Wednesday August 31: Chamonix to Boston
We had an interesting morning this morning. Our pickup wasn't until almost 11, so we had a fairly mellow morning. We slept in until 7:30, had a mellow breakfast, I snoozed for about 20 minutes, and then I took a shower. We had quite a while before the pickup, so I started leisurely packing.
About an hour before the pickup, the phone rang. Oh oh... It was the front desk saying that our pickup was waiting for us at the front lobby!
Earlier I had been mildly worried about what if the pickup was screwed up and never showed up. I never considered the question of what if the pickup was rescheduled for an hour earlier. I told her that we would be down shortly and started furiously throwing things into any available suitcase. The phone rang again, and I asked Amy to answer it, as I continued to furiously pack. I was afraid that it was the driver saying that he needed to leave without us as we were taking too long.
However, it turns out that it was the driver saying that he was going to pick up another family and then come back for us. I'm guessing that this other family is why the pickup was moved an hour earlier. I'm also guessing that when I get home, I'll find an email waiting for me saying that the pickup time was changed.
I continued to toss things into the suitcases, did a quick sweep of the room to see if anything was left behind, and we dashed down to the lobby. It turns out that we didn't have to have rushed quite so much, as we waited a few minutes before the guy arrived.
The van was full, and it required some creative repacking to get all of the luggage in the back. Every seat was taken. The two guys next to me were from England and had just summited Mont Blanc two days earlier, so they got down just before the yucky weather hit. He said that there had been no summits since June, because with the heat wave melting the permafrost, the danger of rock fall was too great. It turns out that they had taken the same route as I had, the Gouter route. I asked whether they had stayed in the lower or upper shelter, and he said both. Apparently they stayed in one of the shelters, went up to the summit, came down to the other shelter, spent a second night, and then returned to Chamonix.
We got to the airport early enough that there wasn't a KLM baggage check yet. We went up to the food court and got some McFood. After we had eaten, I checked, and there was now a KLM desk, so we went down, waited in a short line, and then checked our bags. I don't know where the guy at the counter next to us was going, but they checked his Covid immunization status.
We went through security with relatively little difficulty and visited a chocolate store. We couldn't find the kind of chocolate that I had gotten last time in the Zurich airport, but we got a bunch of chocolate anyways. They were offering some free samples. This was a good deal for them, because Amy really loved that chocolate, so we went back and bought some of that.
Now it is just a matter of waiting for our plane, taking a small plane to Amsterdam, hopefully having no problems getting to our next gate, and then having a long flight to Boston.
As expected, the flight from Geneva to Amsterdam was on a smallish jet (E190). This was arranged as an aisle with two seats on each side. I had put Sam on one window seat with Amy on the adjacent aisle seat. I took a window seat on the opposite side, but I ended up with some businessman next to me. There was no in-flight entertainment, but to my surprise they did feed us--a cheese sandwich with spiced mayo on whole grain bread.
We had about an hour layover in Schiphol, enough but not too much. I had heard in the news lots of horror stories about how people should stay away from that airport--that they were over-crowded and under-staffed.
We had a mildly interesting layover. Initially, we did a lot of walking. I was joking that we weren't flying to Boston, we were walking there. It wouldn't surprise me if we ended up walking about a half mile. Is it a bad sign when you see a sign saying that the estimated time to walk to your concourse was 27 minutes?
Just before the concourse, we had to go through passport control. I'm not sure why we need to do this if we're just transiting through the airport, but I had the same thing on my return from Budapest, except in Zurich. Here, there were a number of countries, including the US, where you could go through self-service passport checks. You scanned your passport, looked at the camera, and hopefully it flashed green and let you through. I think Amy and Sam then got their passports stamped, but as that step seemed optional, I skipped it.
Then with a little more walking, we got to our gate. They had already started boarding the initial zones, but we ended up waiting a few minutes before they started boarding our zone. As I said, we had enough time for the layover, but not too much.
This leg was a two aisle wide body, arranged 2-4-2. Once again, I had put Sam and Amy in one of the "2". I put myself on the adjacent aisle seat (one of the "4"). We had sprung for premium economy. I had put us in the last row of premium economy, figuring that the middle seats of the "4" in the last row would be the last to fill up. My strategy worked. In my group of 4, the two aisle seats were taken, but the two middle seats were unused, so I had no one sitting next to me.
They fed us well, first giving us a bottle of water, then coming by with dinner/drinks, and then at the end, giving us a snack/breakfast, even though it was only about 6pm Boston time.
Just like when I got back from Budapest, the line for passport control was fairly short, and we zipped through. Similarly, that just meant that we had a longer wait for our baggage to come out. After a long wait, it did.
We went out to find our shared van, but this time it wasn't waiting for us. It had been scheduled for 7:30, and we were out by 7:20, so we waited about 15 minutes. We called the company, they checked, and the van was apparently enroute through the airport.
On my previous return, I was the first pickup, and then there had been a second one. This time, there has been one or two pickups before us, and then a lady and the three of us got on, and the van left. It stopped in Westborough to transfer the lady to a different van. After that, we were the first drop off. We got home around 8, which was 2am Geneva time. We did minimal stuff, and then hit the sack.