We believe that the universe will always conspire to give us everything we need. As long as we can stay positive, keep an open mind, and trust the process, the universe will always provide. What we need might not always be obvious or initially realized; sometimes, what we need is a lesson in patience, and sometimes, the flow of life might change or modify the path. The beginning of our trip was a perfect example; we learned that a missed flight connection could actually mean quality time with a missed friend connection.
We are super lucky to be able to fly standby because of my mom Penny Sue. The pro’s to standby are that the flights are cheap and there’s always a small chance of receiving first/business class, but there’s often a good chance that you might get stuck at an airport for hours or even days. The original plan was to spend a week in Prescott baking cookies and having family time with the Fornaras, then spend a few days California-chillin’ with Penny and the San Pedro crew, and finally, head out of the country the week before Christmas.
The only thing actually set in stone was a flight from Spain to Morocco on December 27th. The week before Christmas came along and poor weather on the East Coast created tons of delayed and cancelled flights, which really made the standby situation look tough. So instead of taking multiple trips to the airport and trying to figure out the best route to Spain, we decided it was the universe telling us that we needed to spend more cozy Christmas time with Penny and California friends. As ready as we were to travel, we quickly realized that quality time with loved ones and a little extra time to get organized was exactly what we needed.
Being Penny’s holidates, enjoying a delicious Italian meal at San Pedro locale, J.Trani’s, and touring all of the magical Christmas lights around the Naples Canals.
Pausing from a rowdy game of Loteria (or what we like to call, “Beango”) for a classic staircase pic with the OG San Pedro Crew. Ayyyyy EL BORRACHO!!!!
We didn’t actually try to get on a flight out until December 22nd. Obviously, traveling in the U.S. during Christmas is crazy, but we just knew that we would eventually get to where we needed, even if we had to travel on Christmas Day. The flights to Newark from Los Angeles were crazy-full. There was an “L.A. to Newark” flight (basically) every hour starting at 6:00 a.m., and to our surprise—we were lucky to get the last two seats on the second flight out. They literally made us run down the jetway and slammed the door right behind us!
We landed in Newark to find that all the flights to Europe were completely full. Understandable. So we contacted our good friends, Jon and Ashley in New York (whom we hadn’t seen in a long time), and told them that there was a possibility that we might get stuck in Newark. Jon said, “I hope your flight gets cancelled so we can see you guys.” Sarafina and I looked at each other and agreed that we wouldn’t be mad if that happened. I think we both secretly wanted to get stuck to see our friends, but it felt a little odd thinking that since we were trying to get to Europe and start our journey. Our flight didn’t end up getting cancelled, but the airline was able to offer up the final seat on the flight to one of us, and the other would’ve had to try again the next day. NO WAY! We were not splitting up! “Hey Lil’ Jon, were comin’ for ya!”
Taking in the sights, smells and tastes of Union Square’s market in NYC.
Catching up on life over brews in the city. Big thanks to our boy Lil’ Jon for the laughs and warm hospitality.
After having a great time with Jon and Ashley in New York, we got on a train towards the airport for another try at Spain, but decided to forgo that plan and head towards Monmouth Beach, New Jersey for some much needed time with the Denkers (and Pauly) instead. Jacqui Denker is one of my best friends from college, my Africa travel buddy, and a certified badass, so we had to see her! The Denkers are also a United Airlines travel family so they know what’s up with ‘dat standby-lyfe.’ They welcomed us with open arms, right in the middle of the holiday weekend. We were so happy to spend time with the fam, have a fun night out with Jacqui, Pauly, and Jimmy D, and get a little tour of Jacqui’s ol’ stomping grounds!
A very merry Christmas Eve candid from Monmouth, NJ. Let us be clear that none of the respectable people pictured above attempted to annoyingly match their counterpart, we swear! (Shout out to the Denker’s for letting us blow in right before the holiday and crash the family festivities.)
We left the next day (Christmas Eve) with very low chances of making it onto our flight to Spain, but there was a flight to Paris that looked like it could potentially get us on (so I put our names on that standby list as well.) The Paris flight left first, so it was up to the universe to decide our destination. Well, the universe wanted us to spend Christmas in Paris…and chose to get us there in style, because our lucky butts got the final two, first-class seats on the plane. We had to pinch ourselves-Christmas in Paris by way of unlimited champagne and a rolling ice cream sundae bar?! THANK YOU UNIVERSE!
Moral of the story: Trust the process. We can believe whatever we want. If we believed that the world was out to get us, if we were stressed the whole time that we would never get to Europe, and if we were frustrated that our trip was over a week delayed, then we could have made several different decisions, which could’ve put us in a very different place, physically and emotionally. We believe that everything worked out perfectly! We were fortunate to hang out with some of our favorite people, we made it to Europe “on time,” we were able to enjoy the glittering lights of Paris together for Christmas, and we had first class service getting there. The universe ALWAYS provides, and we are forever filled with gratitude.