Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The golden years may not be EZ.

I really, really want to rant. I know this has to be near the acme, the epitome of a privileged, first-world problem. I know I should sit down and shut up. I know how blessed we are, still, this hurts.

Photo credit - Heather Cowper, Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

The number one item on my bucket list of earthly delights has been, for some time, a Danube River Cruise with my sweetheart. Deluxe top-of-the-line service on a world-class ship, an upgraded stateroom with a balcony, evening drinks watching the sunset over the river from the shaded upper deck, guided excursions in Southern Europe's historic capitals and art musea, dining with the locals, symphony concert in  Vienna's  Musikverein Orchestra Hall, first-class air travel round trip, two nights in a luxury hotel in Budapest before the cruise.

Photo credit - Alex Talmaciu, Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Importantly, to be most enjoyable, this trip needs (or needed) to happen while Glenda and I still enjoy good enough health for the travel, the walking tours, and such.

I have saved my pennies for years for this trip. YEARS.

Finally, in 2020, we can do it, we thought. Over a year before the trip, in July of 2019, we sought out a travel agent to help plan and arrange the travel. I have normally done all of our own travel arrangements, but this trip is complicated, with many international requirements and connections not to be missed. With the agent's help, we selected and booked a cruise with Avalon Waterways. We would leave Phoenix on August 3, 2020, and fly by Delta's best class of service to Budapest, Hungary. There we would spend two nights at the JW Marriot hotel, giving us time to overcome jet lag and to enjoy the relative luxury of the surroundings. After two nights of rest, we booked an escorted private tour of Budapest, concluding with a formal catered candlelight dinner for two on a balcony overlooking the 17th Century Chain Bridge crossing the Danube between the sister-cities of Buda and Pest. The next morning would begin our 8-day cruise with Avalon, visiting a new European treasure of a city each day with appropriate tours and such. Nights aboard the boat as we sail to a new city.

Then came Covid-19.

Today, May 12, 2020, Avalon notified us that all operations are canceled through August of 2020, including, of course, our August Danube Cruise. They really have no choice, as the government of Hungary is not allowing any international travel into the country right now, anyway, and it's unknown how long that will go on. They are allowing us to use our paid fares, along with an additional $400 credit, through 2022. Delta has also said that our airfare can be used as a credit for rescheduled travel through, I believe, September of 2022. So while the money is tied up with Avalon and Delta, it is not lost.

Photo credit - Krisijan Brkic, Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

So nothing is lost but time, right? Yes. But time...time becomes so precious when most of your time is certainly behind you. Or, as Bonnie Raitt puts it, "Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste." Nick of Time (1989)

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