France, Cannes to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, Orisson, and Roncesvalles
First day on my own. It was an early wake up call. We cleaned the studio and left for the airport. I cried. We got to the airport. I cried. Vivi cried. It was hard to say goodbye to her and Luc. Then through security where I sat and wondered what the hell I was doing. Onto the plane. Then into the airport in SJPDP. I waited for Express Bouricot to find me. Then Linda from California found me. Then Lori and Jeff. And two people from Australia. Then our driver. Into the van and off to SJPDP. Linda, Lori and I visited the pilgrims office, our places we are staying, the citadelle, an ATM and then we parted ways. And then I was alone. I checked into my alberge where Eric the host was talking. See below for his words of wisdom. It’s absolutely perfect for my first moment alone on my first day. I put the covers on my bed and pillow case and then I was alone. Like really alone. What was I feeling: nervous, afraid, weird, excited. I’m here. I’m sleeping in a room with 4 bunk beds. I’m really here. Tomorrow I walk to Orrison.
“The more you love yourself the more you will love the other person. It’s not Important to get to Santiago, what’s important is your journey. Listen to your body and stop when it tell you too. You will stop at the right moment and get exactly what you need not what you want. Just be humble. The first gift on the way. You do not have any control. Leave it to the way. The way will tell you something important. Live intensely each moment. You have the right to choose to be happy. Walk with your heart not with your head. It’s magic. 1. Stop when your body tells you to stop 2. Drink. All the time.”
Wow what am amazing day climbing up up up. I understand that this first day can be quite foggy… definitely not for me. The views were stunning. Walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Orisson. It was a hard quick walk. Stopped at a lovely little place along the way for a coffee and rest. I’m meeting so many new people and learning about why they are doing the Camino. Today I even met a new friend from Victoria. Wow small world. Every person I meet I’m learning something from. Cheryl taught me about bed bugs and being “home free”. Tomorrow Roncesvalles.
Epic day. Over the Pyrenees and down to Roncesvalles. Not gonna lie… it was hard. But I did it and I’m super proud of myself. I also understand that I’m pretty lucky as the weather can be pretty shitty doing up and over. It was simply amazing today. I woke up to the most incredible sunrise. Then breakfast and we hit the road. I walked with Leena and Sherri today. The sun was incredible in the morning. There was a truck selling fruit, drinks and snacks. So we grabbed something and took a break before a massive hill. We left the road and walked through beautiful shaded trail until we hit a super cold fountain where I changed my socks. Then a little further and another break for our prepacked sandwich. Then the last killer hill and a stop at the top. You could go the straight down route or a milder meandering route. I chose the latter to save my knees. We found our albergue and did some laundry. Vivis first day of school today. She did great!! Then a pilgrim dinner (meh) and off to mass at the church for a pilgrim blessing. Tomorrow Zubiri.
They say the first 2 days of the walk are the hardest. It’s the first 3 days (tomorrow as well) that make you wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing.
I’m back from the Camino, Germany, Austria and Turkey. I’m back in Switzerland and I can say that I’m not the same person that was here over 2 months ago.
This is just a quick hello to let you know what’s coming…
I’m going to be writing a book of my experience on the Camino. I tell people that it the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life and the worst. I had many physical challenges which helped me to grow both emotionally and spiritually on my journey. It was touch an go at one point whether I would complete the Camino.
Over then next few weeks, I’ll be posting the journey on here for those of you who I’m not friends with on Facebook or Instagram.
I’m excited to be reliving the experience again as I post and reflect the 42 days I was on the way.
Heading into the last week here in France… We have a pretty full week of stuff planned and I’m already starting to feel the push to the Camino. The excitement is building, I’m itching to be alone and see what that is like, meet my tribe, just get out there and walk.
For now, I’ll write about what we’re doing for the final last days of our stay here.
Last I posted we were in La Doire, high in the cool French mountains. (I’m writing now from Antibes again where it’s 30 degrees. Man I miss those cool French mountains.).
I believe the following day we went to look for the river that Luc found the day before in the canyon. It was beautiful but FREEZING. Being a pisces, I can’t turn down getting wet in a body of water, so of course I had to go in. We read a sign later that said we really shouldn’t be swimming – more rule breaking!
That night was a lightening and thunder storm. So so so cool. It’s a common occurrence here. Kind of like fireworks for some reason.
The following day we drove to Castellane and visited the market and the quaint little town. So beautiful and picturesque. We meandered home and had a quiet evening.
The next day we cleaned the house and drove back. I really really appreciated so much being able to stay in Luc’s aunt’s house. It was a wonderful break from the heat and it provided some much needed space for everyone I think. We got to play a lot of board games and just hang out and ‘be’. It was wonderful watching Violette catch grasshoppers. She didn’t ask incessantly to watch the iPad but instead asked incessantly to go outside and catch grasshoppers. So enjoyable to watch, and I think she really built a wonderful memory going out and being alone with nature.
We returned back, but not before passing through Grasse and visiting a perfumery called Molinard. Last time I was in Grasse I visited Fragonard (another perfumerie). We went on a little tour and learned about perfume and how its made. Fascinating. This was more what I would call “world schooling” for Violette. Visiting somewhere in the world and learning about the region, history and what their primary product is. I fell in love with a bottle of perfume called “Les Amoureux”. I didn’t buy any (49 euros) but I sure wanted to. If anyone can find me a small bottle of this and ship it to Canada, I’ll pay you back.
Back to Antibes where immediately I was struck by the heat. The Swiss frolicked in the pool, while I had some alone time.
The following day was a day for errands. We went to an outdoor sporting store that is as big as Costco. We don’t have anything like it in Victoria. We bought Violette a pair of hiking boots perfect for hiking the Swiss Alps. Two bike helmets for les Swiss (Luc and Vivi) and a pair of head phones for me. I’m not sure how they are going to get those helmets home in their luggage (there’s hardly any space). They might have to wear them on the airplane. LOL!!
Then dinner at Luc’s cousin’s house. She lives on a super steep narrow road that caused me much stress as Luc drove and I was SURE he was going to drive into someone or something. We got up to her 7th floor apartment and the views were extrodinary! The sun was just going down so it had this wonderful orange light on all the buildings over looking the Mediterranean Sea. We visited and ate like kings and queens while enjoying and meeting more new family.
The next day we set out for a museum tour for Violette – learning and understanding about architecture in this area in an old castle. We went for a little walk in the hot hot heat and then finally found a wonderful place for lunch under some trees. Sooo good and delicious.
The next day was big. We went for a kayaking expedition in the Cape d’Antibes with Remy our guide. Luc’s cousin (yes he has a few) works at this place and managed to get us free kayaking! Thank you so much Jerome! Luc was in his own single kayak (as he should be) and Violette and I were together in a double. We learned about sea grass and different houses along our route. I found out what a sea tomato was and we met a cool crab. The water was very wavy, turquoise, beautiful. I wasn’t sure if I was going to hurl from seasickness. It was super sunny but we came prepared with hats, sunscreen and water.
