Saturday, February 24, 2007


I flew non-stop from San Francisco to Paris on UTA French Airlines - now defunct. That's my boarding pass from the flight on the left (I save everything). The flight originated in Tahiti and its only stop was in SF. The plane was full of French vacationers on their way home from their tropical holidays. This was back in the days when you could still smoke on planes. And nobody told you to keep your seat belt loosely fastened while seated, in case of turbulence.

Grenoble on the banks of the Isère.

The entire trip was a huge party. Passengers formed small groups in the cabins, little parties popped up here and there. People gathered in the aisles, but no one seemed to mind. They smoked, passed food around, drank liberally, and laughed for nearly the entire eleven hour flight between San Francisco and Paris. It was a very different scene from the strict, regimented, safety and security conscious flights we take today.

The téléphérique carries you up to an overlook. The little spherical cabins were quite small.

I arrived in Paris and made my way to the Gare de Lyon for the TGV trip down to Grenoble. Of course, in 1989, the TGV high speed line only went to Lyon. From there we were on slow tracks to Grenoble. Ken picked me up at the station and we spent the afternoon and night in town.

Kayakers in the Isère.

The Grenoblois live in the Isère river valley, in a mountainous region on the edge of the French Alps. It was October, and the leaves had begun to change. I remember having dinner in a pizzeria along the quai of the Isère. We also rode the téléphérique up to a lookout on a mountain beside the river. The next day we got in the car and started driving. The road trip was on.


  1. These days, there's no plane ticket to keep... Just a mail. Somehow a bit disappointed I think.

  2. Yes, I, too have memories of such flights to France... drinking, smoking, partying. Flying is no longer fun. Can't somebody do something about that?


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