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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volcanic Activity

This is currently the longest period of time over which I have not written an entry since I started this blog two months ago. I am one of those stranded souls who is in traveller's limbo because of the volcano erupting in Iceland.

I was in Washington D.C. this past week to participate in the oral assessment for the U.S. Department of State which would allow me to work in embassies and consulates worldwide as a consulate officer. It was mentally and physically exhausting. In addition, I did not pass the assessment, but I guess it was a good learning experience.

On Friday afternoon, I was supposed to fly out to Charlotte, North Carolina and from there fly to Paris. However, there happens to be a pesky volcano in Iceland that continues to spew ash into the atmosphere, which is preventing flights from reaching most of Europe. I was lucky enough to change my flight before the Paris flight was cancelled and get the last seat on a flight the next day to Paris, though it seemed likely that it would be cancelled as well.

Yesterday morning, I awoke at 7am to check the news and saw that French airports planned on closing until at least Monday morning, which meant that my flight would be cancelled as soon as U.S. Airways figured it out that they could not fly into a closed airport. Fortunately, the lady who helped me the day before in Reagan Airport remembered my predicament and found for me the last seat on a flight for Thursday to Paris, once again from Charlotte.

This gave me a five day window where I really have nothing to do. So I decided to head back home to St. Louis. I tried to buy the ticket online for $105 online, but as soon as I went to book, the price increased more than fivefold to $566. After cussing and banging my head on the table, I continued to look and bought a roundtrip ticket for $386. Unless I get things changed on Thursday, I have 4 flights to take that day: St.Louis to Chicago to Baltimore (not to mention a train between Baltimore and Washington-Reagan), then Washington DC to Charlotte to Paris. As I write this, I am on hold with U.S. airways to work on cutting out two of those flights and one train ticket by flying directly from St. Louis to Charlotte, but I may be on hold for a while.

One great benefit of this whole thing is that I get to spend some time at home, which I was not expecting to do for quite a while. I plan to make the most of this situation and enjoy myself here, as I am trying to accept that it may take me a while to get back to Paris.

If you are traveling to Paris and looking to see (and eat) what French people really eat and take a walk around some cool neighborhoods of Paris, look into my tours at

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