A Long Trip Home: Back in Sunny New Westminster

Published: October 4th 2018
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No one recognizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow- Lin Yutang

I‘m writing this sitting on the couch, watching Coronation Street episodes that we recorded while we were away, having a coffee in my Moroccan mug, and eating macarons from Paris! Pretty nice. It’s a lovely sunny day today. I may rouse myself for a walk later or I may just stay on the couch 😄. We got back about 10 pm the day before yesterday, after a long journey home.

We were up early on Tuesday for our flight home. Our alarm went off at 5:15, and we finished packing, and making sure everything was ready to leave our apartment. We took it in turns each going down in the elevator with our luggage (one person plus suitcase per ride as the elevator is SO teeny). We ordered a taxi the night before, to pick us up at 6:30, and he was right on time. We drove though the dark streets of Paris, with traffic picking up as we went. We had a bit of morning theatre as we came along a company van which had completely blocked the lane. Our driver got out to speak to the van driver, and then we could hear “move the car“ shouted out in English. Another driver appeared, then an American (the passenger in the other blocked car) came flying out and was about to hop into the van and move it himself. Or maybe punch the van driver, I’m not sure! It was an entertaining few minutes, with shouting in French and English, both drivers pulling the angry American away (he was on the way to the airport for his flight). The van driver soon moved his van, and we were on our way, the driver muttering about inconsiderate French drivers.

We arrived in terminal 2 (lots of construction going on), hopped out of the taxi, paid the driver, and were on our way. Mom‘s flight was leaving out of terminal 2, so we got her sorted out for her flight (they will take her through security right to her gate), then we walked through terminal 2 to the shuttle, which took us to terminal 1. We were early to drop off our luggage, so we found a place for a last café creme (strong coffee with hot milk) and pain au chocolat. My favourite breakfast! We relaxed for a while, then dropped our luggage, made our way through passport control (it was pretty fast), checked out a few shops, then made our way through security to our gate. We settled in to wait at our gate, and I saw someone with a container of yogurt which looked good, so I got one each for us (I had lemon and it was really good, in a glass pot, not a plastic container).

Our flight to Halifax was long (over 7 hours). I watched three movies (Love Simon, Tomb Raider, and Amal - an Indian movie that was really good, I could read the subtitles ok on my iphone with my reading glasses). We ate our leftover sandwiches from lunch the day before, along with a white wine each. Westjet doesn’t have any complimentary food or alcohol, even on overseas flights, which I think they had better change if they want to compete with Air Canada and other carriers. Susan had a beer and tomato juice later. We had bought a box of macarons for each of the flight crews (one for the Paris-Halifax leg, and
Last café creme and pain au chocolat in ParisLast café creme and pain au chocolat in ParisLast café creme and pain au chocolat in Paris

At Paul in the Charles de Gaulle airport
one for the Halifax-Calgary leg), which they really appreciated.

We had a little over an hour layover in Halifax, time enough to enjoy a wine flight (a taste of Nova Scotia), which was really good. A funny thing happened in Halifax. We didn’t realize we had to physically pick up our bags there, we thought they were checked through to Vancouver. So we went blithely through customs, then the man at the luggage drop off advised us we had to collect our bags. Back we went to customs, explained, were let back through, found our bags on the carousel, then dropped them off a short distance away. Seems odd you have to do that, but at least we discovered our mistake and didn’t leave our bags going round and round on the Halifax carousel!

After our wine flight, it was time for the next leg of our journey, our 5 1/2 hour flight to Calgary. The flight was late leaving Halifax, and we hoped we would make our Calgary connection. After awhile we ordered a bistro box and hummus and crackers to share, along with a white wine each. I watched I think two more movies but I
Susan with last Paris breakfastSusan with last Paris breakfastSusan with last Paris breakfast

I will miss all our café cremes (coffee with hot milk) we had in Morocco and Paris. And the delicous pain au chocolat!
can’t remember what, I think I dozed off. We eventually landed in snowy Calgary. Luckily our flight to Vancouver was delayed, so we could make our connection. It ended up being further delayed, as it was de-iced a few times. We finally took off and I actually enjoyed the slightly over an hour flight in my window seat. We had aisle seats across from each other for the other flights, and the aisle is great for easy access to the bathrooms, but I do like the window seat. It feels more peaceful somehow, more removed from the activity of the flight.

