The final day and the long way home
Abidjan Travel Blog› entry 26 of 26 › view all entries
May 31st, 2010 – by: hauteboy
Flight: 5/31/10, Abidjan (ABJ) to Paris (CDG), Air France, 777, economy
Flight: 6/1/10, Paris (CDG) to Houston (IAH), Air France, 777, economy
Flight: 6/1/10, Houston (IAH) to Austin (AUS), Continental, 737, economy
Our last day of the trip had finally arrived, after three weeks of hard overland travel. We still had a full day in Abidjan as our flight didn't leave until 9:30PM. We didn't have much planned for the day, mainly I still needed to find some bubble wrap or cardboard boxes to wrap my kora in.
There was an interesting mix of people at the hotel, locals, Chinese, French and Lebanese businessmen. After breakfast we headed out to a nearby supermarket to check on tape or bubblewrap. What a difference a day makes.. yesterday downtown felt like a ghost town but today the streets were full of people and cars. We found the supermarket after passing all the stylish Gucci, Hermes, etc. shops, but they did not have bubblewrap. I did end up buying some twine and wrapping tape. As we're walking back to the hotel, we passed some discarded boxes sitting against a door.
We made it back to the hotel and proceeded to wrap the kora.. it's a very awkward shape, essentially a sphere with a long rectangular handle coming out of it off center. We do the best we can, wrapping it in my mosquito net, plastic bag, then reinforcing with cardboard, finally wrapping with tape and twine. It's about 10AM and we decide to check out and leave our bags then go out to the park. We hire a taxi for an hour or so, at 5000 ($10) CFA/hr.
After the creek, we wanted to checkout a nearby sheep market.. the driver knew where it was but first we had to go past the gare routiere, chaotic jumble of minibuses and shared taxis heading off in every direction. The sheep market was quite large, hundreds of sheep in pens but not much going on. On the way to the market, I had noticed an interesting looking cathedral.
We still had several hours to kill once arriving back at the hotel, the free hotel shuttle to the airport was picking us up at 5PM. I had wanted to check out the French restaurant, La Croisette. It was mentioned in the book as being very good, also a guy on another blog I follow had recommended it. We had walked by it yesterday but it along with everything else was closed. Today it was open, but it was just past noon and they had only just opened. There were a few expats at the bar but no one else was eating. The place was very elegant and peaceful, a big change from the rundown streets just outside.
After lunch, we went to the Cap Sud mini-mall to use internet for an hour, then back to the hotel where we just sat around on the sofas in the lobby for a few hours till it was time for the hotel shuttle.
Checkin was easy, this early there wasn't much of a line yet for the Air France checkin. I hoped to get my bags tagged all the way to Austin (the IAH-AUS was a separate ticket though) but they wouldn't do that. Next was a fairly long line for immigration, after which we still had a 3+ hr wait for our flight. The Abidjan airport is pretty nice, new and clean.
Boarding for the Air France flight was actually on time, as we board the plane there is a hand search of carryon bags. I still had the packing tape/twine in my bag along with the wooden masks... I guess they didn't like my packing tape as they confiscated it and almost took the twine as well! It didn't look like the plane was very full given the number of people in the boarding area. I had checked the seating map online and it looked like the plane was full, so either alot of no-shows or most people hadn't shown up yet! It turned out to be the latter, as I sat in my window seat and more and more people board the plane fills up.
The flight left on time as well, for the 6-hr flight up to Paris. The routemap showed we would fly right over Timbuktu and Algiers.
Finally, close to an hour after landing we finally get into the terminal. Luckily our next flight also left out of the 2E satellite. After the train ride, we go through security again, where they proceeded to confiscate my bottle of Amarula I had purchased in Abidjan, despite it still being in the tamper-proof duty free bag, and despite the sign saying you could bring through duty free liquids in sealed bags.
We still had a 3 hr wait, so grabbed a croissant and OJ and sat out looking at the new Air France A380 sitting out at the gate.. what an ugly plane that is, but I'd still like to fly on one (In first class)! The flight to Houston was on a 777 and left on time. This time I didn't feel quite as squished even though I had the same seat#.
My final flight home on Continental wasn't for another 4 hrs yet.. and I had to pay the $60 (more than I paid for the flight!!) fee to check both my bags as I no longer have status with Continental. Boo! Pretty outrageous for the 30 minute flight to Austin.
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