Tomorrow morning I am off to catch the ferry to Dover and the UK again and I think that just like anyone on a trip like this I am feeling a little reflective on the experience of the last week (France) and the last 3 in Europe.
The overwhelming thing that seems to stick out over the last weeks is the pace of life here. There is no surprise that ‘older world’ ideals have hung on here but it is very nice to see that there are certain concepts like an uninterrupted lunch or dinner time still exist in parts of the world. I was quite taken aback for a short period of time the other day when I had to wait for a petrol station to open after lunch but if you are the only person who works there then you deserve an appropriate work life balance as well.
Its also amazing how adaptable people are here. I have been through 5 different countries with 4 different languages in the last 3 weeks. With countries as small as this there are people moving about everywhere and that means that many of them seem to know at least 2 languages. I have thought about language a lot and am impressed with how people are able to absorb these languages and how they adapt when they don’t know what is going on around them. While not the place I would ever suggest people stay the ‘hotel’ in Grenoble was the source of some interesting ‘conversations’ for me as I had conversations with those who were willing.
And finally the mix of incredible natural scenery with amazing history in the cities. The cities have been full of the expected wonderful architecture and stories to go with it while the outside country has been full of the beauty that the landscape allows. The differences of that with Canada are subtle. Our cities can not compete with the history of this place but I will always argue that my country has a greater level of beauty. That said I will always remember the places I have seen. The Alps are amazing as all mountain ranges are and the choices of where people choose to live are amazing. The one thing that has stood out for me is the bird song that is heard all around the continent. It seems to be something that has stood out and I will have to go home and see if it is there as well at the same consistency and volume level.
And so that is it. Today I rode north from Paris and have made it just outside of Calais. Tomorrow morning I am to ride up to catch a late morning ferry and am off to part 3 of my trip. At times my trip has felt a little hectic (as tomorrow probably will) and so I am looking forward to this next bit. Possibly some time to put my feet up and relax for a week, going places at a very slow pace.