Hello everyone,

I’m now sitting propped up on my bed in a wonderful hotel that was comped by the Irish Tourist Board of New York.  A far cry from my one star hotel in Paris.  I now have 6 pillows to choose from, velvet curtains, a spa I visited with Jacuzzi, steam and a pool, plus all the exercise equipment you could ever want.  And free Wifi–at least that is the same as Paris, though it didn’t work there this am–the woman just rolled her eyes and shrugged in the typical French way.

I was thinking today how this life of a travel writer must seem like a dream life.  Just show up and get all these things for free and be treated like a princess at spas.  Yes, it is wonderful.  But what goes on behind the scenes is just plain hard work.  Like all of December and January right up until I left, when I was pitching to different magazines, contacting the different tourist organizations with my plans, getting actual assignments so that I can get the free things.  Dealing with cranky editors who don’t return my calls or emails.
When I stay at a hotel, like tonight and the next two nights in Ireland, there is an exchange that has to happen.  I need to write about it in some publication that I can then send to them and to the Tourist office so that they are happy.  Rail Europe gave me a train pass, so I need to make sure that I mention how great the trains are–now that is easy–they are!
So each place where I accept something means an article or reference.  Luckily I adore this whole process, but it is still work, which on good days is fun and on regular days is okay and on bad days is hard.

Like today.  I booked my flights to Ireland from France on Ryan Air, which is an Irish airline which says –fly to Ireland from Paris for 1.99 euros!!!  Then after you book the flight, it ends up being 40 euros because they add on all these ‘taxes’.   But the worst part was that they fly out of an airport in Paris called ‘Beauvais’ which I have never heard of, so all day I was nervous about how to find this place.  So on their website, they say that if I go to this street near the Arch de Triumph, there will be a ‘navette’ or airport shuttle to take me to this mysterious place I’ve never heard of.  So after two bus rides across Paris with my ‘baggages’, I look for this bus and it doesn’t exist.  All the while, the clock is ticking and my flight departure is coming closer.  (They’re very clear on their website about no refunds, etc.)
I go into a ‘Hamburger Quick’ and wail and cry in French about how I can’t find this bus stop. One of the guys sweeping the floor takes pity on me and we go to look for the bus stop. Nothing.  We do find a taxi driver who knows where I can go to catch an airport shuttle and he will take me for 6 euros.

I jump into the taxi, the guy from hamburger quick says ‘bon courage’ which is what the French always say to you when they think that you’re headed for disaster, and we head off. I find the bus to Beauvais, and almost 2 hours later, I’m at this airport in the middle of nowhere and paying another 32 euros because they have a weight limit on bags and I’m over ($50 shot to hell!)  So at this point, I just pay it and get on the plane.

Then I arrive at Shannon airport and the only time I’ve been to Ireland was to go to a retreat with John O’Donohue.  It feels so sad. I came to Ireland to go to his memorial, so it’s okay to feel sad, but at the same time, I’m shocked by how it hits me when I land.  The sweet accents of the Irish people.  The man who takes my passport–’How long are you staying?’  ’3 days.’
‘Why are you here?’  ’For a memorial service’. There was a moment when he looked at me, just for a second and I felt his kindness.  I wanted to say to him ‘did you know John O’Donohue? He was from County Clare?’  But I didn’t.

I just went over to baggage claim and felt the warm tears coming down my face.  I hope no one saw.  John O’Donohue was one of the kindest persons I ever knew.  I’m here to grieve his loss, but I just didn’t know how hard it would hit me. It is as if I feel his presence everywhere.

So I’m propped up on this wonderful bed with expensive sheets and drinking a bottle of good French wine that I had in my bag (part of the overweight problem, I’m sure) and eating a stale roll from breakfast.  I went to the spa when I got here and so missed food in the bar, but the spa was great.  Tomorrow will be an Irish breakfast, which last time I was here, was a marathon of food, so it is good that I missed dinner.

I have a couple of photos from today that I will send on.

Take care and more soon,

Diane–I spelled it right this time!

'Traveling in Europe' 2008

Leave a Comment

© Copyright Diane Covington..