It’s here, the week I have been waiting for some time. In a few short days, I will be crossing the pond to the land of the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps and of course, the home of Rosa di Roma. As you all the know, travel is my life, and returning to Rome is very important on several different levels, but I am not just visiting there this time, but will be living there. Okay, for about 2 1/2 months, but truly living there. I will have an apartment and I will be shopping, cooking, cleaning, working, tutoring English, working on travels for my clients, and of course, being with Rosa and she will be with me, and she will be also continuing her usual routines of guiding and living her life, but we will, for the most part, be living it together.
At least that is the plan, and while this is a different feeling and a different vibe altogether from previous visits, as they were much shorter, this is very much a life change for me and one I am very much looking forward to in the continuation and next stage of my relationship with her and a test of who we are together. It is also different as I am once again, packing everything away, at least the few items I brought with me when I left Minnesota last August and the few items I have accumulated while I have been here in New England. I guess I am truly the Wandering Puffin and very much nomadic, but at the same time grounded to certain things. I know much will be learned from this next adventure for me and what happens next, and this is all to be seen, but I am very happy and pleased with this decision and ready for anything that comes my way.
It has been a very interesting week and while the question of testing negative to enter or return to the United States has been resolved, for now at least. The government did say, they would reassess in 90 days from when it went into effect, so we shall see, but for now, we can breathe easier, or so we thought. If it is not one thing, it is another and right now, and has been the issues of schedule changes and cancellations and not just your run of the mill schedule changes and cancellations, but total overhauls, or should I say wholesale cancellations. The effect of Covid certainly is still holding its grip on the industry in the area as airlines, hotels, tour operators, cruise lines can’t seem to get back on track as people don’t want to come back to work once, they were let go. Yes, others have found new work to move in their lives and hold times on calls continue to be excessive.
But, when I heard the other day, from a client who was to fly from London to Barcelona that his flight was cancelled as it was overbooked, I was shocked. Airlines have always overbooked flights to protect against not having empty seats, but to cancel a flight as they were overbooked. Why? Maybe it was stated incorrectly to the client, that they did not have enough staff to handle the overflow, or the pilots did not show or were already over their number of allowed flying hours, but they do speak English in England. At least I think they do. In any case, he did arrive in Barcelona, a few hours later, as they were able to get him on the next flight that was supposedly overbooked as well, so he is on the move again. The airline, for the record was British Airways which notoriously wholesale cancelled flights in the month of June and it is still not over.
I take my business very seriously and my clients even more seriously. Without my valued clients and my valued colleagues and partners in the industry, I am not here in business as long as I have been. I am happy to say that I am having the best year of my 25 years in the industry. From the ashes of Covid, the Wandering Puffin has risen here in 2022 and now better than ever. I have many people to thank including my colleagues, my suppliers, of course, my many valued clients that hung in there with me and the many new clients I have earned this year through various sources including ASTA’s TravelSense, Yelp, Facebook, the BBB, Google searches and most importantly, repeat business and referrals of my client base. I was not going to quit on this industry of which I am passionate and have dedicated my life these 2 ½ decades. But even more important than the business and all its trials and tribulations, I have one person that I must thank more than any other and that is Rosa.
Last week, we celebrated those that gave their lives in the defense of freedom of our country and yes, we are in the un-official start of summer, but today is also a very important day in history and the world has not been the same since. Today, June 6th, 78 years ago, was D-Day, which was the code name for the landings on the Normandy Beaches by the Allies during World War II to liberate Europe from the Nazi tyranny that had been there since 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland to mark the start of the bloodiest war in human history. There were 5 beaches names Utah, Juno, Sword, Gold, and “Bloody” Omaha.
Utah and Omaha were invaded by the Americans, Sword and Gold by the British and Juno by the Canadians and while casualties were lighter on other beaches, and I don’t take any casualties lightly, Omaha was the worst in terms of casualties, and the most famous of the beaches because of this and the subject of movies or TV Shows, like “The Longest Day” or “Saving Private Ryan” or “Band of Brothers”. The were some 2400 American casualties on Omaha Beach alone. Omaha, before the invasion was known as Cote D’Or, or Gold Coast, but on that fateful day, the place changed forever. The result was that the Allies secured a beachhead and moved inland, and the rest is history as they say and some 11 months later, the war in Europe was over, but the cost was very high.
The men and women who fought and died on that day, many are buried in the American Cemetery in Coleville, France, which was given by the French to the Americans as hallowed ground to bury the dead who fought there and died in the defense of freedom and in the liberation of Europe. And just like Arlington Cemetery or Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor or any other place of honor for the fallen in war, this cemetery is without question, one of the most beautiful places on earth and it is taken care of with reverence. Those that fought and died, must be honored, and remembered and very few from World War II remain, as they are in their 90’s, a kid 18 years of age in 1944, would be 95 or 96 now. If you meet one, thank them as they soon will all be gone. Of course, there is a British Cemetery for their war dead and many civilians died because of the battle that raged that day and beyond.
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin