The joys of unexpected travel blunders.

I was expecting to board within the next 5 minutes as I had posted. The line up started and I was ready to go. Little did I know the plane had other plans. After standing in the line for a while, and I’m talking 30-40 minutes, peoples started mumbling about what was going on. The mumblings were mostly on Italian so I could not understand. An announcement came on, both in Italian and English, yet it was near impossible to hear. I turned to the woman behind me and we both kind of shrugged. I asked if she heard what they said. She hardly heard either but heard people behind her saying something about a cancelled flight due to weather conditions on Florence. I thought the weather here was just fine. A couple in front of me whirled around at the sound of English and asked about the situation. The four of us stood there trying to figure out what was going on. Before long, our flight info on the screen displayed the “cancelled” sign. It was official. Now what?! All of I sudden I realized I am suppose to be seeing Cara’s show that night and I NEED to get to Paris! They announced that they will be bussing the plane load of us to Pisa, an hour and a bit away, to catch a flight from there. Are you kidding?! Isn’t Pisa slightly south of Florence? Meaning farther away from Paris? I consider my options: 1) go with the group and my new friends (the Canadian couple also from the West coast and the woman from behind me with the accent), and hope that the re route to Pisa will still get me in on time to see the show. Or 2) ignore my ticket (it wasn’t very costly) and try to find a new way to Paris, faster. Problem with option 2) is Florence airport flies to very few cities and the fact I got a ticket, a cheap one, direct to Paris was pretty awesome. I decided to stick with the group and simply hope for the best.

The bus ride was nothing more then a decent bus ride, with air con which helped. We arrive in Pisa and basically got right on the plane after a quick and painless security check. I guess now I can say I have been to Pisa..? Not sure if it counts if you don’t see the leaning tower however, which I tried to spot from the plane window…no such luck. Once the plane was off the ground they started serving drinks and food. There was a menu with incredibly overpriced items. So wait, we don’t get a free drink? After all this crap? Bullshit. Expecting to practically be in Paris by now, and eating dinner before the show, I was starving! I had my wallet out and sandwich selected. The cart was two rows in front of mine when they just roll right on by to the back of the plane. They were done serving as we were starting our decent now. You have got to be kidding me! I will tell you thus much: I don’t plan on flying with Vueling again. We arrive in Paris and it is a complete shitshow at the baggage carousal. I am a small person and this made it incredibly difficult to push my way through the crowds let alone see where my bag was. I am constantly looking at the time at this point, calculating how much time I have to get to the hotel, throw my bags in and quickly change into nicer clothes and get to the Moulin Rouge at 10:30pm, as they want you there 30 minutes before the 11:00pm show time. This is going to be tight. After what seems like a long time, I manage to get my bag. Now to the taxis! Talk about a line up! They had taxis continuously coming in to attend to the ever growing, enormous line up at the taxi pick-up spot. After finding the end of the line. There’s nothing to do but wait. Time is ticking by and it’s already around 10:20pm. The line moves at a decent pace but not fast enough for my liking. Finally. It’s my turn and I literally run to the taxi. “where to madam?” holy shit I don’t remember the name of the hotel. I know it’s half a block down from the Moulin Rouge so I tell him to head in that direction and I will figure it out. After searching my email, and making numerous costly calls back to Canada to my mom for help, I figured it out. That car ride was full of long sighs and stress.

Once arriving at the hotel, I check in, and after struggling with the room key, drop my bags and check the time. Its 11:15pm. FUCK! After another costly call back home, tears, and encouraging words from mom, I throw on some new clothes and walk to the Moulin Rouge in hopes that they will still let me in. Does it make a difference that I came to Paris to see my girl friend dance? Probably not. The guy at the door looks at my like I’m crazy. “It’s the last show tonight” he says, and it was 30 minutes in by this point. He shows me tomorrows show times but like that’s any good as I leave at 3:25pm in the afternoon to train to Amsterdam to catch my flight home (HOME!!!). I wander back to the hotel, completely defeated. This is the only reason I came to this french speaking city, to see Cara dance. And now all hope was gone. It’s late on a Sunday night at this point and therefore few restaurants were open. I was starving as I had not yet had dinner. Room service at the hotel was suppose to run until 1:30am but buddy at the front desk said it was done when I arrived at 11:30pm…wtf?! I was forced to wander around alone at night in an unfamiliar city to find something open where I could find food. I found a tiny corner store-esque place that is about the size of my bathroom at home. At least they sold wine too. My dinner: a boxed sandwich, bag of turkey dinner flavored Lays chips, and a bottle of cheap red wine. After eating well in Italy for the past month this was nothing short of a slap to the face. Back to my shitty hotel so “enjoy” my middle of the night, crappy dinner.

Sleep came easy, as I was exhausted from traveling all day and my defeat in Paris. The next day I was able to meet up with Cara. Seeing her shinning smile took away most of my misery. She is simply such a joy to be around and her positive energy is contagious. We enjoyed lunch at a cafe, exchanged some stories, and I showed her some pictures. It was a short but ever so sweet visit, and like I said, it made up for a lot. My train ride to Amsterdam was great. I had a first class ticket, and therefore a comfortable chair, leg room (not that I need a lot) and continuous offerings of free snacks and drinks. The journey was about three and a bit hours long and training through the countryside and different cities is grand! So beautiful and interesting. It reminded me a lot of backpacking in 2007 with Kerri, as this was our main mode of transportation. Minus the first class ticket I might add! Arriving in Amsterdam I was a happy traveler. The train ride felt very fast (time wise, and speed I suppose). The train pulls up right under the airport which is very convenient as my hotel is a simply 3 minute walk from it. Back to the CitizenM hotel, where I spend my first night abroad. My journey had come full circle. This time, instead of being sad to be alone and missing home and Matt, I was super, super stoked. I would be en route home within 24 hours and could not wait. I checked in and couldn’t help but squeal with excitement upon entering my room! I have explained the awesomeness of this hotel before, and I couldn’t be more happy to be back in it. I headed down to the cafeteria, got some food and 2 for 1 strongbows and settle in in front of the TV to catch up on some Olympic action! After a fabulous rain-style shower, sleep came ever so easy. It helped I had a luxurious california king sized bed with amazingly comfy pillows and duvet. Zzzzzzzzz.

I awoke this morning to a huge smile on my face knowing I was finally heading home. I might add that I was never homesick or anything during my trip, just excited to get back to the family, boyfriend and friends. Checking in at the airport, dropping my bag, and security was a breeze. I am now sitting on the plane with about 2.5 hours left. The flight has been great. I am sitting next to a guy (also from North Van, Lynn Valley to be exact) who has been backpacking for the past 3 months throughout Europe. We have exchanged stories, laughed a lot, drank wine and watched The Hunger Games (I have seen it before and recommended it, he loved it). The food has even above average for plane food and like I said I even got some wine. Happy happy me. Now I will pass the last bit of time by finishing my downloaded movie on iTunes, ‘Eco-Pirate: the story of Paul Watson’. Educate yourself and watch it.

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