This was a trip I had been looking forward to for weeks. A Paris trip with my buddy Captain Dave. Dave is an opinionated, outspoken and intelligent guy. He'll throw out a statement that goes against all conventional wisdom and you'll tell him he's completely lost it, but 15 minutes later, you realize that he's spot on. He takes an active role in flight planning to save fuel, and he's helped create some flight plan routes for the company that save huge amounts of fuel. He's shown me that it's not really that hard to do.
The co-pilot was Mike, the same FO I flew with on last weeks Paris trip, and one of the pilots on this video, although very briefly he reminded me. I was the FB on this trip (relief pilot) but CA Dave elected to give me his leg home, meaning I would fly the Paris to Boston leg. The only caveat was that if it were a good landing, he would get all the credit. Deal, I said.
So Mike flew us over and after a 4 hour nap, Dave and I went out to the grocery store for some bread, wine and strawberries. We ran into a few of the flight attendants at the store who were planning their own outing. Our plan was to take a bike tour of Paris with Fat Tire Bike Tours. Unfortunately, most of the flight attendants had just done the same thing the week prior.
So we jumped on the Metro to go up toward the Seine, which is north of our hotel. I wanted to take a few pictures from Paris Plage, which is an annual thing in Paris where they actually build a sandy beach along part of the Seine for everyone to enjoy in August. I've missed this for the past few years, and I really thought it would make a good picture for this blog. Not to mention that there was a place near Pont Neuf where we could get a cold Kronenburgh and hang out, just as we did on this trip.
The Metro was a bit more crowded than usual and as I was leading the way north, Dave was whining about how much faster it would have been to just walk to the river. This picture expresses his true enjoyment over the train ride, which he claimed that the S.S. couldn't have packed more people into a train.
By the time we got to the bridge, it was 6 p.m. and we needed to be at the Eiffel Tower at 7, so after having a quick beer, it was time to go. No Paris Plage sighting for this year. Oh, well.
Now to get to the Eiffel Tower, we could either find a Metro station and take two more trains out to the Dupleix station, or we could just walk it. I really didn't think I could take listening to Dave whine about the crowded train, so 'we' decided to take the nearly 1 hour walk to the tower. Of course, once we got there, we would find ourselves on a bike for the next 4 hours at least, with a few breaks, but we could do it. I mean, it's not like it's the Tour de France or anything. And the seats of these bikes are very comfortable.
Fat Tire (formerly Mike's) is a tour of Paris that either leaves at 11 a.m. or 7 p.m. every day from the south pier of the Eiffel Tower. The guides are always English speakers, as most of them are UTA college students from Austin, Texas. I think I've done the tour 4 times. I even brought my sister on the tour. It's cheap fun, at about $30, which on the night tour includes a boat tour of the Seine while enjoying some wine provided by the guide.
We met up with Mike at the south pier and we sat around while waiting for the rest of the group to get together there. The line to get into the tower was amazingly long. At one point, the French military pulled up and we just figured it was part of their security around there. Pretty soon, we noticed that they had cleared out the line and sent everyone away. This HAD to be a huge inconvenience for those who had waited for hours and were just now reaching the front of the line. The military came over and told us to move out as well. So in very little time, the entire base of the Eiffel Tower was cleared out. Someone then mentioned that it had due to a baby stroller that had been left unattended. When we cleared out, the only thing left was that stroller. Notice the stroller in the bottom of these pictures. We were just a few feet from it, amazingly.
So from the Eiffel Tower, you walk with the guide for a few minutes back to the bike tour location. Just as we got there, a huge downpour started. I've done the tour in the rain, and it's surprisingly enjoyable. But Dave and Mike represented 2/3rd's of our democracy, and they voted to bag the bike tour and go to a restaurant nearby. Here are the bikers heading out on their wet journey.
Le Volant is a restaurant that was started by a famous Formula 1 race car driver. The food was great, but the best part was the open wifi network nearby. I was able to jump on with the iPhone and read the news that Apple had released new iMacs and iLife '08. (As you may have noticed, I bought iLife '08 right away and managed to really mess up my original iWeb blog, to the point that I have now switched over to this Blogger format.)
So we called it a night pretty early and I wrote up the previous Paris trip report and posted it before going to bed.
As promised, Dave gave me the leg home, which was awfully nice of him. Getting a landing is the icing on the cake for most pilots and in a two pilot crew we obviously swap legs. Three pilot crewed trips with two landings usually leaves the FB without a landing. Fortunately, I don't fly FB very often.
After my very nice landing in Boston, I knew it was time to get back at Dave for the incessant whining on this trip. As we approached the gate, I made the typical arrival PA, and then let my finger off the mic switch so nothing would transmit and I said, "Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Captain Dave on what was the finest landing of his career today." Dave snapped me a look of horror and said, "Did you just say that?"
"But Dave, you wanted the credit for only the good landings, right?"
Mic button for the PA: