European Tour has begun

We didn’t tell many people that we were headed off to the Europe. So many still think it’s crazy to travel with Covid about & I get it to an extent, but covid isn’t going away & it’s time to move on. We are fully vaccinated, plus boosters & we appear to have dodged getting it thus far, even with us doing more & more this year, at some point I am sure that we will get it, but it’s really nice to be living.

We left Canada on Friday, flying from Ottawa to Toronto, then Toronto to Heathrow. Both flights were Canadian, so you had to wear a mask for the duration (except if you were eating). The Ottawa to Toronto flight was slightly delayed, but so was the leg from Toronto to Heathrow, nothing that caused a lot of stress, I think it’s likely more the norm.

We only brought carry on sized bags with us, I will explain more about that later, for those that are curious what we brought, but I have to say it’s really nice to have so little with us. I have been trimming down what we have at home, but there is still much to do. I think that by the time we get home & have had some time away from things for a while, it will be a little easier to let some more things go. Less is more!

The trip from Heathrow to Stansted was fairly long (only as we were so tired I think), but I am so happy that we got an Uber. The train would have been an ordeal & more expensive, I love that we managed to get an electric car for the trip. Dinner that night was a mish-mash of items from a M&S next to the Premier Inn that we stayed at, for simplicity, which we brought back to our room & ate whilst watching the BBC coverage of the Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. They were showing William, Kate, Harry & Meghan who had turned up rather unexpectedly & were meeting & greeting several in the crowd there. We had thought of schlepping it into Buckingham Palace (the gates at least) to pay our respects but I am glad that we just went to our hotel, had chicken legs, olives, potato chips (crisps in UK) and some juice for our dinner, with a side of Percy Pigs, to watch the telly. Grabbing something from M&S also meant less stress in terms of getting food at the hotel. We could make a booking for a few hours later, BUT there wasn’t any way to check to see if I could actually eat anything

We crashed around 7.30ish I think, with the kids sleeping all night & G & I waking up every few hours, before having to get up around 5am to get to the airport for our RyanAir flight to Wrocław at just after 8am (although it too ended up being delayed). We had attempted to do a check in online, which I thought had failed, when I received a message that we would be paying another $120 for boarding passes. Turns out we can’t get a digital ticket or even a print out because our passports have to be verified every flight we take as we do not hold UK or EU passports. I cannot express how relieved I felt knowing that even though it appeared to fail, it hadn’t, so next time I need to do the same, check in via the app, then show up & get them to verify us & all will be well with things.

The flight from Stansted was fairly unremarkable. I appreciated that the guy next to me mysteriously got up before we took off to sit closer to the front, allowing me to “man spread”, it was awesome. The universe made up for it though, when our Uber driver in Wrocław arrived, he was over 6 feet tall & I sat in the seat behind him, in the tiniest space for my legs.

Getting into Poland was a breeze, a couple of pictures for Geoff & I (none for the kids) & a scan of our passports & some stamps & that was it. No extra forms or anything else, unlike the links that RyanAir pointed towards & no questions even as to how long we were planning to be there for or how we intended to support ourselves (ie funds in accounts).

Our Airbnb is just outside the city centre area, but everything here is within walking distance, including the city centre. It’s a nice area, lots of churches/ cathedrals. The streets in this area are all cobblestone which adds to the charm.

After we got ourselves in & stuff somewhat set-up & unpacked, we went for a walk to explore the area/ for G to show us around, as he was here last year, such a shame that we can’t get to Ukraine though as well. There are so many little corner stores to get things at. Every block seems to have at least one, maybe more. The corner stores are either chains (Zabka is very popular) or independent. We found a larger Zabka near an atm eventually, so after cashing up (you can only get 1,000zl (złoty) at a time (in CAD that’s just shy of $279 CAD, currently) we headed in.

A couple of hours later with the help of google lens to translate labels & we had a few little bags of things (I brought reusable grocery bags with us), the cost of groceries in general is much cheaper than Canada. We bought bread that I could eat, some fruit & veg, breakfast cereals, milk & soy milk, jars of preserves, meat etc & it all came to 150zl which was about $42.00, which we were pretty happy with, especially for a corner store & for food that I can eat as well. The bread I can eat works out to a couple of dollars vs $8 in Canada.

Years ago when we travelled it was much harder. The first task was always to find someone who could translate my anaphylactic allergies for me. Then, armed with my allergies translated into the local language, a trip to the shops would take even longer, as I tried to decipher ingredients. Google Lens isn’t 100% failsafe, but so much less stress than our 6 months travel through Asia in 2010.

Google lens does have some awesome fails, like this one, which is now my favourite washing cycle (top left);

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