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Entries about preparation

Bits and pieces of Europe

An itinerary and a countdown

overcast 22 °C
View Bits of Europe on tway's travel map.

Less than 3 weeks to go and I've just remembered that I forgot to buy a new backpack. As it stands now, I have the choice between the awkward lug of a pack that already weighs too much when it's empty - or the threadbare thing my parents bought me when Leanne and I headed to Springfield, Mass back in 1995. At least I have a lovely new compact 360-degree-spin suitcase that will face the ultimate will-I-kick-you-up-and-down-the-train-aisle test. Results remain to be seen!

This will be the most adventurous trip yet - from Paris to Luxembourg, Interlaken, Zermatt, Marseille and back to Paris again in 18 days. Neal - who will meet me in Paris - insists we can fit a bit of Germany in there as well. I gave him the wait-and-see speech, but it would be nice.

It's also the first trip where we won't be scraping pennies the whole time. Neal no longer has to skim off a slim student's salary, and we've managed some good deals - a Premium-Class flight for me (same price as Economy on Air Canada - yay Zoom!), plus First-Class TGV tickets back to Paris (cheaper than Economy, however that works). Switzerland will eat into the budget, but great deals everywhere else mean we can splurge a little. All I really want is to see the Alps and eat an indecent amount of Raclette. Neal, of course, will be deliriously happy no matter what we do.

First, though, the backpack...

Posted by tway 06:24 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Stop the press!

sunny 22 °C

It's 6 days and counting till we leave for Rome, and Debby has bronchitis. She's been bed-ridden all week (which explains why she hasn't been answering my e-mails) and is avoiding going the hospital route for fear of having an x-ray. Apparently, too many are bad for you, and she gets bronchitis more than the average person. Fluids and bedrest are her remedy, although I've threatened to drag her to the hospital by the hair if she's not better by Sunday.

So I've got my fingers crossed and I'm knocking on wood. And I'm busier than I've been in a year at work - the good busy, the creative kind. Isn't it always the way? Just when you're about to leave, about to clear your mind, you end up with the best projects and a lot of juggling.

So tonight I'm off for shopping and supper with Leanne - a bit of pre-birthday celebration since I'll be away in mid-May. Must pick up a book for the flight (I can't, for the life of me, sleep on a plane) and some decent sandals that don't make me feel like I'm walking on cardboard.

Six days, six days! I hope to never stop loving the giddy, nervous excitement of finally leaving, after all that planning. Sincerely, I never want to be stinking rich. Let me save and love it all and never take it for granted.

Amen.

Posted by tway 13:43 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Four more sleeps!

And a lot of packing to go.

sunny 8 °C

I think it's all done now, save for the packing. I can't help it - I'm my father's daughter, doomed to plan ahead and have more information than I know what to do with "just in case". But despite long hours finishing up at work and an inability to fall asleep till well past midnight, I'm excited and anxious and ready to go. "Four more do-dos!" as they say here in Quebec. Four more sleeps and I'll be on my way back to Ireland (and Giant's Causeway, at last!!).

The itinerary looks something (well, pretty much exactly) like this:

Oct. 25
- Debby's driving me to Ottawa (Miranda may come along with little Emilia, and althouh I love them both dearly and really want their company, Miranda is notoriously late - the 2-hour kind of late. I've warned Debby that any waiting around will cuase me to lose my lunch in her car the entire ride.)

- Flight from Ottawa to Toronto at 5

- Flight from Toronto to Belfast at 11

- Arrive Belfast at noon Wednesday

Oct. 27
- Up early to visit Giant's Causeway and some amusement park that's supposed to be cheesy and fun.

Oct. 28 - 30
- Weekend in Donegal (Donny-Gal? Don-a-gal? Dawn-uh-gal??) with Neal, his brother Philip and his girlfriend Emma

Oct. 31-Nov. 3
- Belfast - both on my own while Neal's in class, and with the Cunninghams on a trip to the Mournes. Nothing planned for the rest of the time - reseeing the stuff I liked the first time round.

Nov. 4 10 6
- Dublin! First night booked at The Marina hostel, and second night tentatively staying with Neal's friend Michael right downtown. WIll meet Phil and hopefully a few other TPers on the Saturday (day and/or night!)

Nov. 7
- Fly Belfast to Paris, take train from St. Lazarre to Caen
- Booked 5 nights (may have to cancel 1) at le St. Etienne for an unbelievable 23 Euro a night (it's a hotel! a nice one!)

Nov. 7 - 11
- Caen
- Mont St. Michel
- D-Day beaches and war cemetaries (I'm a cemetary freak)
- Rembrance Day on Juno Beach

Nov. 11
- train back to Paris, sleep in airport, maybe venture out to see Paris again (can one safely tour Paris in the middle of the night??)

Nov. 12
- fly home at 8 a.m.

Hopefully I'll be able to post now and then while I'm gone. Back to work, now, else I'll be here all night on a letter-writing marathon...

Posted by tway 06:56 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (2)

Curses!!!

rain 9 °C

I get home yesterday to find a $50 voucher for WestJet, coursesy of my close and personal friend MasterCard. But I've already booked my WestJet flight from Ottawa to Toronto - which set me back $140 #&*#*& Canadian bucks. It was better than Montreal-Toronto, however, at nearly $200. And that's for a one-way flight!

