When plans change

passport_leafOff to the UK on Friday night and I’m not looking forward to the flight. I do love to travel but the process of getting there is not a lot of fun. There’s small, cramped seats. I can’t afford to go business class and these days, what you get there is a little individual “pod” which doesn’t really look that comfortable, either, except it can recline and there’s nobody squashed up beside you. The width of them doesn’t look all that much wider than a standard seat. Before these came out, business class seats were like big comfy lazy-boy chairs!

And I’m getting a cold. I have the sniffly stuffed up nose stage at the moment. If the travel gods are with me, it might not get worse than that, but I doubt I’ll be that lucky. Flying with a head cold will be awful and I figure I’ll end up spreading the germs and making a number of other passengers ill too, even though I try to keep it to myself. All that recycled air, though, isn’t condusive to health.

The other reason is that my plans have changed. We have had to cancel Paris. My partner’s father is very ill and we really can’t be out of the country. We don’t know how much longer we’ll have him so every day counts. We might get to London on Easter weekend depending on how things go but as I’m due to fly back out of London, I will have to go. If he comes with me, at least he can be back in Manchester by train in a couple of hours if need be. That’s easier than trying to get home from Paris.

Again, though, that still depends on the situation. I may need to change my ticket and extend my time in Manchester. I did get cancellation and interruption on my flight to the UK so any costs incurred in changing should be covered by that, at least. I didn’t get insurance on anything else because I’ve been burned on the “pre-existing condition” clause before and even though his dad seemed to be stable when I booked the France part of the trip, he did have a “condition” and I more or less figured a doctor could cite that when filling out a form.

That’s what happened to me the last time I tried to recover the cost of a cancelled flight. The doctor said the patient (my father) was not stable at the time I booked the ticket. That was news to me! While he was recovering from major surgery, we all thought it was just a matter of time. Turns out it was, but not what we thought. Looking back, the doctor was right, and looking back, we can see it but at the time, we didn’t know any different. We thought he was just longer recovering than expected. So after that, I’ve been reluctant to trust buying the insurance. I did this time because everything seemed like things would be ok to get to the UK and back. And this time, if I have to use the insurance, it will only be about changing the return date and those costs associated.

Having said that, I did or will get 3/4 of the money back for the pre-paid hotel in Paris and that will cover the cost of the flight and Eurostar which were also prepaid. That’s a break-even there. There are a few other things that got cancelled that were non-refundable but they won’t add up to a lot. Extending the rental car in Manchester an extra week didn’t cost me double, either, which was a nice surprise, it’s only costing another 50% and that wasn’t prepaid.

This will be a vacation from work, and we’ll be spending our two weeks together which is important when you live 3000 miles apart for the moment. I hope we’ll be able to get out for a day trip or two just for a drive somewhere. We’ll need that to recharge our batteries.

It’s the way life is. We help each other, support each other, and get through it. Paris can wait.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

This week, WordPress wants to see street life.

Dog walker in Soho, NYC

Dog walker in Soho, NYC

Security force, waiting for Queen Elizabeth's arrival. Police on foot, wheels, and motorcycles

Security force, waiting for Queen Elizabeth’s arrival. Police on foot, wheels, and motorcycles

Public fountain, Rome

Blvd. du Palais, Ile de la Cite, Paris

Shrine in Assissi

Renting bikes in Amsterdam

Being entertained under the streets of Paris

Travel Theme: Gardens

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has given us Gardens as this week’s theme.

My first love is architecture but I used to travel with a woman who loved to garden and when we shared our photos, you could always tell whose were whose. Mine were all buildings, doors and windows and hers were all gardens and flowers and plants and trees. Since then, I’ve tried to take photos of flowers and gardens.

Italian gardens, Trentham, England

Gardens at Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Culpepper Garden, Leeds Castle, England

Where I live, Halifax, Nova Scotia, We have a beautiful Victorian era public gardens. There is a big duck pond, a little stream, flowers galore, rare trees and other specimens of plants. There are fountains, a beautiful gazebo, statues and a little cafe. It’s a wonderful place to walk in the summer, the annual zombie walk streams through here on it’s way through the city,  and is a hugely popular place for wedding photos. Here are a few photos from our Public Gardens.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Inside

For WordPress’s weekly challenge: Inside, I have chosen photos from shops and through shop windows taken on my travels:

A chocolate shop in Bruges

Inside a shop in the Camden Stables Market, London

One of the food halls in Harrods, London

Vintage in Harrogate, UK

Stoked for two upcoming trips

Rue St. Paul, Old Montreal

An opportunity came up last week for another quick trip. This time to Montreal in July. The legendary rock band Queen is my all time favourite. After their lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died over 20 years ago, it seemed as if that would be the end of their touring days. But they took on Paul Rogers as vocalist. He was best known as lead singer for the late 60s and early 70s bands Free, and Bad Company. He’s a decent singer, some would argue one of the best rock vocalists. I was less than impressed and I didn’t think the classic Queen music suited him. They did a cd of new and original music, though, and that was much better. He hasn’t stayed with them.

