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5 nights in paradise flew by and on Sunday, we were ready to get back to Paris to watch the World Cup championship with friends. Our flight was at 9:15am, so we left the hotel around 7am, just to give us time in case driving across the mountain threw us any curves, which thankfully it did not. As seen here, the turns are sharp and the scenery is breathtaking- it took a while to learn to NOT look at the beautiful landscapes when taking sharp turns.
Upon arrival at SEZ, I noticed the check-in lines were long- there were flights to Paris, Johannesburg and Dubai all leaving within an hour of each other. Luckily, there was a dedicated Pearl Class check-in line that only had a few people in it. We were check-in in about 15 minutes and through immigration in another 15. We
immediately headed to the â€œSalon Vallee de Maiâ€ premium lounge-, which serves premium customers primarily of Air Seychelles, Air Kenya, Emirates and Qatar.
I had heard the lounge was nice and I was immediately impressed upon entering. There was free wifi and work stations and light refreshments- mostly croissants, fruit and finger sandwiches. I went to the bathroom and changed in the shower room, which was modern and clean (much nicer than the Korean lounge shower at JFK). About 10 minutes before boarding
we decided to check out some shops and upon exiting the lounge agent warned us that Air Seychelles doesn’t do priority boarding so we should wait in the lounge. Once we left, we knew what she was talking about as there was a pretty substantial lounge. However, once again, everyone was relaxed and the line moved quickly.
We walked out to the plane- the same exact 767-300 that brought us down â€œAldabraâ€, named after one of the Seychelles islands. We had the same exact seats 2A,B, so we knew what to expect, though I was curious about the service on a 9.5 hour daytime flight.
I immediately noticed the amenity kit was different- it was in the same bag, but it was a square box. Once opened, I found cocoa de mer shaped soaps and a different aromatherapy oil. Nice touch- I have never been on an airline that has different amenity kits.
Boarding was efficiently done through the doors at the front and back of the aircraft, we were pushed back on time and number one for departure. Pre-depature champagne and juice was passed out and I attempted to make my own mimosa with mango juice and it started fizzing out of control. Just a warning- let the flight attendants do all drink mixing! It was a clear day in Mahe and we banked left after takeoff, so I got great video of the island paradise.
After takeoff, hot towels were passed and menus distributed. Since it was 10am, they offered croissant and tea/coffee service to tide over until lunch.
The individual entertainment consoles were passed out again and this time I took advantage of it. There was a decent amount of pre-loaded entertainment, including a lot of English and French movies.
I think the most memorable thing about
this flight were the views from the window. Pre-lunch, we were over Somalia and had amazing views of arid sub-Saharan Africa.
The choices for lunch were:
1) Sliced chicken breast and Creole vegetables served with a parmesan biscuit
2) Crab and shrimp mousse served with a smoked fish rose and mango salad.
We wanted the latter, but they were out by the time they got to us (they started on the far side of the cabin and went around clockwise so we were second to last). The chicken was fine and the vegetables tasty.
1) Bourgeois (fish) marinated in saffron served with biryani rice and papaya chutney
2) Thai green curry accompanied by saffron rice, carrot balls with coriander and a spinch coco flan
3) Beef tournedos served with vegetable risotto and green beans wrapped in carrot strips.
We both wanted the chicken option, but they only had one left, and being the chivalrous person I am, I let my partner have the chicken. I was seafooded out after 5 days of fish in the Seychelles, so I went with the beef. The beef was overcooked and a bit bland, but the hearty 2003 Chateau Lalande-Borie red wine made up for what the beef lacked.
The green curry chicken was the much better option and nicely spicy (even though it looked lackluster).
1) Chocolate and coconut mille feuille (my choice) was a bit bland, but I can’t dislike anything with chocolate and coconut in it.
2) Papaya compote served in a cinnamon tarlet- was the better choice.
After lunch we flew over Cairo and got a great view of the pyramids. After a full meal and a couple glasses of wine, it was nap time, since we needed energy for the World Cup championship that night.
After a several hour nap, it was time for the 3rd service, which was
a fruit salad and warm chicken and vegetable tart served with feta salad. After the hearty lunch, this almost felt like too much of a â€œsnackâ€, but of course I ate it, including the decadent banana and dark chocolate crumble. (No mom- that’s not another glass of wine with my meal- it’s a diet Pepsi).
En route to CDG, we passed over the Swiss alps again, which are always breathtaking. Landing in hot, dry Paris was smooth and we were the first off the plane. Overall, the 9.5 hours flew by and besides the lack of our first food choices being available, the service was excellent.
Luckily, customs was empty so we were through in 2 minutes and at the Sheraton CDG shortly thereafter. It still amazes me how easy French immigration is- no forms necessary and uninterested agents just stamping your passport.
We decided to stay at the airport Sunday night because the hotel is actually in the Air France terminal and our flight home was at 10:30am the next day.
We got the Sheraton on cash and points, so 4,800 points and $90- well worth it, for the convenience alone. We dropped our bags off and then hopped on the hot RER into the city to meet friends for dinner and the game, which also turned out to be quite memorable since I was rooting for Spain, since I lived there for a summer in college.
Overall, it was a nice end to a great vacation and helped transition back to reality. Check back soon for the final report- CDG-JFK in Air France business class.