Category Archives: Europe

Planning for Flaine France

It’s been a few weeks since I have written on my lovely blog. A lot has been going on in my life that has consumed my every thought. I had been working two jobs, trying to transition out of one of them. I had been at my Irish pub for nearly four years and some of my coworkers there had become like family. I never knew how emotional I would get to leave a job that I knew I wanted out of. Now I’m tackling a new project. It is a brewery in Evanston, Illinimageimageois. This is just outside the northern city limits of Chicago. The brew pub is gorgeous and exciting and new, but a little messy to say the least. Every moment over the last month has been working and I have been missing out on my writing. I have been asked by Wayne’s sister’s fiancé to be her maid of honor, and I love planning so I have gone full speed into planning that. It was Gianna’s 6th birthday. Then it was my moms birthday. And to top off all of these thoughts, I was trying to plan a trip for Wayne and myself to go to Flaine, France.

When planning originally for this trip, the cheapest flight to southern France/Geneva was to fly to Zurich with a layover in Istanbul. So it became a matter of getting from Zurich to Geneva to Flaine. It is a ski trip, and if there is anything that it learned from our Japan ski trip, it was that having all of our bags and snow gear while trying to track down our hotel was extremely frustrating, especially after being tired from the airplane travel. SO, I found a hotel close to the airport AND they had an airport shuttle pick up! Finding the pick up was not hard at all, as the airport employee at Zurich had said, “we are not New York! We walk. It is meters away.” Although it was good to ask because we only had two chances left to get the shuttle that total night.

I had to plan to get to Flaine by 5:00 so we could get our key to our humble residence in the mountains or else we would be sleeping together in Wayne’s army bag in the snow. I found that buying the Swiss Travel Pass for each of us would save us some money on trains, free on trams, and it was a free pass to museums. So after purchasing the pass (which were sent to our place in Chicago) I found the safest timing of a train to catch to Geneva airport. Once I bought the pass and the train ticket, I had what time I needed for a shuttle pick up to Flaine. I already booked our Flaine accommodation with our ski passes for the week, so then all I had to do was find a way up the mountain, which proved to be a bit more challenging when trying to save money and not speaking French. Then there was the way back. I had the train ticket, but I needed a place to stay and a way to get back to the airport. I found a historical hotel that was discounted with the Swiss travel pass and it is the middle of old town Zurich! I am very excited to see it.

None of this was very easy when changing jobs and all the exciting personal events happening in my life. I didn’t even pack until hours before our cab picked us up to go to the airport! This is unheard of for me! I usually am packed a week beforehand. I just wanted to this trip to last us emotionally for awhile. It would probably be a while we would go on anything like this again. We need to start to work on making a home for our future and perhaps with Wayne’s girls more realistic. Traveling for me over the years has been based heavily on my credit cards and great a credit background, so I would like to be rid of any debt from over the years. Who knows what the future will hold for us, but I have to live my life to the fullest that I can. So I decided we would spontaneously take this trip now. Who wants to spend life waiting? Which is what I was doing.

I am on the train on our way to Geneva now, and looking at all of the snimageow covered fields and towns flying past me. Making our way with the snowboard gear from the hotel to a tram through the Zurich station onto the Geneva train was a little hectic. But we stopped in a World of Beer shop and then got some breakfast of chocolate croissant, hot chocolate, chocolate muffin (when in Switzerland right?)…and a hot dog. We only have a couple more obstacles to go through before actually getting to the mountain and then be set for the week. I would like to see Geneva more and have time there, but having the snowboard makes it a little bit harder.

Note: the Swiss are wonderfully nice and understanding. I needed to validate our rail pass before using it, which I knew already. But we arrived late at night into Switzerland and the train office was closed when we went to find it, and then it was closed in the morning too. When the train came I just thought that I would explain. I made sure we wrote the dates and signed the passes first. But when the conductor came around he was quick to point out two problems. One we had stumbled into first class when we were assigned to be in second on our rail pass, and two without the validation they were supposed to fine us and take the passes. He said to be careful in our future travels and I thanked him over and over. It would’ve been better to buy the 4 CH tickets and not take the risk.

Top Destinations by Travel Writers for 2015

Check this out! Top Destinations of 2015 picked out by travel writers from an Australian Publisher! Both Ecuador and Ireland were on the list! Both were the places I went to in 2014.

This is great read for those who have places in mind to go to this coming year, but cannot seem to make a decision. My only comments are that:

Ecuador: Has so much more than the Galapagos Islands. I was so so

Jamu Lodge
Danielle and I at the lodge int he Amazon

disappointed when I had to chop up my trip and had to give up going there this time. I had to use my time extremely wisely. I fell in love with the country though! I will go back to see the Galapagos someday, but there is plenty that Ecuador has to offer! For one thing: the Amazon is in desperate need of support so the oil mongers do not tear it down. Some of the tribes we met were under the impression that if they had more tourists perhaps the area would be valued more and not torn down. And visiting Puerto Lopez and the humpback whales was one of the most influential and best experiences I have ever had overseas.

Puerto Lopez
Humpback Whales!

Ireland: Many Irish folk told me “Relax. Don’t try to see too much. Have a pint” and while that advice is all well and good, there is SO much to see in Ireland. We spent 11 days driving the coast from Dublin, over to Cork, and up the Wild Atlantic Way to Connemara. If we didn’t keep moving like we had, we would’ve missed some of the

Wild Atlantic Way
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

best sites I have ever seen. The country is beyond beautiful and the history overfloweth! My best advice is to push yourself a little bit. Not to the point of not having a good time, but try to keep at it. It is well worth the effort!

Morning Wanderlust Surprise

Today I mistakenly saw a sight that made me smile more than I have in a while. It wasn’t really what I thought it was. I mean I wasn’t having visions or anything, but for some reason my brain was in the right setting to incorrectly translate something I saw on my way to work. Today the skies are grey, but it is not too cold. It is a

Canterbury
Outside the Canterbury Cathedral

temperature to wear a sweatshirt and jeans (maybe even a skirt with boots). I had sweat compiling at the seam of my hat by my fidora, because I was wearing too many layers in fact. No bright sunlight, but not uncomfortable. The wind was blowing just right for a December. I often have thoughts about England in the Chicago pre-winter conditions, but at this particular moment I was not consciously thinking about England.
I walked to the stoplight, but realized the light had just turned for the other direction, so I stopped. I checked my iphone for the time then looked down the street to see if there was a pause in the cars so I could skip across. That’s when my mind fooled me. I had a sudden jolt in my stomach. A pulse of butterflies filled me. It was a moment where I actually had to say to myself, “No Shannon, you are in Chicago.”
There, in the sky, was a steeple with a crown-like silhouette. It was

Canterbury, Kent
Canterbury, England

sight I had stared at everyday, 9 years ago, on my way to University. I had actually mistaken this Edgewater church for the Canterbury Cathedral. It must have been the right setting at the right time. I was on my way to work, like would have been on my way to school at this time of day years ago, the clouds were overcast, but it was warm and comfortable outside, so my mind triggered a thought that was completely fabricated. I think my jaw even dropped.
My stomach had jumped, but not in a way of shock or surprise. I had jumped in a surge of happiness and excitement. I stared at the Edgewater church for a while even after I realized the truth. I wanted it to be the Canterbury Cathedral so much. I have been having a rough time at home and in my everyday life lately, it was so wonderful to have this moment of pure happiness. Thoughts of Canterbury always make me smile. It was the only “real” time I was living overseas and made me feel special to called the sweet town Home.

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral