One by one, the questions came from my co-workers: “Hey, weren’t you just in Paris?”
“When did you leave?”
Monday after work.
“And now you’re back here on Thursday?”
But let’s go back a bit.
Going Back A Bit
A few years ago I wrote my Sporting Event Bucket List, and that list includes the seeing all four tennis Grand Slams.
Getting to the U.S. Open was, to mix my sporting metaphors, a layup. I went in August 2017 on a whirlwind five-star itinerary that cost me under $500.
Then I started to look for excuses to get myself to Paris for the French Open. And In 2017, I thought I had done it.
The Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile had, essentially, a mistake sale. Rooms on the club level had been posted for the too-cheap-to-be-real price $21 plus 3,000 Hyatt points per night. I booked first and asked questions later. It was, indeed, a mistake. But Hyatt would honor it.
Eventually the questions later did sink that trip. In short, I wasn’t going to be able to get the time off for both my brother’s wedding on Memorial Day weekend followed immediately by a week in Paris. Le sigh.
WOW, what a deal!
After that false start, I got lucky: WOW air launched their nonstop service from Pittsburgh to Reykjavík, Iceland, with some almost-absurdly-cheap connections to mainland Europe.
Every once in a while, I’d poke around the site, mostly just dreaming of cheap vacations. I could spend a weekend in Amsterdam! Always wanted to see Germany! Tapas in Barcelona? Gracias!
Eventually I saw the airfare that hooked me: Pittsburgh-to-Paris for $149 each way. During the French Open.
Bucket list checkmark, right? Not quite.
Issues abounded: I wasn’t going to get any vacation time at the end of May/beginning of June. If I was going to Paris, it would only be for One Night In Paris. Even by my standards of quick getaways, a European trip with 19 hours in the air and only 23 hours at the destination? Crazy talk.
But I kept going back and looking at the fare on my travel search engine of choice, Google Flights. The sight of that “$149” wormed its way into my mind.
While my Rational Brain kept saying I should wait until next year to take a French Open trip where I could stay for a few days (“We’ll always have Paris,” sayeth Bogart), my Irrational Brain shouted: YOU’RE GONNA BE SITTING AROUND AT HOME INSTEAD OF BEING AT ROLAND-GARROS AND YOU’RE GONNA FEEL LIKE YOU’RE MISSING OUT AND BE WEIRDLY BUMMED ABOUT IT. FOMO ÜBER ALLES.
Damn it, Irrational Brain.
There was also a part of me that wanted a proof of concept. Sure, one could theoretically take one of these WOW air flights for $149 each way. But what is it like to actually get on board this goofily-named Icelandic airline? If I were to try to take a trip with my girlfriend, would we both have a comfortable experience?
And when I got back to work after my EuroTrip weekend, would I feel fit as a fiddle? Or would I want to smash my head with that fiddle?
There was only one way to find out. Let’s hit book.
That’s all the ‘why’ of my mad-dash trip to Paris and back. But what about the ‘how?’ As in, HOW I actually pulled it off? That’s next week, on The (Value) Traveller.
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