We had lunch (sandwiches) and then walked down to the water again and snorkeled around. Unfortunately, after a while, Violette’s snorkel wasn’t working well (water kept coming in) so we abandoned that idea and headed home.
That night we spoke with Jaedyn and I coached a client and I caught up with Leah. It was a great night of connection.
Today is the day before our last day together. It’s a bit of a sad day. Violette had to have a small incision done on her ear as the infection from her ear piercing has come back. Vivi hasn’t had an earring in her ear since March but it’s still causing problems. Parents, think good, long and hard before you decide to get earrings in your kid’s ear. This has been nothing but a nightmare for us and torture for Violette.
Poor thing. Last night we put on this freezing cream that the doctor said to put on (we’ve been to the doc already once). Then we had to put on a big massive bandaid that folded her ear all night long and held the freezing cream. Turns out that you’re supposed to apply the cream 1 hour before the operation. So the bandaid and the cream were useless. We tried to take the bandaid off in the morning and apply more cream “just in case” but she cried bloody murder at how much that hurt.
We arrived at the clinic. The bandaid is ripped off by the doc and Vivi cries… it breaks my heart. I find out from Luc that they are going to give her laughing gas. I’m holding an ice cube on her ear while the doc preps his tools. the mask goes over her nose and face. He cuts into the back of the ear and she squirms and cries and screams. I’m about to lose my shit as well. It’s so friggen hard to see you daughter in so much pain. The gas doesn’t seem to do anything.
After he squeezes out the puss (sorry all) he dresses her ear. She seems…. ok. She get’s up, we use the bathroom and I ask her “did it hurt?”. “A little.” A little? Are you kidding me? She says “what does it mean when the nurse said she would forget about her ear?” I realize that she doesn’t really remember the pain she endured when it was actually happening. I think back to when I had laughing gas when I was in labour… I remember it hurt, but not really how much. Ok, it’s been 7 years (19?)…
We head to the pharmacy and then to the boulangerie (to get a wonderful pastry of course) and then home for the day. We need to relax. After all, there’s only 1.5 days left until we part ways.
Things to note:
It’s hot again…. but I’ve been watching Victoria and the smoke there has accompanied the heat here… I’m grateful I can breath clearly which I know some of my friends and family back home are struggling with.
The coolness of La Doire (in addition to the alone time) has contributed to me feeling more myself and being able to appreciate and enjoy exactly where I am at. It’s amazing what these two things together do to help me be more myself. I will remember to check these two things when I’m feeling out of sorts first, because I know that my wellness depends upon them.
I’m getting excited for what comes next. While I’m so grateful for being in la cote d’azur, I’m ready to move onto the next part of the journey: being, being alone, being myself, practicing self love, practicing connecting with other humans and whatever else shows up in my space.
I’m about to move outside my comfort zone again: Luc does the planning and I do the approving and following. Now it’s all going to be in my hands…
I can’t wait to get to cooler temps! Phewf.
I’m studying Spanish and the voice in my head says I’m no good. We’ll see how I go.
Thank you to everyone who responded with comments and direct messages to me. I was overwhelmed with the love, understanding and compassion that you all gave me.
I’m feeling more myself bit by bit. Practicing self-love and self-acceptance is at the top of my radar. Also, Luc and I have had some good conversations about this trip and how he can support me. We’re finding our way.
We’re in La Doire, France right now as I write this. We’re in Luc’s aunt’s house with 3 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, deck, etc… all by ourselves. This is more helpful being here. It’s about 5 degrees cooler and we actually have time alone. Vivi has had a chance to go into her own room and shut her door and watch some iPad. I’ve got to lay in bed and read my book, alone. Luc got to explore some of the places where a lot of his memories growing up, took place.
The space, the reduced heat and feeling understood and heard has really helped my head and my heart. I wouldn’t say that I was feeling home sick… I was feeling very alone.
So I’m not going to give you a play by play of every day… we’ve been here now for 2 weeks. I’ll review the highlight reel.
We arrived in France and waited for about 45 mins until our luggage came out the chute. I suspect the baggage handlers had gone for lunch, wine, maybe a siesta. Or simply laughing on the other side of the wall. We picked up our rental car in a room that was probably about 40 degrees inside. The people who worked in this room were sweating profusely. I looked at them like, “how are you working in these conditions?” After the guy tried to tell us we could only go 50KM’s per day and Luc pulled out the printed off contract that we were mailed that said “unlimited” he backed down and agreed.
We met up with Luc’s sister and boyfriend to get the keys for the studio apartment. This is Luc’s parents studio in Antibes, France. It’s one big room with kitchen, beds, laundry machine, TV. Then the bathroom is in another room. And they have a ground level balcony.
We became familiar with the place and the pool in the apartment. It was hot so we went there in the afternoon. The pool became the place for us to go every day to cool off and practice dives, hand stands, snorkelling, games, read our books and practice Spanish.
That night it was 31 degrees inside. Because we’re ground level it was felt that we should put the voler’s down for security. Unbearable. We did this the next night again but it was the absolute worst. So, after that we risked it and left the door open to let in the fresh air. The apartment building has 2 gates that people would have to get through, so we felt that was sufficient protection. It was at this point I started wondering if maybe we should move somewhere else cooler.
We headed on Sunday to a 4.5 hour lunch with Luc’s cousins. They built a beautiful house with a pool (everyone seems to have access to a pool here). We ate, drank, swam, and because I hadn’t been sleeping well, I curled up on the couch after about hour 3 for a siesta. It was a wonderful reunion. So many little cousins now for Violette to play with. It was nice to see them bonding and creating connections.
The next morning, we were advised from Luc’s mom, to get to the beach early. So off we went at 8am to get to the beach and get a parking spot and a piece of the playa. We snorkelled and read until about 1pm when the sun was beating down on us so we took off home (stopping first in Antibes to get some stamps for some postcards).
The next day was our anniversary! 9 years ago that day, we got married in Switzerland. Luc’s idea was to go to Gourdon, a tiny little walking only town, up in the mountains for a bit and look around there (it’s very artisanal) and then head to a restaurant for dinner. It was another hot day with some crazy twisty roads to get to and from Gourdon. All in all it was a nice way to spend our anniversary.
The next day, I wanted to visit the market in Antibes. I remember going there after one of the cousin’s wedding so wanted to remember it again. We parked a ways from the town where there was tons of parking. Then we walked along the waterfront where all the really big and fancy yachts are parked. I have to say, I definitely got that feeling of “I want ‘all the things’ and my life would feel complete”. It’s amazing what just being around wealth will do to your “want” desire.
The market was crazy busy and it was so hot. We bought a lot of wonderful fruit, veg, olives, and tapanade. We then went to find something to eat. We stopped in at this restaurant that had mussels and fries. Garcon, deux s’il vous plait! Dripping sweat while eating is one of the most unpleasant experiences I’m had I think. I soaked 4 napkins.
We left there totally full and went to the “Nomad” sculpture as it wasn’t too far away. Pretty cool looking. Luc climbed it even though it clearly said “no climbing”. Rule breaker!
