Paris 1/7/09

This morning, I was completely out of it. I concluded that this was the natural result of having only had 4 hours of sleep, so instead of trying to slog through a full day of hiking through the city, I decided to get some rest and get moving once the world seemed bright and beautiful again.

Since I didn't want to doom N. to waiting for me for hours, I gave him the camera, and he headed out to the Catacombs. We arranged to meet later in the evening at Tuileries.

I think one of the reasons reason that N. and I make good friend is that we're considerate of each other, of our needs and of our failings. And we're ready to be different from each other and do different things, so instead of getting frustrated and impatient with each other, we just have fun. It makes traveling together a whole lot easier.

We may tease each other a lot, but it doesn't sting, and we don't fight, because we know that we can work things out with understanding, patience and humor, rather than arguments.

Paris 30/6/09 Highlights

1. The croissant, which from my admittedly small sample size of one, is about a billion times better in Paris than its pale American counterpart. Buttery, flakey, indescribably delicious.

2. Churches-- we entered four and saw about ten. Going in gives me a moment to stop and pray, clear my thoughts, unburden my heart, and worship the living God. Peace flows powerfully from these quiet stones.

My favorite ones are the small parish churches that see almost no tourists, but even in the most crowded, a Presence can be felt.

3. A shop I grabbed dinner at that sold only tarts, pies and quiches-- sweet pies, meat pies, vegetarian pies, breakfast lunch and dinner pies... My French may have sucked, and I was ocercome by shyness when ordering, but the concept is brilliant and the owner's kindness made my day.

High quality, fair prices, large helpings, gentle and friendly service, an atmosphere of community and trust, and everything served in a crust. That's my kind of restaurant.

4. Public parks, which are islands of solace in a sea of very long walks. Now if they'd only install a few drinking fountains...

5. The Croatians who we met at Les Invalides and walked with to the Eiffel Tower. They were an older couple, and visiting Paris was something they could do now that their children were all grown. The husband asked us about where we'd been and where we were going, bragged about his wife (she learned English in only 6 months, loved walking long distances despite having recently had spinal surgery, and was, as he made clear, generally amazing). She asked us what and where we were studying, and whether our parents were worrying about us. Both exhorted us to visit Zagreb as soon as possible, a request we will sadly be unable to fill. They were great people. I wish I'd learned their names.

6. Talking with N., especially when he lets me know, in subtle ways, that he is looking out for me. Telling me that I should buy food soon even though he is not, because it will be hours before he gets hungry. Saying we should go to the Centre Pompidou even though he doesn't really want to, because he knows that I do. Asking for me to describe a random article I mentioned days earlier. I hope I am as good company to him as he is to me.


England in Pictures

Several people have commented on how strange it is that the grass in the middle of the ruins is perfectly mowed.

This picture does poor credit to how amazing this electric violinist really was. To get a better idea, youtube Ed Alleyne-Johnson.

England has so much history, it can get a little confusing at times.

Near the end of the week, the REAL British weather came in.
Fortunately, we had a sufficiently spooky place to visit.


I stayed in England with my uncle for a week, and I think this is really the ideal way to travel. First of all, I got to see some cousins who I haven't seen for a while and won't see again anytime soon. Second, I got to see more than just tourist sites (although there was definitely some tourist-sight seeing in occurence); I was able to live part of the regular daily life of another country (and Britain is, in fact, a different place than the US). Third, and not beyond my consideration, I actually had time to rest, relax and think instead of maintaining a breakneck speed past every beautiful sight in the country.

My cousins lives in Northallerton, which is a little town in North Yorkshire, which as you may have guessed by now is in the northern part of England. It's beautiful countryside, with only a slightly smaller sheep to person ratio than New Zealand. It's also surrounded by beautiful and historically significant ruins (Including Whitby Abbey which, I am told, features prominently in Bram Stoker's Dracula).

I quickly learned that the roundabout may be the finest and most useful transportation innovation since the wheel. Imagine if you never had to wait at a four-way stop... but I digress.

My uncle is a chemical engineer, a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the role of bishop is roughly analogous to that of minister in other churches, except that it's a temporary calling rather than a life's vocation, it's completely unpaid, and you don't have to give a sermon every Sunday because that responsiblity is generally filled by members of the congregation) and an excellent amateur photograper. So if you really like any of the pictures of England I post here, they were probably taken by him.

One night, as we both stayed up late to edit and organize the pictures we'd taken during the day (at the aforementioned abbey) we talked about how he'd learned photography: He never had formal training, but he always enjoyed it, so he's read a lot of books and had a lot of practice. It's paid off. Hearing him talk made me think again about how much each of us is capable of, how much talent and wisdom is hidden inside every stranger we pass on the street. Who knows, you may have just walked right by another Michaelangelo, and neither you nor any museum of art will ever know.


The Dales


I created this blog so that I could write about my travels for people back home. I figured I could write a post or two from every city. Between a dearth of wi-fi and the sheer fatigue of a day of travel, this noble intention was lost, and I find myself in Prague, three weeks into my journey, without a single blog post written.

I assure you that the lack of posts does NOT mean that the last three weeks have been uneventful in any way, shape, or form. Quite otherwise, in fact.

Rather than just start chronicling my trip from here on out, I've decided to post journal entries and thoughts from earlier in the trip, which means posts will start now about Great Britain, and will continue for three weeks or so after I get home.

I figure that if you're reading this, it's not to hear about every single thing I ate or every tourist site I visited, so I'll spare you those details and try to focus on the bigger, more important parts of the trip.

I'll try and put a post up every other day. But you've seen how my intentions have worked out in the past, so don't hold me to that :)