What do you get when you take 1 holiday planning with 6 friends with 27 years of friendship and 5 countries between them? You say 'confusion' and you wouldn't be far from the truth. It's all out mayhem!
But first let's start with the good stuff. The miracles that helped this dream of a holiday become a close reality.
Miracle 1- Getting the date. All of us have jobs, all of us have kids. Getting one week that worked for all six of us, was nothing short of a miracle.
Miracle 2- Aligning on the destination. With two living in India, one in Canada, one in USA, one in Switzerland and me in Singapore, finding a location which was convenient and no one had been to before or at least loved it enough to go again, was not an easy feat.
Miracle 3- And the toughest of them all. Getting permissions. Not from bosses/ husbands/ boyfriends/ parents (well maybe not parents, no self-respecting 40-year-old should need to take parents permission for anything). The crucial one was getting permission from the kids. I don't know about my friends, but I went through a questioning season that was akin to a third degree. Rather reluctantly, I was granted the permission provided I was home on Diwali and my birthday. Ironically, Sanil is off trekking the mountains of Japan on a school trip during the Diwali holidays.
Miracle 4- Standing our ground. Barcelona was decided as the destination as Europe is midway between Asia and US and it had all the attractions of the perfect girlie trip- night life, good food, amazing wine, culture and the handsome men.
One week after we all booked our tickets, the terrorist attack hit Barcelona city. While people panicked, we made a conscious decision to go ahead. I have very strong views in the matter. The terrorists win when people cave. Their intention is to cause havoc and our response should always be to not give in. It was that and non-refundable tickets that sealed the deal.
Miracle 5- Visas in time for Indian passport holders. Needs no explanation.
So after jumping through all these loops, you would think we are all set? Alas no! Until 2 days ago, and mind you we fly the day after, we didn't know which country we were flying to!
With the demonstrations and riots in Catalan, two weeks were spent in discussion, deliberating, cancelling and re-booking accommodations. The chat group covered three time zones so was active all day and I used to wake up to 125 new messages! Should we take chance with Barcelona? Or should we change to a different European country? Once that Pandora's box opened...every place in the map of Europe was considered. Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague, Lisbon, Berlin... Then staying in Spain but out of Catalan was weighed in. Should it be South of Spain Seville or North of Spain and San Sebastián?
After multiple permutations, combinations, several spanner in works and banging heads against walls (that was mainly me), it was decided that:
- No matter what happens, this trip will take place. Yay for sisterhood!
- While we are brave, we don't have to be foolhardy. And we wanted to be sure everyone in the group was as comfortable with every decision made. So we decided to take a chance with few days in Barcelona and then fly off to the French Riviera. Thus spreading the potential risk. Yay for female sensibilities!
- We pooled our resources and research skills and within 24 hours we planned and booked a whole new itinerary, which includes spending five days in a penthouse in Cannes. Yay for women power!
This has undoubtedly been the most harrowing trip to plan! It's Wednesday night and I fly on Friday evening. I have not packed, or shopped, or researched about the best places to visit/ drink/ eat (last one is most crucial). Going by my usual nature, I should be freaking out! But strangely I am not. Not even in the least.
Because I know I am meeting my best friends for what will be the most amazing holiday of our lives! If the planning is anything to go by, the adventure has only just begun!
See you in Barcelona darlings!