Europe 2012 – The journey begins with Air France & landing at Paris-Charles de Gaulle

So you have read about my dramatic arrival in Paris, my gastronomical food saga and my virginal attempt at smoking weed. Some of my friends and readers have said “Europe seems fun“, “I want to go Europe too!” and “You had an amazing time, I’m so envious!
This was inevitably followed by “How much was the flight tickets?“, “How was the flight?“, “Where to stay?” and so on.

Ahh, let’s begin with the topic of booking flight tickets. After all, every journey begin with the process of getting there, which in this case Europe is accessible by flight. I took KLM Airlines since my trip is originally to Venlo in The Netherlands, where the once in a decade extravagant Floriade is taking place from April – October 2012.

Frankly I didn’t book these tickets myself as the trip was sponsored by KLM Airlines. However, I did request for another return ticket for a friend of mine had wanted to join me during the same period – 16th May to 26th May and when we checked online it was about RM3,700 return. Not bad for summer time in Europe isn’t it? 🙂

Anyhow, here’s the link of the page you can start to sniff out some travel bargains –> http://www.klm.com/travel/my_en/index.htm

You will land on this page.

KLM site screenshot

A few things to note here ->
1. Since KLM Airlines is the Dutch airline after all, it makes sense that most European flights are highlighted; for example the return flights to Paris and Amsterdam.

KLM site screenshot - Paris and Amsterdam flight price

2. To make traveling easier, there’s a nifty little app (as highlighted in the pink box) here that assist you in your search. Just follow the steps on the screen.

KLM site screenshot - trip planner

Here’s the page once you clicked on the link. Choose your travel dates, your departure airport and your budget and this app will provide some helpful insights and suggestions. Do try it out! 🙂

KLM airline - www.klm.com travel my_enappsaffsindex

3. Online check-in -> Oh please, everyone should do this.
It saves so much time and hassle. Just click on the box as highlighted below and check in via your email/Flying Blue number/E-ticket number or booking code which you will be given once you booked your flight.

KLM site screenshot - check in 30 hours before flight

Another alternative is this app – KLM Predictions (http://www.travelpredictions.com/) that you can fiddle around while browsing online for travel tips.

KLM travelpredictions com

You will have to log-in via Facebook and allow the app access to your FB account.

KLM travelpredictions com - page 1

It’s funny how they predict your future travel plans. I have no idea why would I be heading to Dallas, but I guess it must have been data the app extracted from my facebook.

KLM travelpredictions com page 2

Anyhow, just out of curiosity I clicked on the tab to check the fares.

KLM travelpredictions com - Dallas

Not bad eh? It even highlighted the dates with the lowest fare. 😉

For my flight to Europe, I flew via Singapore Changi Airport. There were direct flights to Amsterdam of course, but I was given a choice to transit via Paris before landing in Schiphol airport, Amsterdam. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to visit France for the very first time in my life!
Oh, this was actually my first trip to Europe too! 🙂

Air France and KLM Airlines merged in May 2004 to become the largest European airline group, carrying over 71 million passengers a year with 2,500 flights recorded daily to destinations all over the world. My 14 hours flight via Air France to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport was an overnight flight, thankfully for me as I can sleep on the plane. However, the time difference between Malaysia and France/The Netherlands is 6 hours, so do note that you may be jetlagged.

This is it, I told myself as as I head towards the boarding lane to my Air France aircraft in Changi Airport. When I land, I’m landing in Europe! 🙂

Air France  (1)

I didn’t dare to take take pictures in the airplane for the fear that I might be stopped. Anyhow the flight was full and everyone was jostling trying to get to their seats. The cabin crew was busy and I certainly didn’t want to get in the way.

Hence, I limited my photography to my seat.

Air France (2)

Luckily for me the seat beside me was empty! Oh good god. :DD
I immediately made myself comfortable lying across 2 seats, and used both pillows and blankets provided throughout the 14 hours flight. Being in economy class wasn’t the most comfortable way to travel but being able to sleep horizontally certainly beats sleeping vertically!

I must say the leg room was spacious enough. Too bad I wasn’t able to elevate my legs.

Air France  (3)

Say hi to my traveling partners! 🙂

Air France  (4)

They were wondering why I was taking pictures of my seat, my food and everything else! But they were too polite to ask. Heh.

