Yup. Another of the famous French May holidays. It’s Ascension Day. Another of those religious holidays that France a definitely non religious country honors faithfully.
I ended up staying in today doing planning on the computer. More about that in a moment. But at 6:30 I realizes that the bakery and most other things may be closed tomorrow. And I was out of bread! Mon Dieu!!!
Got dressed. Ran downstairs. Decided to be smart and buy two baguettes so I could freeze one for later. Yes, they thaw beautifully. But when I get there, I am forced to take what they have left. Two steaming hot baguettes. So warm that my hands hurt! What? How can I put warm French bread into a freezer? It must be a crime against humanity! And of course how can you not have a bite or two… or three… when it’s warm?
As for Planning:
I should have been a travel agent. Really. At one point, I thought about it. But I guess my intuition predicted online self-serve bookings and led me in other directions. I love the puzzle of putting trips together. The complexities of fitting hotel reservations in with the cheapest train tickets and then adding ferry rides on top. And all being done simultaneously so that you don’t book one and find out that the train you were depending on is full. And then are you stuck with a non refundable ticket that won’t work?
So yesterday and today I have been finalizing trips. TRIPS. The trip to Nice on June 4 is pretty much done except for printing out the AirBNB details.
But I added a trip to Aachen, Maastricht and Cologne for a long weekend in mid June. I am training to Aachen where my Dutch friend will pick me up and then we hang out for 3 days. Stupid me. Aachen just seemed to be a central meeting point. So what’s Aachen anyway? A German city. BUT then I discovered it’s French name – Aix la Chapelle. And that is a city of the Middle Ages that I studied and always wanted to see. Kismet. The hotel reservations were bizarre – with hotels saying they were sold out and the next day available. Maybe cancellations? Thanks to those who changed their minds.
A friend and I are off to Annecy in July. It’s called the Venice of France and rivals Lake Geneva in beauty. In the French Alps. We have a pretty hotel on one of the canals.
Then in August I have special friends visiting – a mom and her 7 year old daughter. We will do the Paris thing but I wanted to get out of Paris for a couple days. Our destination? The Channel Islands! Guernsey and Jersey. These are interesting little places – they are not really British. Definitely not French even though they are closest to France. And they are independent of each other. Crown dependencies owned by the Queen – well, the Duke of Normandy as she is to them. I could have gone to either one to satisfy the requirement to exit the Schengen but the ferries are few and far between in the month of November.
This was the most complicated puzzle. There are only two ferry companies – one French, one British. And finding a way to get a day trip is difficult given their sailing times. After several hours and two conversations with the Brits, I found a way to visit Guernsey for 4 hours and then return via Jersey for a brief two hours and back to Saint Malo for the night. So: SCORE. We will go to both. And a ferry ride is always exciting.
Part of the puzzle piece is figuring out the websites here. When I logged on to the English version for Condor ferries, I couldn’t search for a trip from Saint Malo to Guernsey. Only from Guernsy to Saint Malo. They make a big assumption that if you speak English, you will not be coming from France. When I changed to their French language site, there was my choice to go from France to the islands. I am more accustomed to websites that have basically the same content but in the respective language.
Then the train decided to be difficult too. I wanted a club quarto. Seating for 4 around a table. The first search gave me two in a club quarto and one solo. After doing three separate searches, SNCF finally let us all sit together. But why? Oh well.
Tickets paid for ferry and train. Now to go back to the hotels. I have three hotel reservations on hold but they are for a different day as I had originally planned for the ferry on a day that turned out impossible for the ferry company. No worries for the hotels. No deposits. No cancellation fees. I shall work on them presently.
Now just printing and filing for future reference.