Woo Hoo!!! Flights are booked!
This was one part of the trip that I was stressed about.
I couldn't apply for entry visas until flights are booked.
I couldn't book my flights until Francois' were booked.
I couldn't use the government booking agent that would book his flights.
We knew the proposed flight path - home to Frankfurt to Accra, Ghana and back again.
We knew the dates of our duration in Ghana but we would have to continue on to Kenya once this first leg was done. So our flight path would look something like this: home to Frankfurt to Ghana to Kenya to Frankfurt to home.
At week's end last week Francois actually had his itinerary set. Trouble was there was no direct flight from Frankfurt to Ghana. Something long and convoluted but nothing direct for our dates. Really disappointed as the plan was to meet up with a friend in Germany during our layover.
Instead the trip will go something like this: home to London, London to Ghana. Four weeks later Ghana to Kenya. Three weeks later Kenya to London, London to home.
Now was the challenge to match Francois' itinerary and hopefully the same seats? As of Friday I was thinking this to be an impossibility (especially seating).
Thanks to my world-traveling daughter, I found the best travel agency EVER!http://www.flightcentre.ca/ She had used them several times and said service was good and they guaranteed low prices.
Understatement I say....
Their motto: Unbeatable!
And after my experience, an accurate description. Prices were very reasonable (not too far off what Francois' tickets will cost). Service amazing. Agents super nice and extremely competent. With the help of Travel Centre's business travel specialist I am not only booked on the same flights as Francois but will be sitting beside him all the way. Caleb & Andrea - thank you, thank you, thank you!
Side note: if any of you read the posts prior to leaving for Paris last summer you may remember that some sort of stress demon took over Francois making it necessary to funnel doubles of whatever I could get hold of at the airport. Neither of us can understand what happened. Have never seen him like that before nor since. We both laugh about it now but would rather not have a repeat performance - thus the need to remain close at hand with the tumblers and funnels.
Hotel in London booked at The Union Jack Club a recommendation from one of Francois' colleagues.
I also found out a helpful tip that our extra baggage can be stored at Heathrow Airport for a nominal fee so we won't have to cart everything into the city then back to the airport for the flight out. Big bonus as - again for those who read about our Paris baggage - we tend not to travel lightly. Can't you just wait for the post about our packing strategy? How many pretty shoes does one need for a safari?
Next step for today will be to acquire our multiple entry visas for both Ghana http://www.ghc-ca.com/
and Kenya http://www.kenyahighcommission.ca/at their High Commission offices in Ottawa. Apparently these can also be processed when we first land in each country but would like to have that bit of paperwork behind us.
Am now in possession of two more books:
Culture Smart Ghana. It was recommend by someone from the Peace Corps who found it very useful in understanding the Ghanaian people and culture.
Lonely Planet’s West Africa. I could have bought a book just on traveling in Ghana but there is a chance that Francois will be asked to teach a similar course en français in
Mali in the near future so this book will cover all countries in this part of Africa. Plus a friend suggested that it would be worthwhile to visit neighbouring countries - Togo and Benin - if time allowed.
Yellow fever: a necessity for all parts of Africa plus an official ICV (International Certificate of Vaccination) is required for entry into Ghana. This one was moderately worrisome for me as this is my first time receiving this vaccine. Over the age of 60 there are risks of permanent liver, kidney and neurological damage. Charming! Miniscule percentage but the risk exists. There is a much greater risk of contracting yellow fever though. Am happy to say that as of today I am alive and well and neither of us has experienced any side-effects at all (minus a slight bruise on my right arm). Piece of cake I say!
Typhoid, Meningitis, the annual flu vaccine - done.....
Plus we were also given prescriptions for an antibiotic and anti malarial medication - Malarone. I was hoping to have also received the vaccine – Dukoral – a fairly new anti-diarrhea vaccine that is given 2 weeks prior and gives 3 months protection but they had none on hand. The clinic will call if it becomes available before departure.
Francois made a joke that a Rabies booster wasn't necessary because if we happened to get bitten by a lion Rabies would be the least of our worries. Funny, funny man!