My flight took off on the 16th May 11.30pm+ and the first meal was served at 12.15 am. I used my HTC One X from here onwards as I didn’t want to disturb anyone with the shutter sound of my Sony Nex 5n.

Air France  (5)

I stared at my tray. A block of cheese, a baguette, salad and fruits, in addition to my main course of baked fish. Wow, my European diet starts now! :DD

Air France  (6)

Food was alright and I was extremely hungry and wolfed down everything.

Air France  (7)

Then I took some sleeping pills and prayed that will keep me knock edout throughout the 14 hours flight. Unfortunately for me I was wide awake in 7 hours, which was already a feat considering that my normal sleeping duration are about 5 hours only. I contemplated swallowing another bunch of sleeping pills but decided against it. If the effect didn’t wear off on time I’ll be groggy on my first day in Paris!

Breakfast was served at 11am, 17th May. Trust me, I was starving by the time the clock hits 6am on the flight. And I usually have my breakfast at 6am. Between 6.00am and 11.00am, I munched on some biscuits I had in my bag and forced myself to sleep. When I finally had my breakfast tray in front of me, my hands were shaking. 😛

Air France  (8)

Hard cheese (generous slices of them too!) and meat! Delicious breakfast! 🙂

Air France  (9)

The croissant was a bit dry but no worries as the flight attendant goes around with a bread basket full of bread rolls. I added a bread roll and skipped the croissant.

Air France  (10)

My flight landed without delays at Malaysian time 12.00pm (Paris 6am) and I staggered out of the plane eager for my first sight of Europe!

I was nervous, excited and joyful at the same time. THIS IS REAL! I’m in PARIS! :DD

Below: Bidding my plane farewell!

Air France (12)

Being the tourist that I am, I started snapping pictures as soon as I landed. Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport is humongous, busy but orderly.

Paris - CDG Airport  (13)

I soaked in everything; the buzz, the gadgets, the people and the energy.

Paris - CDG Airport  (15)

Machines like this allows passengers to check their next connecting flights the moment they land.

Paris - CDG Airport  (16)

I walked on, not quite sure where I was going but herded along with the crowd. There were signboards of course so I wasn’t worried about getting lost.

Paris - CDG Airport  (17)

I saw some interesting sights along the way and couldn’t help thinking that KLIA (or LCCT for that matter) could improve with some of the amenities here.

Paris - CDG Airport  (18)

How about a spacious waiting area like this for a start?

Paris - CDG Airport  (19)

And safe comfortable rest couches for travelers?

Paris - CDG Airport  (20)

Look at this! I was amazed!
A lady in skirts could rest decently (and safely too if I may add) while waiting for her transit.
I really hope to see this in KLIA one day, without having the need to be a member of some Gold/Platinum Lounge. I’m talking about any normal passenger being able to rest comfortably and safely even in public areas of the airport. Not everyone is privileged enough to be an exclusive lounge member.

Paris - CDG Airport  (21)

Anyhow at this stage I was getting tired. I was starting to feel hungry again and beginning to wonder if I’m on the right track. Then I saw this. Oh yay! Trains = less walking! 😛

Paris - CDG Airport  (22)

Well, the signage clearly states that I have to take this train takes me to my Baggage. Alright, time to hop in.

Paris - CDG Airport  (23)

Paris - CDG Airport  (24)

Terminal 2, the dedicated KLM – Air France hub (there are 1, 2 A -F and Terminal 3 here in CDG) is very monstrous with lots of ‘parking bays‘ for the numerous planes. Hence even within the terminal, there can be shuttle trains within T2. It may be likely that my plane arrived at a very far bay so trains are provided to bring passengers to the baggage carousel area. Otherwise, for some, there may not be a need “to catch a train”.

Paris - CDG Airport  (25)

A long morning walk to start the day!
If you have read my last post about my first day in Paris, you would have recalled that I was extremely late for my first outing of the day. Yups, I thought I had plenty of time from the hour I land (6am+) to my first meeting time at 9am. I must have spent the first 2 hours in Paris in the airport itself!

Paris - CDG Airport  (26)

Oh yes, my luggage! 🙂

Paris - CDG Airport  (29)

I grabbed my luggage and started to look for the pick-up point for hotel shuttles.

Paris - CDG Airport  (30)

As I have mentioned before, Paris CDG Airport has Terminal 1, Terminal 2 A -F (A-F refers to the different areas WITHIN Terminal 2) and Terminal 3Terminal 2 is the dedicated KLM – Air France hub so that’s all you have to keep in mind if you’re here.

BELOW: I’m now in Terminal 2E.

Paris - CDG Airport  (31)

Anyhow, there were signages everywhere and one would just have to follow accordingly.

Paris - CDG Airport  (32)

Once I reached the Arrival Hall, the smell of coffee and baked goods assailed my nostrils.  I swallowed hard and surged on, tummy rumbling, realizing that I’m quite late now.

Paris - CDG Airport  (33)

Paris - CDG Airport  (35)

This is what happens when you travel alone in a country that you’re unfamiliar with and have not done your homework. LOL.  At times you just have to go by instincts. Luckily for me “Railway Station”, “Paris by Train” and “Airport Shuttle” were all showing the same direction.

Paris - CDG Airport  (36)

HSBC. A lot of people had complained about their service, but I find it reassuringly available at EVERY country (Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, China, Macau, HongKong) that I have traveled to so far.  If you travel as much as I do, make sure you have an account (with sufficient funds of course) with an international bank. Good luck looking for a local bank (Maybank, RHB, Public, CIMB) here.

Paris - CDG Airport  (37)

Paris - CDG Airport  (38)

Walking is inevitable in Europe, and they start you early – right here at the airport! 😀

Paris - CDG Airport  (39)

Paris - CDG Airport  (40)

Finally I found an information counter, one of the NOT many here but conveniently situated near the trains. I showed the officer the slip for the hotel that I was booked in and she gestured to me to take the lift to the correct floor where the hotel shuttles were.

Paris - CDG Airport - info counter

Paris - CDG Airport  (41)

Paris - CDG Airport  (42)

And here, without any seat or rest stop, is where you stand to wait for the shuttles. Trust me, at 7.45am in the morning, it was chilly to the bones!

Paris - CDG Airport  (43)

All the airport hotels shuttles goes by here so it’s THE place to wait for your shuttle. To know which shuttle, just refer to the board below. Otherwise, you can always ask the bus drivers as all of them are very helpful and will refer you to the right one. Anyhow, most of the shuttle has the logos of the hotels on them.

Paris - CDG Airport  (44)

See how startlingly huge the airport is? Just Terminal 2 alone consist of Terminal 2A – 2F.

Paris - CDG Airport  (45)

Paris - CDG Airport  (46)

My shuttle!!

shuttle bus Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport - rebeccasaw (16)

The hotel shuttles are very clean and comfortable with spacious areas for luggages.

Paris - CDG Airport  (47)

The ride from the airport to the airport hotels area takes about 20 minutes but depending on the exact location of your hotel, it can vary to between 20 – 35 minutes.

Paris - CDG Airport  (50)

BELOW: Some of the airport hotels in Paris.

Paris - CDG Airport  (49)

Paris - CDG Airport  (51)

Paris - CDG Airport  (52)

And here’s mine – Hotel All Seasons Charles de Gaulle.

Paris - CDG Airport  (53)

If you have read my previous post on my “dramatic 1st day in Paris, yes, that part continues from here. So hop on over to Paris: A walking food tour” to read my misadventures! 😀

And here’s my video – a concise version of my time in Europe! 🙂

Wackybecky’s Europe Adventures 16th -23rd May 2012 was made possible thanks to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Malaysia.
A fun travel prediction app to try –>http://www.travelpredictions.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KLMMalaysia
Website: http://www.klm.com/travel/my_en/index.htm 

KLM_Airlines_Logo

More of Europe:
The BEST of macarons and croissants in Paris – the legendary Pierre Herme!
The extravagant once in a decade FLORIADE – world’s biggest Horticultural Expo at Venlo, The Netherlands – a must visit!
Smoking weed in Amsterdam – a video.. – You only live once! :DD
PART I – Walking Food Tour in Paris!
PART II -Paris Food Walking Tour – a gourmand’s dream!

NOTE:

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is offering travelers 3 additional weekly flights out of KLIA to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, its home airport beginning on 29 October 2012 until 30 March 2013.

Part of KLM’s new winter schedule, the additional flights from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam depart at 9.35 a.m. every Tuesday,  Thursday and Sunday, arriving at 3.20 p.m. the same day.

The additional winter flights will depart from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 12.35 p.m. and arrive at 7.35 a.m. the following day.