Expect the Unexpected

Once upon a time, flights were booked through a travel agent. You’d give them your travel dates and they’d find the best available fares. Easy peasy. Nowadays it’s not as simple but, in my opinion, it’s a lot more fun.

I love travel research. Hunting for the best fares, with the routing that matches my preferences is like a game. Do I book now or wait? Do I want to connect in this city or that one? Perhaps I can take advantage of a built in layover, and see some sights. Or wait.. that airline has direct flights!!

I usually start with flight search engines before moving directly to the airline websites, once I know which of them offer flights on my travel days. If my trip schedule has a bit of wiggle room, I’ll compare flights for different days.

It’s like a puzzle but better, because when it’s completed you’re left with a trip to look forward to instead of cleaning off your dining table and cramming little cardboard pieces back into a box.

And that moment you put your credit card details and complete the purchase? For me it’s such a rush. My trip has gone from being hypothetical to real!

Several months ago I went through this process, and booked flights to Paris. My best friend and I are desperate to get back there for a girls’ trip. We’ve registered with the France government for our Covid health pass, and have started booking activities. It’s coming together and we’re both beside ourselves with excitement.

Until this morning when I received an email from Air Transat, who I had booked with.

A gut punch moment. The kind that knocks the wind right out of you.

My immediate reaction wasn’t pretty. It felt like the ground had dropped from beneath me. A string of words not appropriate to share here flew from my mouth. Was Paris cancelled?

It doesn’t have to be.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run into a situation like this. Many years ago I had tickets booked with another airline, coincidentally to Paris as well. A month before we were set to fly out, the airline folded and we were left scrambling. Ironically, we booked with Air Transat – the same airline who cancelled my flights today. Shortly thereafter, there was a massive fire in the Eurostar which connects France to England by tunnel. In the exact train carriage we were booked to be in a month later.

But in the grand scheme of things, what started off as a major panic ended up being okay. Flights were rebooked and we enjoyed our trip. The train tickets were exchanged and we were crammed in like cattle to make our way across The Channel. What felt like the end of the world at the time proved to be nothing of the sort. My point, as the title says, is that we need to expect the unexpected – and roll with it when we’re faced with challenges.

Remembering this helped me take a much needed breath, calm my nerves and refocus. I started a new search online, going through the usual steps until I found new flights. It turns out they’re even better flights. Direct with extra legroom for almost the same price as my crappy seats with Air Transat (that had connections in each direction).

Now my only conundrum is trying to decide if I want to pay to take advantage of the airport lounge. Not exactly a bad problem to have.

Oh Happy Day!

I woke up this morning like I do every other work day – bleary-eyed and cursing the alarm on my phone.

But today was a little different though.

Because today I noticed an alert at the top of my screen saying that I’d received an email from Ministère de l’Europe et Des Affaires Étrangèrs.

They’re the fine folks who received my application for my French Covid Health Pass, which will give me access to restaurants and museums – and pretty much anywhere a tourist like me hopes to visit during my upcoming visit to Paris.

I’ve been approved!

I’m so relieved! And excited (so excited!) because it means that I’m one step closer to returning to my favourite city.

66 days to go!

How I Celebrated My Birthday – Parisian Pandemic Style

I’ll say right off the top that I’d much rather be in Paris right now. But because of the global pandemic and the resulting travel bans, one must do what they can. In my case this meant that I planned my day with special nods to my most favourite city and previous visits.

After my shower I decided to do a mask, using a product that I always purchase from my favourite pharmacy in Paris.

Now time to get dressed.

Stripes ✅

Beret ✅

I’m not a mime, I swear!

Next was breakfast. Le petit déjeuner, like so many that I’ve started my day with in Paris.

You’ll note that every photo from here on relates to food. If you can’t shove your face with food without guilt on your birthday, when can you?

I decided to watch a movie, and chose Julie & Julia. I’d seen it before but planned to make Julia Child’s Quiche Lorraine for dinner. It seemed like a good fit.

You’ll note the blurry cashews in the bottom right corner. I chose them because I remember years ago sitting on a terrace, drinking a beer and being served a small bowl cashews.

Side note: I also remember being on the open top of one of those hop-on, hop-off buses during that same trip. Some asshole on the pavement threw an handful of cashews at us when we passed (while aggressively shouting in French), and I got pelted on the side of the face with several. I’d say that he got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning but I can’t imagine there being a wrong side if you’re fortunate enough to wake up in Paris every morning..

After the movie I headed for the kitchen to prepare a few things.

Simple syrup. Because I had a cocktail I planned to drink.

And lots and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice – for the cocktail, but also for a tarragon lemon vinaigrette for the salad we’d be eating with dinner.

I was feeling rather peckish. Time to have a baguette slathered in Boursin.

I eat this in my hotel room regularly in Paris. Sometimes after a long day I don’t feel like heading out for a proper meal. Other times I’m so jetlagged that after a long nap, I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night with nothing open. This quick snack has become a welcome tradition and regular standby.

Of course I needed something to wash it down. I planned ahead and sipped on a lemony cocktail with gin and bubbles. The French 75.

Served in one of James’ grandmother’s crystal flutes, of course.

I took a nap next. Which I don’t normally do but since I was in Paris-mode, it was like I was really there and needed a mid-afternoon nap.

When I woke up I sat on my balcony with a cup of my favourite tea..

..in one of my favourite tea cups. With a palmier on the side, of course.

Once James arrived home from work, we had chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing (breaking theme, but whatever..).

Eventually it was time to make dinner. But we procrastinated, and dinner ended up being quite late. It was worth the wait though.

I had hoped to watch my all-time favourite movie, Amelie, after dinner but it was late so we decided to watch it another time.

So there you have it. My perfect Parisian Pandemic themed birthday to celebrate another trip around the sun.

Bonne journée!

Marla

Mr. Burned Corn

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the British Columbia Officer of Public Health, announced today that we’re looking at another month of COVID-19 related restrictions. I can deal with that. Another month of staying home except for quick trips out for more essentials, or for sanity breaks in the fresh air – it’s important and necessary.

Continue reading “Mr. Burned Corn”

What is a Weekend?

Are you familiar with the scene in Downton Abbey where Dame Maggie Smith’s character asks, “What is a weekend?”? Her delivery is perfection.

While the scene touches on the ‘modern’ invention of leisure time (for the period), not to mention the obvious class distinction between floors, I can’t help but ask myself that very question this morning.

What is a weekend?

As many of you will know, I’m currently working from home. Our apartment is tiny, not unlike most in Downtown Vancouver. My makeshift desk is set up 2 metres from our bed. It’s also 2 metres from our couch. I’ve only just realised the irony in the spacing.

Because we’re in voluntary lockdown, practicing social distancing when we pop out for necessities, I’m basically stuck in the same space 7 days a week. One day blends into the next. Weekdays turn into weekends without any noticeable change.

My question to those working from home as well, what are you doing to mark your weekend? What helps you to feel like you’re not stuck on an hamster wheel 24/7? If you have any suggestions, please comment below.

I thought I’d share some photos of flowers I snapped during a lunchtime stroll earlier this week. I forced myself to get out for some fresh air and sunshine. If you’re permitted to do the same where you are, I highly recommend it.

Spring has finally sprung!

Bonne journée!

Marls