Then Luc tried numerous times to convince us to go for the other little walk around a castle. No way. Vivi and I were dying of the heat. We crawled back to the car and home to cool off in the pool (the pool is at least 28 degrees so ‘cool off’ is an exaggeration. Later that night, Vivi threw up two times. We think it was maybe too much sun. We also aren’t sure if it was the mussels (she hasn’t had problems before).
The next night we went to Luc’s cousin’s place for a wonderful dinner of Pizza! Jerome built a pizza oven at his house, so we had several different kinds of home made pizza direct from a wood fire pizza oven. Again all the cousins, the pool, wonderful wine… it was so much fun and good to connect.
The next day, we drove the scenic route (sea side) to Cannes. We had lunch in a tiny little restaurant with really great tasting water (It’s the little things I swear…) There we went on tiny train that took us through Cannes and told us all about the history of Cannes and the different buildings and areas of town. We drove past some of the most expensive hotels in the world… there must have been something going on because it was car after car: Lambos, Ferraris, Porches, Bugatis, Mercedes (suped up PUSH), etc… Luc wanted to check out his grandpa’s old house, so we drove past there and he hopped the fence so he could take a trip down memory lane.
The next day was one for the records… we got up as early as we could (Vivi didn’t want to get out of bed and no convincing her that we needed to get going before it got too hot – helped). We got out the door to walk around Cape D’antibes. It was stunning and beautiful but it was so incredibly hot. Hardly any shade, in and out of rocks and climbing. Not too much of a breeze but when there was the breeze was hot. First Vivi started complaining about the heat and then it was me. I was a mess – every single piece of skin was wet with sweat. My face was a HOT MESS. I didn’t bring a hat because I seriously thought it was early enough (remember it was about 9am). It was like my body was on overdrive. I looked around at the other people almost casually walking, some RUNNING (I shit you not) and I was like “what the fuck is wrong with me?”. Luc actually wondered the same. We got to this place in the walk where we could continue (in the shade) or take a short cut and motor back to the car. Short cut please. I later read these two articles:
and now I’m so sure it’s completely linked with my red hair. Yes I am a unicorn. Thank you very much.
After getting to the car which was parked at the beach no less we joined the masses of people on the beach to get a cool down. This beach… you were LITERALLY right beside the next people. There was almost no sand to walk between the towels to get to the sea. People were scouting and fighting over spots…. You know when you ask someone if they are leaving so you can take their parking spot? Yeah that happened ON THE BEACH.
I feel like the next day was a down day. I think it’s when I wrote my last blog post. There was a massive storm which helped to relieve the heat much to my joy.
Then we went to Olivier’s house for another wonderful 4 hour meal at lunch. In the pool, speaking some English, it was really really nice. We went directly from their house to here. I coached in the most wonderful spot and then to dinner at a pizzeria just a little down the hill from where we’re staying. Live music, an awesome vibe, cheap, good food. It was really neat.
Yesterday… so Luc wanted to go for a 1-2 hour hike. I said “1-2 hours… have you done this before?” Response: “Oh yeah, so many times when I was little”. Me: “but 1-2 hours… that’s pretty vague. Why such a vaste difference?” Response: “It was a long time ago I can’t remember exactly”. So we head up the “hill”. About 30mins into a straight uphill “little walk” (that’s what he called it) I started to ask more questions. “Please show me the map and what we’re doing…”
Out comes the map “ok, up to the ruins here… then around the mountain, down to this town, and back up home.”
Me: “Ummmmm 1-2 hours? We’re not even at the ruins yet! And you want to go around THAT mountain?” Pointing at a mountain that seems like would take about a day to walk around the circumference. I’ve packed 1 litre of water and 2 cliff bars for the “little walk” for the 3 of us. I demand he calls his aunt for clarification.
His aunt says it’s about 1 hour to the ruins (which was “just around the corner”). Ok, we regroup and we decide once we get to the ruins we’ll choose what comes next. It’s a beautiful walk after the uphill turns to flatish. So many butterflies, crickets, lizards, beautiful views, the clouds shield us from the beating sun, there’s a breeze. AN ACTUAL BREEZE that’s cool! I love this place.
We get to the ruins. They are pretty cool. Way up at the top of this mountain, I try to think about what life must have been like for them. Creating these buildings that are made from stone, overlooking the beautiful valley. Why so high? It couldn’t have been easy to build there.
We drink water, eat the cliff bars. It’s been 2 hours. We choose to go back the same way we came. Luc said the path around the mountain is probably overgrown. Yeah let’s go with that.
We come home and head out for lunch and I’m exhausted so Luc takes off to find some canyon and river and I take a nap and Vivi has a rest. How he can keep going, I’ll never understand.
Side note: Man on man they eat a lot of bread here. I feel like I’m turning into the a French loaf. So I’ve decided no bread for breakfast and no bread from the bread baskets that they bring. I’m slower, I’m more tired, I feel like I’m constantly bloated. I need a bread break.
We have one more day here. And then we head back to the studio. 8 days until I leave for the Camino….
This blog post has been ruminating inside my head for a few weeks now. I’m struggling with not wanting to write it because I don’t want you to know how I’m feeling. I feel shame and guilt for feeling how I’ve been feeling. I started out this journey wanting to share about everything that was going on for me, but when push came to shove, I wanted to just hide and hope you think I’m having a good time.
So with that, I’ll write this.
Let me start by saying: I am having a good time. I really am. What I don’t want you to know is that it’s been a struggle on so many levels.
I feel guilt about saying those last few words. “It’s been a struggle on so many levels.” I feel like you all have expectations of me that this trip should be so incredible. That I’m living the life. I’ve heard people are jealous of what I get to do. I feel like I “should” be feeling a certain way: bliss, joy, contentment, peace, excitement, adventure. Right? Are you thinking that’s exactly what I should be feeling?
Because of this story I have of how I “should” feel, I now wonder “what’s wrong with me”. Yep, then more guilt comes in “you’re a life coach, you should know how to coach yourself out of this slump. This is your dream. You know not to make yourself wrong.” The self deprecating goes around and around. Luckily I have been working with my own very patient and loving coach. We are exploring and discovering what is going on for me.
Of course it’s not just one thing. Here’s some of the things churning in my head:
It’s so freaking hot. I literally can’t sleep, think, keep a cool head. I noticed when the heat reduced even by 3 degrees, my whole life shifted. Weeks of 30+ temperatures day and night have taken a toll on me.
I’m living in a small tiny room (every where I go) with the same people 24/7. This doesn’t work for me. I know I need my space, time alone and connecting with other people. Luc doesn’t really understand this at all because he doesn’t need the same for him – he would be happy being together without a break – ever.
We fight and fight over the stupidest stuff. Which causes so much disruption in my head. I can’t think clearly, I wonder if we are actually cut out to travel together for the next year. This makes my head spin more.
Luc needs to see way more than I need to (even spending just one afternoon in New York in our suite had him going stir crazy). I need to “be” way more than he needs to. This is really a compromise (I don’t like this word as it doesn’t seem very empowering) in our relationship. He needs to stay still more often, I need to do more, more often or he goes off and I stay home (which I’m content with but I doubt he is).
