Category Archives: France

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.

Just Remembering…

My eyes are tired from trying to keep them open constantly, making sure that I don’t miss an instant. I have my black pea coat on and it is doing a fairly decent job in keeping me warm enough to continue my walk throughout the cobblestone streets. Everyone is in a bustling hurry, but not so much that it feels hectic, just that it is with purpose. They are

Little Parisian girl
Little Parisian girl

beautiful and confident. I can’t stop watching every move that people make. The air is crisp and the sky is generally clouded and grey as it is November. But this doesn’t seem to alter my mood in the slightest. I have never been in a place that feels so alive and with such a history. They have their own style and music and genre. To be Parisian would be just the end of it all. The end as I see everything now.

Ok. Well I may be a bit dramatic but I am twelve years old and it is my first time stepping foot in Europe. I never want to leave. My mom told me that they say it takes over a week to walk throughout the entire Louvre and to see everything. I shall take that challenge! I could easily stay here and explore. Between all the small neighborhoods, little market places, old narrow streets, I don’t think I would ever be bored at the beauty of this place.

It doesn’t even matter how cold it is at times. It just makes it better to experience Paris in the fall! I watch people riding their bikes by all bundled up and with a perfectly crisp

Outside Louvre
Outside Louvre

baguette hanging out the basket on their bikes. Seems cliché but it is the truth. I want to live in Paris. I want to be able to eat lunch at a café looking out at the Eiffel Tower. I don’t think I could ever get tired of looking at it.

My mom, her friends, their daughter and I want to go and watch the lights on the Eiffel tower. It is approaching the new millennium and there is a lite up sign on the front of the tower counting down the days. As we walk up to the glowing tower there is a carousal signing next to it with loads of children screaming on it. I get to go on a ride with the two year old daughter of my mom’s friends. I hold onto her while she is perched on top of a plastic horse. Every turn we make I keep stretching my head to keep looking at the tower. It is incredible. It feels like it is not real. That it is just a fake tower and that I am not really here. Once we get off the ride I see a vender right outside the carousal ride and there he has the coolest hat I have ever seen. It is a rounded hard beret looking hat with an edgy embroidering of the word Paris on it. I put the hat on with the logo in front. My mom tells me that she thinks I have put it on backwards, but I insist that this is how it is worn. I feel so cool. She ends up buying it for me, and I wear it everywhere

This is my first experience with Europe. With a culture so embedded with their own style of music and art and fashion, it is very difficult not to fall in love with it. I was twelve years KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAold and I have been hooked since then. I never thought that I would love Paris as much as I do, but it is true what people say about the feeling you get when you are there. Maybe some don’t feel it, but when you do…its addictive. There was a time in 2009, where I was going through a very difficult time and I was one click away from booking a trip to Paris for a few days just to reboot myself so I could start fresh. I don’t remember what stopped me. It was most likely money related, but I think the idea of me having the freedom to do so at any point in time, helped to get me through a lot. I’m not sure what inspired this blog. It was the beginning, and what I often float back to in my mind.

Treatment Attempt #2: God

Religion has played such a major role in the history of our world. It has shaped many people and controlled many earth shattering events. Is it possible that my Wanderlust could be motivated in some sort of struggle to finding God? Or faith? Could I be on some self-discovering journey to find God in my mind or soul?

I studied in Canterbury, England in the early 2000’s which is the place of one of the most well identified pilgrimages in history. On December 29th in 1170, Thomas Becket was murdered in the Canterbury Cathedral as he was the acting Archbishop, and soon

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

after people all over the United Kingdom (and later all over the world) began to pilgrimage to the cathedral for him. As people would come to the cathedral, miracles began and people would flock to the site to have their own experience of a miracle from God. Could I be on my own pilgrimage for my miracle or my encounter with the divine? Being in the cathedral did create a sort of hopeful sense of peace within myself, but in no way do I feel that I became one with God. But still with all the places I have been to, am I on some subconscious pilgrimage?

My time in Canterbury was and always will be one of my most self-identifying years of my life. I learned things about myself deep down that I never knew even existed. I found a voice that has always been within my own world and mind, but traveling that year seemed to remove the filter from keeping it hidden. I have been raised Catholic my entire upbringing, but not once in my travels did I purposefully search out a church to worship or find my God. I think that cathedrals and churches and cemeteries are some of the most vital, interesting, and  worthwhile places to visit while traveling because they show numerous identities of a culture. They show architecture, religion, date, and art. Always take the time to go into a church. This all being said….I have an appreciation for churches both from an artist perspective as well as a spiritual one, BUT I have not been seeking them out as a priority.

It’s now April and I have just ended my studies in England. I am backpacking around Europe and in southern France, and while I love southern France and everything that it offers, I am anxious to move on and see Switzerland or some small town in northern Spain. I am anxious to the point of having one of my famed temper tantrums. However, I am doing this one visit for my mother. It means the world to her. We are in Lourdes. There is really only one thing to know about Lourdes: the appearance of the Virgin Mary and the beginning of Saint Bernadette. A young fourteen year old girl once came to a rock encrusted cavernous area in a forest and had eighteen sightings of a woman in the late 1800’s. Upon the last sighting the woman confides in the girl that she is indeed the Virgin Mary and the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this news Bernadette drops to her knees in an unconscious seizure type state and digs her nails into the rocks and miraculously digs out a hole until water starts to spray out of it. Geographers later have examined the site and have said that during that time it was geographically impossible for water to possibly come up to that site. Hundreds of years later people come from all over the world in wheelchairs, crutches, gurneys just to see this water and drink it because it is said that it possess the ability to cure. It is extremely overcast and a little cold in the forest this day that I am here. I am wrapped in several layers and with my camera slung over my shoulder. We crossed through the town of storefronts packed with Mary figurines, Jesus statues, paintings of Saint Bernadette, and millions of rosaries. It seemed so commercial to me. So insincere. If this miracle truly did happen here than why were all these people taking such advantage. It was definitely a let down and turned me off to the whole experience, but here we are. Standing in line to see the hole with the magic water in it. Religious groups are running around all over the lot and people are rushing in and out of the church. I look in front of me at the people carrying flowers to lay down for the Virgin Mary. I then decide to try to be in my present moment as best I can. I start to think about Saint Bernadette as a fourteen year old girl, and this strange encounter she has had. I then find myself saying a prayer to Marmie (my grandmother who passed away when I was twelve). I ask her to guide me in my journey and to be with me always. For some reason I have an unknown urge to touch the rock wall that is lining the sight, and something takes me back. I am

Collecting Holy Water
Collecting Holy Water

away from all of the tours and loud groups running around, I cannot hear the never ending choir hymns, and just there as a girl. I felt so small. So fragile. As I got to the hole in the ground that was sprinkled with all sorts of bouquets around it, tears began to make their way down my cheeks. And I was full on crying. I have no idea why. It was just happening without my will. And it seemed really…beautiful…

So am I on a pilgrimage? In April of 2006 alone, I saw over 30 churches and cathedrals. But, I am not looking for God. That day at Lourdes when I was crying in the cave, I did not find anything and I did not discover anything. I experienced the beauty of faith and spirit. And this is how I have felt with every religious space I have visited since whether it be Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, or Christian. It is beauty. To have a spiritual relationship within yourself can truly be a thing of splendor. This does not mean I am on any sort of pilgrimage. Conclusion to Treatment to Wanderlust II Faith: FAILURE. It is not what moves me to travel, but is more or less an awesome bonus.