Travelling for work
I’m currently travelling for work. I’m in Lyon and I’m attending a World Health Organization meeting at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The meeting though isn’t about malignant diseases, it’s about containment of human and animal pathogens and bringing together experts and officials from human health and animal health. The meeting is in Lyon because Lyon is where WHO has its laboratory experts.
How is the bad news?
Last week I mentioned I’d received some bad news. My relative has had surgery and is recovering. The outcome is looking more positive than negative. Thanks for the comments and support here and on the Facebook page.
The flights from Canberra to Lyon
It’s a long trip. I flew Etihad [cheapest fare of the day policy]. The Canberra to Sydney flight was uneventful and Virgin Australia (Etihad and Virgin Australia are codeshare partners) is always a comfortable ride. Checking in at the Canberra Airport though was a little sphincter clenching when I was told I’d have to get my final boarding pass with the relevant airline (not part of the Etihad and Virgin Group codeshare arrangement) when I got to my second last destination. That’s never happened before.
Border control in Sydney was a breeze, the electronic checking of passports is so much easier. The Australian Border Force officer checked that my face was the same as the photograph in my passport and I was good to go.
The flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi was in an Airbus A380. It’s a huge beast but more comfortable than an old Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. The bathrooms are certainly larger. I felt like I could swing a cat and not hit anything. I managed to sleep on and off for about five hours on the flight. The total flight duration was 14 hours and 45 minutes.
In Abu Dhabi, I knew I couldn’t turn on my mobile telephone. I’m with Vodafone and the $5/day global roaming package doesn’t apply to the United Arab Emirates. I managed to get free wi-fi though and using my iPad I could get a progress update on my sick relative. While I was in Abu Dhabi I found a public free to use iMac and opened all my blogs. I hope someone saw them before the monitor went to sleep. Instagram post.
The next leg was from Abu Dhabi to Brussels. This has a flight duration of 7 hours and 45 minutes. I had no more work or reading to do so I watched Wonder Woman and Spiderman Homecoming. They were okay movies, but a bit slow in parts. It was good to see Jar Jar Kirk and Professor Remus John Lupin in Wonder Woman.
I saw nothing of Abu Dhabi because the Sydney flight arrived just before midnight and the Brussels flight departed at about 2 am. It was dark outside.
The Captain on the Abu Dhabi to Brussels flight mentioned strong turbulence over Iraq and Iran and poor weather in Brussels as we taxied for take off. There was some turbulence but it wasn’t like bad thermal turbulence in the Top End. The Brussels weather though was bad.
It was snowing and it was icy. The day before lots of flights had been cancelled. When I got through Belgian border control I had to find a Brussels Airlines service desk. It wasn’t difficult to find. It was the desk with a line of people stretching for about 200 metres. It was a line that didn’t move very quickly. I stood in it for 1 hour and 45 minutes and didn’t get to the desk. The flight I was on had its gate called so I went over to the gate and waited until an airline official arrived. She was very friendly and kind and forgiving of my attempts to greet her in French. She printed a boarding pass for me and my clenching sphincters all relaxed at once.
The flight from Brussels to Lyon takes just over an hour but we spent more than an hour on the Brussels tarmac watching the snow and waiting for the de-icing machine to arrive and de-ice the wings.
The flight was uneventful apart from a bloke whose body odour made my eyes water. He also put his finger in his ear hole and then sniffed it. On landing, Lyon was overcast, dreary and dank. I caught a taxicab from the airport to the hotel and that’s when the next little part of the adventure unfolded.
Appart’City Lyon Part-Dieu
The Appart’City Lyon Part-Dieu describes itself as prestige suites. I think that’s ambitious. The reception staff though are very friendly and helpful.
I arrived shortly after noon and check in was quick but I couldn’t get a room until 3 pm. I was too tired to walk around so I sat on a chair and checked work e-mails and stuff. Soon other meeting participants arrived and we got to chatting. Some people had arrived earlier and had been waiting around, waiting for 3 pm to get a room so they could unpack.
At 3 pm the fun began. Most people got a room key but I didn’t. I had to hand over a second form of identification and at 4 pm I finally received a room key.
The room had a bed, a shower, no toilet roll holders that worked, and a table. That’s basically all I needed. It also had free wi-fi. No iron though. So long as I have a shower, toilet, desk and bed with free wi-fi I’m happy.
After unpacking I ventured out to look for something to eat. When I got back the room was dark and there was no power. I checked the circuit board and everything looked fine. I went to the desk and the reception person checked the main circuit board and everything was fine. I was told I’d be put in another room, I asked for a torch so I could repack. No torch. Fortunately, the iPhone has a torch.
The new room was smaller and not all the lights worked but it did have power.
The meeting has been good. It’s informative and it is a good opportunity to meet like-minded people from around the world. I’m grateful that the official language of the meeting is English. I’m in awe that all these people from Europe and Africa and Asia all speak English sufficiently to be able to communicate in a science-focused meeting.
I should have spent more time preparing some language skills and getting some basic phrases under my belt before arriving. French is such a mellifluous language and I am sadly butchering it at every utterance.
It’s not possible to live a low carb life when visiting France. I gave up after the first day. I’m eating croissants for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and dinner.
Check out the comments on Instagram.
I can’t read French and I can’t speak French. I walked into a restaurant and couldn’t communicate successfully so I left. I ended up in a patisserie and bought a ham and cheese croissant for dinner because I could point to it in the display case.
It’s winter, I’ve been walking to the meeting venue as the sun rises and walking back as the sun sets. I really have no feeling for the environment. It’s very noisy though. Lots of trains and police sirens.
I’m not sure if I’ll write a second post about this trip. I leave Lyon on Saturday and will be back in Canberra on Monday.
The Medical Fun Facts Podcast
I’m glad I prerecorded three episodes of the podcast before I left Australia. I would not have been able to record a show from Lyon. The next show should drop on Monday 18 December at 7 pm Canberra time and it will be about the Vagus nerve.
Do you do any travelling for work?
Catch you later.