A Travellerspoint blog

Switzerland

Green and fresh.

sunny 70 °F

I am in Switzerland! And boy is it a far cry from Paris. To this point on my trip, I have been admiring the work and ingenuity of humanity in Oxford, London, Lille and Paris, but here I find an entirely different kind of beauty. A beauty fresh and green and one for which people cannot take credit.

The train I took here on Wednesday (1 of 3), traversed the entire length of Switzerland, west to east, and took me past breath-taking views of mountains, lakes, farmland, green hills, quaint towns (see the pictures on Facebook). When I arrived in Berneck with my aunt and uncle, after 9 hours of travel, we immediately went for a 2-hour hike up behind their house. This is a beautiful place to live. Animals and forest and streams and views of Austria and Germany. And on our way down, we were serenaded for quite a long time by a beautiful alpine horn (think, "Rii-co-laaa"). One of my favorite moments of my trip so far. The air is fresh, the company is wonderful and the world is relaxed and at peace. Thursday, Cindy and I drove to Germany for coffee and pastries and picnic lunch by Lake Constance. They have the best "milk coffee" here with steamed/frothy milk and coffee. Mmm. Friday, we rode our bikes to Austria for more coffee and pastries and to see "the Green Border" where many Jews escaped Austria into Switzerland during World War II. And today we hiked up in the Swiss Alps to Seealpsee and then on to Ebenalp. It was a great hike and a beautiful day to do it.

My mind has been exercised by taking in all of the new sights and environments since leaving the States, and my body is now happy to take a turn at hard work. I am glad I'm not carrying my backpack up these mountains or on the bike but am so glad to be feeling alive and strong physically as well as intellectually. Tomorrow is another day with plans for both a bike ride and a hike, so I better get some sleep.

I hope that you have all, each, had moments of revelation in the past two weeks. I know that in the midst of routine and predictable days it is hard to find newness, but I do hope you feel the warmth of the sun on your soul and the cool, gentle breeze of the world on your face from time to time. I hope you rise with hope for the day before you, and if you don't, I hope you hope that tomorrow you will. I know, I can say that because I am here, away from the drudge of real daily life, but take it for what it is worth. And try not to be a cynic. ;)

All the best.

Posted by JulesCV 15:19 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Paris

The people make the trip

semi-overcast 65 °F

Hello! I have begun another entry for this a few times but am never able to complete it. Hoping this time it works out; there is much to say!

In fact, there is so much to say that it is hard to know where to begin. I was in Lille until Saturday and then took a train to Paris. Lille was so wonderful, and it is entirely because of the people there who are so lovely. Camille and Ben, Coline, Nadia and Manu took good care of me and showed me a very good time. Thursday night I was introduced to Foie Gras (duck liver eaten on bread) and saucisson (a very dry and delicious sausage), along with some glorious Camembert cheese. Friday night Camille, Ben and I went north to Dunkirk and did a "bar crawl" of sorts along the beach with some Frenchmen, some Brits and even a few Americans. Warning: French beers are very strong, commonly 10-12%! :)

Since being in Paris I have seen this beautiful city in so many ways. I wandered a bit myself, walked with Sasha and then with Anais, did the boat tour down the Seine, and we did a tour by car last night with the family. Oh, yes, I am staying with a beautiful family here in Paris. They have loved and welcomed me so well. Not only is their home my home, but they have taken time to show me the city, like by taking the car tour last night. We ate Raclette for dinner and then crepes the next night. Both delicious. And Saturday night I had French duck. I have eaten well in France!

I think my favorite time in Paris, though, has been my time in La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. It is a beautiful church atop a high hill in the city. The view from outside is amazing overlooking the city, but inside is even better. Inside is huge and so incredibly ornate. I spent a long time inside, just sitting on a pew. I think that what drew me in more than the aesthetic was the spirit inside. It was truly a spirit of reverence. Silence, no photos, no hats. Everyone moved slowly and without speaking. Both figuratively and literally, it is above the noise of the city. With few right angles, the arches and curves of the architecture and ornamentation each felt like an embrace. By something. There was a beautiful and comforting sense of peace there that made me stay for much of the afternoon.

So far I am having an incredible time...but I am so busy. I feel like I am always moving from one place to the next. Because I am, I guess. I am really looking forward to being in Berneck, Switzerland with family for a whole week! I will go there tomorrow. I went to the train station this afternoon to buy my ticket and the woman there was so, so nice and helpful. My next trips will be long, 3-4 trains each with essentially full days of travel. The woman at the train station helped me sort out my next 2 trips and then gave me her personal phone number to arrange the others. She said she has a daughter and that when she is old enough to travel, she hopes she will also find people to help along the way.

I think that I am seeing myself clearly in moments. I think that I am coming to see what I want for my life and what I want my contribution to the world to be. But I worry as well, that in wanting people to be free and alive, I think that should look like what I experience and who I want to be, myself. As I am seeing and experiencing so much diversity, I wonder if it is presumptuous to think that what I want for myself and for others is actually what they want for themselves. But perhaps it is not a matter of changing what I want, freedom and life, but rather broadening my concept of what that might look like in the comings and goings of another.

