(The below was written nearly 2 weeks ago while flying across the Atlantic back to Chicago.)
It’s been a month of Sundays. Several months of Sundays.
AGMA has missed everybody!
But it’s been a crazy busy (with good stuff!) September and October.
I started out September visiting family in Washington DC over Labor Day weekend. Then a few days after we got back, Son#2 came to visit. That’s ALWAYS fun!
Then the weekend after that, AGMA went to her 50th high school reunion.
OMG…my 50th high school reunion.
5-0 (as in a half a century!)
It was weird, crazy, and otherworldly. Who were all those old farts & blue hairs?
Some of us have aged well (but NOT gracefully…) Others looked like they fully drained their batteries during the disco era and were out of juice.
AGMA, by the way, looked fabulous!
Then the weekend after, I left for 24 days in Europe (mostly…)
COVID? What COVID?
I’m pretty sure I DON’T have COVID since I’ve been tested for it 4 times in the last 26 days.
My right nostril hurts. TMI, right?
Hubs and I started the adventure in Reykjavik. We’ve never been to Iceland. AGMA’s not really sure Iceland is the right name for this stunning windswept country. It was cold while we were there. It snowed while we were there. It rained while we were there. The wind nearly blew me off my feet while we were there. The sun came out and it was warm while we were there. There was a 3.5 point earthquake while we were there. A volcano was erupting while we were there.
And we were only there 3 days!
More like Disassocationdisorderland.
Oh – and we ate some of the famed Icelandic hot dogs. Yum!
Seriously, I would love to return and explore the entire country. The little bit we saw was stunning. But, clearly, one must respect Mother Nature before attempting any sort of sojourn there. No selfies on the edge of any cliffs or volcanos!
Then we hightailed it out of the snow, wind, rain, sunshine and earthquakes for my favorite city in the world (this week at least.) – Paris.
Yes, yes, yes…. I know. AGMA was just in Paris in July. But Hubs was with me this time so it was different. And there were no men in spandex to chase. Well – there were, but that’s a story for a different post.
Paris was a bit cool and rainy at times, but next to Reykjavick, it was like a walk in a park. Literally. We stayed at a lovely 4 star hotel next to Luxembourg Gardens, The Hotel Observatorie Luxembourg, courtesy of a TravelZoo deal I bought months before. We tend to be “value” travelers (translation: cheap – but not tacky or dangerous), so 4 star hotels are definitely out of our price range. But the TZ deal put it in our price range – sort of – and it was lovely!
AGMA could get used to being treated like I’m a rich *itch.
We did the “normal” Paris stuff. Eat, see art, eat, see art, eat, see a palace or two, eat, see art, eat. Repeat. We got to see the Arc de Triomphe wrapped up in a posthumous tribute to Christos, the new multi-sensory art exhibition (like the Van Gogh one that is going around the US) on Dali with a bit of Gaudi thrown in.
Anything with Dali as the main attraction is totally nuts! AGMA loved it!
We went to a practically empty Versailles. We saw the Morozkov collection (sort of a once in a lifetime type thing) at striking The Louis Vitton Foundation. We also went to the Picasso Museum, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
And we did what everybody does in Paris…we walked and walked and walked. Well, Hubs actually scooted on his mobility scooter. But AGMA walked my sweet tootsies off. It was wonderful!
After 6 nights in Paris, it was time for Hubs to head back to the Windy City. Buh bye Hubs!
And AGMA continued on with Phase 3 of the adventure.
I flew to Dublin and met an 81 year old friend who flew in from St Lous. My job was to be her unofficial tour guide around Ireland for 2 weeks.
AGMA, reporting for duty.
But the story of that part of the trip is another post…
So what was it really like traveling internationally during COVID? A bit stressful as one might imagine. Not really because of fear of catching the virus, but more from all of the safety precautions put in place by the various countries.
Because AGMA’s trip covered 3 countries, I pretty much kept on top of the travel requirements for each country in the weeks leading up to the trip. A COVID test was required to enter Iceland, but not France. But France requires what’s called a Passe Sanitaire be presented to enter indoor spaces – museums, palaces, historic monuments, restaurants, music venuse, etc.
AGMA & Hubs applied for our Passe Sanetaire 3 weeks before we left. It was supposed to take 16 days to get approved. Yeah – 16 days came and went. 21 days came and went.
Soooooo…the evening we got to Paris, we decided to get COVID tests at 25 Euro a test. That would give us 72 hour “temporary” passe sanataire. The next day, we went to Versaille and discovered that, if you don’t have the regular passe, then your COVID test can’t be any older than 48 hours.
Got it? Corn-fusing….
And so the trip proceeded. We got new COVID tests 3 days later (at 25 Euros each again!) to give us another 72 hours (which would also give Hubs the test he needed to fly back to the US!) The next day we went to the Pantheon, which was like Versailles in only allowing people with COVID tests less than 48 hours old in without the regular passe sanitaire.
Got it? Continued corn-fusion…
And for most sights (other than outdoor venues), you need to have a timed reservation. Kinda discourages that last minute, impromptu, spur of the moment spirit of adventure.
To travel in Europe now, you definitely can do it, but you really need to WANT to travel in Europe now!
Next post…. AGMA, the Irish tour guide.
P.S. Oh, we each finally did receive our official French passe sanitaire. The day we left France. Of course…. So very French!
VIVA LA FRANCE!!