Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Blatherings: Back from Holiday

Hampton Court, the famous home of Henry VIII.
Bonjour and Happy Father's Day for all here in the U.S.!  I arrived back late, late Friday night from my trip to London and Paris and am now trying to quickly readjust before work meetings all this next week.  The trip was great, although so tiring at the same time.   I suppose that's what happens when you do everything in a whirlwind eight days.  It was a great eight days though and I have come home with a lot of great memories!

First off, can I say that in eight days I lost 7 pounds.  Does that say anything about the amount of walking we did?  On average, we walked, climbed stairs, stood in lines, rode metros, and meandered through sites for 8-9 hours a day.  Every night, I rubbed my poor sore feet in the hopes that they would still be attached to my body by the end of the trip!  Even the teens that traveled with us complained that their feet hurt, so I know it wasn't just me.  Who knew that I could go on vacation, and still eat croissants, pastries, and nutella and not gain an ounce!  (Oh, and did you know France has these cool Chicken & Thyme flavored Lays potato chips?  Some in our group didn't like them, but I thought they were delish!)  I suppose I should schedule more vacations if this is the case?  The travel diet sounds pretty darn good to me!

I'll admit that our trip got off to a rocky start and I'm not much of an American Airlines fan at this point.  Our flight was late getting into Chicago when we left, and although the plane was still in the gate, they wouldn't let us on.  It didn't make sense to me though, since there were eleven people on the incoming flight that needed to catch that plane and it sat at the gate for almost 30 minutes after we ran to get there.  In hindsight, we're all pretty sure they sold our seats and just bumped us.  We ended up sleeping a pretty miserable night in the airport and catching a flight that next night at around 6:30pm that put us into London early Saturday morning.  Lucky us though, they also lost our luggage in the switch, which we then didn't get until Sunday evening.  That means that we not only had literally slept in our clothes in the airport one night and again on the overnight flight into London, but then had to wear them for two more days!  Yes, talk about a lovely sight that we all just had to laugh at and keep moving.

Regardless of the rocky start to our trip, we made up for it all by really hitting the pavement and seeing as much as possible.  We did all the normal in London, which I have to say that I absolutely loved.  I'm even now looking into courses that I could take that would put me back into London for a couple of months.  I loved it all.  The city is great, full of history, and teeming with activity.  We got rained on a good bit last Sunday, but we had a great time while we were there. 

Canterbury Cathedral
On our way out of London to France, we spent a day in Canterbury.  Talk about an amazing cathedral!  I teach some of the tales in The Canterbury Tales, so I took a lot of pictures to hopefully create some nice teaching materials.  We'll see if I'm smart enough to create something with iVideo, or at least on PowerPoint.  I'm also going to have to go back and reread Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot and Jean Anouih's Becket, which I've never actually read.  This should all really add to my Middle Ages unit and some of the materials (a book and an audio CD) will make for nice background information.

Paris was our next stop after crossing the English Channel and driving down from the coast.  What can I say about Paris that a million other people and artists haven't said, sung, drawn, or performed?  It's an amazing city full of life and energy from the get go.  Before we left on the trip I  had purchased To Dance With Kings by Rosalind Laker, which is a book that centers on Versailles and the history of the time that the kings lived there.  I started it on the plane, but was so distracted, prone to motion sickness, and busy once we got there, that I only really read about 40 pages into it.  Now, I'm kind of glad I didn't get far, as the history behind it now makes more sense to me.  Knowing that they moved from the Louvre, out to what was originally a "hunting lodge" that turned into what is now this enormous palace, has helped the story come together even more.  Now I'm really looking forward to finishing the novel!

This is just a short blip on the radar of all that happened on my trip, but I couldn't move smoothly on to reviews and other reading-related posts without giving my trip a nod.  On a personal level, travel is what I live for.  If I could afford to travel out of the country every year I would do it, but it's not really a possibility at this point, so I enjoy every moment of the time I do get to spend abroad, about every four years.  It definitely takes some planning, and skimping and saving on my part to make it happen, but it's so worth it.  Besides, on a professional level, I think that connecting the literature that I've read and loved with the locations and history behind them is invaluable.  Although I try not to share history and places like big travelogues with my students, I always hope that some of what I bring back helps them to get excited to also connect to the writings of great authors.  My hope is always that they see the value and importance of reading and studying literature, because as a great teacher and mentor of mine said to me, "Business and other lucrative fields might control the world, but the humanities CHANGE the world."  I've hung onto that thought and can see more than ever the impact of art, history, music, and literature on the standard of one's life.  Without these beauties, where would our lives be?

