Bike Odyssey
North America 2004

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Journal for 22-August-2004 : Paris

Somewhat reluctantly cycled out to Auckland Airport, and sat around getting headaches waiting for our flight. Managed to get a pair of scissors confiscated in security checking.

As a result of sleeping in, not exercising much, and not preselecting better seats, we managed to get no sleep at all on the 12 hour flight to LAX.

Got off the flight and had to queue for two hours to reach US Immigration. US citizens get rushed through of course. This caused great distress to the baggage handlers who continually insisted that all Air NZ flight 6 passengers clear immigration immediately to collected their bags to “prevent the congestion you are causing”. Welcome to America.

US Immigration lady who served us (eventually) was really nice and offered conclusive proof that everything we've heard about this wonderful organisation is completely false. We were photographed and finger printed though, (a US requirement because we are planning to go to Canada believe it or not).

Totally spaced out by the time we got to the hotel. I found the 32 TV channels very confusing, though things got simpler when the US president decided to “Address the Nation” when all channels showed the same thing (just not all in the same language).

Walked out to do some shopping, and suffer consumer brand culture shock. I didn't think I'd miss Arnott's that much! Oreos might be popular but they certainly ain't Tim Tams.

Went to sleep at 9pm.

No sleep on he flight.

Air Canada's landing procedures just as efficient as their departures. It took them 45 minutes after landing to find some stairs for us. We were out in the open air and herded onto a bus, which did three laps of the terminal before dropping us in a place we had to walk 2ks (more like wait) along a dribbbling travelator. No rush, as we had to wait an hour for our bags and even longer for our bikes.

And yes, Air Canada had managed to damage them pretty badly. Linda's bike's rear wheel had been wrenched out of the dropouts (no mean feat), the wheels buckled and one of my pannier racks sheered in half. They surpassed themselves this time. The bits they broke are not exactly flimsy.

Took an hour to get to the Air Canada official in Paris. Not only would the prick not offer us any assistance, he refused to even acknowledge the obvious damage to our bikes. The Air Canada baggage claim process requires us to have an AC official check the damage. The piss weak excuse was we hadn't used protective packaging and not had it checked in as such – even though we used the packaging provided by CA in Canada. He even refused to acknowledge there was any damage, even though solid bit of metal were now dangling from my bike. He simply refused to even acknowledge we had a problem (or it was anything to do with him). Further he refused to disclose the name of his supervisor, or even react much to the death threat I terminated this conversation with (which was probably just as well for him).

Cycled to our hotel very slowly (slipping chains – bikes repaired with zip ties and duct tape). Crashed out asleep for an hour – exactly the wrong thing to do.

Struggled to find food on a Sunday evening with everything shut. Fortunately found a Pizza bar, only dodging Lady Di's driver the once. God I hope things improve. Travelling over the past few weeks has been more pain and less fun than it should be.

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