Côte d’Azur-Le Dernier Jour-Day 10

My husband and I decided to shower before heading down to the breakfast buffet on the last day of our trip. We wanted to make sure that we gauged the time very carefully so that we couldn’t possibly put ourselves in a position where we would have to even worry about missing our flight. Most of the previous days we had gotten to the breakfast buffet between 9:30 and when it closed down at 10:30. It was a little weird to be down there a little after 8:00. The nice thing about being at the breakfast buffet that early was that there weren’t as many people so we didn’t have to worry about having to dodge as many people, especially children, who had colds.

After our last breakfast in France we went up to our room one last time to get our stuff. We were very, very sad that our vacation was over.

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It was raining that day.

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It was as if France was crying because we were leaving, not really but it’s fun to say. We double and then triple checked that we had everything before we went down to check out. As I had expected there as a city tax added onto of the room amount that we had already prepaid but it was only 30 Euros. I have to admit that I was surprised that it wasn’t more. The cleaning staff had left us with two bottles of Evian almost everyday and I really thought we would get charged on the back end for those and I was shocked that we didn’t. Once we were checked out we waited for our cab to take us to the airport.

On our way to the airport we got caught in some awful traffic. We had seen some horrid traffic while we had been in Nice but our trip to the airport was the first time we had to deal with it. The airport wasn’t that far it away but it felt like it took forever for us to get there. Thankfully, our cab driver was very nice. She informed us that our suspicions had been correct the day before when we had waited and waited for buses that never came. It turns out the bus drivers, the tram drivers and the train drivers had all been on strike. We felt validated that our suspicions had been correct. We also felt relieved. At various points in our planning we had discussed leaving Nice on our last full day. If we had we could have ended up stuck somewhere or having to change our plans at the last minute. Clearly we had made correct decision in just taking it easy the day before and staying in central Nice.

At the airport it was really nice not to have to worry about our luggage being over the weight limit. We dropped our bags off and got through security with plenty of time. A little too much time actually but it’s better to be safe than sorry. We waited for about an hour and a half before it was time to board our flight. As he often does my husband fell asleep as we waited.

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I often have an impulse to buy stuff at the airport when I’m heading home; as if spending more money will extend my vacation, but I didn’t do that at the airport in Nice because I knew I would be spending some money at the airport in London when we arrived there later that day.

When we left Paris in 2012 I cried because I was heartbroken to leave the number one place in the world I had ever wanted to visit. This time I was sad to leave France but I wasn’t heartbroken. Since it was raining the landscape was difficult to see as we took off. I did manage to get a good last few glimpses of Nice before we flew into the clouds.

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Towards the end of our flight I was once again able to see France. Of course, now it was Northern France. It was really really cool to fly over the point where the English Chanel is at it’s narrowest. At one point I could see both France and the United Kingdom in my tiny airplane window.

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 This was our ninth time flying into London. We have never actually gone into the city but it’s always exciting to see the London Eye and Big Ben as we descend upon the airport.

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I had proposed an April Fool’s Joke earlier in our trip and my husband agreed that he thought it would be a good one to try to pull off. When we landed in London I actually had a good connection for my data, for once,  so I checked us into the airport on Facebook and said that we couldn’t bare the thought of going home so before leaving Nice we had decided to change our ticket and spend the weekend in London. I guess it was very believable because almost immediately people back in the United States began liking it and saying things like “Good for you” and “You only live once”. I thought it was funny but my husband felt like of bad. It seemed as though with each passing minute more and more people were liking it. We not reveal that it was a prank until we landed back in Los Angeles and that was about thirteen or fourteen hours away.  I did have to reveal to one person that it was a prank though. I have a friend that lives outside of London and when she saw the post she private messaged me wanting to get together. I had to tell her the truth since she was willing to meet us pretty much anywhere. She was disappointed but appreciated the joke. In fact she aided us in it. After she got off work she checked into Big Ben and tagged me so that it would seem like we were actually in London.

Although we weren’t actually staying in London we did have yet another layover at Heathrow. I bought some tea and my husband bought some chocolates. We both got lunch at our favorite little sandwich shop. As we waited for our gate to be posted it once again seemed like we were surrounded with sick people every where but I guess that’s what happens when you travel in the spring. I’m pretty sure than somebody along the way on this last day got us sick because three days later my husband came down with a sore throat and four days later my luck ran out. At least we got sick after our trip was over rather than in the middle of it. Still, it was frustrating that after going all cold and flu season I was sick right before and right after our trip.

My husband and I have decided that our next trip across the Atlantic will at long last actually be London. As a result this time at Heathrow seemed more like a preview instead of just a layover.

When my husband and I were going through the passport check earlier during our layover we were informed that for some reason British Airways had upgraded us from Economy to Premium Economy. We didn’t know why but after making sure we were going to still be sitting together we went with it.

After waiting for awhile for our gate to be posted we left the main part of Heathrow’s Terminal five and headed for our plane. It always seems so stupid that at Heathrow you sometimes nd up going in a big circle but it is what it is. When we boarded our plane we realized just how lucky we were to get the free upgrade to premium economy. The seats were bigger. There was more over head storage room sine there were fewer people in that part of the plane. There were foot rests and the headphones they gave us were nice big headphones instead of little earbuds. Even better was the food they served us. There a was a cute little menu that let us know what we would be eating for our main meal. And to top it off they gave us two glasses of champagne before we took off.

