Weird title for a travel blog, right? Perhaps not. We all thought we’d be much further along – and not going backward – getting our luggage dirty, racking up award miles. Just as this year was beginning to actualize the bounceback mode of revenge travel, new restrictions arose. Ever optimistic, I say opportunities emerge from obstacles.
Whether stateside getaways such as National Parks or long haul trips to Europe, there’s always a plan to get it done. I’ve been as eager as any Francophile, yearning to get lost on cobbled side streets and settle into a bistro chair in a Latin Quarter cafe. Beyond Paris, the French countryside and Mediterranean coast hold some of our cherished mental postcards. Looking back over trip notes from past years, I ran across this French Riviera memory…
So everyone says, don’t miss Eden Roc, Cap d’Antibes, have bellinis, catch a sunset. Off we go, mistakenly thinking we’re on a direct route, walking from JLP (Juan les Pins), along an increasingly narrow path on a treacherous road by a shelled sea wall, skirting cars, tooting minibuses, suicidal scooters, maniacal cyclists, dodging them and the grim reaper. A death defying forty minutes later, our destination sign appears: Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. Hallelujah! We joke they’re probably closed since the first entrance says “Go 150m” to the next entrance. Guess what? They are. From October till April. Undaunted, we squeak through iron gates as a car exits, walk up the marble steps, open the Chanel doors. A man approaches. Parles tu anglais? I ask. Tersely, he says: A little. We learn that a) the sunset bar closed last week, and b) we are not welcome. I ask, How do we leave? His reply: I open the gates. There is a bus. Go there and wait. Eh bien! We sashay down the driveway in no great hurry, pass the mammoth gates, searching the serpentine road for this phantom bus stop. Miraculously, one approaches. I tell the driver (in French) we have walked from JLP, need a ride. He says the JLP bus will come, this one is going to Antibes. We say: Assez proche! (Close enough!) Rumpled, sweaty, looking desperate, we sit and immediately become the amusement of fellow passengers. Combien? (how much) I ask. He says: Pas des billets, vous etes invites (No tickets, you are guests). As we step off in Antibes, I tell him “Vous etes notre ange” (you are our angel). He laughs, drives away. We find a bistro serving our favorite French wine. Translation: ANY French wine. Exhaustive detour. Kindness extended. Quelle belle journee!
Back to trees. I’m surrounded by greenery outside my home office which inspire calm and render peace. Despite extreme weather ~ blistering heat, thirsty droughts, ice storms ~ they still yield verdant bursts in Spring, delivering cheer from frosty winters. Hmmm. Having had every planned trip cancel or changed multiple times this year, if I had to choose, my leafy personality would be a willow. Or a portable oak. In the midst of our uncertain travel environment with fluctuating international government regulations and surprise requisites just to board a plane, travelers are well served by a positive outlook and flexible nature. Last week, dear clients had their plans uprooted when the Netherlands imposed a 10 day quarantine – one day before their Rhine cruise departure. Ultimately, they cancelled their dream cruise plus a much awaited, multi stop scenic Swiss rail adventure. Anyone would be understandably anguished but these happy wanderers had long adopted a “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” mentality. Changing course, they embarked on a spontaneous road trip this week and asked me to rebook their cruise for next May. Resilience of a willow, strength of an oak.
As our Antibes misadventure indicates, things don’t always go as planned, but they can ultimately work out. One of the simplest yet toughest yoga poses for me is tree, Vrksasana. Standing on one leg with the other bent against it while raising arms in a frozen position takes practice. And patience. So it goes with our current travels. Deep breaths. Positive thoughts. Composure. Flexibility. Many sought after destinations have fewer visitors, making them easily navigable, especially European cities. There may be extra steps in the process with masking, vaccine and testing requirements, but those long distance city stays, enchanting island getaways, spectacular African safaris, exotic cruises, and discovery expeditions are still possible, with professional planning and a sprout of optimism.
That bistro table awaits. Let’s branch out together!
“May your joys be as deep as the oceans, your troubles as light as its foam, and may you find sweet peace of mind wherever you may roam” ~ Irish Proverb