I can remember several years ago when I shared a house in Camperdown with two gorgeous young things, who educated me about the world through Sex in the City, yes really, amongst other things.
I was working at the time at Trinity Grammar School, and was really looking forward to going out one night to see a play that the drama students were putting on. At the time, I didn’t own a car, and hadn’t yet discovered Goget. It was one of those really stormy Sydney nights, so I was waiting for a taxi to get me to the school. I got ready, and kept an ear and eye out while perched on the sofa, watching a documentary about the new A380 Airbus. I was enthralled. The designers needed to make a plane whose wingspan didn’t take up any more width than the current runways would allow, but at the same time be quiet and have more carrying capacity than any other aircraft ever built. I was really impressed, however more than a little skeptical.
When I moved to Summer Hill, I had the pleasure of getting up close, and personal with most airline’s aircraft as their take-off flight path included my apartment. I could always tell an A380 was coming. Their engine sounds much quieter and slightly higher pitched than other aircraft. Having always loved watching planes fly, and stopping in my tracks just to behold them, I’d test myself out by running to my back porch or a window just to make sure I had detected the right sound. I have now travelled on three flights in these planes, and I’d have to say they are fantastic.
After taking in some traditional Korean music played by a quartet of musicians (the singer/gayageum player reminding me more than a little of Saraswati, minus the swan) I ambled to my gate over an hour early. I plugged my technology in and set to work writing. Meanwhile, just outside the window, the large pastel blue foreheaded A380 sat patiently waiting for it’s passengers to assemble.
I am lucky that my time can pass fairly quickly because I always have lots of writing to do, however on this occasion we were plied with sweet peanuts and orange juice as we were delayed with take off. I whipped out my aptly chosen postcard of Ganesha to encourage removal of the obstacles (apparently busy Chinese airspace), and we did eventually get flying after a 45 minute delay. You will note my journal and peeping morning pages notebook – yes, they’re still with me. Although I think I’ll need to purchase another part-way through the walk.
The ride in one of these aircraft is extremely comfortable, and the quietest of any flight. To add to either your panic or exhilaration, you can choose to watch from front, downwards or back tail camera. The latter makes one feel quite like a bird I found.
PS: yes it did feel like a movie, when on landing at Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport, the lovely Korean woman (who it turns is a piano teacher and travelling with her husband), and I started singing Les Champs-Elysées and Edith Piaf. It seems I am not the only one completely besotted with France.
I have enjoyed taking the opportunity to explore an area of Paris I previously haven’t spent much time in, the 12th arrondissement. It was quick and easy to catch up with my early music buddy, Jerome and his wife, Laurence, who live close to Colonel Fabien metro in the 19th – one change at Nation. When we’re together we exchange early music tidbits and Youtube clips and indulge or mutual love of Kate Bush. They kindly agreed to caretake my luggage until I finish my pelegrinage.
The day finally arrives. I get to let go of my little carry-on suitcase and pack up my backpack. This is the real thing now. I’ve attached the little shell (actually quite big shell) to my pack so it will be obvious I’m a pilgrim (I think that is good thing?). A lovely Couchsurfing hostess in Dijon gave me her St Jacques Coquille shell when I rode part of the Vezelay route in 2011.
The view from my apartment took in the gorgeous five and six storey apartment buildings so characteristic of much of Paris, radiating out along six spokes. I had the useful pleasure of mounting the 121 steps each time I came home and could then look down on the Place to watch the fountain or the old men who gathered on the park benches to pass the time. It was only after surveying the landscape a number of times that I noticed that the roundabout wasn’t round. It is coquille-shaped.