Oh, the Drama

We’ve been a little quiet this past week because we were fitting in four months of social activity into two weeks. Friends, family, Chicago to Baltimore, Thanksgiving, with lots of lunches and dinners and even a bit of work sandwiched in. But, we’re on the road again, complete with the latest Covid drama.

We’re hoping to get back to Morocco. This is from our 2017 trip.

Yesterday, our very communicative and kind Fes AirBnB host told us that Morocco was suspending all flights in and out as of today because of Omicron. Yes, we were supposed to be headed to Morocco in less than two weeks. December 7 to be exact. Hmmm, what to do?

Steven and I have worked out a pretty good system for decision-making, I may patent it:

  • Step 1: Ask, “What are you thinking?”
  • Step 2: Listen to answer.
  • Step 3: State your opinion.
  • Step 4: Go back-and-forth on the merits of different plans.
  • Step 5: Confuse the matter by saying, “How about this?” or “Did we consider that?”
  • Step 6: Say, “I think we should do this.”
  • Step 7: Person 2 says, “Me too.”
  • Step 8: Accept that everything will cost more than you want it to.
  • Step 9: Execute plan.
  • Step 10: Stop thinking about plans you opted out of.

So, that is what we did. We waited for Ryan Air to cancel our flight (didn’t want to pay a chance fee but Steven chatted with them and they said they would email when the cancellation became official) and then re-booked the same flight for a week later.

Our new plan is to stay an extra week in Barcelona. (Oh the pity!) (Oh the things we do just so you, our dear readers, can sit at home and live vicariously through our foolishness,) Our ears on the ground in Fes (that’s our AirBnB host) says that the scuttlebutt is that the ban won’t last longer than the original two weeks because Morocco doesn’t want to miss the holiday tourist season. Fingers crossed.

For those of you asking if we are worried about Covid, the answer is no. Morocco doesn’t want us there because they have a low infection rate, well lower than that in the United States. You can argue that we have a higher testing rate, although I don’t know if that is true or not. All I know is that since we have been here, I have seen more unmasked faces in indoor, public spaces (including food-service workers and pharmacy assistants) than I saw in France or Turkey. And, in those places you had to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to get into public places such as restaurants or museums. Restaurants also (mostly) required proof of vaccination. Given all that, we believe the risk of travel is really no worse than the risk of staying here.

We’ll keep you posted. If we can’t get into Morocco, we may be looking for a place to stay at a guest bedroom near you. πŸ™‚

Just some updates

We are continuing to make plans and knock items off the to do list. This week has been, for lack of a better term, workmanlike….oh god…sorry Sue…workPERSONlike. πŸ˜‰ (Finally, my positive influence sinks in.)

We are grappling with a list of necessary, but fairly uninteresting, things we will need to arrange while we are away. We need a place for our mail to be sent and a place for our cars and stuff to be stored; we need to order power converters, find movers and research local phone plans. All of which are to a greater or lesser degree being moved forward.

For the French portion of the trip, we have been looking at all the secondary arrangements such as car rental, place to stay in Paris for our final weekend, transport between Clemacy and Nice and then Nice to Paris. Sue is trawling through a bunch of guidebooks that we borrowed from the library looking for interesting things in Burgundy [apparently we can go wine tasting…who knew ;-)], and on the CΓ΄te D’Azur (I would like to digress for a moment to whine about WordPress…They introduced new editing software which has removed non-English letters such as Γ΄ from our version. So when I want to use characters with an accent, I have to go Word, insert the character and then copy it into WordPress. I hate when software upgrades remove useful features – especially when the feature is then re-released as a paid for upgrade – sorry about that digression. (No, I am really disliking the latest WordPress version. Try someone else, if you ask me. It seems less intuitive and less user-friendly.) Somewhat surprisingly, wine tasting is also available near Nice!

We decided to rent a car for the month we are in Clamecy, as we will be pretty isolated and we want to be able to take day/weekend trips (remember – wine tasting is available). I checked all the normal sites and found reasonable pricing, but, as always with rental cars, insurance and additional drivers are extra. Those two requirements nearly doubled the price of the car. The French government has a program that allows auto manufacturers to provide new cars on rental periods of 21 days or more, tax free to non-EU residents. This is the link to the Renault information on the program which is called Temporary Transit. The program provides brand new cars, includes all insurance, allows multiple drivers and does not charge to drop the car off in a different location from where it was rented.

Our original plan for traveling from Clamecy to Nice was to drive back to Paris, drop off the car and then fly to Nice. However, the flights to Nice (including our expected luggage) and the car pricing have us thinking we will drive. It looks to be an 8-hour drive, which is significantly longer than the 1-hour flight, but once you add in traveling back to DeGaulle, getting to the airport early, and my time insanity, it seems like it will be a couple of hours longer to drive, but not as big of a difference as one would expect. We are considering stopping for one night somewhere along the way just to get in a bit of touring.

We are planning on taking the train from Nice back to Paris on Nov. 12. We think it might be good fun to watch the countryside roll by from the south of France. I think it is about a 6-hour journey, but the train schedule and tickets are not yet available. Sue found a nice AirBnb in Paris for our last weekend (Nov. 12-16). It is in the 10th arrondissement on Faubourg Fishmonger street (I think Sue is sending me a message. I won’t add the message here; it’s subliminal). It is a ground-floor studio which means we won’t have to haul our luggage up any stairs, and that makes me very happy.

We also decided that on our way to Fez in December, we would stop for a few days in Barcelona. One of the challenges of going to Fez is that the flights only run on certain days of the week. Tuesday and Thursday gave us the most flights. We found that the cheapest nonstop route from the U.S. that would connect to Fez is through Barcelona. Once we knew that, we figured we might as well stay there for a few days and see the city. (It is high on my really-want-to-visit list.) We found a nice AirBnB near to Las Ramblas and booked it.

The extended trip now looks like:

Aug. 30: Fly to Paris

Aug.31: Arrive in Paris, rent car and drive to Clemacy

Oct. 1: Drive to Nice

Nov. 12: Train to Paris

Nov. 16: Fly to Chicago

Nov. 22: Fly to Baltimore

Nov. 30: Fly to Barcelona

Dec. 6: Fly to Fez

Mar. 6 (ish): Go to somewhere else (Roma, Barcelona, Greece, Amsterdam…who knows?) (All ideas welcome!)

May 10 (ish): Fly to Baltimore

That is all for now.