Lack of sleep, speaking and thinking in French way more than I have in years, eating at the same time every day, not being able to eat what I want (when I went to work 8 hours a day I got to choose what and when I ate – what a novelty). Two days ago, I was given the gears about eating potato chips when I should have been eating grapes…
The 9 hours time difference now between here and Canada… I’m not going to say that I’m not feeling this difference… There is only a small window now between where we’re both awake. It’s roughly from 7am-2pm PST (4pm-11pm here). Which means a lot of the communication that I have is around 6-8pm here. Right at dinner time. And I want to be connecting with my family and friends over video chat or phone call… this presents issues with us doing things.
We just had an argument about how it’s felt that I don’t like French culture because I said I don’t want to eat Ratatouille. Then it was because I don’t like how the French drive (sorry but you guys are fucking mental), the bread (don’t know what this is about)… I’m feeling out of place all over the place.
This is life on the road. All of this is new to me. I’m actually feeling quite alone even though I’m so not.
The irony is that this “should” be the time of my life. And I’m struggling. I’m really trying to understand being a different way. This is the breakdown before the breakthrough (god I hope it comes soon).
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me or even judge me for feeling this way (you are but I don’t want you to). It’s not as easy as saying “snap out of it”. I’m sharing where I’m at because I promised I would share the ups and the downs. And it’s not easy sharing when you’re hurting or feeling out of sorts with the world when you feel that others have expectations of you.
But it’s what’s true for me.
I’m working through it. Not stuffing down the emotions. Practicing choosing me and what’s important to me. Practicing being present. Reviewing the blocks that I have identified and how those blocks are getting in the way of joy. Seeing where I’m not integrating my whole self in this journey.
Writing this already has me be more present to what is so for me.
If you’ve ever felt like you should be experiencing something that you’re not, please share in the comments below. I’d love to learn from others experiences.
It’s good to be back in Switzerland, even if it was just for 3 days.
The idea was for us to come back here, rearrange our stuff, celebrate the 1st of August (Swiss national holiday) and spend some time with friends and family. Exactly what we accomplished.
We arrived by train at the train station where Guy, my father-in-law picked us up. I’ll spare you the broken record: it was hot, morning, day and night.
We dropped our bags, had a wonderful dinner with Luc’s parents, and then Luc, Vivi and Guy headed to the fireworks and I retired to my bed – I thought I was fighting a cold.
The next day was the 1st. We hunted for a box we left in the attic 6 years ago when we lived there for 6 months. After some brou ha ha, Guy found it tucked in a far reaching corner of the attic. It held so many treasures that I had forgotten about: towels, tampons, Christmas cookie cutters, Christmas wrapping, a pair of shoes, a curling iron, books, slippers… it was like a time capsule we got to reopen.
A neighbour to Guy and Camille invited us over to their pool for a swim. This neighbour has a daughter about Vivi’s age who we hope will become great friends with her. Unfortunately she was on holidays still but the pool was incredible to cool off.
Later that night we headed to Jouxtens for sausages, wine, bread, lentils, wine, and lots of friends and connecting – it was the 1st of August and the Swiss national holiday. Vivi made a friend on the play ground. It rained like crazy and thunder and lightening. So cool.
After that, we headed down to the field where there was a MASSIVE bonfire and fireworks. I’ve never been one to really dig fireworks and I find it interesting that it seems like the Swiss (and now I’ve witnessed the French – more on that later) really do enjoy watching the night time spectacle. They light up the sky for what seems like a half an hour. All I can think is “wow this must be so expensive”.
The next day was the 2nd. Time to look at everything we brought: store winter stuff, pack for the Cote D’azure for 3 weeks and the Camino for 40 days. Try not to forget anything. We downsized to a backpack each and one big backpack. Not too bad. Much fighting and arguing ensued for Luc and me.
After that, we headed to a friend’s house for a wonderful lunch. Let me paint the picture: first the lunch was about 4 hours (and I left early to catch up with a friend, my mom, and my daughter). We had some aperitifs under the tree in their backyard: baby tomatoes, crackers, wine. So lovely. Then we moved to the table in their yard where we had a pasta salad and tomatoes with mozzarella and basil as a starter. Then sausages and green beans – more wine. So delicious and so spoiled. It was beautiful. We moved back to the table under the tree to have bread and 2 different kinds of cheese. I think more wine. Then we had a Turkish drink called Raki that tastes like Ouzo. Then a little tiny delicious coffee. I was a little drunk by the end of that meal to be sure.
It was such a wonderful time catching up with our friends and getting to connect with Luc’s longtime friend’s wife who speaks English. She’s a new friend of mine but I’m so happy to meet her and her two wonderful children.
Since Luc and I have been fighting like cats and dogs, I suggested that we take the opportunity, while we have babysitters, to go out that night on a date and try to reconnect. I wanted to go to Vevey where we lived for 6 months, 6 years ago.
We grabbed his parents car and headed out around 8:30pm taking the lakeside route from Jouxtens to Vevey. Just like how I remembered it.
We got to Vevey as the sun was setting over the lake. I immediately felt like I was home. There is something so special about Vevey for me. I had only been there for about 10 mins when I told Luc I could absolutely move back here in a heart beat.
We ate at our old stomping ground, Pizza Taxi over looking the lake. It was pristine. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place at that time. It filled up my heart and spirit to soak it all in.
We slowly walked back to the car, I remembered the times we spent here, the different seasons, the snow, the Uno competition, the walks beside the lake pushing Violette in the pousette, visiting the town when it was Christmas, watching the leaves change as I walked Jaedyn to school…it was heaven.
The next morning we woke up and headed to the airport to take off for Antibes. It was weird thinking I wouldn’t be back in Switzerland until October. I’ll come back and the leaves will have started to change, it will be cooler (hopefully), Vivi will have been in school for over a month and things will be different again.
We arrive in Paris with so much luggage. Two massive backpacks, one massive suitcase, three carry on bags, my purse and a car seat. Let’s back up… We exit the airplane and it’s HOT. Like I’ve never felt. We’re tired. We’ve just been on an airplane that left at midnight New York time and arrived at 1pm Paris time. Are you confused? So was I. All I knew was that I slept about 2 hours on and off in a sitting position.
We get through the customs line, out to the suitcase area. Voila! There is all our luggage. Phewf. We move into the next area and there’s wifi. Yahoo! Ooops! Guess what? We forgot the car seat again. So Luc takes off back into the area that says “Do not pass. You will be arrested.” or something like that.
He comes back, unharmed and we summon an Uber. Into the Uber we go. It’s 40 degrees. No shit, no kidding. We have no water and the Uber driver explains that it’s so hot his AC isn’t working. Are you shitting me? All the windows open and Vivi is melting in the back seat. She’s complaining she’s thirsty and I start to worry about her when she starts to fall asleep as she slept most of the flight so she shouldn’t be tired.
So I tell Luc we need to get water. The driver says ok, and about 10 mins later he finally finds a place. Luc runs in and grabs two bottles of water. Incredibly, they don’t have cold water. I wake up Vivi to drink and she hates drinking this hot water. Me too.
