On the 21st of October I returned from a four-week trip around the world. Where to begin?
One of the goals of this trip was a complete disconnection from my (at the time not so great) normal life. In this spirit, I turned off my cell phone and left it at home. There would be no laptop, no phone, and no way to get in touch with me. Perfect.
After 24 hours, an hour of sleep, and myriad forms of public transportation I was navigating the Métropolitain in Paris to get to Gare Saint-Lazare so I could catch a train to Caen. By the time I met my folks at the Caen train station (still quite familiar from three years ago) I was a zombie. I did my best to maintain a (groggy) conversation with my Aunt and Uncle as we made our way to the rented villa in Hermanville-sur-Mer, home of the first church service in liberated France in June 1944.
Well, that’s about all it had going for it. I had been to Caen already along with several D-day beaches so we decided to head to Mont Saint Michel to the Southeast for something new. Mont St. Michel is a small medieval town and Cathedral built on a 250 foot pointy hill on the coast. The setting was excellent, and we waded through the Japanese tourists around and up to the Cathedral of which we received an excellent tour.
The next day brought a tour of nearby Lisieux and Saint Therese Cathedral. It was nice to have some time with my Aunt and Uncle but the day was pretty short. The apex of my few days there was the next evening, a stunning nine-course meal at the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Caen. It sampled the whole gamut of French seafood-based cuisine and finished off with three desserts, ranging from an avocado sorbet to chocolate mousse. Wow. I figured I’d be remembering that meal for a while — Nepal isn’t especially renowned for its fine cuisine — so I soaked it all in (the service, the wine, everything) as best I could. I still think about Camembert (think I finally overcame my long aversion to stinky cheese) even now.
A light travel morning brought us (my folks and I) back to Paris with a day to kill. It was a Saturday and we decided to just wander around the neighborhood a bit, seeing the Moulin Rouge (whoopdee-doo) and walking up to Sacré-Couer in the Montmartre neighborhood. It was a dead ringer for the Spanish Steps in Rome and had a fantastic view of the sprawling city.
We lounged around for a little while on the steps, then headed back to the hotel for some R&R before going back out again for an early (by Parisian standards) dinner. I tried some Beef Tartar (spiced raw beef) and found it delicious, and we had a really nice meal between the three of us. I was really loving living it up before heading out by my (cheap) self.
But it had to be. My folks left early in the morning to catch their flight, but I had all day to wander around Paris before my 8:30 flight. I first checked my email (so much for disconnection) and made plans to meet up with Cameron in Kathmandu, then wandered South to the Louvre. It was then that I remembered that the Musee d’Orsay had been closed during my last trip to Paris, so I bought a ticket and checked it out. It was excellent: Impressionism and Post-impressionism were probably my favorite periods, and the museum ranked right up there with the Van Gogh in Amsterdam. Afterwards I still had time to spare but decided to just head to the airport four hours early. There I savored a sumptuous meal at…McDonalds. So much for livin’ it up.
To be continued…