The Journey Begins

FrenchPoly_20140523_1553_01_400After months of waiting and a week of on again-off again packing we left our house at 3pm to fight the Memorial Day traffic and make our way to Dulles airport.  Fortunately we had a good taxi driver who took us through the back roads eliciting several “I didn’t know you could go this way”s from us and before long we were on the airport access road and then on the curb outside of the American Airlines counters.

 

Check-in was quick and painless but unfortunately we didn’t already have our seat assignments so the best the woman at the counter was able to do was get us into middle row seats one in front of the other.  At least we were in the emergency row though so we’d have a little legroom.

FrenchPoly_20140523_1650_05_400I said, “in just 22 short hours we’ll be there.”  Sandy said, “why do you keep saying that?”  Note to self: Sandy doesn’t like being constantly reminded of how long this trip is going to be.  Keep mouth shut!

So now we had a little time to kill and what better way to do that then a flight of wines and some charactateur (hell… no idea how to spell this one… even spell checker is stumped – we asked the waiter how to pronounce it and he wasn’t sure… giving us two possibilities that he had heard others use).  Yes, I guess Dulles is a little more upscale than I last remembered.  Unfortunately American Airlines is not.  But the flight went more quickly then I expected and before long we were switching planes in LA.

Btw… people at the LA airport – it really wouldn’t hurt to have a few more signs directing pour lost souls such as ourselves to the international terminal!

FrenchPoly_20140524_0148_11_400Air Tahiti was much nicer than American.  I fly American so much that I had forgotten how nice a new plane looks.  Air Tahiti’s color scheme was a pleasant caribbean sea blue.  We had TVs at each seat (I watched an FrenchPoly_20140524_0338_13_400underwater fish video).  Dinner was real food and sparkling wine and red wine.  It had been so long since I had a real meal on an airplane that I didn’t even notice that they didn’t give us any choices as to what we were going to eat (I guess the menu is just to give you something to look at while you wait for the cart to bring your chicken pasta dish down the aisle.

FrenchPoly_20140524_0456_27_700We tried to sleep and I suppose we did sleep some but it was hard to get very comfortable.  The flight was a little longer than 8 hours.  We were scheduled to arrive at 4:45am which is 10:45am Arlington time.  When we finally did arrive we were greeted by a dancing Polynesian accompanied by a couple natives strumming ukuleles (?) or some similar stringed instrument.  I wonder what they think about their job, having to get up a 3 or 4 in the morning to try and entertain a bunch of grumpy tourists marching bleary eyed through the maze of airport bureaucracy.

We made it!  We’re in French Polynesia!!!  The excitement is somewhat curtailed by the thought that we still haven’t reached the island where we’re spending our first nights.  We have a three hour wait before our little island hopper will take us from Tahiti to Huahine.  Our next job was to get boarding tickets and we made our way to the ticket counter where we encountered a very long line of tourists also traveling to one of the dozens of other islands that Air Tahiti will take you too.  Herd mentality had driven everyone to the same long line waiting to get up to the ticket counter.  However, no one had really noticed the three unused automatic ticketing kiosks that sat off to the side of the line.  Sandy and I went up to one of the kiosks and in a few short minutes we had our boarding passes.  We dropped off our baggage and went off to where the three gates for intra-island flights would depart from.

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We were a bit thirsty so Sandy went off in search of some water.  To buy a bottle of water she had to wait in a line that although it wasn’t long, it moved exceptionally slowly.  Yes… I guess we were on island time now.  By the time Sandy got to the counter she said to herself, “After all this waiting I’m going to get more than just water…”  And that’s how we ended up sipping Coronas at 7am as we waited for our flights.

 

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And then it was time to board our final flight.  We walked out on the tarmac and marched to where our plane waited.  It was only about a 30 minute FrenchPoly_20140524_0833_58_700flight and I gazed out the window until Huahine came into view.

The feeling was wonderful when we finally touched down.  The airport was very small, the tower consisting of a one story building that had an observation FrenchPoly_20140524_0843_63_400booth attached to the roof, and the terminal itself was a small building with a four peak roof and a one single door for arriving and a separate door for departing travelers.

The hotel had sent a taxi to meet us and it wasn’t long before we were on the final leg of our first day’s traveling.  We reached the hotel almost exactly 24 hours after we had left our house.  Official check-in time was not for several more hours but fortunately our room was already available and we were able to check-in right away.

We left the lobby and walked over a long bridge that took us across the lagoon and then before we knew it we were here!

View from the porch of our room across the lagoon

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