The greenery and the lushness of the countryside prevent my lids from closing. Thoughts that I may never see this again are enough to battle the immensity of twenty hours without sleep, and almost a month of nights in strange places, surrounded by unusual people, being munched upon by bed bugs in Italy.
I don’t want to sleep. I want to take it all in now as there is not much time left. But the dream of sleep is beckoning to me…dangling the carrot in front of my eyes, tempting me to enter into a blissful lapse of unconsciousness.
The man diagonally from me is in his mid 40’s. I would say he has a Sting-esque look about him. The eccentric lady directly across from me keeps signalling to her friend. I think she fancies him…
The clouds swirl like candy floss over the fields as the train passes through, which form seemingly perfect rectangles of green and brown. Crops of trees poke up here and there, and as we move on it is pleasant to see that they take the rightful place that they should over the land.
The eccentric lady describes the countryside as ‘magnifique’, as she feigns tears. It is truly ‘belle’. I am in love with the world and all it has to give. There is so much beauty out there. At times like this I think of Grandad – he would be happy for me. If only he could feel again what I am feeling…
On arrival in Paris I am stunned. I adore it. Paris is amazing, beautiful, logical and friendly. Such a difference from Italy! There is something magical about this place, with the abundance of grass, trees, benches to sit on, real food, people who smile, couples that walk arm in arm with each other. The streets are clean! Everyone seems to have respect for all that is around them.
Later as I sit under the Eiffel tower, I note that it is smaller than I had expected. It is pretty, and surrounded by gorgeous parkland. The only thing that puts a dampener on it are those pesky people selling tacky tourist souvenirs. As we walked to the tower a hoard of them had just been unleashed onto unsuspecting tourists.
I like it here – I really do. We have walked the streets, strolled along the River Seine from the Notre Dame cathedral, all the way down to the Eiffel Tower. We passed the Musee des Orsay, taking in the people and the streets. France has this sense of style about it. Not the over the top ‘I am hot’ kind. Just classy, casual – ‘I know who I am’ – I like it.
Notre Dame was also smaller than I had expected. We had crept up on it from behind, crossing the River Seine and entering a park behind it. There was a lady peacefully reading a book and I could just picture myself doing it. It was a quaint little park, with benches, manicured green grass, lines of trees, and of course a few tourists. From that point it appeared that one could not enter thus we did the photo thing and moved on to the entrance.
Notre Dame is a gothic cathedral. I have a fascination with gothic architecture – the grotesque images, the curvatures, eccentricity and darkness of the style stirs something inside of me. On entering the cathedral, the main source of light is from candles. It is very dark. The walls and roof are aged and grimy. I feel the urge to pray, even though I am not religious. I had finally found the right place. I purchased and lit a candle and finally said goodbye, ‘I love you and miss you Grandad’. I cried. He would have loved this, and I know he would be happy for me. Life goes on, and we all find our place if we go out and look for it.
Italy was amazing. It blew my mind away. France crept in and stole my heart.