Travels with 2k - Part 4 Paris to Reims

Travels with 2k – Part 4 Paris to Reims

Riding Rail Europe to Reims, the home of Champagne production made me excited beyond description. From the time I began studying wine in the mid-90’s, I daydreamed about visiting this historic region that garners respect from those who revere the bubbles in a glass many hold dear. The train ride from Paris to Reims is only 45 minutes, long enough to develop an appreciation for the beautiful, French countryside. Crossing the countryside, seated in a smooth moving, clean, and efficient Eurotrain allowed me to exhale. However, along with the deep breath I remembered a sweater was not the only thing I forgot to buffer the September chill. I also left behind my two favorite French wine region books.

On the Train

On the Train

The view from inside a taxi en route from the train station into the town of Reims to our Bed and Breakfast, Les Telliers is stunning. The tree lined streets and preserved buildings, some dating back to the 13th century ooze history.

Taxi View

Taxi View

Streets off boulevards are narrow and character rich. Each building reflects its own personality. The blending of old and new, tradition integrated with the present creates an environment unlike the U. S. Reims is not inundated with chunks of franchises, the same stores everywhere you look. While riding in the taxi, I’m eager to walk around Reims to explore the shops and restaurants calling my name.

Tree Lined Streets

Tree Lined Streets

Streets of Reims

Streets of Reims

Streets of Reims 2

Streets of Reims 2

http://wp.me/p3eIPI-ry 

2 K

Charles De Galle Airport Paris.

2K Travels Part 3

Next, we needed to decide where to go in Europe. I scoured the Internet, absorbing every detail about traveling to Europe for the first time. Which city was the best to visit for first-timers? The do’s and don’ts. The pleasures and the pitfalls. Where to stay, where to eat? Currency exchange. Transportation. How to handle language barriers? How much luggage to take?

Equally important, how not to behave like an arrogant and rude American when traveling abroad, the caricature of Americans I most wanted to avoid. A myriad of things to consider confronted me. However, I was lucky to know three people who could help me navigate the journey. A friend living in England, one in Switzerland, and someone I met in an Ex-pat online group forum living in Sweden. They all offered helpful tips on visiting Europe, without making me feel weird asking ingenue questions.

Finally, I began to outline our trip. Excited by the value of our collective travel points, we had enough for roundtrip airfare, and hotel accommodations for multiple days. Deciding where to go was most difficult. How many cities could we realistically visit in two weeks? How long would we stay in each city? How would we travel between cities? Would Euro currency suffice for multiple countries? Ultimately, our European travel itinerary included four countries, and seven cities within two weeks with stays in hotels and B&B’s.

The Final Itinerary: Europe 2009

France: Paris, Reims, Bordeaux

Italy: Milan

Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam

Spain: Madrid

We spent our last stop before Europe with friends in Atlanta for a couple of weeks. Leaving our belongings we packed in the car with a friend, we boarded a flight back to Miami for our departure flight to Paris. After checking luggage, and finding a seat at the gate in the terminal at Miami International Airport (MIA), it hit me, there were only approximately 4574 miles and 9 hours between me and France.

However, while waiting at the gate, a cap fell off one of my teeth and disappeared. Trying not to be superstitious, I refused to think the falling cap was a bad omen. Instead, I checked the weather in Paris. Fifty-four degrees Fahrenheit, overcast, and chilly. I remembered all my sweaters were packed in storage.

 

Landing at Charles De Galle Airport northeast of Paris was an exciting moment because our official European journey was about to begin. Waiting in line at customs, we were greeted by a personable customs agent. It felt good to put some distance between me and the U.S. The stress of the layoff, moving, thinking about our next steps were contained. My only focus became getting through customs and entering Terminal 2D 2G to absorb a new life experience.

Charles De Galle #2

If artistic value is found in murals why not Graffiti?

My love for Graffiti is real. I don’t know what it is about Graffiti that speaks to my urban/suburban soul. Perhaps my naturally rebellious nature makes me root for Graffiti artists every time I see a tagged surface. A freeway overpass or divider wall, under a bridge, the side of a building, anywhere Graffiti is not supposed to be makes me cheer.

For some, finding beauty in graffiti is challenging. I understand. One may not momentarily be able to suspend property rights to appreciate the pure, creative nature of graffiti. During my travels around the country, outside the U.S., and through local neighborhoods, I search for graffiti and murals. Graffiti and murals make me abruptly stop when walking, or pull over when driving. My mind feels the colors and shapes on a tagged wall, door, section of a railroad track, or glimpse of a highway overpass. I try to decipher what the letters or design may mean when not obvious.

From downtown Seattle, Washington to its suburbs, from Brooklyn, New York to a Dijon, France subway, and an underpass in Geneva, Switzerland, to the railroad tracks between Lausanne to Gruyere in Switzerland, to Reims, France the Champagne capital of the world-graffiti captures a moment of personal expression in any language, and in many colors. The timeline of world art is divided into periods going back as far as 300 BC cataloguing art from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Artistic expression is categorized, and to a great degree interpreted for us. Those who create murals or graffiti may not have formal training, but still demonstrate visual creativity in unconventional ways.

Sometimes beautifully symmetrical, and other times totally raw. We may not exactly know what the messages communicate in murals and graffiti, much like ancient African Yoruba art, or Egyptian hieroglyphics. Today’s message may be a shout-out of pride, a cry of frustration, colors of anger, or simply a warning. Most important, graffiti communicates I-am-here.

The old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” also holds true for art. View a growing gallery of graffiti and murals, and behold the beauty.

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Storage

2k Travels Near and Far – Part 2

After thrashing the idea back and forth, we decided to put all our stuff in storage. The townhouse lease would expire soon leaving us with no legal obligation to stay. We found out how much free airfare and lodging our collective points offered. Arrangements for the son still living with us were made, we began packing for storage and separating main items we needed to take with us.

 

Next, as first-timers in Europe we needed to decide where to visit. I scoured the Internet, absorbing every detail about traveling to Europe for the first time that I could find. Which city was the best to visit for first-timers? The pleasures and pitfalls. Where to stay, where to eat. Currency exchange. Transportation. How to handle language barriers. Tips on carrying minimal luggage. Cities considered more friendly than others to Americans; and advice on how not to behave like the rude and ugly Americans traveling in Europe I read about.

Italy

The first leg of our itinerary involved loading the car with essentials and driving from Miami to U. S. cities visiting family and friends until the time arrived to leave for Europe. To further conserve limited funds, we took advantage of Priceline hotel and motel deals when not staying with someone we knew. The road trip gave us plenty of opportunity to evaluate what to do after returning from Europe. Half of our plan was set.

Traffic

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