So after a long chat with an overly friendly WestJet lady (are they trained to be so happy?), turns out I booked too early to take advantage of the voucher. Everything else she would have let slip - I already booked, it was put on my friend's company card, I couldn't find my reservation number. BUT! Too early, so sorry, have a very nice day, dear.

Posted by tway 06:04 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Belfast by way of Ottawa

Taking the scenic route

semi-overcast 20 °C

So flights costing what they do here in North America, I'd originally planned to take the train to Toronto (an 8 hour ride or so) and from there catch my plane to Belfast. But - 8 hours? And then the trip's just barely begun? Well, when you put it that way...

So my good friend Debby suggested she could get me a deal through work. Air Canada was charging something outrageous for a one-way ticket (upwards of $300) and United had me bumping around all over airports along the border till I finally settled down in Toronto six hours and $600 US later. But WestJet had a space at $99 ($132 with taxes I still can't figure out) - IF I leave from Ottawa. Which is a two-hour drive away. Without traffic. And I don't have a clue where the airport could be - maybe another hour outside the city or something.

So Debby and I are planning to make a day of it - leave in the morning and find a place in the Capital to sit and veg and drink sangria till we're wobbly and then go for a walk along the canal. The plans at the beginning and the end of my trip are unravelling just a tiny bit - nothing drastic, just small changes that I have to consider and plan around. But I'm hoping they'll unravel to reveal something rare and unexpected and beautiful underneath.

Posted by tway 16:17 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

A glitch!

So that's the catch with cheap airfare.

semi-overcast 22 °C

So Zoom Airlines sends me a reminder that the rest of my ticket fare for October is due (hello, Mr. MasterCard), and at the bottom of a terribly long e-mail I do a double take. My plane from Paris home on November 12th is leaving at 8 in the morning? I thought take-off wasn't untill 11:30!

And sure enough, when I check my previous ticket confirmation (doesn't the name itself imply something that's confirmed?) it clearly states that the plane leaves Charles de Gaulle at 11:30. Now, I'm an early bird - so missing sleep for an early flight doesn't bother me much. The problem is that I will be in Caen - 3 bloody hours from Paris where the morning trains only start running at 5. So, if I do the math:

5 a.m. + 3 hours = 8 a.m.

Arrrghhh! So I take a deep breath and figure OK, hold on, let's get a few hours sleep and catch a night train. But it turns out that the latest one runs at 7 in the evening. So now my choices are:

a) catch the 7 p.m. train and sleep at the airport (and hopefully get a refund on the last night of my hotel stay - which I've already booked)

b) leave November 11th in the afternoon and book a place to sleep in Paris

The problem with the latter is that I'm going to Normandy to be there on November 11th for the Remembrance Day ceremonies. That's why I chose the flight I did on the day I did and at the time it was offered. But an insignificant time change (so said the guy at the 'help' desk when I called to complain - while adding that flight changes are covered in the Terms and Conditions) has gone and put a big stick in my wagon wheel, as they say in French.

I guess that's all part of travelling - making adjustments and amendments to plans you thought were set in stone. Still, with all this changing of flight times willy nilly, it's a wonder we ever get anywhere. It does explain why my baggage usually ends up visiting another city, though.

Posted by tway 17:35 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (3)

Five months and counting...

sunny 29 °C

That's how long till my next trip. Five months. I've already booked my plane ticket, reserved part of the hotel stay, and nagged the boyfriend about going to see Giant's Causeway this time. I'm a little ahead of myself, but I like the feeling of knowing I'm going. E-tickets take away a little of the "got the ticket in hand" feeling, but I suppose I could just wave my MasterCard bill around and get a similar high.

So here's the plan so far: take the train (or a lift, if I can find one) to Toronto, fly to Belfast, stay 2 weeks, then fly to Southampton, bus it to Portsmouth, and then take the ferry over to Caen for 5 days before flying out of Paris. Sounds like a lot of cities, but I'll be seing most through the windows of moving vehicles.

I'm excited about Ireland, although I've been before and the lack of "newness" takes a little of the edge off. Still, I have a long list of places I'd like to see or see again, and I can't think of the of duck and sweet/mashed potato dinner at the Northern Whig without my mouth watering. Throw in cheap beer and a chance to see Neal for two more weeks before we're apart again for 7 more months and there you go.

In Caen, my goal is to see all the D-Day beaches and cemeteries, and attend the Canadian Rememberance Day ceremonies on Juno Beach on November 11th. It's one of those always-wanted-to-do-it things - both because the history of WWII fascinates me, and because my grandfather landed on St-Aubin-Sur-Mer on June 6, 1944 and switched from one division to another (and from Canadian army to British army and back) as he was more stealth (and more lucky, I imagine) than the other members of his divisions.

But all that's still 5+ months away. For now, I'm waiting around the office at suppertime to interview a family for an upcoming newsletter, while worried (cause I like to worry) about my busted laptop and how much I'll have to take out of my vacation fund to fix the dang thing. Ah, well. I'll always have Paris! At least for the half-hour it'll take me to get from the train station to Charles-de-Gaule.

Posted by tway 14:00 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (4)

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