Friday, December 29, 2006

Europe - Travel Outbound

A trip to Europe for skiing.... hmm, sounds expensive. But not if the flight is half the price. On my ski trip last year to Canada, I volunteered to take a later flight and got $400 Delta Dollars to use towards a future Delta flight within a year. This made a trip to Europe as expensive as one to Canada, so this had to be the year.

And I wasn't going to go all the way to Europe just to ski for 2 weeks, I had to visit my good old friend Harjoth (from high school) in Brussels and Stephan (from Texas A&M) in Heidelberg, Germany. Since I would be using Delta's airline partners (Air France and Alitalia) for this trip, I would be flying into Paris, traveling south through the continent and then flying out of Milan. Since my ski resort in the Austria Alps was close to the Italian border, I figured a quick stop in Venice would complete this trip. And it worked out that New Years Eve 2007 was going to be in Brussels. I was very excited leading up to this trip.

A map of my two week journey through the continent.

I've broken up the trip report into the following sections. You can click ahead or follow through chronologically.

Outbound Travel
St Anton, Day 1 & 2
St Anton, Day 3
St Anton, Day 4
St Anton, Day 5
Venice and Milan
Inbound Travel


Outbound Travel

If you've seen my other posts, you'll see that I'm a little of an aviation enthusiast. I've always loved the concept of air travel since I was a little kid and it grew a lot stronger once I started flying internationally for work. Much credit needs to be given to for fueling my passion.

Now we all know that the American carriers aren't the best in the industry when compared to international carriers, and I love to fly new carriers, so I booked the trip on Air France to Paris from Chicago and then Italy's national carrier, Alitalia from Milan to NYC back to Chicago.

Having studied French all through school and college, I was eager to use my Francais on the flight. However the Flight Attendants couldn't understand my French and were maybe tuned in to listening for English. Oh well. But they did live up to their image that might precede them of being stylish and curt. They were generally older, but they dressed sharply and exuded style, some even smiled. I was very impressed with the food. I polished off the whole tray and then enjoyed the ensuing food coma.

In hopes of getting over jet lag quickly, I had to sleep the entire 7 hour flight that left at 6 pm due to Europe being 7 hours ahead of Chicago. The food coma put me out and I arrived refreshed.

I had a Eurail Pass and would be taking the extensive train network throughout Europe back to Milan. The only bothersome thing about my trip was my luggage: huge ski bag and huge boot bag. I packed all my clothes around my skis to protect them and also reduce the number of bags. This made it akward to carry, but it had to be done.

The International Terminal at Chicago's O'hare Airport

Christmas decorations still up over the check-in area

My Air France Airbus A330-200

Crossing the bridge over the airport road

Fantastic airline food. Appetizer was Smoked Salmon on cous-cous with a main dish of Salmon with rosemary potatoes and veggies, which was excellent. And then they had some bread with nice French cheese, yogurt and crumb cake. I was stuffed.

The economy cabin in flight. I didn't get to use the in-flight entertainment system much since I slept quickly, but I did enjoy the camera in the nose during take-off and landing.

Landing at an overcast and wet Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

Some other interesting birds at the airport: South African Airways, Gulf Air and Thai International.

We had to park at a remote stand (probably due to the collapsed Terminal E) and wait 30 minutes for a bus to take us to the terminal. On the ride to the terminal, I finally got my first look at the Air France Concorde that's on display.

(Next stop: Brussels)

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