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From a city trip in Paris to Guadeloupe - our almost nine-hour domestic flight

We had been looking forward to our departure from home for a long time, even if 4.30 in the morning was a bit too early for us.

The first dream destination of our six-month long trip is the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. The island, also called "Gwada" by the locals, is a French overseas territory, an overseas department and, together with Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin, forms the French Antilles. Gwada is part of the Lesser Antilles within the "Leeward Islands" in the Caribbean and a little piece of paradise.


The last few days have been exhausting, but will remain unforgettable. Five days ago, we said goodbye to Vienna's uncomfortable winter and took off in the early hours of the morning with bag and baggage. We won't see our home again for six months - will we miss it? No idea.

The first stop on our first really long trip: the city of love, Paris. From there, one day and several kilometers later, we were heading to the Caribbean - palm trees, beaches and a new, relaxed pace of life in the Caribbean Sea. We had never been there before and we wanted to go. That was the plan.


Beautiful view on the way to the French capital.

Paris: Off into the hustle and bustle

The flight to Paris took a comfortable two hours, a stone's throw, so to speak. Standing at the baggage carousel, I had my first surprise: a good school friend suddenly stood next to me and grinned with delight. That was great. We hadn't seen each other since our A-levels and it must have been almost 30 years before we met up again here, of all places. Unfortunately, it was only a brief pleasure, unlike the waiting time on the conveyor belt. Our suitcases were apparently aware of our travel plans and knew that we had plenty of time. They took their time and were the very last to slide onto the conveyor belt. No matter, they were right.

Quite confusing: the moving walkways at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

Just two stops on the airport transfer - a free train connection between the terminals at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport - and we were able to leave our luggage at the pre-booked Ibis Styles Paris CDG Airport Roissy hotel and head straight into the city. For a hefty 86 euros, we bought four return tickets on the French high-speed train. Not that cheap, but no alternative.

We can definitely recommend the Ibis Styles as a relatively inexpensive airport hotel.

We arrived in the French capital at 11 o'clock in the morning and plunged into the hustle and bustle. It quickly becomes clear that Paris has flair. As a Viennese, you almost feel at home here. Even on closer inspection, Paris, Prague and Vienna seem like the three urban sisters of Europe. It must be blood relations.


Fast-forward through Paris

We didn't have much time for the numerous sights of one of the most visited cities in the world, we knew that. But Paris was "only" a stopover. But since we were already there, we wanted to make the most of it. We started with Notre Dame, marveled at the cathedral under reconstruction and just went for it. We wandered along the Seine, visited the famous Palace of Justice and walked towards the Eiffel Tower.

Paris has charm, you have to give the city on the Seine credit for that. Our tip: Eat crêpes!

The charm of this city is largely due to the countless bistros, outdoor cafés and street food eateries. As we need to keep an eye on our budget over the next few months, we fortified ourselves with filled baguettes and savory crêpes along the way. Only the homelessness concentrated in various places, such as the tents under the bridges along the Seine, left a bitter aftertaste. We will certainly experience this more often on our trip (Los Angeles is even worse in this respect). But if you have a bit of money in your pocket, you can really enjoy the culinary delights of Paris.

The walk to the most famous Parisian landmark left the soles of our feet burning, mainly because we got lost. As we didn't have access to the internet for a long time, we had to rely on our gut feeling for directions. We wish we hadn't done that. In the end, we got on a bus and were taken to the impressive steel giant.


Steffi had already been to the French metropolis twice a few years ago and immediately noticed that something had changed. Whereas you used to be able to walk around the tower unhindered, everything is now fenced off with security glass and anyone who wants to go directly under the tower or even up it has to pay an entrance fee. This is no doubt partly due to the increased terrorist threat.  Nevertheless, we managed to take a few photos and after a small snack we made our way to our airport hotel. We were dog-tired!

The Eiffel Tower looks huge, especially when you see it "in real life" for the first time.


From the big city to the island

Check out by 12 noon. We praise ourselves for this, as it meant we could spend the next morning in our hotel room and check in for our onward flight at lunchtime without any stress. Our flight to the Caribbean took off at 2.45 p.m. local time according to the schedule. We were due to land on the Antilles island around 530 years after Columbus. The now not uncontroversial explorer was the first European to reach the island on the outward journey of his second voyage on 4 November 1493. However, the indigenous Caribs initially successfully resisted the Spanish and it was not until 1635 that the French succeeded in colonizing Guadeloupe. In 1674, the French crown took over the administration of the colony and Guadeloupe is still an (almost) fully integrated part of the French state and therefore also part of the European Union.

Waiting for the departure to Guadeloupe. The display board itself was as big as an island.

Even if it sounds selfish, the sometimes very cruel history of colonization has some advantages, at least for tourists like us today: Here we can pay in euros, are officially in the EU and benefit from good medical care and greater security than on some other Caribbean islands. The only thing you can't get far with here is English. The French know a lot, just not English. However, you get the feeling that the trend is gradually moving towards a second language. Very discreetly.


Arrival in the dark

The flight from Paris to Guadeloupe was the longest domestic flight we have ever taken. Whoever invented the saying "time flies" has obviously never flown themselves. After a long 8 hours and thirty minutes in the large Air France plane, we landed a little late at Pôle Caraïbes International Airport near the capital Pointe-à-Pitre. It was already pitch dark when we were taken by cab to our AirbnB apartment just outside Saint Francois on the south-eastern tip of the Grande-Terre part of the island. The 35 kilometers cost us 130 euros! That was a bit of a pain. If the public transport here isn't good, you definitely need a rental car.

After a flight of almost nine hours, we finally arrived in Guadeloupe.

Nevertheless, we had finally arrived. We’ve done it! We crossed the big pond and, after a year of waiting, we were finally in the Caribbean. Our great journey had begun. But first we went to bed and it wasn't until the next morning that we realized we had arrived in paradise. More on this in the next blog ...

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Greetings from the road,

Steffi, Max and the kids


(Author of the post: Max)

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