Enough waxing poetic for one day.  Today I'm going to go for a nice, long walk to keep up with what we did on our trip, and then will settle down with a stack of good books.  Since I really haven't read in over a week, I'm behind on books I need to read and review by the end of the month, so that's what I'll be doing.  I hope you're having a great weekend!  To close, I'll include a short video clip of the Eiffel Tower doing its hourly sparkle at night.  We had such fun sitting back on the grass, avoiding the salespeople with their champagne and lit-up Eiffel Tower statues for sale.  It was all an experience to remember.  It's slightly cheesy to get so excited about it, but the Eiffel Tower really was a real highlight.  Au revoir!


  1. Sounds like you have an enjoyable, if tiring trip to this side of the pond.

    I have been visiting Tudor times in my reading recently.


  2. I've had my share of connection snafus in Chicago. UHG. I hate connecting there; it's so stressful.

    Anyway, it sounds like you had a great time! I love Paris. :)

  3. Your vacation sounds absolutely lovely. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. I adore Europe and love when people enjoy themselves there.

  4. Oh my gosh -- the same thing happened to me when I was in Europe a couple of years ago... I ate whatever I wanted and LOST weight from all the walking. It taught me that if I just move my body I can shed pounds.Now, just to get myself to move my body again. ;)

    I want to go back so badly, and this post just made me want to even more. Hopefully soon! Glad you enjoyed yourself.

  5. Thanks for sharing bits of your vacaion! I love London, and would go back in a heartbeat! Travel is one of my favorite things, but my poor pocketbook always protests. :(

    Love the pictures too! The Eiffel Tower is amazing!

  6. Ugh, sorry that your trip didn't start out so good. Hopefully all of the amazing sites you saw kind of made up for the bad stuff!

  7. Sounds like a great trip--London is wonderful, and I would love to visit Canterbury as well. Courses in London seems like a good strategy to me :)

  8. What an amazing trip! I'm so jealous!

  9. Your trip sounded wonderful. You must be the first person to go on vacation and lose that much weight...LOL (how great is that); hope your feet have recovered.

  10. I love that travel diet idea. I normally lose a few pounds on vacation too. You did so much in only 8 days. I would be pooped. I want so badly to go back to England. As for France, I've heard it's terribly expensive. True?

  11. Thanks everyone! I wish I could just catch up now that I'm back, but I shouldn't complain. :) Barbara, yes the exchange rate and just the city itself were expensive. I didn't buy a lot of souvenirs, which sounds crazy, but I just didn't. For what I did pick up though, it was worth it!

  12. Sounds like you had a great time, even if you had a horrible time getting there.

  13. I recently traveled to Costa Rica with a large group, half of us flew Delta and the other half were with American Airlines. Those of us on Delta had no problems at all, whereas our AA comrades had an unexpected 8 hour delay, a flat tire, lost luggage and then another delayed flight on the way home!
    Flight issues aside, looks like you had a lovely trip! I wish I could say that I had a similar vacation weight loss experience, but alas, I found a few pounds along the way ;)

  14. As you still are fresh from your trip, you may wish to try Stephanie Barron's novels....."The White Garden" (2009) suggesting a plausible cause of Virginia Woolf's death, "A Flaw in the Blood" (2008) proposing the origin of Hemophilia in Queen Victoria's descendants, and the ongoing Jane Austen mysteries series.

    I lived in London twice and never will tire of its enchantments or all those details that comprise England especially and all of the UK in general.

    Always will miss Salt Lake City where I lived at the top of Columbus Street behind the capitol building with views to die for and only a quick run to the FABULOUSLY iced cakes with a center layer of raspberry filling at Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop.

    Librarian Carla