Saturday, May 3, 2014

France and Switzerland

Well, I didn't quite stick to my plan of posting something every 3 days I'm sure y'all can forgive me. If you follow my Instragram (@tofumcneil) you already got a chance to see a handful of pictures but I have quite documented my experiences on here yet. 
So, Phase One of this 4 month adventure is over. The week we spent in Paris was your very typical touristy trip to Paris. We saw all the major sites (the Arc du Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles (not technically in Paris but who's keeping track), Musee d' Orsay, the Louvre, the Opera, and pretty much all the other standard fare). It was incredible. Paris itself is an amazing, living city. The entire city itself, people included, is a museum. There is so much you can learn and experiencing while just wandering the streets. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could, especially because a week is not long enough to really see everything. The one thing that I wish I had done was bring a friend who speaks French. I might be fluent in Spanish but grumbling to myself in a combination of english, spanish, and what little french I know can really only get you so far. My brother and my sister-in-law tried to learn as much as they could but we often had to keep our fingers crossed that the people we were speaking to knew enough english to make up for our complete inability to communicate in the native language. 

What made this trip even more interesting was traveling with my 2 year old nephew, Luke (I should probably state that the reason why I am here is because I am helping my brother and his wife move to Geneva while my brother does and internship with the World Health Organization). He has travelled so much for only being 2 years old and he now has the entire routine down. He still struggles occasionally (especially during meals) but as long as he is moving, he is just sort of going along for the ride. He loves running up and down stairs and climbing on things. I'm convinced that I worry more about him hurting himself that his parents do. He is a good little guy and has been put into situations that other kids wont experience until they are teenagers. 

So, we are now in Phase Two, which is helping my brother get settled in Geneva, Switzerland. The apartment he is renting for these two months is actually just on the French side of the border because it is way less expensive but will be traveling to the W.H.O. every day. The days now consist of errands in the morning and sightseeing in the evening. It has actually become more work than play now (which is good because I have no idea how my brother and his wife would be able to get everything finished that they need to without us).Yesterday we had the chance to wander around the old city center of Geneva and learn a lot about the history of this part of Europe. We then (after grocery shopping), drove to Chamonix, France where the first Winter Olympics took place. The Alps are incredibly gorgeous and we had one of the top 5 best meals of my entire life. 

This trip really has been incredible so far but I am most excited to be heading to Malawi in just a few days. I mostly feel blessed that I have these opportunities to travel. It can be a little hard at times, especially because it just dawned on me that I absolutely wont be home until August, but the experiences are worth every difficult moment. The world is a big place and I believe that everybody needs to have the chance to explore exotic, new frontiers, but only if it is done with a sense of discovery. The sense of discovery can be turned outward to a degree but it needs to be turned inward if you are truly going to learn anything. The purpose of this sense is to discover who you are and to do things you never imagined were possible before. Yeah, some days will be tough but there will always be something worth learning if you just keep your eyes and mind open.

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