Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Battered, bushed, but blogged in

From time to time I have encountered web sites at which some frenetic typist, amidst many misspellings and only partially comprehensible abbreviations, announces that he is “live blogging” from a court-room, ring-side, or the Great American Bake Off. Though this is surely to be preferred to dead blogging, it is not without its own problems.

In any event, this is probably as close to live blogging as I am likely ever to get. I am sitting in a lounge at Newark airport sipping cranberry juice watching other people play video games on their computers while they sip other stuff. Those few who are not tapping their computer keys are tapping their toes with that kind of nervous anticipation of people whose full-time job is to wait for something to happen, or somebody to arrive, or some mode of conveyance to be announced as “ready for boarding.” Some time ago our wonderful daughter Katy decided that her parents were no longer aging but positively aged and that, as a consequence, they should no longer travel tourist class on the large international carriers. She set out to investigate a number of “niche” airlines that made a specialty of “all business” flights at rates somewhat lower than the typical first-class cabins on the segregated routes.

She found something called “L’Avion”, and we greatly enjoyed that for a while. “L’Avion offered vastly comfortable seating half way between a divan and a dentist’s chair, plus lots of coddling by attentive, smartly presented staff members. On overnight flights sleep was not only possible; it was inescapable. The fares were higher than on the cattle cars, of course, but still not outrageous. It was a great experience. We wondered how “L’Avion” could make a go of it.

As it turned out they couldn’t. After a brief period this nice line began cutting its schedule. Indeed it turned out that one of the reservations we had for a transatlantic flight simply disappeared when all Thursday flights disappeared. Then “L’Avion” disappeared from the computer screen altogether. A few months later something called “Open Skies” appeared in the recently vacated space. We are waiting now for the “Open Skies” evening flight to Paris. There are a few differences. “L’Avion” was a dependency of Air France; “Open Skies” is a dependency of British Airways., dot, dot...
and I am now on the plane, where I discover that only about a fifth of it is on L’Avion’s model. The plane is in fact another version of proletarians and aristocrats separated by about five hundred dollars on the ticket price. Part of that differential, the part that matters most to me, is in leg room, which goes, on a per-square inch basis, at about the rate of Manhattan real estate. But there seems also to be the feeling on the part of the staff that two or three times in an hour they must remind you in some alimentary way of your privileged status. The most recent reminder has been a hot, buttery croissant and a little pot of exquisite Swiss strawberry jelly.

...a few more dot, dot, dots...and here I am in Paris, where the initial efficiency has been stunning. We are into our gorgeous tiny new apartment on the avenue Suffren. After a most pleasant reunion luncheon with Katy, Zvi, and the two youngest of our gorgeous granddaughters (the eldest being occupied with a high level photography workshop over at the American University in Paris), I toddled the long block down toward the river to the municipal sports center “Emile Antoine”. There I purchased a carnet pour 10 entrées (tarif reduit) and intend to show up at the pool at seven tomorrow morning. And just to prove that I really am here today, I employ the old photograph-of-the-day’s-newspaper date beloved of Columbian terrorists and the Symbionese Liberation Army.


  1. Have a cafe au lait (which would be a cafe Ole! in Spain) for me. It looks like a lovely day over there!

    Transatlantic travel is torture for me, even in the Business Elite class. I am utterly unable to sleep on planes, and so I arrive bleary-eyed and exhausted. I frequently book myself a hotel room from the night before so I am guaranteed immediate access to someplace horizontal, a result of having arrived in Oslo at 8:15 some years ago and not getting into my hotel room until 4 p.m. I was NOT happy.

  2. Cafe au lait? Mais non. Coupe de champagne at La closerie des lilas

    And lunch at Le Louvois on Richelieu.

    Then, if B.O.F. near Les Halles endures, drop by and ask for, quietl, a small glass of Viper.

  3. Ah, Gerard, I sense you may not have been here for a while. Café au lait requires a bank overdraft. For a coupe de champagne, make that a second mortgage. Lunch at Le Louvois, and I'd need our Secretary of the Treasury to bail me out. Les Halles, alas, have been razed. I'm too sad even to go over there to see what's left standing. That may save me some embarrassment, as I don't know what B.O.F. is, or was. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Wowed by the idea of only business class flights (other than the late, lamented Concord)... Must look into this. As I get older and older (30 on the horizon), my ability to travel steerage style is dropping. (Buses have begun to grate...)