We get to the apartment and haul all the luggage upstairs in the itty bitty elevator (3 trips I think). It’s small but so quaint. No AC again. I didn’t have an expectation that there was so I’m less disappointed than I was for the car ride.
We instantly shower. The shower is really UNIQUE – up some tiny stairs into a little alcove… Pretty cool. Arno shows up and tells us all about the apartment, and the area. It starts to rain. A lot. Then it stops. Starts again a lot… Stops… you get the idea.
It’s dinner time now (time goes by so quickly it’s crazy – I guess that’s what a 6 hour time change will do to you) so we go out and look to find a place to eat. We passed by this really cool area with a very fine mist coming out of the ground everywhere. It was really nice as the heat hadn’t let up.
Then we found a great place to eat right beside the road (there are so many places like this with tables and chairs beside the road to take in the ambiance). The rain started to pour again. We had an amazing dinner with steak tartar with frites, and a massive salad with bacon and goat cheese and rose wine. The best meal we had the entire trip IMHO.
The rain came down, then hail then thunder and lightning. It was pretty insane. It let up enough for us to walk home.
We got a very early start on the day, 7am (probably due to the heat and time difference) and the streets were empty. It was cool outside. I was really refreshed and super happy to be able to walk the beautiful streets of Paris in the peace. It was so serene.
We first took in the Pompidou Centre which is an art museum. Some people think it’s ridiculous and others think it’s a modern art miracle. I was surprised about the empty bottles that were strewn everywhere in the streets of Paris. People are allowed to drink alcohol in the streets all the time. And the consequences of that are that they leave their bottles everywhere for other people to clean up. I was a little amazed.
We walked on and got to the Hotel de Ville (Town hall). A beautiful building.
Then across the Seine River, everywhere I looked it was stunning and hardly any people.
And over to the Notre Dame. Things were starting to pick up a little by this point with people. We arrived in front of the Notre Dame and there were a few tours. We went inside just ahead of about 100 people entering. What timing. It was immense. I’ve been here before but it really takes your breath away how immense it is and how it didn’t start out like that.
Vivi wanted to light a candle to remember all the past great grandparents.
We left there and headed over to get some breakfast. Two espressos, two orange juices, one croissant and 2 pain au chocolat. Delicious!
We then walked to Luxembourg Palace and Gardens. This place is absolutely stunning. I would spend a whole day here just meandering, exploring, people watching if I could. We were trying to get to the Catacombs. After what seemed like forever (Luc: “it’s just past this… it’s just past that…”) we made it only to find the longest line I’ve seen. Luc asked how long and the guy said about 3 hours to wait to get in. Forget about it. We were disappointed because neither of us had seen it before but we weren’t willing to wait 3 hours either. Another time. Something to come back to see.
We bought some goat cheese and took the metro to the Louvre. It was hot at this point, close to noon and the people were everywhere. I was beginning to struggle. We saw the outside of the Louvre and the pyramid. I’ve seen this before and it doesn’t disappoint. Vivi really needed to use the bathroom (I can’t tell you how much looking for a toilet takes of our time.)
We weren’t far from our place so we headed home to have an afternoon shower and siesta.
I coached that night so Luc and Vivi took off.
Then we had another dinner in the street just a couple of mins away walking from our apartment. It was a big day of walking. Versailles tomorrow.
We started our day a bit late as we had a 12pm ticket time at Versailles.
There was so much security everywhere as this was the last day of the Tour de France. On the way to Versailles we stopped at La Defence. This is the big archway seen in the photos below. Pretty cool to see. It’s huge.
Then onto Versailles. After the train left us off at the station we walked about 15mins (grabbing some lunch at the market) and hit the line up. Thankfully we had a ticket so our line up was still 10mins but not the mammoth queue if you didn’t have a ticket.
Into the castle and WOW! Incroyable.
Vivi kept saying how much she wanted to have a castle like that and that if it was her, she would share with everyone. Everywhere you turned was magnificent. It’s all you can really say about this place.
We had a walking recorded tour. It was so hot (I sound like a broken record) and there were so many people. We made the rookie mistake of going on a weekend BUT it’s not open on Monday and that was our last day in Paris so we had to go on the weekend.
After the inside we moved to the outside. I can’t begin to tell you how immense the garden (if that’s what you call it) is. Massive fountains with rows and rows of hedges and sitting areas. What they did with and in these gardens is anyone’s guess. Luc guessed a lot of fornication…
I realized after the visit that I wanted to learn a lot more about Versailles so here are a few links if you’re interested in Louis the XIV’s reign and more on Versailles:
We returned home and I coached again that night. I’m loving that I can create my business to work with me while I’m travelling. This is really my dream come true.
Last day in Paris. Today was another day of walking in the heat. But I’m not complaining.
We got to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur.
We took the metro to the Eiffel Tower and Violette really wanted to walk up to the second landing so we marched up the 700 stairs to fulfill on that goal for her. Luc and I have been to the Eiffel Tower about 3 times each. It’s still breath taking when you get up there and see the views over Paris. It’s hard to believe that it was built for the 1889 World’s Fair and was only supposed to be a temporary structure. Something that’s different than before is that you need to go through a bag check and security screening both before you walk onto the grounds and again have your bag searched before going up.
After that we walked over to a beautiful view point (I still haven’t been on the grass opposite the Eiffel Tour) and took some photos.
We were late (how could that be, we’re on holidays!) to meet a friend of a friend of Luc’s, Arno at the Sacre Coeur. So, off on the metro again and over to the Sacre Coeur.
This place holds a special place in my heart: it’s where Luc proposed to me about 11 years ago. If you want to hear the funny story, reach out to me and I’ll let you know how it went down.
We met Arno who brought the most delicious picnic for us. Red wine, cheese, bread, veggies, figs and tea. Arno is moving to Salt Spring for a year and is looking for a place to live on SSI starting in September. He’s going to be working at the Wolf School over there. If you know of a place he can live over there, don’t hesitate to let me know.
After lunch, he showed us around to some of the less touristy spots that locals go and we so appreciated him telling us about all that he knew. The photo of the tall brown houses below are some of the oldest in Paris. One other thing to note: the one on the right recently had some tenants leave. This was an establishment for swinging couples. They could visit this place. He assured us he only knew this because of common knowledge (not from experience).
We were spent after a full day of walking and stairs… so we cooled down with a shower and a siesta.
We leave Paris. Another tremendously hot day. We pack up and leave our tiny abode via Uber to the train station. I’m feeling a bit sick (totally thought a cold was coming on) so I’m happy to just rest and get to Switzerland.
Things to note:
I’m feel like I’m understanding French better than I expected.
I’m feeling familiar now with France and Paris (not like it’s a completely different world). This is interesting because I’ve been here a few times now. Luc and I agree that it will be a while before we go back.
We’ve had more good experiences than bad with Uber. We will choose this again.
The heat is really getting to me. Unless I’m having a cold shower, there isn’t any relief. Not even at night. I yearn to feel cold.
Luc and I are fighting and disagreeing about stupid shit. More than usual.
I want to slow down. Like pronto. This pace of travel is way too fast for me, my body and my being. It’s nice to see so much but I’d like to just “BE” in a place to be a part of it.
Paris is so incredibly beautiful. You have to come here to see it’s beauty. Looking at in on TV just doesn’t do it justice.
Certainly a whirlwind. No time to actually write every day. I probably couldn’t do that even if I wanted to.
Impressions after a week: busy as hell, soooo many people, hot and humid, love, heart, power, beautiful, the ARCHITECTURE and the art are out of this world, Central Park was gorgeous, Twin Towers memorial: the energy. The city breathes with electricity.
Ok, now to the nitty gritty…
Time Square: intense, insane, lights, people. You gotta visit it but only once is really all you need.
After that Luc wanted to take us to the financial district so we went on a mini walking tour with Luc as the guide.
We stopped in at the Twin Towers Memorial where we explained to Vivi what happened on September 11, 2001. I got to recount where I was when I first saw on TV the first plane crashing into the first tower. The whole place had this energy… it’s really hard to explain it. It was a peacefulness and heaviness and it would have been easy for me to cry if I let myself. “Moving” doesn’t do it justice. Vivi was interesting to watch as she took in all the information. You could see that she was sad, introspective, wondering…
Then off to the financial district where we saw the New York Stock Exchange, the bull and Fearless Girl. Fearless Girl is an interesting story and how much disruption she has caused. I kinda love it.
Then to the Staten Island Ferry where we were off to a concert. We saw Lady Liberty from the boat. Onto a bus that a lady was very upset that we were making her late by putting in the bus tickets the wrong way. Oops! We get off at the stop that Luc has found and we walk through probably the worst part of Staten Island. Hypodermic needle on the ground, the loudest music in someone’s yard… I was suddenly wondering if we wandered into the wrong area of town. Nope, one more side street and we come out to the concert area.
We park ourselves on the lawn (hardly anyone there at this point). A little while later someone comes by to talk about voting for someone on Staten Island – a democrat. We explained that we aren’t from there but then engage with him to find out a little more about the political state of Staten Island. From what I gathered, Staten Island is probably the poorest of the boroughs. They are a republican area, but so close to converting to democrat. He said that it’s hard to know how close because people are afraid to put signs on their lawns and show who they will vote for because of the volatility and hostility. He also said that people were so sure that Trump wouldn’t get in (like a joke almost) that people didn’t go out and vote. It was interesting talking to him getting a first hand look at someone who is trying to make a difference and the struggle since people are holding their cards close due to fear.
More people showed up, the music started and it was awesome. We all got up and danced. What I was present to was the diversity with the people and ethnicities around me. I was also present to how un-diverse Victoria is with its British upbringing… The second act, Las Cafeteras, came on and they were so f’n incredible. They spoke of pushing back, police brutality, challenging the status quo… they definitely had some very strong positions and feelings. They are trying to make a difference with their music. So much respect for them. Their music was soulful energy. Goosebumps. The rain started to fall, we had to head home but I really felt moved by the music and the message that they were delivering. People are trying to make a difference in this world, let’s stand with them and create love, diversity and energy that the world is craving.
Walking across Brooklyn bridge. Wow. What a crazy experience. If you don’t like mass mobs of people that clearly can’t walk on the right, they stand in the middle, cyclists yelling at you, and not a stitch of shade, don’t go here. But of course do it once in your life as the view and experience is pretty cool.
After the bridge we split with Jaedyn and we headed down to the piers at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The piers used to be decrepit but they recently fixed them up and now each pier has a different theme. One that we saw was strictly basketball, ping pong, rollerblading, etc… The next one was a garden that you could walk through. The next one was a scocer pitch (more like 6+ soccer pitches), the last one was volley ball. The walkway to see the piers was beautiful. It was stinking hot. Vivi was hungry and Luc and I clearly weren’t agreeing. Patience… Always practicing patience.
We ate, doused our heads in the water park and took off we through the streets of Brooklyn. I liked Brooklyn and could see how you could spend a lot more time in this area of New York.
We met back up with Jaedyn in Times Square and bought tickets to see the Book of Mormon for the two of us.
We had time to kill so we headed to Strawberry Fields in Central Park and took in the Imagine mosaic. Where we listened to some dudes singing John Lennon songs on their guitars. Looooooved it.
Luc and I wanted to get a drink and the girls wanted to get some food so Jaedyn scouted out a place called “The Ribbon” where we drank wine/beer, ate ice cream and everyone tried a $1 oyster. Mixed reviews from the girls. I thought it was delicious!!
Jaedyn and I headed off to the show and Luc and Vivi went their own way.
The show was phenomenal. Sooo funny. Singing and dancing on Broadway – it can’t get any better than that. I would highly recommend watching it. I learned a lot about the Book of Mormon! And it was totally inappropriate – so of course it was perfect for me.
Jaedyn wanted to head to MOMA and we wanted to head to the Museum of Natural History so we split for a good portion of the day.
The MONH was pretty cool. There’s A LOT to see. We also went to an extra exhibit called “Senses” that I would recommend. Only thing that was kinda crappy was you couldn’t bring your own food into the museum (I know, expectations again. Ugh…). We had about 4 hours in there before we were kinda museumed out. Too bad cuz there was sooo much to see. And it really reminded me of the Night at the Museum movie. I would have loved to spend more time in the dinosaurs exhibit.
After that we meandered through Central Park. This was really cool. I wish so much that we had rented bicycles and seen more of the park. It just turned out that the weather wasn’t that great when we were there so we were always expecting rain. You’ll see from the photos below where we visited. I REALLY enjoyed the park.
We went home that night and I coached for the first time while away. This is living my dream. I created a coaching business to have while we travelled around the world. This night was the first night that I got to experience exactly what I had set out to do. I’m thrilled that I did it and accomplished what I set out to do. One more example of setting a lofty goal (one year of coaches training and a trip around the world) and achieving that goal. This was not insignificant and I’m pretty proud of myself.
Hop on Hop off tour. We got a killer deal ($100 for the 4 of us) that I’m sure no one could negotiate again unless you had some set backs the day before. My suggestion is to talk to one of the people on the street who try to sell you the tours and get their number if you don’t want to go that day. The day before you want to go, contact them and let them know when you want to go and for how long. Ask for the rate. And then stick with that guy. They work on commission so show some love and humanity for this guy and stay with him. We had some small set backs trying to arrange meeting him and so he discounted our tickets from $150 to $100 for the 4 of us. When we finally went to meet him we were there early at the spot. There was another guy there trying to sell us tickets as well that would not take “no” for an answer. Finally our guy showed up and several other “sellers” came up to us and said that we were “good people”. I think this is because we stuck with our first guy and didn’t let the guy in front of us talk us into getting cheaper tickets (which he couldn’t because we had such a sweet deal).
Top View was our choice of Hop on hop off. It was a great little tour but waaaaay too long at some of the stops especially since we were sitting on the top of the bus sometimes in the blazing sun. What a great way to see all the neighbourhoods of New York in a day. We got off at the Guggenheim (to pee), the Empire State building (to see it and some lunch) and at the Highline.
