Fill your Cup: Paris I

During the plague years (2020/2022) while we were locked down and handcuffed (thank goodness for the state of Florida) we yearned, dreamed and planned for better days ahead and the resumption of travel. The only one who benefited entirely from the stay at home lifestyle was Molly. So our new adventure may not be sitting all too well with her! Back in 2021 we collaborated with our good friends about ticking off a major bucket list item. They suggested a river cruise and so the plotting began. Our friends did all of the due diligence and reported back that the cruise line of choice was Scenic, an Australian owned company where absolutely everything is included. They asked us to review the cruise offerings and get back with our top choices. Amazingly we all had the same number one choice: the Seine River. Clearly the usual choice for river cruises is the Danube or the Rhein but we have never been to Paris. And Rudy is a war buff (is that a guy thing??) so we all agreed that Paris was our place and we started the process.

The itinerary was appealing as it included the Normandy beaches and the Somme. Ironically our ancestors fought for the enemy in this case (Italian and German) so there’s no memorials for that! But as Canadians and living in a free country speaking English we laud the heroes of the war who fought for those rights. We are forever grateful for the life we have to live and enjoy thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I get goosebumps thinking about the environment that existed for those brave men and women and what they gave up for life, liberty and freedom. ❤️

Once our decision was made we had to decide on timing. This was a huge bucket list item and we had a few boxes to tick off. Such as: cabin location. As boaters on rivers (trying to navigate the Trent Severn) we get that the body of water is narrow and the boat smaller than a cruise ship. We wanted the full exposure possible; we opted for the aft cabins to get the back and side views. Also, it’s a long overnight flight and we opted for business class. Big dreams … once in a lifetime. No compromises.

In order to get everything we wanted we booked a fall trip. The alternative choice was August but we declined based on heat. Fall may be cool and rainy but it’s easier to hike and bike in cooler climes. So it was settled: departure Oct 16.

Having a fur baby is amazing. But arranging travel to accommodate your precious pup can be daunting. We are so grateful to our wonderful friends for helping out. There are three sets of sitters who will be tending to Molly in our home. Luckily they are all dog lovers and will cuddle our girl as we would. Molly might not think it ideal but it’s a truly win/win. Once that arrangement is in place you can plan with confidence. (Even though I inwardly cry and agonize)

As the departure day approaches the finishing touches are made: book parking, arrange phone service abroad, make a packing list, get Euros, confirm insurance etc. whew. It’s a challenge. Isn’t funny how random things pop up as you try to organize a civilized escape???? Geesh. It’s ten lousy days. How does this other stuff suddenly become urgent??? In any event, the departure day arrives and you just make it happen. In spite of the midnight wake up thinking you have forgotten something 🙃

Off to the airport in Toronto. We avoid YYZ like the plague except it’s a must in this case. Air France flies out of Terminal 3 at Pearson. Once we check in we are invited to the lounge (hello business class!) and this is where we meet our friends. There are 3 couples altogether. Everyone is excited and nervous. And all have had to make puppy arrangements. Funny the difference in the female/male reactions to that issue. (We all agree there’s only male and female btw) all the ladies are sensitive to the doggy well being while the guys say it will be just fine. Ok. Whatever. Even though our flight is delayed we are in good spirits when we board.

It’s a huge aircraft and we take our places up front in the “pods”. It’s the most cool set up with a chair that flattens to a bed with a side table and large screen. Everything is top notch electronically with gadgets and interactive devices. You’re supplied with a pillow and blanket and welcome champagne (vive la France) and it keeps getting better. At 11 pm my time I think it’s time for bed. I’ve watched two movies (Marry Me with JLo and Elvis … both I loved ) and my eyes are getting tired. I take out my contacts, hearing aids and earrings (it’s a process) and flatten my seat for sleep. Well. It worked. I missed breakfast. (Dinner was great btw) and I am startled by the “we are making our decent” announcement. What????

It’s early morning and we are arriving in Paris at Charles de Gaulle airport. Air France uses Clarins amenities on their flight and I have freshened up with the tonic and facial cleanser. Yum! (I should have brushed my teeth but didn’t bring my stuff into the bathroom) Once we disembark we have to clear security and customs .. a breeze since they use facial recognition. A totally streamlined system that incorporates body scanning and image screening. Cool!! Then we take the hike to collect our bags. It’s a massive airport with a huge capacity. While I take a moment to use the ladies room our bags have arrived. Very impressive. We proceed to the exit where the Scenic reps are waiting and we are immediately transferred to a private car to take us to the ship.

It’s about a 40 min drive. And our driver is limited in English. He points out a few highlights en route such as the Olympic structures for the 2024 summer games. We also notice Amazon warehouses ….

At the boat we are greeted with smiles, welcoming remarks. And champagne. This is going to be good!!! We join our friends on board and excitedly await our cabins. There is no disappointment when we are presented with our keys and a concierge escorts us to our cabin. At the very back of the boat we are ushered into our home for the next week. Breathtaking. I’m in love. Storage galore, a fully stocked mini bar. More champagne. Plush robes and slippers. Aaahh.

Our first night at dinner we are seated together and the wait staff is attentive and accommodating. Dinner is delicious. Wine is delicious. What else is there??

After dinner we continue the frivolity in our friends cabin. We watch the scenery as we enter the locks. And enjoy more libations. And then it’s time for bed. What an adventure so far!!

This was one of the waiters. He agreed to take a group photo and snapped a selfie of himself. Cheeky.

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