23,000 miles later
I arrived in Tana yesterday after a long journey across the world.
Upon arriving at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, I found out that my plane to Madagascar was delayed. I had about 8 hours, and though exhausted from the travel, I got a silly idea. I lugged my backpack, laden with too many clothes and gifts, to the train station and bought a round-trip ticket for 16 Euro to the city. I boarded the blueline train and headed to the St. Michelle stop on the advice of the ticket agent.
After 40 minutes or so I climbed a few flights of stairs and rediscovered daylight in a courtyard filled with people gawking at the real-as-life Cathedrale de Notre Dame! I have never been to Europe, so of course I was caught in the awe of seeing something so amazing and... old (the building was constructed between 1163 to 1250 ad). I went inside with hundreds of other tourists - myself the only guy lugging a giant red backpack. What a beautiful building! I had to sit down and just take it all in. One of the carvings, that wrapped all the way round the back of the alter area, was created in the early 1300s. How amazing.
After Notre Dame. I wandered along the river and stopped in a small park to listen to some guys playing jazz - the music creeping out of a trombone and a tenor sax. Kept going and chose one of endless compelling alleyways through too narrow streets walled by ancient buildings still used as homes and offices and restaurants. I came out into another beautiful street, a sort of shopping district, which had another beautiful garden lined with lovers fawning all over each other, not afraid of PDA, just acting out love in public. I leaned the trusty pack against a tree and just sat there as my jet lag disappeared (for a few minutes anyway), my hands clasped behind my head - hard not to just smile. Hungry!
I only had an hour and a half left before my self-imposed back-to-the-airport time. So I picked a cafe - a classic one with awnings and black raut-iron tables and chairs, smoking French, plenty of passers-by to stare at. At one end of the street, the Pantheon, a massive put-the-US Capitol to shame dome, and at the other end a traffic circle and a view of the Eiffel tower. I ordered a croque-monsieur, a sandwich I had heard about in Lucy Griffith's high school french class, and a giant chocolate ice cream, which appeared with a long spoon in its own water glass and a spinning colored fan stuck in the top of a mountain of whipped cream. And an Evian water, of course. It was wonderful to sit alone and look at an endless flow of beautiful women, fancy cars, and the unparalleled scenery of the Parisian built environment.
My three hours in Paris was the perfect end to a vacation that brought me to amazing places:
Point Reyes National Park
Portland, Oregon - Beaver's baseball, the riverfront
A fourth of July fireworks day at Vancouver, WA
The Columbia River Gorge/Multnoma Falls
A day of swimming - swinging on a rope swing/ exloring the cold water at Moulton Falls, WA
Mt. Saint Helens - a clear day!
Berkeley, CA. Exploring the town and the U of California.
An amazing tour of San Francisco with my parents. (We took a ferry to Sausalito, saw the Golden Gate, cable cars, etc. Fantastic!)
In a little over two weeks, I travelled 23,000 miles.
I thank Cat and Court, who made this all possible. The wedding was beautiful. I'm proud and amazed to be a part of it. Thanks to all of my friends who made my trip even better. Everybody at the wedding, folks on the phone. Brooks, what happened?
To Richard, who drove me around, a lot. And to Daniel for the same reason. Thanks.
To Mom and Dad, for adventurously meeting me in Berkeley. I love you both!
To Derek, who gave me an insiders look into the ERG program at Berkeley and for lodging and fun.
To anyone I've forgotten. Sorry about that!
Back to site for a while. I hope all is well.