I actually called in to a work meeting during the tour. There was some big organizational changes that were happening that day. Pretty interesting to see how things are changing and I’m not there. Feeling a bit disconnected now, but still the pull back to what I left is strong.
The High Line was really pretty. We didn’t walk the whole thing but how beautiful it was. If you haven’t seen this place, it’s definitely worth a stroll through. Pretty unique that they have transformed an old railway line into this green above ground walk way.
Luc left us there. He went to meet a buddy he hasn’t seen in years and me and the girls made it back home for me to coach again and be coached. When I was coaching, I was outside at this little park where I had already seen a marmot a few days before. While I was sitting there reinventing myself and all my projects, I suddenly saw a glimmer. And then another. Huh? What’s going on here? Suddenly I realize it’s fireflies. Sooooo cool. A few minutes later, what the heck is that scurrying on the ground? A FREAKING SKUNK. I shit you not. It scampers under a car where many people and dogs walk right by it and have no idea it’s there. I suddenly start to think about the story of Curious George I’ve read to my girls so many times. A few minutes later it scampers back toward me. I’m in awe at the wildlife I’ve seen in this one park not that far from my place. The things that go on here.
That night I catch up with a few friends by way of phone. Fills up my happiness banks to be able to connect with people back home and hear what’s going on for them. I think the best thing is actually hearing their voices and their laughs. That makes me smile more than anything else.
A late late start as we had some paperwork and bills to pay. The insurance claim for the delayed luggage won’t get filed by itself.
We headed down to Grand Central Station and check out the enormity that it is. Then off to the New York Public Library. This building is immense.
We then headed back over to Brooklyn to visit with another friend of Luc’s, Celine. She used to live next door to him in Switzerland and has been here for the last 18mos. She shows us more of Brooklyn and we had some great talks about gentrification and politics. So interesting to hear about how gentrification benefits and hinders. Thank you Celine for being an amazing tour guide. I can’t wait to meet back up with you again at Christmas time!
After an amazing Indian meal, we said good bye to Celine and head home. Catching the last night time skyline in the park with the marmot, skunk and fire flies. Vivi rescues a fire fly in a spider’s web and it’s her first interaction with the glowing bug. The next day they saw the marmot and fed him cherries. The skunk was only for me.
We’re packed and ready to go with so much luggage. We leave the luggage at the Airbnb and head to the park for the day. Then onto our first Uber experience (Jaedyn is a pro so schools us at how it’s done). I’m sitting in the Newark airport right now writing this.
It was a teary goodbye to Jaedyn after we put her on a plane back to Victoria (we’ll see you at Christmas sweets!). We had such a good time with her. I enjoyed all the laughs and connection with my girl. It wasn’t all easy for all of us all the time (small place to live in for a week) but what a great memory we made in this last week together as a family. It’s not often anymore we’re together that much.
Luc, being the best person to find you the best deal, got us some credit cards a while ago that had access to some lounge areas in airports. And wouldn’t you know, a lounge in this airport. So we’re sitting here in the corner, charging our devices, eating free food, there’s an open bar and I really couldn’t ask for more. I might feel like a celebrity right now. LOL!
I loved New York. I coached my first clients on the road here. We got to spend a whole week as a family. I’m so grateful for this incredible life and opportunity I’ve been given. I’m connecting with my friends back home and it’s absolutely awesome.
I’m a tiny bit concerned about the time change that’s about to happen (+9 hours) but I’ll trust that it will all work out as it will. You’ve got my back universe.
I wanted to post this first but since the fiasco happened, I thought I’d start with that as it was fresh in my mind. Let me start by saying, this blog is unique in that while I’ll tell you what we’re up to on our trip, I’m also going to share vulnerably what is going on for me. Meaning you’ll hear happiness, struggle, love, adventure, heart, fun, pain, fear, and possibly failures. I’m going to express what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it. I hope I don’t scare you away J
This blog post was written when I was waiting for our first flight out of Victoria.
We’re sitting in the airport in Victoria. Finally it hits me, this is it. Years of thinking about this. Months and months of planning this. Planning is an understatement. This is one of the biggest projects I’ve ever undertaken besides having children.
Weeks of tying up all the loose ends. I should have blogged about what has gone into this trip. I will. But today, I’m so present to the fact that this is it. My dream, our dream, to travel the world for a year. All I can say is this is surreal.
These last couple of weeks have been incredibly emotional. It’s funny to think that for so many months/years I’ve looked forward to this trip. Excitement, joy, gratitude. Interestingly, I never would have anticipated that the last two weeks were the most challenging. Not because of the last minute stuff that had to get done (admittedly that was challenging) but because of all of the emotions I didn’t think I would feel.
I thought that “excitement” would carry me through to here and now. But it didn’t. It actually didn’t show up until I packed my bag 2 days ago and even then it was fleeting. What showed up was feeling sad, alone, heart break, missing out, and lack of connection. People said, “You must be so excited!” and “You’ll forget all about us when you’re out there travelling.” This has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve done in my entire life. Not just because of all of the organizing… it’s also the leaving. Saying good bye over and over and over again for me was torture.
I’ve worked so hard to get here, to this moment of leaving my current life and reality behind, to experience so many new things and now fear is showing up. It’s totally normal, I know. I’ll get over it, but for now that’s what I’m present to. Fear of the unknown, loss of control, loss of connection, what’s waiting for us out there…
I’m moving through all the emotions instead of pushing them down. Admittedly, I might be feeling guilt and shame for not feeling “excited” as so many imagine I would be. I have “pushed down” the emotions for years… and I’m choosing now to move through the emotions as this now feels more me. I don’t have to pretend I’m not sad. And I didn’t. I am. So why hide it. Instead I embrace the feels.
And now I sit here, waiting to embark on the trip of a life time. My dreams are becoming reality.
When I was 18 I returned from Amsterdam only to be greeted with all my luggage searched and a strip search (thankfully no cavity search). Ever since then, transitioning through airports has taken on a new heightened anxiety-riddled dance. Try as I may, I know my heart rate is elevated and I always seem to be breathing as if the room is depleted with oxygen. Of course, I try not to let anyone know how I’m feeling so I’m also trying to stuff it all down. Keep this in mind as you read this blog post…
We arrived at Victoria airport, and find out our plane is 35 mins delayed leaving. Alaska Airlines says, no worries for the connection. You’ll just have to go through customs but you’re golden. Then the call over the PA system for me. Up to the front we go and we find out that in actual fact we might not make it. We will be rerouted through Dallas and then on to Philly with an arrival time of 12:50am. AFTER MIDNIGHT.
This essentially means that we will miss picking up the rental car to drive to New York and we will have to find a hotel. Since this is the air traffic controls issues in Seattle, the airline isn’t responsible so we’re on the hook to pay it all.
Welcome aboard, your journey starts now.
Luc and I start to talk about options about what we could do if the latter issue happens… but there isn’t really much we can do until we find out how it’s going to go down.
