Europe 2016 diary: day 14 and 15

Friday, 11 November, 2016

We woke up a bit after 07:00 and got organised for leaving Nice. M. had a shower before we headed out for breakfast, but I decided to delay mine until after we’d eaten. We went out again to Boulangerie Blanc, where I tried the pain au chocolat after M. had said it was incredibly good yesterday, perhaps the best one she’d ever had. She had one too, and a cappuccino, while I also added a plain croissant but no drink today. The croissant was good, but the pain au chocolat was amazing. Warm, buttery, flaky, and filled with delicious melted dark chocolate. Oh my goodness, yes, it was the best one I’ve ever had anywhere.

Blanc cakes
Cakes and pastry selection at Boulangerie Blanc

Before leaving Blanc, we bought some baguette sandwiches to take to the airport to eat for lunch there, since our flight left at 14:30. We figured this was much preferable to having to buy lunch at the airport. M. picked the only vegetarian option, which was chevre with salad and walnuts. I chose a smoked salmon sandwich. The lady wrapped them for us in waxed paper and gave us an optional plastic bag for an extra five euro cents.

Then we returned to the hotel to repack our bags including all the extra stuff we’ve acquired on our travels, for the journey home. After showering, I organised my bag and found it wasn’t too stuffed. We checked out of the room around 10:30 and walked the few blocks back in the direction where we’d dropped off the hire car, to a bus stop on the beach promenade where the express bus 98 picked up passengers for the airport. Another couple was already waiting there with luggage, and as we waited a few minutes a group of four travellers and then another couple arrived.

The bus came a few minutes after the scheduled time and we clambered to get on behind the first couple. They had a conversation in French with the bus driver, and then they reversed and got back off the bus with their luggage! As far as I could tell we were on the right bus, so we paid €6 each for tickets, put our bags in the luggage area, and sat down for the ride to the airport. This was supposed to take about half an hour, but we drove along the beach front for maybe ten minutes before the airport appeared, with tarmac and planes behind a fence running along the road. However from here it took quite some time to reach the far end of the airport where Terminal 2 was located, and then a few minutes more for the bus to turn around and head back towards Nice to stop at Terminal 1, where we got off.

We walked into the terminal building at one end, and determined that our check in was at the far end… indeed it was the very last check-in post, as far as possible from where we walked in. There was a short queue of passengers but it didn’t take long. The man who checked us in gave us exit row seats on the flight to Dubai, but said he couldn’t confirm any from Dubai to Sydney. Indeed, he couldn’t even give us seats together on that flight, giving us boarding passes for seats some twenty rows apart! He said we could check with the ground staff in Dubai to see if they could change seats for us.

Next we had to go through security, but suddenly realised we were still carrying our sandwiches for lunch, and might be asked to throw them away. We asked a security lady before going through the security check if they’d let us take food into the departure area, and she said sure and waved us through. Other passengers in the queue with us actually had dogs on leashes, and we saw a woman walking through the metal detector holding a cat! We wondered what flights they were going on that they could take pets on board in the cabin.

Through the security check there was a duty free shop, where a woman was handing out individual size Toblerone samples in white, milk, and dark chocolate. We took a dark one each. It turned out they were having a sale with 20% off Toblerones. They had a bunch of strange flavours I’d never seen before, such as salted almond, and honey and hazelnuts, and a couple of others. The area we emerged in was quite small, with only a few shops and seats. There were passport check gates leading to the departure gates A and B. We could see through the A area there were more shops and food places, but we couldn’t see anything through the B area except some seats, so we were a bit reluctant to go through so early.

Instead we headed upstairs following a sign to a restaurant and bar called La Plage. This was set up cleverly to be like a beachside resort with deckchairs and nautically decorated tables and chairs. To top it off, it was partly illuminated by the sun coming through the glass of the terminal building, and you could even see the sea through the windows, beyond the runways. We ordered a coffee for M, and a lemonade for me. I expected this to be lemon juice with sugar and water, but it was just a bottle of Sprite!

We went back downstairs and M. bought a few Lindt balls from the pick-and-mix, to use up some last euro coins. When we weighed them and printed out a price sticker, it was a bit too much, so we returned one ball and printed out a new sticker. Next we found some seats and ate our sandwiches, since it was now lunchtime. The bread was soft rather than crusty, but the sandwiches were good. Now it was time to go through the passport check to the B gates area. When we emerged, it turned out to be another area with more shops and food places, including a Starbucks where I found a cool Cannes mug that I bought for Hailey. Then it was just waiting until we boarded.

The flight was eventless and we arrived at Dubai Airport around 23:30 local time. Then we had to wait a couple of hours before boarding our flight to Sydney.

Saturday, 12 November, 2016

Our flight from Dubai left at 01:55 on Saturday morning. Again, it was fairly smooth and eventless. After 13.5 hours, and crossing 7 time zones, we landed in Sydney a bit before 22:30.

We had to wait a while to collect our luggage, but there was no queue at all for the taxis, so we got home fairly quickly, by 23:30. Then it was a quick shower to freshen up before hopping into bed to try to sleep.

Another great trip over!

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