Episode 348 – Travel Day: Pampered, But Tired


We left our apartment British Columbia at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 2nd, headed for the airport, and arrived at our hotel in Bruges at around 16:30 (4:30 PM local time) on November 3rd … just over 24 hours after heading out the door in BC, since there is an 8 hour time difference.

We began our travel day by car, with #2son driving us to the Lafarge Lake SkyTrain station. Once on the SkyTrain, we took all 3 lines (the Millennium Line, the Expo Line, and finally the Canada Line) to reach Vancouver International Airport at the required 3 hours prior to flight time recommended for international flights. There we checked our single large bag, cleared security in a flash (except that I had to open my carryon so that the blade length on my manicure scissors could be checked), and explored the SkyTeam Lounge at Gate D53 while waiting to board our 2:30 p.m. KLM/Air France business class flight for the first leg of our journey, to Paris.

But wait….. we no sooner arrived than we discovered that it was now delayed to being a 3:20 p.m. flight, which instantly upped my travel-day stress level. Our Paris connection time, where we have to clear European customs, would now be only 1 hour: our next leg departure gate was set to close at 10:00 a.m. and we’d only arrive at 9:05 a.m. Even if we made the connection, I had my doubts about our checked bag. I was starting to feel extra glad that we had 4 days worth of clothes in our carryon.

At least we got to wait in the lounge instead of simply at the gate. We had comfy chairs; specialty coffees; access to beer, wine and liquor; plus a decent menu of hot and cold foods including Chinese dumplings and noodle soups alongside Chicken Kiev, lovely sandwiches on ciabatta bread, freshly assembled wraps, and assorted salads and sweets. Hungry + stressed = no food photo, but I had Szechuan fried noodles, pork & shrimp wontons, and sparkling rosé wine. Ted enjoyed the Szechuan noodles as well, plus lovely crisp/tender Chicken Kiev, and a Heineken.

We were finally in the air at 4:10 p.m. Yup, two pictures of my pod. As usual, Ted was behind the camera.

Champagne in hand, our next task was perusing the “lunch” menu. Late or not, we might as well enjoy the flight.
The Business Class amenity pack with its socks, toothbrush & toothpaste, pen, earplugs, sleep mask, and Clarins hand and face moisturizers.

From top: the crunchy, sweet, chilled amuse bouche of diced scallops tartare with celeriac and apple; cold appetizers: dilled fresh salmon and crab duo served on cucumber, plus eggplant “caviar” and sundried tomato, and a salad of greens and olives with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; my entrée of poultry blended into a large quenelle with fois gras, served with potato purée and spinach; Ted’s entrée of smoked prime rib of beef served with roasted baby carrot, celeriac purée and a chorizo and fava bean ragout; a trio of decadent soft French cheeses; the dessert course: a solid dark chocolate truffle on a sweet chopped nut base and topped with chocolate mousse; raspberry gelée and French meringue on a graham flour base; and a tart perfect lemon macaron, plus (not shown) fresh fruit salad and a cappuccino.

We hit some nasty turbulence just as appetizers were being served; the kind of turbulence where you’re better of holding your glass and compensating than setting it on the tray table. I decided to pop a Kwell (a European brand of anti-nauseant) , which meant foregoing the wine list, but there was plenty of sparkling water with lemon. Ted, sitting in the pod behind me, enjoyed the 2018 Château L’Hospitalet white blend.

After that very tasty five course dinner – which ended around 7 p.m. Vancouver time – with no room left (in my case) for even coffee or a digestif (the cappuccino was Ted’s) it was time to recline the seat into its sleeping pod position, select some soothing cello music through the deluxe padded headphones, put on the sleep mask (maybe my Covid mask too, to camouflage any drool that happens) and wrap up in the cozy ultra-lightweight duvet. The stewardess promised to wake me for breakfast in about 6 hours. Somehow I doubted that I’d be hungry though.

I eventually only managed about 3 hours sleep (Ted and the rest of the Business Class cabin were all still snoozing when I woke), so I took the opportunity to brush my teeth and generally freshen up. After that I watched a couple of Helen Mirren movies on the lovely big entertainment screen in my pod: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, and The Duke. Both were enchanting, but the most interesting thing on the screen of our Boeing 777-200 was the live nose camera feed – especially just after takeoff flying over the mountains in BC and landing in Paris.

By the time the movies were done it was only 11 p.m. November 2nd back in Vancouver, but already 7 a.m. on November 3rd Paris time, with around 2 hours to go in the air. The lighting system was slowly coming back on in the cabin to signal impending breakfast service. The interactive flight map indicated our position just over the west coast of Ireland, with a Paris ETA still 9:05 a.m.

Too bad next summer’s flight to Ireland won’t be Business Class. We’re becoming spoiled (after only 3 flights) and will especially miss the leg room and ability to actually sleep comfortably. And I have to note that the Air France crew on our flight were impeccable, even accommodating me communicating in my less-than-perfect French so that I could get in a little practice before we reach Belgium.

I really wasn’t hungry enough for freshly scrambled eggs with bacon, or even the cold meats and cheese, so I opted for a warm brioche, yogurt and fresh fruit, orange juice and coffee. Perfect. Ted slept through breakfast.

We landed at Charles DeGaulle at 9:00 a.m., our captain having taken advantage of every tailwind. Now it was up to us to race to catch our next flight.

We arrived in Terminal 2E at Gate K. We needed disembark, get to Terminal 2F Gate 33 and clear both security and EU Customs between the 2 terminals. Surprisingly, given the line at border control and only 2 checkpoints open, we made our connection. More surprisingly, according to our AirTags, our suitcase did too!

Our flight information for Paris to Amsterdam showed a flight duration of 1 hour and 25 minutes, but the pilot announced a 45 minute flight time, which meant we wouldn’t have to worry about our next connection at all.

At Amsterdam Schipol we arrived in at Gate D78 and needed to get to Gate B18, but with no security or customs to clear, and almost 2 hours,we simply sauntered through the airport. Unfortunately, by this time I had a raging headache.

Our final flight was another city-hopper, just 25 minutes in the air … and then we were in Brussels, where a one hour transfer to Bruges by taxi (arranged by Viking) awaited us.

It was raining quite hard as we checked in to our hotel. Ted headed off to find food. I headed directly to bed.


  1. Your post reminded me of why we love Air France Biz so much! Since Viking arranged your transfer I presume you used Viking Air (and maybe + and a deviation) to arrange your flights? Presuming they were offering free or reduced economy tickets, did you get any credit towards your biz fare? Envious of you being back “home” on Viking so soon. As they canceled our October cruise, it will be July before we are welcomed back aboard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Viking made all the arrangements (not Plus, just their standard) – we just told our travel agent we wanted the upgrade to Business and Viking charged us the difference from the included economy. We’re super happy to be back on Viking too – it’ll be December 2023 before we do our next Viking river.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ROSE: You really are rubbing the Business Class in!  We de[part tomorrow afternoon via Philadelphia for Amsterdam.  All economy.  Could not justify the $7000 difference.  Glad you bags made it.  Hope that puts Karin a little more at ease. See you soon.  Enjoy Bruges! Al

    Liked by 1 person

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