Monday, July 30, 2012

Home sweet home

Ahhhh . . . . .the joy of being home. I didn't write since before Switzerland, Germany, Amsterdam, and Paris. Each was unique in it's own way. Switzerland was full of scenic mountains and lakes, fresh mint glacial water, kayaking on the Interlaken current, and an untimely yet positive job opportunity back home. I emailed letters, references, and scheduled a phone interview while in Switzerland and started the process of a potential career change. The end result is still unclear, but the possibility of something new is as fresh as the Swiss green water.

Germany was full of bikes and nice people. On the train to Heidelberg, I chatted with an old lady. She was friendly and pleasant, but she was also something more. I kept thinking of my conversation with her later. It'd odd how you can connect with someone in such a rare way and not realize it until later. We talked about traveling, las vegas, family, the loss of a husband, careers, teaching, fashion, art, and love, in a matter of minutes. She understood me and I understood her despite living on different continents and being two generations apart. Is she that easy to know and talk to? Or did we really have an unordinary connection? All I know is that she stuck with me in a very good way. She wasn't the only person that was warm and kind in Germany, there was the married couple we sat with at the Irish pub in Frieburg while the singer rapped Jayz and played the guitar. In Germany we also spent a day with friends partying, drinking beer on the streets of a German town festival and climbing, wheezing, to the top of a castle. Germany was wonderful. It was filled with locks of love on the Koln bridge and so many fun memories.

Amsterdam, well. . . . . . . Amsterdam is for tourists. You can't walk the streets with a beer and party, yet you can stop in a coffee shop and buy a magic muffin or special brownie or joint or red light special. It wasn't my city. Very similar to Venice with it's canals and tourists, however it lacked the local touch. Where were the Dutch people in Amsterdam? I dont know, it seemed like I never saw one. At least Venice was full of Italians, singing, celebrating, pushing around, eating or steering boats. I liked Venice.

And last but not least: Paris. My last day in Europe was spent solo as Kelly sailed off to the Blue Lagoon. I heeded all the warnings about pickpocketers and strapped my money belt around my waist under my clothes and walked to Montmartre, the artsy and wealthy district and highest point of Paris. As I entered the most touristic church and beautiful sight, I was swarmed by a group of African hecklers. They stepped in my way, grabbed my arms, and started putting cheap string bracelets on my wrist. Being solo I was already in my self-defense mode that I perfected in my college days, so I did what a solo female should do, and started yelling. No!! No!!! Stay here!! Don't touch me!! If I had a bag their hands may have been in it. It's such an odd experience to be surrounded by tourists and hecklers at the exact same time. After I passed through the mob, I sat with all the other tourists in the shade, watching the spectacle, and fuming with anger. Where were the Paris police??? Why do they let this happen??? Why do they sit back, in this case not even physically present, and let tourists get attacked? A guy in our hostel had a swollen face and purple eye from walking on the wrong street. I was warned repeatedly when making a purchase or eating to not set my phone down or watch my back. It was completely out of control. Let me just say I hope Paris never gets the Olympics, because it would be like a piranha feeding frenzy.

It didn't ruin my day or my view of Paris, although you may find that hard to believe. Paris was kind of like an unruly young sibling that the parents have given up on disciplining. I still loved it. It was gorgeous at night. The thrift stores were my dream come true and the people that I spoke with were good humored. I'd love to go back and collect some more clothing, visit some more art museums, taste more food, and meet more travelers and Parisians. However, New York City is much, much, safer.

Now I'm on the plane over Missouri, looking at the most rainbowed sky I have ever seen, and can't wait to smell home again. I know it's been in a drought and heat wave and things aren't so green, but I have a feeling none of that will matter. I will kiss Darrin, see my family, meet our new little kitten, and prepare for the fall with new pets and new possibilities. Maybe even some new ducks? Who knows.

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