Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parisian love letter.

I had a plane ticket to Paris today, that I bought the other week after an evening spent with a bottle of Chilean cab. Just for the day, leaving Prestwick at 6:40am, and returning from Beauvais at 8:50pm. When all was said and done, I'd have had roughly eight-to-nine hours on the ground in the City of Light.

The price was right: £8 for the round-trip ticket, with another £10 in fees tacked on. On paper, £18 to hang out in Paris for the day isn't bad, even if it shreds bits of my soul to give Ryanair my money (which it really does. Aside from Michael O'Leary's general offensiveness, it's a company whose logo is in a font that's more or less Comic Sans. Can I really expect them to get me from Point A to Point B safely when they can't even use a normal typeface to showcase themselves to the world?). My anti-Ryanair feelings aside, £18 to Paris is tough to beat.

£18 seems like a worthy expenditure to stroll around the city if it's nice out. And I had such a phenomenal day planned: I was going to pick up a roast chicken and dripped-on potatoes in Belleville (as well as a cheap bottle of wine), and then head down to the Jardin du Luxembourg and snag a metal chair so I could have the best outdoor lunch ever. Then, I'd check out what's new over at the Jeu de Paume. Maybe do a bit of grocery shopping, since it's only a day trip. Have a late afternoon coffee somewhere near the canal and be willing to shell out extra cash for a prime table on the sidewalk to people watch for a few hours. Sit down along the Seine with an ice cream and wave at people on the bateau mouches. Take a quiet moment or two in the Eglise St. Etienne du Mont. And then wander down to around Gare Montparnasse for the crepe to beat all crepes, before catching the Metro back out to Port Maillot, to get the bus back out to Beauvais. It wouldn't have been a terribly important or historic day. Just lots of people watching and walking around and eating. A nice break from dissertation madness.

That was supposed to be my today in Paris.

But things didn't quite work out that way (I am in rainy Glasgow right now, not walking through the Latin Quarter). What I failed to take into account when I spent the £18 on the plane ticket in the middle of the night after a few glasses of wine, was the fact that I'd have to be at Buchanan Bus Station here in Glasgow at 4am this morning to catch the early bus out to Prestwick. So it would have been £5 for the cab ride to the bus station, £9 for the bus ticket to PIK. Then, from Beauvais, it's a €13 bus ticket into Paris. And the same back. Even before any metro tickets bought in Paris, I'd have been looking at essentially £50 in transportation to and from each airport. Which is more than double the price of the flight.

And suddenly, my nice cheap hop to Paris for the day is a big expenditure.

So I ate the £18. And didn't go to Paris. I think a bit of me died today, having a plane ticket to Paris and not using it.

This is my issue with Ryanair. It is the working definition of TGTBT. No such thing as free lunch. Or plane fares cheaper than a cab ride to the bars in City Centre on a Saturday night. Yes, you can get to another country for £4 each way, but then there's Ryanair's fees. And the cost of getting to and from an airport that's sometimes 100 kilometers away from the "city" (Girona "Barcelona," I'm looking at you). I hate Ryanair. It just feels so sleazy and cheap and dishonest. This is hopefully the last time I give them my money. And I hate Beauvais. I hate their bathrooms, I hate their coffee, I hate their immigration officers, and I hate how their entire departures area has like five benches for four "gates."

Besides, ten of my favorite words in any language are "Madames et messieurs, bienvenue a Paris, Aeroport Charles de Gaulle" spoken over an airplane PA system by a flight attendant in perfect French. There is something insanely romantic about landing in Paris, about flying by the city as you make your descent, and seeing the Eiffel Tower from the air. It just gets me deep down. I don't even think they say "Welcome to Beauvais" on Ryanair. I think they say, "GET OFF MY PLANE" in a surly Irish accent, and charge you a fee to de-plane via the stairs. Don't want to pay the fee? Jump. That's the Ryanair way after all. Only provide the bare essentials, and the passengers pick and choose and pay for the rest. Oh, Ryanair, I hate you.

I am convinced that the Glasgow rain today is the universe's way of crying on my behalf for not being Paris today. That's how I feel, at least.



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