I went to Seville, Spain for an industrial trade conference on diesel generators I sold and serviced. The factory sponsored the event, paying for all expenses except travel to the venue.  At conclusion of the conference, I detoured to Brest France, to their corporate headquarters, for a factory tour.
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This trip from the beginning

Today I dragged my but out of bed to the sound of the other 34 people on my floor slamming doors in the hallway as they all prepared to catch the same bus to the airport.  With the taxi strike in effect we would all have to get to the airport together at the time of the earliest person’s flight.  Breakfast was short and quiet.  I think most every one played a little too hard on the last night in town. 

Eight busses were lined up in front of the hotel as we exited.  Across the street...an army of waiting taxis!  It seems the taxi strike ended sometime around one in the morning.  Now they were all lined up and ready to capture our business.  When the busses started out, there were some shouts and fist waiving from both sides, but the cabbies parted and let us pass.

Of course our day of departure had to coincide with the first day of spring break for the schools.  An entire class of high school, boarding students was on my flight out of Sevilla into ParisAnother sleepless flight.  It was bumpy, cramped and the kids were singing and carousing the entire journey.

We landed at Paris' Orly Airport and entered the terminal.  This was the most poorly marked and confusing place I've ever been.  I tried to follow the signs for connecting flights, which should not be difficult as I can read them in both French and English, but somehow I ended up outside on the curb near the rental cars.  They have security chicanes everywhere, and you pretty much can't go backward at any point.  After walking up and down the length of the terminal I finally found an Air France ticket desk and stood in line to ask directions.  I was informed that I was at the international terminal and would have to go to the "domestics" terminal about 10 minutes away.  I asked about my baggage and the hostess looked at my ticket and told me it would transfer automatically to Brest.  I had three hours to kill, so rather than board the bus, decide to walk.

When I got to the "domestics" terminal, I realized it meant 'commuter' terminal.  They had six check-in lines, and the monitors read 'all flights'.  Did I mention it was the first day of national holiday in France.  There were hundreds of families, kids and dogs everywhere.  The lines were fifty deep at the counter, and most people had brought the contents of their house in luggage.  I stood in one of the 'domestics' lines for two and a half hours.  Just as the couple in front of me got to the counter, the clerk got up, and without a word, went into a back door.  We waited another ten minutes before the gentleman in front started yelling at the other clerks.  A suited woman who I guessed to be a supervisor came over and told him that the clerk was on coffee break.  Well, the tensions were pretty high with people right now, and he blew a gasket.  I was entertaining my self with the French profanities flowing from both sides, and even commented to myself how certain words were so universal.

Without seeing their approach, I found myself surrounded by six soldiers, holding very impressive machine guns.  The one nearest me was cocked and the safety was off! A suited man grabbed my arm and asked me my destination.  I told him Brest and volunteered my flight number which was boarding in five minutes, he pulled me away from the commotion and took me to an unopened counter and printed me a boarding pass.  He then looked at my second carry on and told me to take it to the gate where it would be checked in at plane side.

I ran to the assigned gate and impatiently stood in line for security.  I loaded my cases on the x-ray and stepped through the scanner.  Bells whistles, klaxons, and I think the London Philharmonic went off as I went through.  Now, I have a pretty strict regimen when I travel of not wearing any metal, I keep my belt in my case, and I wear slip on shoes.  I could not imagine what would have set this thing off.  Unless...maybe during all the commotion at the counter someone slipped something on me.  A reverse pick-pocket could have taken the opportunity to pass some contraband onto me... No, not today.  It was only a EU 0.10 piece I had left in my coat pocket.  Ok, a quick pat down by security and I'm off to my plane.  Do they keep defibrillators on the commuter flights?

No planes here.  The motorized kite I was directed to was sitting out on the tarmac with a line of... k-6 aged school kids waiting to board.  MERD! (no translation required).  I was seated between two kids and asked by the stewardess to keep an eye on them.  Why was this MY job?

These two turned out to be the best behaved and polite kids I have ever encountered.  They were all from a boarding school from some town I never heard of and were on their way home.  The little plane was remarkably smooth, and before I knew it the stewardess was waking me up for the decent into Brest.  Could we circle around Brittany a few times please, I asked her in French.  This was the best sleep I've had in days and I only got an hour in.

I was feeling weary and shuffled into the terminal to collect my bags.   The carousel started, and we watched the crew, only meters away, load the bags on the belt and send them into the building.  This was sort of comical because we walked past the cart he was unloading as we entered the terminal.  We should have just grabbed them at planeside.  My hand bag popped up first, and I watched as every one started to get their bags.  I helped one of the school kids whose backpack strap was entangled in the belt mechanism, and when I scooted her of to the exit, turned back to the carousel to get my main case.  The belt stopped...  MERD!

There was no one left in the terminal and I looked out to the tarmac and the crew was already loading the outgoing luggage.  I wandered into the terminal and found it vacant.  This is a small airport, and there a'int much to hang around for.  I went outside and asked a taxi driver to direct me to the airline services when I heard my name over the loudspeaker.  I went to the ticket counter, introduced myself and then was blasted with a long string of the fasted spoken French I've eve heard.  I told her I was just a stupid American and she would have to talk to me slowly like I was one of the children.  She got a good laugh and asked me where I was staying.  "L'Hotel Amiraute" I replied, and she said I would halve my bag in the morning on the first flight.  It seems I missed going though customs in Orly!

The hotel is nice.  I was spoiled a little at the Melia Sevilla, and this is more of a Holiday-Inn.  It is downtown in the garment district, and surrounded by little fashion shops.  I checked in and went to the room. I then promptly fell asleep.  I woke to the sun peeking into my window from between rooftops as it set for the evening.  I got up and asked the patron to direct me to a restaurant, she said that most everything closed at ten, but I might find a bar that served food a few blocks away.

I wandered around for a little while and settled on the 'Pub Sainte Martin'.  It was a micro brewery in an Irish pub fashion, but had a grill.  I ordered a 50ml blond ale, and an andouillette of pork.  It was served with fried scallops of potatoes and a fabulous Caesar salad.  The mustard cream sauce on the andouillette was divine.  It was capped off with an apple tart flambé covered with whipped cream and Frangellica liqueur. It was all about EU 17.

The only thing I had eaten all day was some pate and bread at the hotel in Sevilla.  This local brew of beer was a lot stronger than I am used to and couple of them hit me quite hard.  So I weaved back to the hotel and climbed back into bed still dressed (not that I have anything else to wear).


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