was in my size, it was meant to be):
It's lovely, really. And I do actually feel a little relaxed. A longer than planned plane trip, knowing it's the weekend at home, and the work server going down, do combine to give me a certain distance from work and everything else.
Although I worked out that yesterday I spent about 8.5 hours walking and by the end of the day I felt approximately 708. Luckily there's a lovely deep bath in my bathroom (see, told you, good room).
So right now I'm sitting up in bed on Saturday morning listening to the Grand Final on a radio stream, and once that's done I'll head out for the day. First up, I seem to have landed in a section of town that had many many children's clothing stores, so I'll be stocking up as planned for the nephew and niece.
Then, who knows.
Except that I'll be using the Metro a bit more today given that between my work obligations over the next few days and then a few days in London I will be required to be on my feet A LOT and so should really try not to kill my feet, and legs, and hips, and back, in only 2 days.