Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Longest Day Ever

We've just returned from a week in Paris and now it's time to blog about it...I sure hope that you enjoy our stories and pictures.  Our week was filled with fun and frustration but we enjoyed spending time together as a family in a very beautiful city.

In Saudi Arabia, it seems like the flight times that you can leave or arrive are always very strange.  I booked a round-trip direct flight to Paris from Jeddah and the outbound flight left at 3:05 am.  So after finishing up our final preparations, we got a little rest and  woke the kids up about 11:45 to be ready for the taxi to pick us up at midnight.  The ride down to the airport takes about an hour and we arrived in plenty of time, got our luggage from the taxi and in line to check in for our flight.  It is amazing to see how much traffic and how many people are at out and about in the city at this time of day. 

We approached the ticket counter about 1 am and presented our passports to the agent.  He then proceeded to tell us that our flight is overbooked by 50 passengers.  FIFTY!  I can't imagine how an airline could overbook by that many.  It looked like there was no way that we would get on this flight because we were a large group and they were also moving business class people down to economy and bumping the economy passengers.  Air France offered us 300 EUR per person and a hotel voucher to give up our seats and after a little discussion we decided to take the offer.  We probably wouldn't get seats together which makes travelling with children difficult and the money would be a nice chunk for our next trip.  So we stood aside for a little bit until finally someone got to us and took Mark up to write up the vouchers and put us on flights for tomorrow.  The kids and I waited in some seats and we were ready to head to the hotel by about 3:00 am.  There were many people just sitting around in the chairs by the door - it was interesting to see Security approach a lot of them and ask to see passports.  We were never questioned by anyone. 

When Mark was done with everything, we checked our luggage for our flight in the morning which was very helpful because we didn't have to drag it to the hotel.  They put us on a little shuttle bus with a few other people who had gotten bumped from the flight and we headed out to the hotel.  Much to my chagrin, we passed hotel after hotel in this old bus that swayed back and forth and was making me very sick to my stomach.  It took us 30 minutes to get to our hotel (so much for close to the airport).  The hotel was very nice on the inside and they were nice enough to put us in a large suite so we could all stay together.  We rolled into bed about 4:00 am and fell right to sleep.  About an hour later, call to prayer started in the many mosques surrounding the hotel, it woke both Mark and I up and I did not sleep well the rest of the night because I was afraid that we would oversleep and miss our flight in the morning.

We got up about 7:00 am, had a quick breakfast and got a taxi to the airport.  Now, I've talked about driving in Jeddah before, but I don't think I've ever experienced a taxi driver quite this bad.  He was going so fast and if anyone ever was in front of him, he would honk a lot until they got out of our way.  I kept saying prayers the whole time that we would make it back to the airport safely!  Luckily (and probably with divine intervention), we arrived without incident and it only took us about half the time it took us to get to the hotel the night before!

Our flight left Jeddah a little after 10 am and we had a short hour and a half layover in Milan, Italy where we experienced their airport - how exciting!  We boarded our last flight about 4:30 pm and landed in Paris at 6:00 pm - these flights were nice and uneventful although we didn't sleep much.

I had hired a shuttle service (Always Shuttle) to take us from the airport to our hotel in Paris which in hindsight was a great idea.  You'll hear more about the Paris train system later ;-)  Our driver was great - he was talkative and gave us a great tour of the city as we drove to our hotel.  We were so excited to see all the beautiful buildings and places that we would soon get to visit!

We arrived at our hotel - the Novotel Les Halles - at about 8:00.  The hotel was nice and very centrally located which is why I picked it.  It was a fairly reasonable cost also - everything in the city was very expensive!  We thought about heading out for dinner but opted for the hotel restaurant instead where we had a nice meal.  We were all so tired so we just turned in for the night.  We kept referring to the "start" of our trip as yesterday when it really was the same day - so the kids dubbed this travel day as the "Longest Day Ever" - so forever shall it be known!

We had missed our "first" day in Paris because of our flight changes (originally we should have arrived at 8:30 am) but we were excited for our adventure to begin in the morning.  Stay tuned for pictures and the Eiffel tower...

Thanks for reading!


  1. can't believe you still made it on time on Friday!
    can't wait to see the pictures ;-0

  2. Thank you so much for your blog. My family and I are moving to KAUST in July and your blog made me even more excited about this move. Thanks again!

    Jen Hermanson

  3. Jen - that's great! It is a nice place to live and the kids will love it. Be warned that July is VERY hot :-) We actually will be back in the states (in Michigan) from June 10 - Sept 10. Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions. Good luck with your move!