I can hardly believe that it’s been three months since I arrived here in Paris from the U.K. on the Eurostar train at the end of October, in a rush to get here before the sudden 2nd French lockdown began. There was a huge, hours-long traffic jam that night, as many Parisians fled for the countryside before the midnight deadline.
I’ve had a lovely time, staying with my New French Girlfriend, in the pleasant 15th Arrondissment. We rejoiced over the U.S. election results, enjoyed the holidays, and rode out the latest pandemic restrictions together. We masked up, obeyed the curfew, and got better at Zoom and Facetime. We cooked fabulous meals and enjoyed some great wines. We drank champagne and shed tears of joy on U.S. Inauguration Day, when French friends and folks we didn’t even know congratulated us.
However, pandemic or not, the Schengen Treaty still applies and I can only stay in the E.U. for 90 days at a time, so I must leave soon. I’m flying out in a few days, just ahead of implementation of the CDC’s new requirement that all U.S.-bound passengers present a negative COVID test prior to boarding. I have a direct flight and I’m rigorous about safety protocols, so I anticipate a safe arrival.
The second and third waves of COVID cases have caused almost all countries to impose strict requirements for entry, and some have even banned tourists altogether. I’m not keen on returning to the U.S., the “COVID capital of the world”, but at least I can and I hope to get the COVID vaccine in the next few months.
Traveling internationally as a lifestyle requires that you learn about a lot of things, which is good and stimulates the brain. But the pandemic has added a thick layer of other, rapidly-changing, travel-related information that now also needs to be understood, and of course it has increased the risk. Frankly, it’s exhausting and, because “planning ahead” is no longer possible, frustrating. But you play, as they say, “the cards you’re dealt” and make the best of it.
For me, that means a few months in Northern Virginia for sure, and possibly a longer stay through the summer. I look forward to traveling again when things become more normal. I’ll continue my musings here, but the locales may be less exotic.