Day 1 – Palmy to Paris

rabobankrabobankTour de France 2011Tour de France 2011It was an unexpected surprise to have won the Rabobank trip for 2 to Paris to watch the Tour de France. It came out of the blue! When Pam handed me the phone and said it was BikeNZ, I assumed it was something to do with the BikeManawatu website. When I told my friends, I had a lot of takers for the other seat, but of course it’s my family coming with me. We decided to pay the additional money for our 2 boys, Oliver & Jeremy, and Rabobank were great about accommodating that. That was in May. Now we are waiting to depart at Palmerston North Airport.

The flight to Auckland was uneventful and an hour and a half in Auckland gave us time to buy “Eddy, Le Grand Kiwi”. Eddy (after Eddy Merckx, the all-time record holder for the most stage wins in Le Tour). EddyEddyOk, my kids were in charge of naming our travel mascot.

Somehow, we managed to score 2 SkyCouches on the Auckland to LAX flight. Because we didn’t pay for them, we didn’t get all the duvets and special seatbelts, but it was nice to have some extra space.
11 and a half hours to LAX, then you get directed into a holding cell, I mean lounge, for mug shots and fingerprinting. Why can’t Americans just let us transit through their space without all the hassle! However it was a good chance to stretch the legs before the next 10hr flight.
LAXLAX

The next flight to Heathrow was full, so no SkyCouch space this time. After 4 hours wait in Heathrow, we boarded our last flight, bound for Paris, arriving on Wednesday evening. What a relief to get to France, but the 32hrs travelling meant we were all pretty jaded. Arriving in the EU was quite a contrast… the briefest look at our passports and a wave… Bonjour, welcome to France!.

 

We had booked an Airport Hotel for the first night, and that turned out to be a great decision!