Monday, January 19, 2015

Europe 2014 - Home

So on the evening of July 23rd, we arrived back in England.
England felt a lot like home to us at this point.
It was nice to hear the English language again!
We arrived at St. Pancras via the Eurostar.
It was one of the most beautiful stations I had seen on our entire trip.
Sadly, in the rush of departing our train and moving to find the Underground, I didn't take the time to take a picture...but its worth a Google!

If you remember, we had made different arrangements for our last night in London.
I will tell you that I felt real joy in knowing that we weren't heading back to Victor's house!
I made a reservation at The Thistle near Heathrow and knew that once we arrived and settled in, we would get a good nights sleep before our long flight home.

And so, after another 9 hours on a plane, we arrived back in Seattle on 24 July to a group of 3 people that I was so happy to see!
I cried!

When we got home, we were greeted with some sweet cupcakes...that we ate!

I can't even remember the next few days.
It felt good to be home, but it felt strange too.
I had just had this huge experience that only Hannah and I understood.
I wanted to be home, but in a strange way, I wanted to go back.

Then, very shortly, I was back in the routine of home and was grateful for all that came with my life.
Of course I was so thankful to be back with Donald, Ivan and Jenelle!!
But I loved even the little things like cooking in my kitchen, using my washer and dryer, going to the store without having to figure out what time, what train and what language to use!
These were small, but thrilling things!

Now that 6 months has past, lots of little memories about the trip pass through my mind.
Moments that were insignificant at the time come back and make up the patchwork of the entire experience.
Hannah and I have said on several occasions to each other that we would do it all over again.
When we first came home, Hannah would ask me, "Would you do everything on our trip again for $1000?"
My answer was "No!  Especially not staying at Victor's!"
Then, "What about for $10,000...then $100,000?"

Now, I think that we would both agree that we'd go back and do it all the same for absolutely nothing!
Sometimes we look at pictures and say with awe, "We were THERE!"
Like so many things in life, I look back and wonder if I did it right...
Did I appreciate it enough?
Did I see enough?
Would I do anything different if I could do it again?

What I do know is that Hannah and I were gifted with the greatest gift from Donald and I am forever grateful.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page."
-Augustine of Hippo

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Europe 2014 - Paris, France

We arrived in Paris with a few hours before we traveled back to London.
It gave us just enough time to quickly see a couple of things while we were there.
I had been to Paris before and Hannah would be returning for spring break 2015, so we just gave it a quick tour.

From our arrival station we took the Metro to the area near the Latin District.

It was a great spot.
Donald had taken me to the same area when we came in 2005.
And I found the same street...with a whole lot more people on it!
Difference between going to Paris in February and going in July!
We had some delicious food.
Gyros for lunch here...
And Hannah had a lemon and sugar crepe later on that we sadly didn't get a picture of, but it was made fresh right in front of her.

We looked around Shakespeare & Company bookstore.
The inside was great, but I wasn't allowed to photograph anything.

We walked across the river and stood in front of Notre Dame for a few pictures.
The line to go inside was insane and we didn't have the time.

We saved enough time to take a peek at the Eiffel Tower.
When Hannah returns, she will get a chance to go up, but for this trip we were content to just walk around the bottom.

Beautiful...iconic...and gigantic!!

And that was Paris in about 3 hours!

We took the Metro back to the train station, collected our bags and found the waiting area for the Eurostar that would take us closer to home...and English speakers!

Next Stop:  London, England

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Europe 2014 - Lyon, France

OK!  I'm back again (this is getting ridiculous isn't it?!)!
It's almost 6 months gone, but I'm determined to get the last bit of our trip onto this blog.
For anyone who wants to read about it...but mostly for me, so please bear with me!

As we head toward Lyon for two nights, I realized that our journey was almost at an end.
To be honest, at that point in time I was ready.
We were both ready.
But we were also still looking forward to the few sights we had left.

We arrived at the train station late in the afternoon.
The trip from Italy was long - even taking us through Switzerland for a quick train change.
By the time we got into Lyon and found the bus to take us to our room, it was dark.
I didn't love that, but thankfully I had been able to contact our host for some final clarification on directions so we weren't wandering the city too late at night.
When we got to the room, our host Hédi was kind enough to make us a light dinner.

The next morning we took the transportation necessary to get us to an area called Vieux Lyon - Old Lyon.
Before heading there, we ate a proper French and a delicious butter flakey pastry of course!
This sounds ridiculous, but when I look at this picture I remember that at the moment we sat down with our food, outside on a gorgeous morning in a park area...with our whole day ahead of us...I felt so content.
It was just a perfect moment.
Seems silly considering all the things we had been seeing and doing, but for some reason, this delicious coffee and chausson aux pomme (apple turnover) brought me a lot of joy!
Simple things sometimes!

Lyon is considered by many to be the gastronomical capital of the world.
I guess that would really depend on what your tastes are but there were no shortages of delicious looking places!
They are known for places to eat called Bouchons.
They are pub/tavern like in their atmosphere and typically serve food that is meat-focused...and what we would call offal.
I was keen to give it a shot.
I like chicken liver and pate.
I loved Haggis in Scotland and will basically eat beef nearly raw if its an option.
But Hannah wasn't so anxious - especially after a closer look at the menus.
So we decided on savory crepes instead for our lunch.
And that did not disappoint.
It was pretty amazing!!
Hannah had a salmon and potato crepe, and mine was a Mediterranean style with feta cheese, spinach and pine nuts.
Afterward we wandered around for a while - it was a beautiful part of the city.
Some places were very similar in their appearance to Venice.
Old buildings and narrow passages.
But there was definitely a different feel and architectural style.
 Some unusual shops...
 An arcade...
Irish pubs - there were a few of these actually...
Something else unique to Lyon (and a few other cities in France) are the Traboules.
They are covered passageways that lead from street to street.
Apparently they were used often by silk merchants to take their goods quickly from their workshops to other places.
Our host told us that most Traboules are now inaccessible because they connect private residences to courtyards and passageways.
We were able to find one though that we could view.
So simple but so gorgeous to see!

From our spot in Vieux Lyon we could see Fourviere Hill.
So instead of walking up over 200 steps to the top, we decided to take a Funicular.
Yep...tired of walking!
Once we were at the top, the views of the modern city of Lyon were panoramic and amazing!

At the top of Fourviere Hill, there was a mini Notre Dame and a mini Eiffel Tower.
 It was also the location of an ancient Roman settlement.
It was a rainy day, so we made our way inside the Gallo-Roman museum for a look around.
We noticed that there was a problem with preserving noses in old roman statues...
It was a pretty wonderful day!

After returning to our apartment that afternoon, we walked across the Rhone River (which ran right outside of our room), and over to a large commercial center...yes...a mall!
Apple stores are everywhere!
We had some coffee and macaroons and then bought a few things from a grocery shop to take back with us to our room which was in one of the white apartment buildings on the other side.

And, well...that's it for Lyon!
The next morning we left fairly early to catch a train to Paris and then to London to conclude our trip!

Prochain Arrêt:  Paris, France