I find it hard to believe that tomorrow marks 4 weeks into our trip. Mady and I are often saying that it seems odd how time feels like its flying by, or that a place we visited two weeks ago feels like six months behind us. Edinburgh, perhaps my favourite city, feels like a whole lifetime ago. Time is strange, isn’t it?
From Amsterdam and Brussels we went onto the iconic destination, Paris. As a French teacher I’ve talked and dreamed of going there for years. That chance was finally here and we came at the perfect time: Bastille Day. Our bus trip was a frustrating one. Duty police stopped our bus and a dog came to smell all of our luggage. We were then made to get off the bus and have our bags searched by hand. Stressful! We got to Porte de Bagnolet and took metro to get to our hosts’ apartment. Matthieu turned out to be such a great, caring guy, and we had a wonderful four days with him. His apartment had a rooftop we would access for beautiful views of the skyline every night. Our first night, we decided to brave the crowds and head down to see the fireworks at the Eiffel tower. As it came into view, we got really emotional. Theres something about realizing a dream, be it big or small, that really connects with your emotions. The fireworks were stunning.
The crowds heading back were fairly thick so we decided to have an appetizer at a cafe to wait it out. Of course I had red wine and escargot. We began a conversation with two women from the 1er arrondissement (ooh la la) Who made me feel good about my french skills. They gave us suggestions for things to do and it was a quite nice way to finish the day. Over the next three days we tried to squeeze in as much of Paris as we could. We took a ride on a bateau-mouche down the Seine. We snapped our cheesy pics at the Eiffel tower. We made sure to check out the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We did a lot of walking during a pretty bad heat wave. Every day was around 34 degrees. One day involved a free walking tour which was pretty good, but in that heat, it became quite something. Being able to learn the history of the cities we visit adds an extra layer of authenticity to the trip. I really liked Jardin des Tuileries with its nearby amusement park. They had metal chairs that lean back and Mady and I literally passed out with our legs up and our bags tightly in our grip. Thats the thing about Paris. You get warned so much about scams and pickpockets before arriving that it makes you a little paranoid! By the end of my time there it didnt seem so bad, but I guess you just have to be aware. When we went to Montmartre, we saw the bracelet scam underway and it was truly alarming. People beg for money everywhere. Some walk around with petitions trying to get donations out of you. It’s such a part of the culture there that you just need to keep your wits about you.
We saw the Arc de Triomphe, Jardin du Luxembourg, and walked many of the famous quarters. I would love to go back one day. I think Madyson and I
Were both sad to leave. I feem there is a lot of inspiration I could tap into there. I even wrote a cheesy poem on a night in Paris which you are free to enjoy or dislike below. 🙂
Paris was followed by Interlaken, Switzerland. Our train ride was pretty straightforward. We stayed at the Tent Village which was like camping but better. The beds were rickety and frustrating but the atmosphere was cool. The staff were friendly and we met two super cool Brits- Guy and Tommy. I wish we’d gotten their contact info! Sigh. The highlight of our time there was definitely hang gliding. We went with Hang Glide Interlaken, run by two Aussies named Bernie and Ed. They start by offering you beer while you wait for other people to descend. Im glad we went second because I feel like we got more air time. It was 15 minutes of pure bliss. The landscape was gorgeous. We had beautiful Lake Thun and hillside below us. I flew with Ed and he even let us do spirals and dips. Way better than skydiving!! I only wish I’d had more money to go do other air sports.
From Interlaken onto Zurich. Zurich was chosen out of proximity rather than interest, but I see it as a couple relaxing “down days” in the middle of our trip. We got lucky with a wonderful host named Ron. He was German, but had more or less lived all over the world at some point in time. He had plenty of interesting stories to share. When we arrived at his place, he had prepared a vegetarian lunch and drove out to one of his favourite lakes. It was pure bliss! Much less cold than Lake Thun. We relaxed in the grass and got some cuddles from a dog lounging nearby. Ron was an extremely good chef and it felt amazing to eat real food for three days! Lots of good wine too. We wandered around the city and swam in lake Zurich, rented bikes and explored the parks. Zurich is the land of swans and water fountains. Switzerland is beautiful, but so expensive! I cant believe a bunch of celery was 7 francs. Crazy.
Now we are headed for Bordeaux. I am so excited because we are being hosted by Matthieu, a friend I last saw in Australia nearly two years ago. I love travel reunions! I think we might go see some wineries which pleases me greatly. 🙂
I know that when you travel you tend to see things with rosy glasses. It doesnt come with the duties and stresses of daily life; it is full of the possibility and magic you might not feel when youre back in reality. Still, I tend to sort of find a rhythm, a calmness within myself when I’m abroad. Madyson and I have shared the idea of living abroad, and I must admit the idea of going away again really does sound appealing. My attachment, or lack thereof, to Ottawa, might be entirely my own doing. The dating world is bleak. Friends have lessened in quantity. Work is work. Or maybe it isnt Ottawa thats changed. Maybe its me. Perhaps Im trying to construct a life in a place where I wont find exactly what I need. Maybe I’m not done growing, exploring the world and myself. Perhaps there are still adventures to be had. Questions for another day….
Im sure I’ve left some stuff out, but the point is, life is good. Mady and I continue to find commonalities and havent hurt each other. We’ve had a few hosts cancel on us and now need to figure out a few cities. We continue to monitor the Greece situation.
Hope you are all enjoying your summer!
For a single night in Paris,
There’s not much I wouldn’t do. I’d scale the mountains or sail the seas if it would bring me you.
My life has brought me Paris,
to the land of love and dreams,
but if you are the lonely, it may not be all it seems.
On a single night in Paris, I’d meet you at the gare,
Un petit baiser on both cheeks so you know where we are.
I’d take your hand and slowly, we’d amble the champs élysées,
Perhaps I’d buy a flower to tuck in your cheveux frisées.
I’d point out my local cafe, where I write and watch the people go,
Waiters shuffling madly, patrons having an apéro
We’d find our way onto a bateau-mouche and drift our way down the Seine,
Id feel your body relax into mine, I’d kiss you, and then
I’d point out the tour Eiffel at night, its brilliant, sparkling glow,
Trying to form words to say to you,
But hoping that you just know.
On a sunny day in Paris I’d make us lunch of pain, fromage and wine,
To Jardin des Tuileries where we’d sunbathe for a time
And sprawled out in the long grass,
Id relish how peaceful the day,
Dreaming up our future adventures,
Wishing the moment would stay
To the Louvre we’d meander, to marvel world-class art,
We’d see the Mona Lisa Smile,
Walk the palace of bonaparte
And onto the modern musee D’Orsay I’d watch as you move with glee
Fluttering amid the exhibits
Enwrapped in the history
I’d take you anywhere you wanted, we’d go on every tour
Until you felt the magic
Of la tres belle ville d’amour.
As I sit upon the
Rooftop and see the tower twinkling in the sky,
My heart is filled with longing, i let out a deep sigh.
For though I’d love you so well, you are far away, its true.
Oh, the things Id give for a night in Paris with you.