Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our Vacation in Villefranche Sur Mer

I discovered several important things during our vacation in France- it turns out that when they say “travel is broadening”, they don’t just mean the high-calorie French cooking! But the only way to tell what I learned is in context, which means describing the whole experience... so those with a low tolerance for boredom may want to bail.

Part One: getting there is half the fun

We’ll pretend that the day started with a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit. It actually began by getting up at 4:00 a.m. for a last minute housecleaning to impress the catsitter, doing the laundry I was going to be wearing that day, etc., but those things belong to another story- something like “No time left for me; the life of a obsessive”, and I should be telling a therapist, not you.

But it’s easy to pretend that the day started with a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit, because all NWA flights involve changing planes in Detroit. If you fly from the International Space Station to Mars on NWA, you’ll do it via Detroit. Once in Detroit, however, there was minimal fuss in loading for the second leg of the trip, Detroit to Charles De Gaulle, Paris. This was on an Airbus 330, but the exact model number is unimportant, as there are only two basic Airbus product lines: copies of Boeing products, and copies of McDonnell Douglas products. This one was a copy of an McD wide-body jet... but it wasn’t wide everywhere.

Airbus had managed to improve profitability by running extra seats further into the tail cone than any other airliner manufacturer. Do you remember in art class how the illusion of great distance is created by having lines that should be parallel converge upon a “vanishing point”, with objects getting smaller and smaller as they approach that point? That effect is realized in real life by the aisles and seats as they are squeezed into the tail cone of the Airbus. Oddly enough, all of the overly tall or overly wide passengers (I fit both categories) were seated in this section. I’d like to think this was random chance, but then I notice this plane was manufactured in a country where they think that Jerry Lewis is funny. Seriously, how tight was it? A jagged hole was torn in my pants as I forced myself into the 17” seat- and bruising of my hips and thighs actually interfered with the rest of the vacation. I repeat: those seats are 17” wide... by comparison, the hip room a two door Volkswagen Rabbit allows- more than 52” for two people- Airbus could fit three-abreast seating into with room to spare. Not since the liberation of France in 1945 has anyone ever been more glad to see Charles De Gaulle!

Next: The Innocents (well, not guilty anyway) Abroad!

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