a tale of two cities

“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”  – Charles Dickens

We’re back at it again and what a way to start – in Paris. France has long been a place I’ve wanted to visit, or maybe even live, but for one reason or another never made it to. Our first few weeks were an adjustment to a new routine, and we quickly realized that staying in a tiny hotel room was not going to be conducive to the lifestyle we wanted. I spent some days aimlessly wandering, killing time until Ez was finished for the night. Him working from home and taking calls meant I had to be as quiet as a mouse. The housekeepers must have thought we were strange and were confused we didn’t want clean towels and toiletries all the time. How uncivilized we are!  We also used our balcony as a refrigerator…

I was sorting through my feelings of leaving home again so quickly and not working. It’s ingrained in our culture to feel productive at all times. Even my free-spirited disposition is susceptible to it.  So, at first I was a little blah about it all. Coming off our last trip I wasn’t feeling particularly interested in being a tourist. I was looking for some purpose and I also had feelings of guilt that Ezra would be working so much.

While I wrapped my head around what the next five months would look like, I walked around and had this as a spectacular backdrop.

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Lots of love locks…

DSC04582Eating pain au chocalat and browsing the bookstalls.

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Not surprisingly, the millions of people who’ve waxed poetically about Paris couldn’t all be wrong, and I soon started to glimpse a layer or two of the spectacular City of Light. I read the book Paris by Edward Rutherfurd and this helped me to gain an appreciation for the historical significance of this beautiful city. From the revolution and aristocracy to the arts and bawdiness there is a lot to know. This was my first visit, but surely will not be my last. I looked forward to returning this spring and seeing the city come to life as winter fades away.

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Unfortunately the memory that will pervade the most during this visit was the shootings. It was surreal being here during the midst of this all unfolding. Artwork and the phrase “Je suis Charlie” began popping up all over the city. We briefly went to the demonstration. It was moving to watch and brought back some of the feelings we Americans experienced during 9/11. Ones of sadness but also of connectedness as everyone joined together. I cannot help but feel, that while freedom of speech is sacred and must be protected, we must treat our words with more care. While these individual shooters were extremists, I don’t believe just because you can say something that you should. In a world where information is immediate why provoke? I think a level of tolerance and maturity needs to be brought to such sensitive situations. Whatever the solution, I do not know it. In the end the families of the victims suffer, the city’s psyche suffers, as well as muslims who will unfairly experience the consequences.IMG_0552IMG_0559 IMG_0524.JPGIMG_0535IMG_0835IMG_0834 copy

And then it was London calling and under the channel we go. The plan was one week here for every three away. Ez was allowed 30 days in the UK for every 90, and traveling back-and-forth became tiring for him. So this is how one trip a month came about and our scheme to stay in Europe. I’d been to London once before, so did not feel pressure to be what we call a “super-tourist,” and instead just walked about leisurely.

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One day I spent a fair amount of time in the British museum and couldn’t help but appreciate how incredible it was – even if much of its bounty is the result of conquering other lands. I’ve been to Greece and Egypt and racked my brain to remember if I ever saw such incredibly preserved artifacts in the respective countries.  Of course these countries would now like back what the British Empire plundered. The Brits take credit for the preservation which they claim may have otherwise been lost. It is not my battle to fight so I just admired the view.IMG_0706 IMG_0766IMG_0751

The Rosetta Stone:
IMG_0757I don’t know much about the Assyrians but there was an incredible exhibit.

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