We landed in Vancouver, and my bag came through quickly on the carousel. Then we waited and waited for Susan‘s bag. Uh oh. She was on her way to report the missing bag when the carousel starting moving again and deposited Susan’s bag. Thankfully! We found our car (Norma and Jim had left it for us in the airport parking - their flight back to Ottawa left earlier in the day). We finally got home about 10 pm, well over 24 hours since we left our apartment in Paris. We greeted our cat Ella (so nice to see
Flight of wine at the Halifax airportFlight of wine at the Halifax airportFlight of wine at the Halifax airport

We each enjoyed “a taste of Nova Scotia” wine flight at the Halifax airport waiting for our flight to Calgary. It was really nice.
her happy little face) unpacked a few things, and crashed. Our incredible trip was finally at an end.

When I look back on our arrival in Casablanca, 26 days ago, it seems such a long time ago. We did and saw so much in the intervening days. Morocco was amazing. We travelled over 2250 km though amazingly varied landscapes and scenery, from Casablanca on the Atlantic Ocean, north to Rabat and Meknes, and east to the zaniness of the Fes medina. Then south to the beautiful Rose Valley, through the Middle and High Atlas mountain ranges, and then to the fantastic dunes of the Sahara and adventures in camel riding. We then headed west for fabulous hikes in the scenic M’Goun Valley and the amazing road of 1000 kasbahs. We continued to the High Atlas town of Ourigane and our beautiful suite at Chez Momo, then onto exploring in the Marrakech heat. Back to the coast to discover the lovely Atlantic town of Essaouira, where unfortunately Susan got sick. Back to Marrakech, and a train trip to Casablanca, where our Moroccan adventures ended.

We had a great time in Morocco, and we (mostly 😏) enjoyed travelling with our group. The trip was greatly enhanced by our amazing trip leader Abdul. He went above and beyond in ensuring we all had a fantastic trip, and he is such a caring, lovely man. Peregrine has a gem in Abdul and I hope they appreciate him. There were a few annoyances (Peregrine changing the itinerary last minute and our crappy hotel in M’Goun Valley) but mostly everything was pretty great. We loved the beautiful riads we stayed in. We loved the strong coffee, the excellent fruit juices and smoothies, the delicious baguettes and other breads, the ubiquitous olives, and the amazing food we enjoyed in local homes and small restaurants. I did get tired of vegetable tagines and vegetable couscous, but I loved the Berber omelettes (and the breakfast pancakes and Moroccan crepes and other pastries). We did some excellent shopping in Morocco (some beautiful pottery, our leather hassocks, of course the carpet, and silver jewellery). We found the vendors, even in the souks in the medinas, to be much nicer than in Egypt. Sure, they would like to sell you something, but they were not aggressive at all.

I would say what I didn’t like about Morocco was the
De-icing our plane at CalgaryDe-icing our plane at CalgaryDe-icing our plane at Calgary

Our flight was delayed while de-icing continued. View from my window seat.
state of the animals (donkeys in the medinas, stray cats and dogs everywhere, but most especially the extremely poor condition of the cats and kittens in the Fes medina). That was so distressing and we felt so helpless.

I was surprised by the extent to which French is spoken in Morocco. You would think that Moroccans wouldn’t want to keep French, after independence from France, but that isn’t the case. French is the language of business and government and higher education. Susan was able to use her French a lot in Morocco, which gave her good practice for Paris.

Ah, and then onto Paris. What a culture shock from Morocco! Here we were joined by my Mom, and we all had a great time exploring Paris for the next 5 days. We hit a lot of highlights, took the metro all over the city, and walked and walked and walked. We enjoyed lots of wine, baguette, cheese, café cremes, and macarons. We drank champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower! We had an excellent day with Urban Adventures walking, eating, and drinking. We squeezed in a little bit of shopping (fabulous shoes!). We visited the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Pompidou. We admired the view from the Arc de Triomphe and the view of the city from our Seine boat ride. We braved the crowds at Versailles. We definitely will be returning to Paris. There is so much more to see.

I hope you have enjoyed travelling with us via the blog. It’s always a lot of work doing the blog while travelling, but I found it especially challenging this trip, because the blog site I used to use (Travel Pod) closed down and I had to fInd a new site (Travel Blog). The main difference is that with Travel Pod I could write the blog, upload and caption all the photos, and save the post until I had sufficient wifi to publish. With Travel Blog I had to be online to write the blog and to upload and caption photos. I lost some of what I had typed a few times, and it often took a LONG time to upload photos. I often had to work on the blog in a lobby area if there was no wifi in the room, frequently late at night. I did end up downloading the MS Word app so I could write the blog off line, and cut and paste into Travel Blog when online. That generally worked although I had to fix some formatting. Anyway, despite these difficulties I am glad I continued with the blog. I enjoyed writing it and I hope you enjoyed reading it!

