Europe seems an age ago as I sit in my cozy flat writing, as I promised so long ago in Paris, and here the Christmas tree is lighting up my little room overlooking the square. Outside a cold, cold wind blows the strings of pearls around on the big oak trees that mark this place and with the restless wind I knew it was time to take up the tale of Europia.
October 26, 2015, Paris
Monday we spent the day shopping in Paris, wondering around the Seine and getting in one last dessert in a cafe. For the life of me I can't remember what we ate in Paris other than macarons, tarts, crêpes, and more crêpes. We didn't go out to eat at any time because we were still in major money-conserving mode, or at least I was, and the one time we did try to go out to eat all the restaurants near us had already closed for the night. Guess nightlife starts in Paris kind of early, or what is otherwise known as 8:00 p.m.
I had begun to wonder if I would ever get out of Paris? For the last three blog posts I just can't finish up about it and here I thought it wasn't my favorite city.
But, we did it! Finally, at 3:55 p.m. we boarded the train at Gare de Paris-Est and after our usual trouble of trying to decipher which number the coach was and which one was our seat number, we ended up seated with a mum and two kids headed south as well.
Why begin with a picture of pizza, you may ask? Well, because being typical Maria-Kerri-Lyn we were starved when we got there and after checking into our hotel walked out to see what places were still open. It turned out we found only one and and 9:30ish we walked into this little pizzeria and applied to the man for menus. At around 9:45 we turned all hot and cold because we realized we had ordered just before the restaurant closed and had put our feet in it, metaphorically and literally. We had previous experience with rude customers when we were on the serving side, so to assuage our consciences we apologized to the man who reassured us in his unhurried, European way that it really was not a problem, and he would be there awhile yet. So we sat back.. enjoyed the pizza (the one above was ALL mine, the precious) presented beautifully on a slate, and I ordered a glass of the best wine I've ever had.
This wine deserves its own paragraph. You know how one always hears about the water from mountain streams? Crisp, sparkling, cold, and pure... Well, this wine was like that. It was a crisp, sparkling, cold and pure-chilled glass of white wine with a finish of June mountain air, and every drop was a pleasure. Even after the wine in Italy this one was best of the trip, and a wine by which all other white wines will be measured. This glass of wine was to set the tone for my experience in Annecy, because everything there seemed of the best order. It may just be that a country girl was back in the country after two weeks in the city, but it was dazzling.
I didn't begin with an iconic picture of our first enraptured gaze at the city because, well, our first gaze was a bunch of railroad tracks in the middle of the less-beautiful part of the city at 9 something in the evening. We had tried and failed to get a room at the Annecy Hostel (drat French Holidays) so off we went to Atria Novotel; a nice, new and modern hotel just a hop, skip and jump around the corner. Scorning taxis as usual we hauled our luggage along behind in what we could tell was frigid air - just as frigid as London and Paris. But no matter, it was night time, maybe tomorrow would be warmer. We had hopes since we were about 5 hours further south that it would be a trifle warmer, but by the colors on the trees above you can guess we were dead wrong.
We found our hotel, went out to eat as seen previously, slept, and left in lazy time the next morning for the old part of the city and some breakfast. By now we had learned not to expect hearty breakfasts but to appreciate the espressos and breads on the menu. Anyway, how could we think of our stomachs with a view like this?
The unvarnished truth is, we three never forgot about our stomachs very long, but this still made us stop for awhile to gaze in awe. In fact, all of the lake/old town area was incredible. Later on in the day Maria and I walked around the lake and aside from Zurich, I have never seen a place more beautiful. It's hard to describe it but the colors were so vivid and intense that it felt like walking in a dreamscape; the air was full of light, and the lake a soft blue-turquoise. Couples sat around the park feeding the birds, boats were out on the lake, and no one hurried.
We lingered a long while.
We wandered on through Old Town and saw the old prison. I have friends who visited here and after seeing their photos of this place and a few others, decided we must visit here. Thankfully the others agreed. The strange thing about places like this, such as this old prison, is that what we consider as magnificent sights now was once the scene of life and misery another time. Prisons are never jolly places, and as much as we tend to romanticize places it will never do to forget the history that goes into the same. That is one of the best benefits of traveling, I think, because not only does it open your worldview in the present, it opens the past and future as well.
Gazing in shop windows to see the largest meringues we have ever seen.
Yup, we never forgot our stomachs for long.
Up streets and down streets. We had to walk off the waffles and ice cream somehow.
A man recently told me to travel as much as I can. He said our generation has a fantastic opportunity to see the world and we should take it. He said to take pictures, to write extensively, and to worry about clothes less. <insert guilty look> He also said nothing in the world is so fulfilling to him as travel photography and writing, and with a few exceptions, I agree. There is nothing as thrilling as feeling the heartbeat of the world in an entirely new place.