Diary of an Expat, Part 27
Charles de Gaulle, Sunshine, Spring comes to Berlin
So there are a few things to amend about last week's diary, and that's pretty much what i'm going to use this one here for.

The first is that flying through Paris is one of the worst things of all time. ORLY, you say? No. Paris-Charles de Gaulle, actually.

It's a ridiculous airport, and having to use it is ridiculous. Needless to say, my return flight from Atlanta (also my outbound flight, but I was boisterous and in good spirits then so I didn't really notice/mind) connected through it.

CDG believes that travel is best when it is multimodal. When I flew from Tegel to Atlanta, the steps involved were:

Use plane to get from runway to terminal. Then, keep taxiing past the terminal because jetways are for suckers.
Disembark onto a bus. Busses are sweet, because then it's like your commuting, at an airport! Ride the bus back to the terminal you could've fucking parted at in the first place.
Take a moving walkway deeper into the bowels of the airport.
Traaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiin (because who doesn't like trains?)
'Nother bus!
Use plane to get from bus to end of runway. Gain altitude; run away from France.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle has a reputation for being a tough airport to make connections and the like through, so when I looked at my itinerary and discovered that I only had 45 minutes to connect on my return flight, I felt my ears go back and tucked my tail between my legs. Then I called Delta, where I was told that there would, absolutely, be no problem at all.

I arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson to discover one (1) fewer aircraft than would be ideal at my gate, which is to say zero. That, I decided, boded well, and it continued to bode well. The explanation we were eventually given was that they didn't like something about the aircraft they were supposed to use and, quote, "decided to get a new one."

So, I suppose we didn't experience mechanical difficulties and crash (plus) but the 757 left Atlanta half an hour later than it was supposed to (minus). Fortunately, buoyed by air currents and the fact that it's a nine goddamned hour flight, the captain assured us that we would make up most of the lost time en route, and we wouldn't miss our connections.

Delta captains don't lie. Although we left Atlanta 35 minutes after we were supposed to, we got into Paris only 27 minutes late. For those of you playing the home game, this leaves 20 minutes to make a connection. All international flights travelling through CDG must clear passport control, leave security, and then reenter security.

I suspected that this was an exercise in futility but, much like Ron Paul, I chose to run anyway. I sprinted past people on the moving walkway to dash through passport control, bidding a panting merci beaucoup to the nice young policeman. I sprinted between the terminals, following a series of increasingly byzantine signs. I slid into the line at security like I was running for home plate, picked myself up, and dumped the contents of my briefcase onto the conveyor belt. They let me take everything through — my computer, my bottle of water, my coins — without questioning, and then I sprinted for my gate.

And fucking made it.

To harken back to last week's post, I'm not really certain this would've been possible in many American airports. Empires have risen and fallen in the amount of time it normally takes to clear passport control in American airports; you get to the back of the line and dimly notice that the people at the front, just now getting their documents checked, have passports still written on papyrus or cuneiform or whatever was current when they started their journey. People have said that airport security is a joke in the United States, but it's not; it's a shaggy dog story. It takes forever, and in the end it doesn't mean a goddamned thing.

But anyway, whatever. I made it to Berlin (my luggage didn't, but that was to be expected. I just filled out a "notice of luggage irregularity" form and got it delivered at 3 that afternoon). And so I have been here since Tuesday, enjoying what as it turns out is a spring only slightly less pleasant than the one I left behind in the United States.

I've finally started venturing over to the organic grocery store that is, quite literally, right across the street from my apartment. I discovered strawberries there today; these are Spanish strawberries, and they have the right look, but they don't quite taste like I want them to. I'm demanding, I know, but at least the strawberries are present, and portend warming days and the promise of summer.

To the extent that we had a winter (no snow, just bitterly, ridiculously cold) it seems to be done now. I spent most of my day outside or with the windows and curtains open, cleaning my apartment. There's a kindly amount of sun about in Berlin these days, and the air is just warm enough to make short sleeves seem like a good idea, but not so warm that you have to invest much of your time sweating.

There is a downside to this, which is that it's been getting light at about 5:30, and that does make it a little harder to sleep. Tomorrow Berlin meanders into a daylight saving time change, which will remove an hour from the day but, paradoxically, give me another hour or so to sleep for the month it takes the lengthening days to reach their warm, dawn-streaked fingers back to my 5:30 again.

On the plus side, hey, not feeling so much need for vitamin D.
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