Thursday, September 15, 2016

So Far, So Good (France)

I am one week in to my trip backpacking around Europe! It feels like it's been longer, in many ways. I'll try to keep this blog updated with photos and anecdotes, partly as a way for me to remember this trip, partly to let my parents know I'm still alive, and mostly out of narcissism.

Anecdote #0: Why I should have done proper rehab
Sunday September 4th, the day before I am supposed to leave, I fall trail running and re-sprain my ankle,which I had injured earlier in the summer and failed to rehab properly. After hiking out over a mile to the nearest road, I can't put any weight on it. We drive to multiple urgent cares before finding one with a functioning X-ray. Verdict: not broken, but the trip has to be delayed. I now fly to Charlotte, and on to Paris on Thursday, September 8th. Reykjavik got the axe. So much for my Walter Mitty adventures through Iceland.

Anecdote #1: Airport Sticker Shock
Arrive to the airport around 8 am for 10 am flight and am not permitted to check in. American Airlines has decided to make itself the Visa police and not let me board my plane because I have a round trip flight to and from a Schengen zone city which returns more than 90 days after departure, and no Visa. The official rule is that US citizens may not spend more than 90 of every 180 days in Schengen zone countries, and my research shows that if I spend the remainder of my time in other countries I will not have a problem. American Airlines feels otherwise. I wait on hold with STA (the travel agency for young people, bless their hearts) and change my return flight to come back within 89 days, and THEN can check in. Too late to check the bag, so all the carefully packed toiletries go in the trash. I arrive at the gate 10 minutes before boarding ends and cry in public. Sure I'm relieved, but I also just spent an unconscionable amount to change my return flight. No matter, I'm on my way!


If you go to Paris and don't take an Eiffel Tower selfie, did you really go to Paris?

Arc de Triomphe

Inside Notre Dame during mass

Anecdote #2: Jet Lagged
One day in Paris wasn't enough, so I'll have to circle back later this fall, but I already have plans to meet up with Andrew, a friend from DU who now lives in Lyon. Early trains are cheaper, so I leave the hostel by 6 am. Thanks to jet lag, I've hardly slept, so I'm in a strange waking dream. My thoughts are as follows: Oh, duh, hipster district, of course people are still out partying. Men. All men. I don't speak French, return catcalls with blank stare. Why did I think a dress was a good idea? It's shorter with the huge pack on. Oh crap I forgot to put on shorts under - damn jet lag. Please don't let me flash anyone. Why is that asshole singing? Oh no, another asshole is coming in singing louder. Fight! They're going to fight! Phew, train is here. Why are stations so big? I'm going to miss my connecting train... made it. Traveling alone is hard.


Roman ruins in the hills

Lyon's version of Red Rocks... It'd be cool to go to a concert in ancient ruins!

Anecdote #3: Slip and slide
Escargot is delicious - salty, garlicy. Also incredibly hard to eat. Left hand is clamping the shell, right hand is trying to dig the snail out of its shell with a tiny little fork. The oily herb sauce coating the snail gets the best of me. Snail shoots out of clamp, slides across table, leaves trail of green grease. Proper French people stare at me, don't I know this is a nice restaurant after all?

Chamonix, France

Anecdote #4: Grace
Thanks to the help of trekking poles and an aggressive ankle brace, I can hike! For up to 6 or 7 hours, over pretty rocky terrain. Good thing, because the views are incredible!


And I thought I was crazy... yes, that's a squirrel suit.

A mere panoramic photo doesn't do it justice

Took the cable car up

Climbers coming in through tunnel of ice

Perched above the glacier


  1. Michaela,
    Love seeing photos and reading about your experiences as you travel. God speed in your adventures! So proud of you for living your dream.

  2. Michaela,

    Wonderful pictures - trip of a lifetime - enjoy - safe travels. Trisha