Travelling for work

Travelling for work

I’m currently travelling for work. I’m in Lyon and I’m attending a meeting.

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.


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.

I assume it’s Belgian chocolate

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.

travelling for work Gary Lum de-icing wing

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

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.

The food

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.

The Scenery

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.


Do you do any travelling for work?

Catch you later.

19 Replies to “Travelling for work”

  1. Wowee, Gaz. Very well written and as Irene said, love your humour. The plane connections sounded quite tight, especially right up at the last one but luck was on your side 😀 Good to hear you packed well, and I’m guessing you successfully made it all carry-on, which is so convenient.

    From the sounds of your experience with ordering food, if you don’t speak French in France, they don’t think highly of you.

    To answer your question at the end, yes I’ve traveled for work. I usually have mixed feelings about work travel because I like exploring new places but I also love sleeping in my own bed – nothing like sleeping in your own bed 😀

    1. Thanks very much Mabel.
      I’m always grateful that throughout my career in state, territory and Australian Government service I’ve been able to attend meetings away from home.
      I’m fortunate I packed a light woolen jumper so impressed business shirts were not a problem.
      Having lost some weight before travelling also made being seated for long periods less uncomfortable.
      I fear I have gained a little weight.
      My next lot of travel is to Brisbane to care for an ill relative. It will just be shorts, T-shirts and thongs in my bag.

    2. Hope you had a good trip home, Gaz. Maybe all the walking and shuttling around between the conference and transport helped you maintain a decent weight.

      Wishing you well for Brisbane.

    1. The only downside of modern travel is the lack of stamps in passports now that almost everything is done digitally.
      I get a train ride when I travel from Lyon to Paris tomorrow.

  2. I really like your humor, Gary 🙂

    Not all hotels have the standard, as they write about. The only thing, as should be correct is to look for, how many stars the hotel has. Each star has each own meaning about, what the hotel do offer their customers.

    Many French people do understand and speak English, even if they don’t wish to, especially not in France. But you can make yourself understandable in English in a restaurant.
    Big places do also have a menu card in several languages.

    There are snow in many parts of Europe now, also here in Spain, just not where I live. I live too close to the sea, I think. If we get a little one year, it will melt very fast again.

    1. Thank you very much Irene
      I’ve been fortunate that everyone I’ve met has been very friendly even if I couldn’t make myself understood.
      I have one more night here and then I embark on the trip home.

  3. I was worn out reading this!
    Did you have warm enough clothing????? I can’t imagine being in France on a ‘diet’!
    I am VERY thankful your relation is better-the stress of being a bazillion miles away must be as frustrating as not being able to communicate. AND as frustrating as a room with sparse hospitality. (EWWWW!)
    Looking forward to having you back on your own turf-am proud you are where you are, though. So very cool!

    1. Thank you very much Kris
      This has been a good meeting albeit I have spent a lot of time on the telephone with family members.
      My oilskin coat plus a light woolen jumper was worth packing. I also wore a beanie on my head to keep it warm. There has been plenty of walking so that also helped keep me warm.

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