Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monday - Going Home

The American Pavilion had arranged for buses (at 3am, 7am, and 10am) to take students from Cannes La Bocca, where we were staying, to the Nice Airport (about an hour away) on Monday morning. I really enjoyed that bus ride (during the time I managed to stay awake), because it was nice to see another part of France. Even if it was still the French Riviera, at least it was the countryside in that area.

The problem with not getting to travel around Europe after the end of the festival is that all I got to see of France this time around was Cannes. Not that I’m complaining. I had an amazing time. But the trip only managed to wet my appetite for travel, and I can’t wait to go back to Europe… I’m thinking a backpacking trip after graduation is in order.


My original flight to London Heathrow was for 9pm, as I thought when booking the flight that I’d want to spend as long a time in France as possible and thus I should get out of there as late as possible. Of course, by the time I got to the airport, the last thing I wanted to do was take a taxi into Nice (an area I knew nothing about) and lug my suitcase around while fighting to stay awake (as I was completely exhausted). So that left me with an entire day in the airport (got there at 11am) and an overnight in the London Heathrow airport. Or so I thought.

When I went up to the booking agent for British Airways to see about flying standby and getting into London early, she informed me that my flight for the evening had been canceled. Would I like to leave Nice on an earlier flight? And how about an upgrade to first class for the inconvenience? Yes and yes, thank you.

My flight still didn’t leave for another couple hours, but I went through security as soon as I was able to check in for my flight, and, taking advantage of my first-class status, I went to one of those exclusive business lounges for the first time in my life. All I needed for entry was a first class ticket, and I presented it proudly.

Of course, once I got in, I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was supposed to do from there. I noticed a delicious array of scones, muffins and yogurt on a counter, along with a coffee machine. Did I have to pay for that? I pretended to shuffle through my bag until I noticed a portly old gentleman approach, snatch a couple scones and saunter off. Must be free then. I got a yogurt, some granola, and coffee, and then found myself a little piece of sofa to kick back and relax before my flight.

Ten minutes before boarding time, I reluctantly put away my book and went down to my airport gate. A couple girls from the program were there, and we chatted while waiting in line to go through the gate. Well, waiting in line is putting it nicely. There were at least a hundred of us crammed into a tiny terminal area with low ceilings and not enough air conditioning, and saying that there was a line is insinuating much more order than actually existed.

But the awesome advantage to such chaos is that I got to stand in line next to Tim Burton while we waited. And then, as the Nice airport makes you take a bus from the gate to the plane, I got to stand on the bus next to Tim Burton for close to fifteen minutes (as it took them forever to let us off the bus). My only observations are that his hair is crazy (only rock stars and directors can pull that off without looking like complete hooligans) and he says “fuck” frequently and in very unnecessary places.


Alexis, one of my roommates from the American Pavilion, has been studying abroad in London for the last semester and still had a week left there after the festival. So instead of having to hang out in the London Heathrow airport overnight, I took the subway (or tube, as they say) to her flat and stayed the night there.

I was just happy to have a hot shower and a free place to stay for the night (that wasn’t the airport), but I got more than I could have hoped for when Alexis took me on a walking tour of London and I found out that she just happens to live within walking distance of everything important in London.

We walked by the London Eye (the world’s largest Ferris wheel), over the Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, through St. Jude’s Park, past Buckingham Palace, down the mall that leads up to the Palace, and stopped at a small restaurant overlooking Trafalgar Square to eat dinner. I was in heaven.

The only thing that would have made the moment better was if I’d remembered to bring my camera. After two weeks of being in a foreign country, you’d think that my camera and I would be inseparable. But I definitely didn’t anticipate such an awesome tour, so I think I figured I wouldn’t need the camera. Oops. Oh well. This just means that I’ll have to return to London someday.

The overnight in London was the perfect ending to an amazing trip. I feel so lucky to have seen three countries, two of which were practically free (thanks to the airlines), and to have been a part of the largest film festival and film market in the world.

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