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Talk about feeling swanky.

I was so happy for the upgrade because despite the extra comforts I didn’t have the best flight. For some reason I just couldn’t sleep. I am normally able to get about an hour or two in on the flight from London to Los Angeles but this time my body was having none of it. Every time I tried to sleep my mind wouldn’t shut down. It was a little frustrating. But that happens sometimes when flying. So instead of dwelling on it I just decided to enjoy the in-flight entertainment.

I played many games of Pac-Man and I watched two movies. Since I had a ten hour plane ride I decided to watch “The Hateful Eight”. I loved “Pulp Fiction” and both “Kill Bill” movies but ever since Quentin Tarantino decided to set his movies to the past I have become less and less enthusiastic about his work. I thought “Inglorious Bastards” was pretty good for the most part but I really did not like “Django Unchained”. The violence in “Django Unchained” was so over the top that it was boring. I’m not lying when I say that at a certain point I became so desensitized to the violence in “Django Unchained” that I nearly fell asleep when I saw it in the theatre back in February of 2013. Still, I love Jennifer Jason Leigh the fact that she finally received an Oscar nomination for “The Hateful Eight” was enough to get me to watch it on the plane. Besides a nearly three hour movie doesn’t seem like such a big commitment when you are on an airplane for ten hours. I liked the movie more than I liked “Django Unchained”. I’d put it along the lines of how I felt about “Inglorious Bastards”. When it was just a straight western it was good but when it went over the edge  into Tarantino contemporary language and the over the top violence I didn’t like it. As expected Jennifer Jason Leigh was great. The other movie I watched was “Joy”. It was basically what I expected. Jennifer Lawrence was great but at the end of the day the film was just a bio-pic. Director David O. Russell tried to do some things to mix up the style to make it seem  more than a standard bio-pic but those things were more of distraction than anything else. Although neither movie was great they both served their purpose. They passed the time.

As great as being upgraded to premium economy was I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed with the large amount of food that they gave us over the course of the flight. I’m certainly not complaining but I think both my husband and I would have purchased less food during our layover in London if we had understand exactly how well they were going to feed us in Premium economy.

As we began to descend into Los Angeles we had to fill out our customs form. Even though we have been married for over two years I felt a little nervous about filling out just one form for the both of us. We are obviously legally entitled to since we are married but last year the immigration officer in Boston was quite rude to us and if felt like part of his rudeness was because we were a married gay couple. But we fought hard for our right to get married and letting one person scare us off from filling out a joint customs form would be letting the haters win and we certainly weren’t going to do that.

When we were allowed to turn our phones on we informed all of our family and friends on Facebook that the previous post about us staying in London for the weekend had been an April Fool’s Joke.

About two minutes after getting off the plane at LAX I realized that I left my travel pillow behind. I was upset with myself for doing this. This was the second time in three trip in which I’ve made this mistake. Since we weren’t that far from the plane I knew I could go back and probably still get my pillow but I was so tired I decided to just let it go. I’m sure I’ll be kicking myself in a few months when I have to spend more money on a new travel  pillow but at that  point I’d been awake for about twenty one hours and I didn’t want to delay getting home and getting to sleep so I just said fuck it.

Last year in Boston was our first experience with the self-serve immigration stations. I have to say I am not a fan. Instead of making things faster it seems like they just add another step and slow things down. Over the last six years I’ve flown into Canada, The United States, The United Kingdom, Spain, France, Mexico and Peru and I have to say while Mexico has some immigration and custom issues I’m not a fan of the country that makes you feel the least welcome when you enter is the United States. It’s just plain sad that other countries make American citizens feel more welcome than their own country does. This was the case once again. When we had entered France at the beginning of our trip we felt very welcome. That day in L.A. the self service immigration system made us feel very unwelcome. I understand that there has to be security but come on. France suffered two terrorist attacks last year and they don’t make you feel like unwelcome cattle when you enter their country. The only nice thing I have to say about our experience about immigration and customs that first day in L.A. is that the immigration officer who looked at our passports was very nice. He seemed to go with the good cop routine when questioning us, an approach I really prefer to the bad cop approach that makes you feel even more unwelcome.

By the time we got in the taxi that was going to take us home it had been two hours since our plane landed at LAX and we were exhausted and out of patience. On the ride home my husband called our favorite Thai restaurant and ordered some food for us.

When we got home our cat was really excited to see us.

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Getting to see our baby made the end of our vacation not as sad as it would have been if we returned to an empty apartment. As we waited for our food to be delivered we began unpacking. I was so exhausted and I couldn’t bare to completely unpack that night. By the time our Thai food arrived I had been awake for over twenty four hours. After eating I took a shower and went to sleep.

The next day we had to begin the process of recovering from jet lag, doing lots of laundry and getting ready to back to work two days later. Our trip was over. We had returned with  lots of great memories. Lots and lots of souvenirs.

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As sad as we were we knew that London has begun to call for next year.

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