Surprise Ending!Monday, 23 July 2007
Aix en Provence – Marseilles, France
Munich – Freising, Germany
Cours Mirabeau, Aix’s mostly pedestrian friendly broadway with wide sidewalks and two rows of maturing plane trees was all mine before when I crossed it on foot to get the car. This walk - across a sun soaked, tourist-packed Cours and down the side of the movie theatre - I’ve made many times getting a car from the underground parking and driving it to the Hotel des Augustins. This dawn, I didn’t have to sweat the minor traffic infractions I have to commit each time to get from parking lot to hotel without having to drive around the whole town. Nor did I have to worry about flattening a tourist when backing into the Cours from one-way Rue de Masse. For downtown hotel guests, the gendarmes make exceptions for these infractions, and we were on our way out of town to the airport in
Saying good bye to the lovely hotel with its ancient stone arches, remnants of the historic monastery, we load the car and are on our way to the nearby
We hadn’t used enough gas to fill up on the way into Aix yesterday, but as we neared the airport, we had about three quarters of a tank left. No worry, we’d thoroughly checked out the gas station at the airport last time and confirmed it was open 24 hours and they take credit cards and cash. All true this time except now they only take domestic (French) credit cards and no cash. So we cringed and turned it in without filling it up, knowing they will charge us pretty much whatever they want to top it off for the next customer.
We had time to sit down and savor our last grand crème and croissant before taking off for
We found out at the information desk that a bus to Friesing leaves every 20 minutes from the front of the terminal at bus stop number six and that we could buy tickets from the driver. Within minutes of leaving the terminal we’re out in the lush green countryside in our big, air conditioned, Mercedes Benz bus passing farms, gladiola and sunflower pick-your-own meadows, a wide river, and rows of corn.
We’d done this years ago during a long layover in
We walked all the way down one side of the main street then all the way back down the other side. We made an obligatory stop at a pastry shop for an apple strudel and cappuccino while we were thinking about what to have for lunch. We eventually found our way back to where the bus let us off and got back to the airport in plenty of time. There were signs at the airport directing us to the Lufthansa Business Lounge. We’d tried to get into a United Business Lounge on previous trips but were rebuffed because we are not members. But Anne tried Lufthansa anyway; they looked at our Business Class tickets and said of course we could use the Lounge. So we found a comfortable seat, grabbed a glass of champagne and some nibbles, watched a little Tour de France, and answered a few emails using their WIFI.
We boarded early and started getting acquainted with Lufthansa’s Business seats, compared to those of United. Lufthansa’s are much more human friendly with lie flat seats and a bigger personal movie screen. There are several pre-set positions for the seat where you push one button and the back moves, then the seat moves, then the leg and feet support moves. And after setting the seat at a custom setting, there’s a memory button to return the seat to that position after a meal. In addition to being comfortable the seats are lots of fun just to play with – Anne laughed as I moved up and down beside her, trying out the buttons. Also there’s personal storage space, a place for shoes, and a little privacy wing to put up if you don’t want your seatmate to see you drooling while you sleep. All this and good food and a wide wine selection, too. We couldn’t decide which of the four desserts we preferred, so our flight attendant suggested we have a little taste of all four. She delivered four small glasses with a mini-cone of passion fruit ice cream, a luscious dark chocolate mousse, fresh fruit, and a tart lime mousse with green tea on pineapple rice pudding.
We’re a little anxious to get back home to friends and work and to see what damage the three weeks of drought have done to our yard. But we’re a little more positive this time about spending time in