Today we geared up for the next leg of our journey which started with a Ryanair flight from Beauvais airport (1.5 hours north of Paris) to Beziers in the south of France. If you’ve never heard of Ryanair, it is one of several dozen no-frills discount airlines that have popped up in Europe in the last ten years (think Southwest or JetBlue). And if you’ve never flown any of these airlines, let me tell you that it is quite an experience. First of all, our tickets cost all of 15 Euros ($22) each for a one-way flight that would have taken us eight hours by car– but you certainly get what you pay for. We arrived at the sad little airport in the middle of nowhere (although they’ve deceivingly named it PARIS Beauvais) several hours before our flight so we’d have plenty of time to return our rental car and get checked in. When we got to the ticket counter, we were greeted with a smile and asked if we had any carry-on bags. When we nodded, the ticket agent left his seat to inspect our luggage. When our rolling suitcases didn’t fit in the metal frame box measuring exactly 21.5” X 15.5” X 8.5” we were asked to repack or pay an additional 40 Euros ($58) to check a bag. So, we stepped aside and proceeded to rearrange shoes, toiletries, and a few small antique accessories. Before returning to his post, the agent added “and make sure your purse and small bag also fit inside your luggage, messieurs-dames.” So Renee emptied the contents of her purse into her suitcase while I stuffed my postage-size camera bag into my bag. Needless to say, it took us three tries and a total disregard for orderliness until we finally passed the “carry-on luggage test.”
That was just the beginning.
It was a bit of a free-for-all boarding the plane without assigned seating.
The flight itself had something of a carnival atmosphere with the attendants running up and down the aisles hawking anything from lottery tickets to rubber watches “with the healing power of tourmaline.”
When the plane finally landed at the Beziers airport, a trumpet fanfare blasted from the loudspeakers followed by applause from the passengers, a celebration for another on time arrival by Ryanair.
In the end, we made it to our destination in one piece, albeit a bit frazzled and asking ourselves if it was worth saving several hundred euros (yes, it was).
|An entire shop dedicated to macaroons
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