Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Month in France, Part II

With August on the horizon, it was time to pack up and head north.  We were extremely lucky to have spent so much time in Chamonix, and yet I was still very sorry to have to say goodbye. I fell in love with the beauty and serenity that was that fantastic mountain town.

sights seen on our cross-country adventuring

Over a period of seven days, our final days abroad, we visited four cities and moved between two countries.  We dropped Scott and Steph off in Geneva and then made our way to Lousanne, Switzerland.  Aside from excellent views of Lake Geneva and endless vineyards, we were also able to take in a few other sights, namely the Chateau Chillon and the Musee Olympique.  We were at the chateau early and missed much of the crowd, which made for a quiet and near-solo castle experience. As for the Olympic Museum, we'd surely have spent another two hours there if we had the time.  There was a lot of history packed into the exhibits, some of which I remember, which I think makes me old...

After our short stay in Switzerland, which was both beautiful and expensive, we made our way to a town that has long been on our must-visit list, Fontainebleau.  For climbers, it's a special sort of heaven; and while we didn't have a lot of time to scope out the fabulous French town, we were very lucky to run into an American with extra bouldering mats and an eager desire to speak English.  We spent the morning climbing, and by lunch time, we had sore fingers and big ol' smiles on our faces.  Just when it seems I think that climbing need not be a central aspect of my life, moments like this creep up and remind me that this little world of small-shoed, chalky-handed people is a wild and wonderful one I cannot live without. Thanks for the life lesson, the sore muscles, and the great desire to come back soon, Fontainebleau!

just a boy and his toys 

 From Fontainebleau, we made our way to Normandy, where we sent two nights.  Visiting such a monumental and historical place was an absolute must for our trip.  Walks along the beaches, a tour of the American Cemetery and Memorial, and visits to various historical sites were all extremely powerful experiences.  Seeing images of the young people who sacrificed their lives and the various cities ravished by war made for extremely deep reflection. If not for the various remnants of war, Normandy is otherwise a quiet European town.  It was peaceful and quiet and only accessible today thanks to the many sacrifices made my young people willing to fight against powers that promote hatred.

Paris was our final destination, and with four days in the city and plenty of sights to see, we certainly didn't find much down time to end our vacation.  Despite our limited time and our readiness to return to the normalcy and routine of life at home, we made it to the Eiffel Tower (the nighttime view is great), the Orsay and the Louvre, Versailles, and Notre Dame.  We walked the Champs Elysees and climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  We strolled through the city at night and continued the trend of enjoying pain au chocolat and bubble water for breakfast.  We may have been tired, but we dominated being tourists, I'd say.

not a bad first sight in Paris
champagne atop the Eiffel Tower


Versailles gardens

underneath the Arc de Triomphe 

Notre Dame

In all, I walked some 180 miles in July and certainly need a new pair of running shoes.  I ate my weight in pastries and baguettes, and drank enough wine to make me contemplate opening my own vineyard (though I must note that my last name is already on one).  There simply is no way to encompass the vast and wonderful experiences that made up our month abroad.  We saw so much;  we did so much.  In short, we lived by our motto, "All the best things in life."  I cannot deny that we are lucky; this opportunity is not one afforded to everyone.  Yet, I also cannot deny that we've worked hard to build our life to be, truly, a reflection of what matters most to us.  So thanks, Brian Runnells, for the adventures and the memories!  And, as my adventure buddy says, "Onto the next!" 

our '30 days in France' faces

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