O, Canada

canada_heartEarly in our trip planning, we got a tip from a friend that travelling to France via Toronto was significantly cheaper than flying out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Like, $500 per ticket cheaper.

This information seemed far too good to be true. We investigated this urban legend and: confirmed. It costs way less to fly out of Toronto.

Since the drive from Detroit to Toronto is only about four hours, and the train running from Windsor to Toronto takes about the same amount of time, it was worth considering.

(Windsor, for those of you who may not know because maybe you live in Israel, is the Ontario city sitting directly across the Detroit River from Detroit.)

We looked at the train schedule and different Delta flight options running out of Toronto Pearson International Airport and we could definitely make it work.

It wasn’t until late in the game that we did a search of flights from Windsor’s airport. Which we should have done straightaway because that’s just common sense; it only takes an hour to fly from Windsor to Toronto.

Tickets — not on Delta (which is the airline we had focused our searches on initially) — were $1,000 less than if we were to fly out of Detroit.

ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH.

No exaggeration.

Okay, very slight exaggeration. On the day we bought our tickets, flights from Detroit were running $1882. We paid $885. $997.

Crossing the border into Canada just to catch a plane will probably be irritating but so is paying an extra $1,000 per person.

And that is why we love you, Canada. For your hockey. For your poutine. For your cheap airfare to France.

Hey, Christiano, hey!

IMG_0457There is a group-stage game in Lyon on the day that we arrive.

We’ve been considering this match all along but we were noncommittal about attending the game because sometimes those last games in the group stage can be a big snooze. Both teams know they’re moving on and just want to get through the game without major injuries, neither team is moving on and they’re playing only because they have to play or some other boring combination of the two.

(On the contrary, third game in the group stage can also be thrilling because a team is playing for its life in the tournament.)

But then Portugal was drawn as the first seed in group F and GOODBYE, DOUBT.

Hello, Cristiano Ronaldo.

We have always wanted and never had the chance to see Portugal and the fantastic Cristiano Ronaldo, two-time winner of the Ballon d’Or and all-around stud. How could we possibly resist?

We cannot. Exhausted from travel we may be but that will not keep us from gracing Mr. Ronaldo, his teammates, the Hungarian national team and all of the others at the Stade des Lumières with our presence.

Bonus: rather than jump through UEFA’s silly ticketing hoops, we’re buying extra tickets off of a lovely British ex-pat who happens to be one of the poor souls who joined us on our gong show of a trip to Natal to see Italy/Uruguay.

Saved once again by the kindness of (semi) strangers.

We’ll be doing the ticket exchange via mail, of course. Just to avoid the awkwardness of showing up significantly late to a prearranged meeting.

Not that we would ever do such a thing.

Le Rendez-Vous: an update

uefa-euro-2016-drawUEFA held the Euro 2016 finals draw in Paris last month.

It turns out the draw isn’t quite as exciting when you’re only planning to attend knockout games: we have been to enough of these tournaments to realize that the teams we think we’re going to see (exhibit 1: assuming England, getting USA in 2010) aren’t always the teams that we end up seeing.

Not to count our eggs before they hatch, but: should either (or both) finish second in their respective groups, we could catch Portugal or England at the Round of 16 game in Nice. Or Portugal versus England, which would basically be electric soccer magicpalooza.

And then, ticket gods willing, we will most likely see France’s Round of 16 match in either Saint-Étienne (June 25), if they finish second in their group, or Lyon (June 26), if they win their group.

Of course, as one of these matches will probably feature the host country, it is safe to assume that tickets to both of these matches will be harder to come by. Which is why we didn’t win tickets in the first ticketing lottery. Which is why we’re holding our breath entering the next round of ticket allocation.

Both of us have submitted applications in the next round of the ticket lottery but we may need a bit of luck. Cross your fingers for us, please and thank you.

As a last resort, we would most definitely show up at the stadia on match days and try to score tickets on site. Flying to France without guaranteed tickets in hand would have made us mighty nervous way back when, but we’ve been to enough of these to know that there is always, always, always someone selling extra tickets.

We will make this happen.

(Note to self: research if scalping is legal in France.)

Yes, we are

FRANCE-ATTACKS-PARIS-LOGOThe unfortunate question that we have been asked, repeatedly, in the days following Friday’s horrific terror attack in Paris: are you still going to France next summer?

Yes, we still plan to go to France. We plan to go to France and we plan to go to big soccer games in big stadia when we are in France. We plan to live our lives as we wish to live them and experience the cultures that we want to experience and see the sights that we want to see and take on the adventures that excite us.

It is our small act of defiance in the face of terrorism.

Because that’s the ultimate goal of terrorism, isn’t it? To make us so suspicious, scared, paranoid that we are too afraid to crave adventure?

We still crave adventure. We still seek it. We are not afraid.

Rose Bowl Blues

12107142_10105780639044833_6472839375172134524_nDespite flying to California and back in a 27 hour period, the travel wasn’t too bad and miraculously the (tight) timing worked out and the dude who checked in our rental car marked the gas tank as full when it most certainly was not. The sun was shining in Pasadena and, after landing at LAX, we had a delicious breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach. We watched Michigan football win its homecoming game from Barney’s Beanery in Pasadena before heading to the Rose Bowl, where it all went downhill from there in truly spectacular fashion.

Life lessons, my friends. Sometimes these trips are nothing more than life lessons.

The final after extra time: USA, 2 – Mexico, 3.

L and A in LA

11224522_10105748922100843_7446696552826198740_nOnce upon a time, there were two sisters named Lauren and Alyson and they had no self control. And when their National Team was pitted up against the big, bad El Tri for the CONCACAF Cup and a place in the Confederations Cup, it was a proved to be an impossible temptation.

They bought tickets with the intention of reselling them.

Then they made the mistake of checking airfare.

It was irresistibly affordable.

And that is the fairy tale of how this weekend’s pilgrimage to the Rose Bowl came to fruition.

We’re withholding all of the juicy details for now so you’re just going to have to trust us when we say that this trip might be our most epic yet.

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We’re coming for you, Timmy Howard.

A Word About Organized Tours

When we planned our initial World Cup trip, we first inquired with a few organized tour group and the prices were insane. Truly absurd.

Don’t do that. Seriously, just don’t. Unless you truly need some company to take all of your money, plan out your every minute and select every detail of your vacation, you (and your pocketbook) are so much better off coordinating your own trip. Trust us.

It’s not that hard, boys and girls. Planning your own trip is so very attainable, even for those of you who are not information professionals. Jump on Tripadvisor, work up the courage, buy some travel insurance and get to booking.

Your trip is going to be so much less expensive and so much more you, not some generic “see the highlights of [insert city/country/region here]” tour where you’re scheduled to go on a garden tour even though you don’t give a damn about flowers.

Not to mention that booking your own trip keeps you from spending your precious vacation trapped amongst obnoxious weirdos in your tour group who you would never elect to spend time with otherwise.

Example: The Dentist from Brazil. Had we been on a tour with that fine fellow, one of us would have been convicted of murder. There is no doubt.

Book your own vacation. Go rogue. Stay where you want to stay. See what you want to see. Get stuck with only obnoxious travelmates who you already know and love. Your trip will be better for it.