Two years ago, they did some concerts in London using American Idol contestant Adam Lambert who has made a good career for himself. I was skeptical but saw some of the video taken at the gig and ended up being very impressed. This summer, Queen and Adam Lambert are going on a 6 week North American tour with several stops in Canadian cities, including Montreal. I work with someone that’s a major Adam Lambert fan as well as a fan of Queen and we have decided to go. I gave her the ticket money and she snagged us two good seats on the floor pretty near the stage. Another good friend of mine has a ticket and she’s going as well. We may all end up sharing a hotel room, depending on who else ends up going.

Queen is a bucket list band for me and I’m hugely stoked for this one!! And, you know, a couple of days in Montreal thrown in only adds sugar and spice to the mix. Montreal is a fantastic city with lots of personality and style. An unexpected quick trip! Gotta love those!

Coronation Street studio tour tickets!

Coronation Street studio tour tickets!

You all know I’m heading to the U.K. and Paris in less than a month. Yep, stoked for that. We’ve already got tickets to see The Mousetrap and a Vikings exhibit in London and have our must-see-do items for Paris and day trips from there. You may also know that I’m a Coronation Street fan. Corrie is a British serial drama or soap that’s been running since 1960. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the set four times to date and there’s one more visit in the offing.

Coronation Street is now filmed at a new studio at Media City in Salford, near to Manchester and the old set is just sitting there, waiting for someone to redevelop it. Before that happens, though, it’s being opened as a guided tour between April and early October this year. Today, tickets went on sale so I snapped up a couple. Why? Yes, I know I’ve been there already but a fan never passes by an opportunity! This is a guided tour, with backstage access including some of the areas the public doesn’t get to including the green room and the dressing room area. Not all of the sets are there, of course, but some of the interiors of the houses will be. I don’t think they’ll have the sets or reproductions of the sets for the pub or other businesses. They will also let you outside on the famed cobbled street for photos as well. This will be the last shot before they close it for good.

I have our tickets and I’m stoked!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

WordPress puts up a photo challenge each week and this week’s is Perspective. Taking photos, for me, is about memories when I travel. It’s my perspective on what I see and do. I like to have photos of the grand scheme of things, a street, a building, a view. But I also then like to move in closer and pick up some details…a plant or flower, a window, a carving, a shop window or something in it. When walking through the streets of a city, I’m looking in all directions, including up where you will pick out details on buildings, signs, all kinds of things like this, spotted in Manchester, UK.

You know people live in these tall, seemingly anonymous towers but if you look closely, there’s evidence that they’re actually homes to real people.

One tall building looks very much like another. Does it contain offices? Hotel rooms? Flats/apartments/condos?

Look closer, and thanks to a good zoom lens…

Yep, someone lives here. Real people. Real homes.

 

Inspiring Travels from Women – the Travelettes

Ana, The Habitual Runaway, posted a link on Facebook to a blog article on five films that make you want to travel. Of course that caught my eye, since you all know I like to post “Traveling through the movies” type things. These are all new indie films that the writer saw in a couple of film festivals in Berlin and Glasgow. The blog is a collaboration of a group of young women that call themselves the Travelettes with a great tag line, “Backpacking in heels”.

It seems their main objective is on backpacking adventures but they have loads of other posts about their travels and they encourage contributions from the outside world as well. I’ve already found their huge list of posts on London and more than a dozen on Paris, particularly timely as we’re heading there soon. I think I shall be spending a lot of time over the weekend having a good look through their site and maybe making notes for future trips!

Travellers know this thing is true

St. Augustine's Chair, Canterbury Cathedral

St. Augustine’s Chair, Canterbury Cathedral

The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page. – Saint Augustine

New York birthday memories

A few weeks ago, I posted a few cartoons that my fella does for me as my annual birthday card. Often they are based on where we’d traveled in the previous year. This year’s card was based on our trip to New York City last May. One of the things he really was looking forward to was going up to the top of the Empire State Building, and mentioned several times King Kong. Now, See, I would have been more romantic, with thoughts of Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember.

I expected the cartoon to have some sort of NYC theme but I didn’t expect this:

Birthday-2014sm

You can also see that I have a camera in my hand, which is pretty typical of me. No matter what’s going on, I’ll be likely to take a photo before running off to safety! He joked “Oh, let’s go to New York, she said. It’ll be nice this time of year, she said. The view from the top of the Empire State Building would be great, she said”

He wanted to make sure the cartoon looked authentic so looked around the net for photos of the building in the 1930s when the original King Kong movie was made and wanted the Chrysler building in it as well so you knew for sure it was NYC. Utterly brilliant!