Let’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.
1. London Day 1. If you are just joining me, with two other teachers, I recently took a group of middle schoolers on a trip to London, Paris, Lucerne, and Munich. This was my first trip out of the country, with exception to staying on a resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a wedding. 😉 So needless to say, I was looking forward to finally stepping outside my bubble. With a six-hour difference between London and Austin, TX and a long day of travel, I’m not sure I’ve ever been as tired as I was on that first day. However, the best way to beat jet lag is to pretend it isn’t even there — so we arrived in the morning (London time), even though it was nighttime in Texas, and we trudged through the day, sight-seeing. We went on a walking tour of London, saw the city center where there were street performers and St. George’s Cathedral, took a walking Harry Potter tour and a bus tour on a double-decker, floated off and on The Tube (London’s subway), and saw the financial district. Regardless of the jet-lag, the city was charming, fast-paced, and fun. Bonus — Umm, nobody told me that there were so many hot men in London, and the ratio of men to women is much friendlier than it is in Austin, TX. I’m thinking I might be making a move… 😉
2. London Day 2. I slept HARD the previous night, so Day 2 was so much better. We watched the changing of the guards and then headed outside the city of London to tour Windsor Castle, which of course, was gorgeous. The weather was perfect, on a rare sunny day.
3. Paris Day 1. I absolutely fell in love with Paris — which I sort of predicted, being the hopeless (hopeful) romantic that I am. The city is full of romance, everywhere you look. We started the day at Notre-dame, and I cannot begin to tell you how stunning the architecture is on the outside and inside of the cathedral. It was a true highlight of the trip for me. Before entering the building, we strolled the streets a bit, and I picked up a delicious croque-monsieur from a street-vendor. Immediately, I enjoyed taking pictures and trying to capture everything I saw there. Normally, I am not much of a photographer, as I like to live in the moment and take in my surroundings, but I didn’t ever want to forget what I saw, and it became sort of a challenge for me to try to capture things in a way that honored the experience. It was a full day, as after we visited Notre-dame, we went to the Louvre and took in all its opulence. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many photos of ceilings before — ha! I spared you all but one. I saw the Mona Lisa, which was surprisingly under-whelming. She’s tiny! To top off the day, I enjoyed an ice-cream in front of the Eiffel Tower, and went on a boat ride in the canal, and this was such a fun experience. The people on the boat would shout and scream each time we passed under the beautiful bridges, and tons of couples sat perched at the edges of the canal, picnicking and waving at us. We passed a group of Latin ballroom dancers at the end of the boat ride and took obligatory pictures of ourselves passing the Eiffel Tower. It was a perfect first day in Paris.
4. Paris Day 2. The second day, after a bus tour of Paris, we traveled outside of the city to see Versailles in all of its glory. Despite it being extremely crowded, it was another great experience. First, we toured the gardens, which I seriously could have done all day — I never realized how large it was. I walked around shoving a baguette in my face and snapping pictures of the perfect landscaping. We then went on a guided tour of the château with the help of our hilarious guide, Jean Louis, where I got to be Queen and help demonstrate the story of Marie Antoinette. The gold, the chandeliers, the wallpaper — unbelievably detailed and opulent. We capped off the day with some free-time, and I felt like such a Parisian lounging at a patio café on a beautiful day.
5. Lucerne, Switzerland. Lucerne gets a tie with Paris for my favorite city we visited and for very different reasons. It’s beautiful, crisp, clean, and so much more relaxed. Our hotel was charming, as it sat in the hills with views of the Alps, and housed baby goats, bunnies, and ducks. The kids enjoyed petting the animals and rolling down the hills, which was quite amusing to watch. On the first night, after the students went to sleep, the adult chaperones from our school and the other school, our tour director, and the few parents who came with us sat around the patio with that beautiful view as a backdrop, drank beer, and had some good, hearty laughs. The next day, we went on a short walking tour, had some free-time for shopping, sight-seeing, and then prepared ourselves for a highlight of the trip — Mt. Pilatus.
6. Mt. Pilatus. If you asked any of the students on the trip what their favorite part was, most of them would agree that the day we went to Mt. Pilatus was simply the best. We took a gondola up to the top, and the view was breathtaking all the way up the mountain. Just when we thought we weren’t going any higher, it would start again, and then we took a larger gondola that fit many people up to the peak, and then we climbed steps to the very top… It seemed to never end, but we enjoyed every step of the way. We hung out at the top for a few hours, enjoying the views and the café at the top. As we descended the mountain, we enjoyed a different perspective, including a herd of cute cows (I’m such a dork). To get back to where we started, we took the boat in the above picture. The weather was gorgeous, the breeze swept through our hair, and it was just what we needed to relax and unwind after the hot climb.
7. Munich, Germany. Our final leg of the tour was in Munich, Germany. We shopped in Marienplatz, enjoyed one-too-many sausages, and viewed yet another beautiful castle, but it was stepping outside the city that left the biggest impression on us. We visited the Dachau Concentration Camp, and I feel like whatever I say will not match the impact it has when you visit it. It was one of the most devastating camps and just knowing that we were walking where people were tormented and killed sent chills down our spines and tears to the backs of our eyes. At a time when it seems hate-filled-terrorism is much too commonplace, being there made the desperation and hope for change that much more present. In fact, the day after we left Munich, yet another act of hate-filled-terrorism occurred in Munich, and it never fails to rock your core. But there is beauty out there, there is good in humanity, and it has become all the more important for me to connect to others, to understand them, to learn from them, and to see the beauty in the diversity of it all. Let us focus on this and melt away the hate. — This was an experience I will never forget. I didn’t want to come back, but I am excited about reconnecting with those I care about and gaining a greater depth of understanding of the people I know, hearing their stories, and finding ways to love even more.
I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss! Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!
Have a wonderful week!