Portland to Los Angeles to Paris to Venice

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Stayed up until 1 AM the night before the trip dealing with various issues (mostly ebook-related… paper books weigh more, but they don’t crash) and woke up at 5:00 with mind spinning, so started this long long day with 4 hours’ sleep.

The good news is that we did this flight in business class on Air France. We cashed in every Alaska frequent flyer mile we had, and then some, to do it, but it was well worth it — long-haul upgrades are your best air-miles investment. On our first leg, from PDX to LAX, a fellow business-class traveler was Claire Coffee, the actress who plays the Hexenbiest in Grimm.

At LAX, getting from our Alaska gate to the Air France lounge took an entire hour (including a brief visit to Alaska’s lounge, bus to the other terminal, check in at the Air France ticket desk, and getting through security) which didn’t bode well as our layover in Paris, also involving a change in terminals, was only a little more than an hour all told.

Our five-hour layover in the Air France lounge went really quickly, mostly dealing with various computer issues and some email — including an agent rejection, alas. The agent liked the book but “I just don’t believe I could sell this. There aren’t really any YA editors with any understanding of hard-ish SF, and even if I found someone, I can’t see this getting through acquisition somewhere.” Argh.

On the LAX-Paris flight, I watched Mission Impossible 4 (silly fun), slept about 6 hours, did a little reading. Air France’s food in Business Class was actually delicious, and we made it across huge DeGaulle airport (1.52 miles’ walk, according to my pedometer), through passport control and security, and to our gate with time to spare. Whew! Hearing the babel of languages at CDG reminds me that travel forces us to question our assumptions (“of course everyone talks like me, eats like me, dresses like me, lives like me”) — you learn that there are other ways to do things that you had never even realized you were doing at all.

Another excellent meal (technically a snack – it was small and cold – but it had 3 courses and it was delicious) on the plane to Venice. We never did get looked at by Customs; I think I saw some guys in Douane vests talking with each other at CDG as we walked past. It was raining when we arrived, so we decided to take the bus (quick and cheap) into Venice rather than the boat (slower and more scenic, but not so nice on a gray day). The walk from the bus stop to the hotel was a bit of a slog, especially with wheelie bags over those picturesque stepped bridges, but WOW we are really here at last!

The hotel was a bit surprised to see us (our host muttered darkly about her husband not writing down our reservation in the book; I suspect those two will Have Words later) but they did honor our reservation and set us up in a charming little room with mini-fridge and bidet. We threw down our bags, brushed our teeth, and went out in search of dinner. We found several really nice-looking, popular restaurants but they were Fully Committed; most of the rest were either too touristy (multi-lingual menus, obnoxious touts) or too underpopulated or both, or else chicceti bars which we didn’t have the brain power to deal with. The good news is that the search gave us a lovely walk and I got to appreciate the way the character of the light changed minute by minute as the sun went down.

We wound up at a restaurant on a side street, with a multilingual menu but decently crowded and had a nice vibe, where we had a very nice dinner of tomato and onion bruschetta, grilled veg antipasto (Kate had sardines as well), seafood risotto (tentacles!) and a lovely assortment of fried seafood (Italian tempura). We did let ourselves get upsold into a pretty pricey dinner but still a lovely start to the trip.

Tomorrow, we tourist in earnest.

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