Vacation turns into frustrating ordeal for Red Deer County mayor
Deserted Barcelona streets patrolled by police and frantic efforts to find a flight home became a Red Deer County couple’s European vacation memories.
Jim Wood and his wife, Bev, are now safely home on their farm near Delburne waiting out their 14-day self-quarantine.
It was quite an experience getting there.
Wood, who is Red Deer County’s mayor, said he and his wife went to France March 3 for what was supposed to be a three-week vacation and a visit to a real estate investment trade show in Cannes, France.
The trip started out OK. France had closed its museums and art galleries, but the restaurants were all open. They were to go to MIPIM, which bills itself as the world’s largest real estate event, but it was cancelled.
They went to Cannes anyway for a few days before heading to Barcelona.
“We arrived there and it was shutting down as we got there.”
They were booked into two hotels and by the time they got to the second one, two days after their arrival, they were warned the city was locking up tight.
“Every restaurant was closed. Every store was closed. The next morning, they said everything is shutting down, and by the next morning, it will be illegal to be on the street.”
Those found outside would be questioned by police.
Clearly, it was time to come home a week early.
That proved to be an ordeal. It was unclear which Canadian airports they could fly into. They wanted to avoid any U.S. connections for fear they would get stuck there.
Adding to the stress, he’d heard of an England-to-Spain flight that was turned back in mid-air because of new travel restrictions.
They eventually found a flight through Frankfurt and landed in Calgary last Monday. They had paid $400 each for two return tickets with WestJet. But the best they could find was an Air Canada flight that cost them $3,577 each.
Wood was not impressed.
“They took true advantage of all of our nice Canadians who needed to come home when told to by our government.”
He and his wife of 41 years will now spend the next two weeks ensuring they remain healthy. Both are feeling fine, he said.
“And we’re getting along good, too,” he said with a laugh.