Wow, travel in a post pandemic or should that be near the end of the pandemic is still slightly tedious and admin heavy. Is it possible to do a quick trip anywhere with covid still present? I went to Paris from 28 to 29 January 2022 for a surprise 40th party. It sounded fun when I was invited in November but then the tedium of admin, different people catching covid made me think – can I be bothered?
The New Pre Travel Routine
At least France was accepting antigen tests administered by a health care professional. Wow, I realised after the test was done that I have not been doing it right for a while. I actually thought my eye might pop out with every twist of the elongated cotton bud she had stuck up my nose. All done she cheerfully announced at the end. An hour later certified covid free, I was ready to finally pack the night before (an adult at last)!
Rather than the usual hour before, Eurostar now suggests arriving two hours before to complete all the formalities. I don’t think that is necessary provided you have your certificate and have downloaded your NHS covid certificates then an hour is plenty enough time. However, make sure you have downloaded your certificates and/or know the password you set up for the NHS app. I saw a number of people who had clearly forgotten their passwords; the stress!
I stayed in Le Grand Pigalle as the surprise party was a street away. Life’s too short to amble out of parties at 2 am and have to catch a taxi etc. I want to stroll down the street. So, I plumped for an incredibly expensive hotel or so it felt. Having been burnt before, I would say in Paris always go 4 star or above and even then the service can be questionable. The first night I was put in a small room and then discovered that other rooms had coffee machines etc. Well, I was right down there demanding that. In the end, I was offered a voucher for two coffees or I could swap rooms. I swapped rooms and what a joy it was.
I actually stayed in the room that afternoon reading the FT. That’s the joy of travelling solo, you don’t HAVE to do anything that you don’t want to do.
POST BREXIT, HELLO TAX FREE!
I had no idea that I could claim my tax back. However, after one of the ubiquitous googling when I should have been doing something else, highlighted this fact. Yes, if you spend €100 or more in a single transaction in any store, you can claim your tax back. Ok so it is 12% but that’s better than nothing. As a writer, I’ve dreamt about having a montblanc for a long time. My inner bargain queen whispered it’s time.
Where my solo dining adventures all began, Paris mon amour.
The best meal I had in Paris wasn’t even French. It was this ceviche above served in a colourful, bijou of a place called PEZ in Pigalle. Every mouthful felt filled with sunshine. It was fresh, citrusy and spicy. It also made me think, I want to go to Mexico this year. Wide open and colourful places are where my heart and mind want to be.
It’s also cheap as chips PEZ that is, this formule of ceviche and two side dishes cost €14 and the owners are lovely.
29 rue henry monnier, 75009
PARIS, IT’S BEEN REAL
The pandemic has changed us all in some way and for me, it is my thoughts on France. I wondered how I ever lived here. Why did I ever choose to live here? As someone once said to me: France is an affair, not a marriage. In my head, as I walked around Montmartre that Sunday morning, I thought what now after the love is gone.
Possibly because Paris felt a lot more subdued. The only people out seem to be tourists and the fear is still there. The revolutionary spirit is still cowed by covid.