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Flying back to Paris after 18 years!

View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & France, Belgium and Netherlands 2015 & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14225092453864.jpgCrowded NAIA Terminal 1 - ongoing renovationsParis. City of Lights. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, most especially at night.

The last time I was in Paris was in January 1997 for a worldwide conference of my Travel & Transport Industry Unit at IBM. We were there for a week but the days were spent mostly at the conference venue, and me and my friends from ASEAN countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia plus me from the Philippines) would sneak out at night to visit some of Paris' main attractions. I had been to the Louvre but only at the lobby below the inverted pyramid - no time to explore, definitely would be rushing the whole visit, so I tell myself that one day I will return. And with my wife this time around, since she loves museums.

Fast forward 18 years later to the week and my Paris trip is finally materializing.large_1840343_14225092464727.jpgCrowded NAIA Terminal 1 - ongoing renovationsThis time around, it is wifey and I who are traveling, and for leisure and no work. No laptops or no international roaming (voice, SMS or data) on the phone. Just wifi at the hotels...sounds like a good recipe for a real vacation that won't be bothered by work this time.

When we booked the flights we were trying to fit a schedule and itinerary into the various airline conditions as well as timing for work. What we didn't know is that we ended up with the dates that the Pope (Pope Francis) would be visiting the Philippines. Pope Francis visits from January 15-19, and we were scheduled to fly out on the 16th (Friday). Good thing we chose Friday and not Thursday or Saturday to leave, because the civil aviation authority of the Philippines declared a no-fly zone in the Metro Manila area in the late afternoon of the 15th and the early morning of the 17th, causing more than a hundred flights being canceled or rescheduled.large_1840343_14225092464417.jpgWe were early so the check-in counters were still closed.So as we were leaving the morning of the 16th, there would be no flight cancellations. Maybe only delays getting to the airport because the roads along the Popemobile's route would be closed off to traffic.

As holidays were declared from January 15 to January 19, that would mean fewer students and workers on the roads. But definitely crowds of people wanting to see the Pope. In fact, on the Sunday where the Pope said mass at the Luneta area, the crowds were estimated at SIX MILLION PEOPLE! That is by far the largest crowd of people at a gathering with the Pope - nobody else can claim to be a bigger rock star than Pope Francis (of course he wouldn't claim to be one himself but he draws crowds that large). Too bad we were flying out when the Pope was in town - but lucky for many of my friends whose kids got to be embraced and blessed by the Pope - they are truly blessed in that aspect.large_1840343_14225092483104.jpgMIASCOR Lounge, NAIA Terminal 1

So we leave home for the airport a full six hours before our flight, just in case we get caught in the traffic. We had planned the routes to NAIA Terminal 1 (the farthest terminal from our house), but managed to get there in much lesser time than I had expected. Too early in fact that the check-in counter for Malaysia Airlines (yes, we are taking Malaysia Airlines) had not yet opened! So after some time, they finally opened a counter in the far flung corners of the airport (which was yet to be renovated), and we were the second in line...oops, third in line, some old man cut the line but we decided not to castigate him for doing so...he didn't have check-in luggage anyway.

As soon as check in was done, it was time to relax. Since Terminal 1 was being renovated, once you've gone past immigration the stress levels go down.large_1840343_14225092478765.jpgMIASCOR Lounge, NAIA Terminal 1We go to the MIASCOR Lounge and enter by privilege of my being a Platinum (Top Tier) subscriber of Globe Telecom (one of the major telcos in the Philippines) - their Platinum Elite card includes perks like access to the lounge with one guest - perfect in this occasion.

The lounge was initially quite crowded but we managed to find ourselves seats after passing many carry-on luggages that were parked in the aisles. The food was quite OK (well I don't usually complain much about food, especially if it is free), and there were ample drinks. There was wifi but it was too slow. Not only that, the telcos decided to cut off cellular signal in the areas where the Pope was visiting for security reasons....hmmmm. So hardly any decent internet connection, TravBuddies would attest to these disruptions during that day and the succeeding days.large_1840343_14225092517204.jpg

Anyway, once the bigger flights had boarded or left, the lounge almost became empty so at about 6PM we had it pretty much to ourselves. Finally the time to board came and it was relatively a breeze as I had pushed our leaving the lounge as far as possible so that the rest of the passengers could enter the plane (we were seated in the rows up in the front section of the plane. And off on our three hour connection via Kuala Lumpur!


Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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