Friday, December 30, 2011

All dawgs go to Heaven...or Paris.

I made it back. For those of you who have been anxiously waiting by your computers for my latest post (Mom), I am happy to oblige. But be warned—this will be LONG. I know it couldn’t have been easy to go without your weekly dose of my scintillating prose for so long, but this post should make up for that. I’d like to start with my trip to France and work backward to my game and other happenings, if you don’t mind? Thanks.

It all began with a simple conversation and an unlikely proposal. Kindra and I had been discussing (via Skype) our European experiences, comparing it to our days together at UW. Kindra played Volleyball at Washington and was a stud. We graduated together in 2010, and while we were never particularly close, we always got along well and I considered her a friend. After mentioning my desire to travel during my Christmas break, but lack of actual plans, Kindra casually suggested I visit her in France, perhaps without truly considering that I’d take advantage of such an auspicious invitation.  I wanted an adventure before I become too old and adventure somehow becomes synonymous with mid-life crisis.

Everyone says they’ll travel and visit these places, but then life interjects and sharply reminds us that plans fall through, life isn’t fair and often times what we want doesn’t coincide with what we need. And so, traveling takes a discouraging and often permanent backseat to…well, everything else. So, I saw Kindra’s offer as my opportunity for adventure. Fortunately, she was just crazy enough to accept. Before I knew it, we had planned a trip to Paris, booked a hotel at Disneyland and I was catching a flight to the South of France to stay with Kindra.

I’d rather not bore you or myself with the details of my travel experiences at the airport, but know this: I hate the Paris airport. De Gaulle is not user friendly, especially if you have never been there before. The place is huge so I can justify having trouble navigating it, but shouldn’t the people working there be able to, or do they just give them their ugly highlighter vests and let em have at it? “Try that way”, “Go over there”, “Go right”. Wrong sir…and lady… and seriously lady? Go right? And then what, click my heels three times? Next time could you be more vague? That’d be great. I literally had to stalk this girl that was also flying to Montpellier. Turns out we had to take this 50-minute bus to catch our connecting flight out of the Orly airport, but no one could tell us where this bus was. We barely made our flight, but we did and she had no clue I was following her like a tour guide…so I hope.

Beziers was lovely. It is a smaller city a little outside Montpellier. Seeing Kindra was awesome, too. When I got there, she was still in season, which actually worked out nicely. I got to workout in her gym when they practiced and I got to see her play again, too. After spending 5 days there, it was time for our Paris trip!

Like kids on Christmas eve, we couldn’t sleep the night before our train ride. We got to Paris around 11 after a 4 ½ hour bus ride and wasted little time. We saw the Basilique Sacré-Coeur, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Tower, as well as the Seine River. This city is breathtaking. Every building, every view is picturesque. I know everyone loves the tower, but my favorite was the Louvre. Being surrounded by so much history was spectacular. I have seen some incredible pictures of the places we visited, but nothing compares to the real thing. After a long and rather exhausting day, we went and checked into our hotel at Disney. We had a big day ahead of us after all…

Our first day at Disneyland began with our “characters breakfast”. Yeah, that’s right. We had breakfast with some Disney characters. I didn’t realize how inappropriate and ridiculous it was for us to be at this breakfast until we were surrounded by 50 eight year olds and 10 crying babies. Though, I will say that Goofy seemed to appreciate the change in scenery—he couldn’t get enough of Kindra. More than a little creepy. But we embraced being the biggest little kids and had a great time. After eating like a woman pregnant with triplets, we headed into the park with our early entrance passes! Boom.

For those of you who know me well, you know I have a love-hate relationship with roller coasters and rides in general. While I do love them, my love is vastly overshadowed by my paralyzing fear of dying on them. People think I am scared of heights—incorrect. I’m scared of the whole falling to my death factor. Kindra did not know me that well, yet. She learned quickly. Tower of Terror was by far the worst ride for me. I think I enjoyed it, although our picture on it suggests I needed my mommy. We spent two days, including Christmas, at Disneyland, bouncing back in forth between the parks, enjoying the rides, the characters and the shows. Kindra dragged me to the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, featuring Disney characters, but I ended up really liking it too! I really enjoyed feeling like a kid again—a kid without adult supervision or a curfew. Winning.

We spent our last day in Paris at the Palace of Versailles. It was frustratingly foggy, but still, what an experience. This place is surreal. I still can’t believe how elaborate and garish it is. It is truly outside my scope of narrative: the endless gardens, the lavish rooms, the illustrious ceiling paintings and statues—this place is unbelievable even when you are there seeing it all. We only had 4 hours there till our train back, unfortunately, and one of them was wasted standing in the ludicrous line that snaked all over the front courtyard. The wait was well worth it though, and I will always be relieved we waited and took the time to visit the Palace.
 It was hard to leave Paris. It was so good to us. People were kind and helpful, mostly, the weather was superb considering it is December, and the Metro system there is pretty great once you are familiar with it. Still, after running around all day for 4 days, Kindra and I were ready for a little break, mostly cause I was pretty sure I acquired lung cancer from second-hand smoke. I figure that is why everyone who lives there smokes, cause they know even if they don’t, there’s no running from that second-hand smoke, so they may as well bite the bullet.

Okay I need a break. I think I am going to have to make this a two-part entry and write about our game and other things in a different one. My life is simply too awesome to squeeze it into one post, I’m afraid. Sorry I’m not sorry. For now though, this should do…

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