We arrive in Seattle. Touch down: we have 50 mins before our next plane backs out of the gate.
We’re ferried onto a bus. Then through a maze of walkways, into customs. There Luc goes one way (he’s not Canadian so he has to go somewhere else) and this causes me a ton of anxiety. Jaedyn, me and Vivi head to the check-in terminals. I’m literally shaking wondering what is about to happen.
We get our paperwork, and off to the first person we see. We have big X’s on our slips so we have to head down the yellow line… why? Cuz we’re a family. Phewf ok. Then to the customs person named Howard (how do I even know this?). I can barely breath and he asks “Final destination?” New York. Well Philly first. “Reason for travel?” I sputter “to visit” Vivi fills in “It’s a holiday” yes yes it’s a holiday that’s what I wanted to say. Stamp stamp stamp. Carry on.
I’m frantically looking for Luc; he is already down at the carousel collecting our bags. Together again – thank god. We grab all our bags (forgetting the booster seat – damn) and head off to the next stop which is another person who asks us more questions (I think). Then to another place to recheck the baggage. I have a ton of judgement about this process of collecting bags and the rechecking them again. Stupid stupid stupid.
“Wait”, I say to the guy there, “what if we don’t have enough time to get to our flight? What happens to our luggage”? He asks “What time does your flight leave?” 11:55. “What time is it now?” 11:25. Plenty of time he says. And off our luggage goes down the conveyor belt. This is now becoming and exercise in trust and “it will all work out”.
We leave there and next stop is the second security check of the day. This time the shoes come off, it’s hot, pandemonium and this guy asks to see our boarding passes. We show him and he says “precheck boarding is upstairs”. What the heck does that mean? So I say, “what does that mean?” He says it again. Luc asks this time “Are we supposed to go upstairs? What does that mean?” he says “If you don’t know what that means, then it doesn’t matter” HUH? “So we stay here?” No answer. Ok, we’re going to stay here.
As we get closer and closer to the screening, the four of us are spread across 12 different trays/backpacks… I’m beginning to wonder what we’re about to forget. Then I’m ushered into the device that encircles you with your hands up. Jaedyn has the same fate. Luc and Vivi get off much easier. Is it the red hair? Why us? No time to think about that, we need to get our shoes on, pack up our 50 items and truck along to Gate D.
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, when we rechecked out baggage that guy told us it was two trains to get to gate D. Jesus. Time is ticking. Onto the first train. Off. Onto the second train. Off. Luc starts running for gate D. I have no idea how far away it is. Me and the girls start jogging. Clearly we’re going in the opposite direction as everyone else #swimmingupstream… then I see a guy driving a people mover…. I start to speed up until I’ve caught up with him and ask him if we can jump on and he can take us to gate D. “Sure!” he says. We get on, catch our breath and I yell out “excuse us!!” as people get in the way of the people mover.
We make it to gate D (American Airlines), thank the nice man and run up to the woman waiting there. It’s 11:44. Luc is there dealing with the fact that he has to get a boarding pass (so many problems if you don’t have a Canadian passport). We hand over our boarding passes. The woman says, “You’re going to need to check your backpack. And her backpack. And his carry on.” Say WHAT?!?
My heart is racing, I’m HOT, adrenalin is coursing through my body, and now I have to figure out what I’m taking out of my backpack to get on the 5 hour plane with. Out comes the laptop, the Euros, the American cash, the pens for Vivi to colour with. Luc grabs the iPads, the journal and activity books for Vivi.
The woman starts yelling at us, “you have to go or they will lock the gate. If you don’t make it there on time, they will cancel the flight.” Ok, now you’ve pushed me too far. I lash out “I’ve been moving for the last 45 mins trying to get to this gate. Do not pressure me into getting to the door of the plane. You can clearly see I’m trying here.”
Onto the plane… I don’t even know what seat I’m sitting in. Vivi and Jaedyn I assume are ahead. When I get close to our seats I see the girls in tears. I’m also close to tears. “What’s going on?” Jaedyn explains that the woman was also yelling at her “go go go! If you don’t hurry they will cancel the entire flight!” Jaedyn was trying to tell her that she didn’t want to be separated from me and Luc and the woman wouldn’t have anything to do with it.
That pushes me over the limit and I start sobbing… I mutter “horrible horrible”. I’m overcome with emotion from all the adrenaline, stress, pushing, lack of control and seeing my girls upset. Not being able to manage the unknown. I’ve literally been running and pushed for the last 45 mins trying to figure out my way through multiple gates.
One of the flight attendants comes by and asks me if I’m ok. “no I’m not” I say. He asks what he can get me. “Water please”. Thank you for showing me some compassion. It means a lot. Luc and Vivi are sitting beside me and hold my hand and fanning me. Vivi says “we made it. Just breath, Mama” and then she takes a deep breath like I do for her when she is upset.
She is wise beyond her years.
We made it.
I wonder if our luggage will be so lucky.
The journey has definitely begun.
After conversing with Luc, he says he didn’t experience the same thing. For him he says it was more like “it is what it is.” I feel like I have heard that one before.
LUGGAGE DID NOT MAKE IT.
After collecting our bags that were checked at the door (thank god those made it), we waited and watched the spinning conveyor belt spin until there was no one left and it stopped spinning…
We walked to the baggage area where we spent the next 1.5 hours trying to locate and get the bags shipped to New York. We were starving and still needed to get to the car rental and then to New York (2 hours away).
I started to cry. Again. Overwhelmed by the day and knowing what was in front of me still.
We walked outside at 10:30pm East Coast time. We waited for the shuttle to pick us up to go to the car rental for about 30 mins. FOREVER.
We get to the car rental and they have a car for us. And a car seat. Hallelujah. I ask “Anywhere to eat near here?” the guys says “At this time? Doubt it.” It’s 11pm. So we take off for McDonalds. I can barely believe I ate there this morning – I think I was delusional.
I wanted to stay in a motel in Philly so that my night stopped and I could regroup. But Luc and Jaedyn assured me that they were wide awake and they would be capable to drive and co-pilot so off we went.
Stopped in at a store to go pee before our 2 hour drive to New York and one of the stalls had a hypodermic needle on the floor, one stall was flooded and thankfully one stall remained mostly untouched.
2 hours later and much of my heightened anxiety in the back seat, (yes I was your classic back seat driver) we arrive. Find the Airbnb, go inside, brush teeth and off to la la land we go.
What did I learn about today:
I probably need to do some completion around what happened to me in the airport when I was 18 years old.
Managing the unknown is exhausting.
It’s ok to cry and release on an airplane filled with people.
It’s ok to say that I’m not ok. I will get help.
My kids are more resilient than me. Damnit!
I need to practice letting go more.
The bigger the breakdown, the bigger the breakthrough
That this probably won’t happen again while we’re travelling.
That we have $500/person if we have delayed baggage to buy stuff with. World Nomads is our insurance provider.
Water and food are important and I definitely didn’t have enough of that yesterday (it was next to impossible TBH).
There are quite a few ways to look at what happened yesterday and I get to choose how I look at it: