It’s just about time! The anticipation has built to a lovely level as it always does. I’ve taken time off from work, have cashed in some travel points from my credit card to pay for part of my plane ticket, chosen my seats, and have booked my hotel rooms. (For the last few trips, I’ve been using hotels.com and earning credit towards free hotel stays. I like it!)
I’ve also booked a flight from Barcelona to Paris on the discount commuter airline, Vueling. The prices were great – reminiscent of Southwest here in the States – probably the same price as a train trip but will save me precious time. And my Eurostar reservation is made and I’ll be all set when the time comes to head to London from Paris.
I’m determined this trip to take only a carry-on and my camera/laptop backpack and my new small security handbag which I’ll have slung across my body at all times. It is the lightest packing I’ve ever done. (I always tell myself I’ll pack light but have never been truly successful at it, ALWAYS packing way too much, but this time it WILL be different.) Last year, I packed far too many camera lenses (I was channeling my inner National Geographic Photojournalist) and paid for it with a strain in my upper back after a long day at the Louvre and the absolute need to mail stuff home. (This time, I’ll only take two lenses – my 17-40mm and my 70-300mm – and that wide-angle is pretty light.) And, it didn’t help that I couldn’t resist the books I found at Shakespeare and Company in Paris and at Foyle’s in London. What was I thinking??? Bookstores and travelling are a dangerous, dangerous combination. Not buying books at fantastic bookstores in other countries is like not drinking wine in Paris; like not eating foie gras; or a croissant; or a crepe from the street vendor across from the Eiffel Tower; or not having an ice cream from Berthillon. It’s unthinkable…
Perhaps I’ll steer clear of the bookstores this trip. We’ll see. No guarantees, though. I’m keeping my itinerary pretty loose. I want lots of time to write and sit and observe and marvel. I want to soak up my surroundings. I was talking to a friend today and we agreed that rarely do we allow ourselves the luxury of being still. I want to do that this trip. Every trip. It is as important as the museums and art and history and parks and rivers. It is a prime reason why I travel by myself so frequently: I need my time to be my time for a short while, at least.
I’ve called Verizon to see if they have a relatively inexpensive option for using my phone overseas and they do! They instituted a new International Travel Program in March 2015 which will not charge me the usual ridiculous, outrageous roaming fees and will allow me to keep my phone on and receive calls and texts relatively inexpensively. I’m ecstatic about this! Verizon’s not gouging me this trip!
The bank has been called so I can use my credit card and debit card overseas with no problem. (And, at the risk of sounding like an advertisement, my Chase Sapphire Preferred won’t charge me any foreign transaction fees which more than pays for the annual fee! Highly recommended!)
Barcelona – awe and wonder at La Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum, great food. A day trip to Montserrat?
Paris – eight full days (!); getting to know the 5th Arrondissement (inspired to stay in this area of the city in part due to the fabulous book All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr); the Pantheon; day trips to Chartres and perhaps Normandy and perhaps Versailles; walking; Cimetiere Montparnasse; Luxembourg Gardens; Jardin des Plantes; sitting; writing; photos.
London – meeting up with Lowri (!) again after meeting in London two years ago; we’re planning a South Bank walk; “Wicked” in the West End; visiting the Shard; an introduction to Regents’ Park; a boat ride on the Thames; so much more – I told her I shan’t sleep, there won’t be time!
I wonder how closely the actual adventure will be to what I envision. Of course, in the pit of my stomach there is the bittersweet emotion of leaving behind those whom I love the most, but the excitement of going propels me onward.
Although the trip hasn’t literally begun, the anticipation brings it ever closer and I revel in it. I can’t wait to go!