Mayor Bell travels to Saudi Arabia: Day 3

Posted May 9, 2009 8:32 a.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2009 4:19 p.m. EDT

Durham Mayor Bill Bell is sharing about his trip to Riydah, Saudi Arabia. This second update is from Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 a.m. in Paris, or 1:30 a.m. in Durham.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris this morning, Saturday, at 5:30 a.m. Paris time (11:30 p.m. Friday May 8 Durham, N.C., time). I haven’t been gone from Durham but one day and already it seems like three days.

I noticed in my first blog that I said I should arrive in Paris Saturday, May 10 when it should have been Saturday, May 9 and that I would arrive in Riyadh tomorrow night (May 10) when it should be arriving in Riyadh Saturday night (May 9). And I signed the blog Friday, May 9 when it should have been Friday, May 8.

It shows how much I miss being away from the “Bull City,” also “The City of Medicine” where "Great Things Happen.” I can’t contribute those mistakes to jet lag, because when I wrote that, I had gotten no further away than Washington D.C. How about calling it a senior moment and let’s move on.

We have approximately eight hours to spend in the airport before boarding for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, so I obviously won’t get to see Paris. However, Air France’s First Class Lounge has all the comforts to hopefully make that time more endurable.

I was last in Paris about 16 or 17 years ago, but I don’t think much has changed based on what the media portrays. The last time I was here, we attended a reception at the American Embassy where at that time we met the Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac, who later went on to became the President of France. When I worked at IBM, I was here more frequently at IBM’s Lab in LaGaude France and got to see more of the country. At that time I found the French to be very hospitable, but that was obviously before 9/11.

Since I won’t get out into the city, I will not be able to judge or have many conversations to take the temperature of how they feel now about Americans now. However, the airline staff have been very hospitable, which you might expect since they are in the customer service business.

I am really looking forward to getting on the ground in Saudi Arabia to participate in the meetings with the Saudi people, as well as to see more of their country. They had prepared a very strenuous and tight schedule from sun up to late in the evenings. Time permitting and the Internet working, I’ll attempt to share as much of that experience with you as I can. But for now I am going to sign off and try to relax.