So, I am signing off for this trip. See you on our next trip - destination unknown! Thanks for reading 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Moroccan mug and Parisien macaronMoroccan mug and Parisien macaron
Moroccan mug and Parisien macaron

I had a macaron for first breakfast (toast later)
Our Moroccan hassocksOur Moroccan hassocks
Our Moroccan hassocks

They look floppy because we haven’t stuffed them yet.
Shoes from Paris!Shoes from Paris!
Shoes from Paris!

Susan’s are on the left (she hopes they’ll be comfortable for work), mine are on the top (ox blood colour) and on the right.
Our trip shoppingOur trip shopping
Our trip shopping

Everything got home in one piece. If you look closely you can see one mug has coffee in it - I took it out of Susan’s hand for the photo! Also got a cat mug and a little dish for my rings in Paris.
With hassocks With hassocks
With hassocks

We also bought a rug - waiting for it to be shipped (it came later today)
Ella in her boxElla in her box
Ella in her box

She has a nice cat bed too ...
Ella on the clothesElla on the clothes
Ella on the clothes

I just took them out of the dryer so of course she’s on them.
Our new carpet!Our new carpet!
Our new carpet!

It came later today. See Ella by the fireplace.

4th October 2018

Welcome home
Glad you’re both home safe and sound after such a wonderful trip. So glad you took the time to blog, it was a daily treat to follow your journey. Can’t wait till your next adventure.
5th October 2018

Welcome home
Thanks so much Tuula, I’m so glad you enjoyed the blogs!
4th October 2018

Thank you!
We read all of your blog entries and really enjoyed travelling with you from the comfort of our home. I did a travel blog when we went to Europe and it definitely is a lot of work, and I did it on my laptop not an iPhone! Apart from sharing your trip at the time, you do have it as a diary and it can be fun to read it later and remember the trip.
5th October 2018

Thank you!
Glad you and Valerie enjoyed the blogs, Scott. I definitely like reading them later, it’s fun to relive the trips. I used an iPad mini to do the blog (with a small keyboard case). Typing so much text on an iPhone would be insane!
5th October 2018

Welcome home!
Welcome home! Glad you're back safe & sound. But I'm feeling a bit let down: nuffin to do ... nuffin to see... sigh... Where do we go next? So nice to see my friend Ella!
5th October 2018

Welcome home
Thanks Jo, it’s good to be home. We’re planning a short trip to Dublin and Belfast at the end of May!
5th October 2018

Wow what a trip and home at last.
Luv the new hassocks.. great last blog..fun photos and I never saw those tube escalators when I was there. ? Shoot..and Ohhh you own BED..lol nighty night..
5th October 2018

Thanks Niy. Maybe you were in a different terminal at CDG. We just have to stuff the hassocks! And the carpet arrived today very exciting!
7th October 2018
Ella in her box

Awww Ella!
Mia gives us this same look (but with a slightly tilted head)... we call it her 'Lady Di' look :) I'm impressed with your haul of souvenirs from Morocco and France! Love the pottery. I'm also curious about the group dynamics you hinted at ;)
7th October 2018
Ella in her box

Awww Ella!
That’s so cute, the “Lady Di” look 😃. I loved the Moroccan pottery, and it’s so nice to bring things back from trips. The group dynamics were good, but I’ll PM you details!
20th October 2018

Welcome Back!!
What a lovely trip, and a very enjoyable read indeed. Thank you for writing and allowing me to travel along with you. You certainly had many adventures, at once contrasting, between European and Arabic, and similar, in the Francophone destinations. I love the post-trip photos of the souvenirs, and how lovely indeed it is to return once more to one's own pillow after time spent on the road. Thank you again, and I look forward to reading about your next adventure, wherever that may be 😊
20th October 2018

Welcome back!
Thank you so much for your lovely comments Alex, I really appreciate them 😄. Thanks so much for reading my blog! We are planning a shorter (10 days) trip to Dublin and Belfast at the end of May-beginning of June next year. I will reread your Belfast blog again before we go. I also look forward to reading about your next adventure!
20th October 2018

Dublin and Belfast
Great! I look forward to reading about that. I thoroughly enjoyed my short break in Belfast, and highly recommend a visit in particular to the Giant's Causeway nearby. All the best with the travel planning :)

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