My last day in Paris is a lazy one. Will Inrig is in school all day and into the evening, so I won’t be seeing him. Sophie, who is somewhere here in Paris, and who had said that she wanted to meet me in Montmartre – “J’adore Montmartre”, she said – has a friend returning from Vietnam, so she will not be able to meet me. So I am as alone in this enormous city as I ever was on the trail … and here it feels bizarre. I spend my time getting the blog up to date and wandering around the square just on the other side of the cathedral, watching the tourists and the buskers, the painters, silhouettists with their scissors and quick hands, the waiters in their uniform of braces and trousers. Early in the afternoon I have moules-frites, mussels and French fries. As the sun goes down and the temperature drops with it, I say goodbye to the City of Lights, most of which you can see from the heights of Montmartre, go back to my room and sleep a restless night.
In the morning, I get breakfast served on a tray in my room and do the final pack of my backpack. It is travelling again as unaccompanied baggage, so I have put all the really dirty clothing on top, in the hopes that the smell will discourage anyone from investigating what else might be in the bag. There is no contraband, but there are items that I would like to see at home. I leave at 9, walk over to the taxi stand at Montmartre, where there is always a taxi. Not this morning. At 9:25, just when I am into serious panic, a taxi hoves into sight and I flag him down and get in. Yesterday when I asked, I was told that the price to get to Charles de Gaulle airport was 40 Euros and that it would take only 20 minutes. Again, not this morning. The traffic is dreadful. The driver keeps reassuring me that any moment it will clear up, but as we turn each corner, there is the same sea of red taillights.
My flight to Warsaw is at noon and I am supposed to check in by 10. 10 o’clock comes and goes and we are still on the road to the airport. But by 1020 we are there. I go through the whole check-in process and say goodbye to my backpack once again. I do hope that I see it in Ottawa. Today is going to be a long day in the air. My LOT flight to Warsaw is two hours, followed by a three hour wait in Warsaw, followed by a 9 1/2 hour flight to Toronto, two hours to get through immigration and security and a short flight to Ottawa. While the day is long, the LOT aircraft and onboard service are both excellent, better than Air Canada at one third the price. The downside is the four extra hours of flying.
We land in Ottawa shortly after midnight and I am met by Carroll. I am just delighted to see her and to be home. Even better, my backpack shows up on the luggage belt. It’s about a 30 min. drive to our home and I fall into bed at 1 AM, which is 7 AM on my body clock. I am home.
Over the next days and weeks, I will need to assimilate what exactly has happened to me over the past two weeks. Perhaps at some future time I will regret the decision that I made about a week ago, but at the moment, it feels exactly right to me.