November 5 2021, here we go.  This is the shortest trip I have taken in more than twenty years.  I’m using it to see how well I can get along with just carry-on luggage. 

It’s the Distinctive Host Concierge Retreat.  That’s what I am, you know.  It’s being held on the Celebrity Constellation, sailing out of Tampa, FL, and I’m excited.  The last time I stepped off a ship, it was the Seabourn Ovation in Hong Kong, January 4, 2020.  I’ve done a lot of cancelling and booking since then, but no sailing. 

Time to pack.  My friend Carol says I can do in with carry-on.  She should know.  She’s been commuting from Napa to Alaska for years.  She says she’s going to do it to Reykjavik for her sailing with Mariann in June and I can’t wait to see that one.  If this works, I am going to do it too. 

I bought this tiny little Air Canada carry on, because their colors are my colors and they can hardly refuse it.  It’s small, even as carry-ons go, but I am determined.  I was ruthless in my choices and ended up with this:

I have a pair of black boots on my feet to wear out, but, beyond that, footwear consists of bathing shoes, sandals that can go to the beach and everywhere else (Ecco), and minimalist bling for evenings ($10 in Singapore) Note disposable underwear and Tilley hat.  Under the shoes on the right, everything is rolled.  My office is in a backpack.  This is how I am going to look going out:

I went around the corner and got tested for COVID.  Robbie’s staff, Jane and Geo, from Ottawa, arrived around four-thirty and settled in while I finished clearing my email.  Robbie made himself scarce.  They took me out to Reubens for a perfect Montreal dinner, smoked meat and strawberry cheesecake.  We had 1 3/4 pounds of smoked meat between us and shared one piece of cheesecake.  All very satisfying.  Then we sat down for a quiet cup of tea and all went to bed. Jane and Geo had yet to see Robbie.  How embarrassing.  He has no manners.  The little shit slept with me in the office.

Friday, November 5.

Got up at 4:15 this morning – ugh.  Felt okey though and glad to be on the road again.  The mask is NOT fun going through the airport.  When you bend down to reach into a bag, it slips up and clips you in the eyeball.  Apart from the general discomfort, that’s real pain.  I got to the airport in plenty of time and went through security, where the social distancing was about as good as it ever was.   

The poufy coats we all wear now are great for travel.  Once I was at the gate, I managed to get it into my carry-on, so I won’t have to bother with it on the plane and during the connection process.  Brilliant.

I ate my yoghurt with my packet of pills, mostly vitamins, and cleared my email.  In Newark, there was a Dunkin’ Donuts near my gate, so I has two glazed donuts, not healthy but I have travel dispensation.  I enjoyed every bite.

The weather in Tampa was foul, which gave the captain a good excuse to have us all buckled in for most of the flight.  I am a good sailor and flyer, and it wasn’t all that rough, but I had the barf bag at he ready.  I blame the mask.  I watched “Poms” to which I could relate, all too well.  Never saw the ending, though, because, well, we landed in Tampa.

I took the hotel shuttle, checked in, meditated for 20 minutes, and changed for dinner. 

Connie and Charlie Brown picked me up and took me to Bulla, an upscale tappas restaurant, for dinner.  I have been their travel agent for years but had never met them.  They are Steve and Trish’s former neighbors, from when they lived around here.  Every time I book for them, it tickles me that I have Charlie Brown for a client.  They are delightful and I am allowed to tell you that they were the clients of mine who sailed on Celebrity in August.  They loved it.  They were on the Equinox’s first sailing after COVID.  There were only 600 people on it and they, and the staff couldn’t have been happier.  We are going to get that same treatment on the Constellation and I can’t wait.  I’m even excited about the contact-tracing bracelets.