Ah, a few thoughts. I am taking both visual and audio pictures; hopefully I will find a way to add them to this soon. But you all know what I look like and you know what the Eiffel Tower looks like so you're already on your way. :)

Much love and missing you all.
Julia

Posted by JulesCV 06:51 Archived in France Comments (0)

Lille

Really in Europe

I took a train to Lille last night and met up with Camille. We went to her friends' apartmentright away where they were drinking red wine and smoking cigarettes...so typical. :) They are wonderful. Camille is gone today and tonight so I will see her friends tonight again. I am working on my French until then.

I spent the day in London yesterday and saw my friend from college, Katie. It was raining but you can't see Big Ben or the London Eye with an umbrella over your head, so I got pretty wet, but that was okay. It was a really good day with good conversation and good wandering.

I have become less free and at ease feeling because I do not speak the language here in France. I think I rely on my personality and ability to connect to people to get me through situations, and if I can't do that, I get uncomfortable and nervous. It is a good challenge to me, though. My objectives for the day are to get my pounds changed to Euros, buy a French SIM card, work on my French and walk around town a bit. Good goals.

Also, I have started a project. I have a brown cloth shoulder bag that I am using on my trip and it ripped a little. So I went and bought a needle and thread in Oxford to fix it. And then I wanted to stitch a leaf into it. And now I've decided to stitch things into the bag throughout the trip until it is completely covered. I am excited about it and think it will be a beautiful record of things.

These entries are all just facts and feel far from the experience itself, but I hope they are worth reading and hopefully I will get better at capturing the spirit of things and sharing my thoughts as we go. :) Love you all.

Posted by JulesCV 04:46 Archived in France Comments (0)

Hello, Oxford.

Welcome to Europe.

I have arrived and what a lovely start.

First I was welcomed warmly by the UK Immigration office. So warmly, in fact, that they invited me to stay and hang out with them for four hours. Finally, I insisted that I had things to carry on with and they let me go get on with them. I spent the rest of the day with Ruth, a lovely Oxfordian and new friend. We walked around town a bit and then today I spent the day on my own visiting the Natural History Museum and St. Mary's cathedral and walking and writing and yes, wandering.

I have also been trying to purchase my train ticket to France since yesterday and kept being denied and calling the bank and being denied and calling the bank and finally this evening I found out that my card information has been stolen and used, and my card has been cancelled. In order to be released from the Immigration office I had to provide them with proof of my bank balance and the only way to do that was over the phone (no fax or internet capabilities) and in passing the information back and forth over a pay phone, someone picked up on it and started using it. So now I am without any money. Thank goodness I am with such kind hosts who have assured me that I can stay until my new card arrives and even borrow the money I need to get around until then. It should be here in 3 days.

So the things I feared have already happened and I am just fine. It's funny because not having a ticket out of the UK is what held me up in immigration but what is making the debit card issue not such a problem.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Oxford and I am loving this time. The computer is needed so I'll be off. Hope you are all well. Miss you dearly!

Posted by JulesCV 14:46 Comments (0)

Itinerary

An overview of the plan

I will be gone until early-mid july. Almost 4 months. I will be staying in each place 3-32 days (in parentheses are the approximate number of days I'll be in each place) and staying for the most part with people that I know. I wonder if things will go as I expect them to...I expect that they won't so where does that leave us? ...everybody wins!

London/Oxford, England (3) ...
... Lille, France with a daytrip to Brussels (3) ...
... Paris, France (5) ...
... Berneck, Switzerland with a daytrip to Austria (7) ...
... Aix en Provence, France (3) ...
... Italy, staying in Perugia and hoping to visit Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome and leaving from Bari by boat (6) ...
... Thessaloniki, Greece with an overnight trip to Kulata, Bulgaria (10) ...
... Istanbul, Turkey (3) ...
... Amman, Jordan (5) ...
... Israel, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and then 4 weeks on a kibbutz in the north (32) ...
... Johannesburg, South Africa (3 hours outside) (6) ...
... Cape Town, South Africa (23) ...
HOME!

There it is, folks. Good plan. I'm in.

Posted by JulesCV 08:01 Comments (0)

A travel blog...

37 °F

Alright, friends, I am not a blogger. I'm not much of a tech-user in general. However, more than that, I am not selfish. As I embark on what I hope will be an incredible four months, I want to share in this with all of you, to whatever extent you care to share in it with me. To me, there is something lost when ideas and experiences are mediated by language and even more lost in screens and technology, but what remains and is effectively communicated may be worth sharing in whatever ways possible in the name of communality and connection and camaraderie. These posts may lack in frequency and thoroughness, but I will try my best to balance a wholly present experience of my travels with a sincere and affectionate awareness of what I am missing and coming back to soon!
Much love to you all and keep things kickin' while I am away,
Julia

Posted by JulesCV 14:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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