My mom used to be packed at least one week before she went on a holiday. I have aspired to be as organized for years and have failed. Since Greg and I have known that we were going to Paris for months, I had hoped that we would finally be relaxed at least the morning of our departure. However, the morning of September 15th, Greg went to the office for an hour and then he took me to FY Doctors where I purchased my new frames in order to loosen the nose piece. We returned minutes before Jesse arrived to take us to the airport. We hurried upstairs into our bedroom and tossed in a number of items for our carry on bags, zipped our already packed suitcases and got into Jesse's truck only ten minutes late.
After we checked in our suitcases, we looked at each other expectantly actually looking forward to our flight since we would be sitting and doing nothing! We just hadn't expected we would be sitting on the airplane an extra forty minutes still on the runway since the pilot's door needed to be fixed. Unsure how much longer this would take, the pilot told us to use our cell phones and contact anyone we needed to tell them we are running late. Greg and I became a little apprehensive since we only had a two hour window at the Montreal airport before flying to Paris. Fortunately, shortly after I text messaged our four kids, we were told that we would be leaving.
When we landed in Montreal, a rather dingy airport, we grabbed a quick bite to eat since I couldn't eat the really bitter and disgusting vegetarian sandwich I was given. It was so bad that Greg couldn't even finish it for me! Anyways, we shared a small quiche and crepe which was a good thing since for supper on the plane, I was served a vegetarian curry dish. Curry has never been my favorite spice but I could eat it if I had to. However, last year when I was having radiotherapy I went to a wedding where Indian food was served. The strong curry smells in a very hot venue was too much for my nausea and caused me to be very ill. Since then I don't seem able to tolerate curry at all. Even as Greg ate this dish for me, I was gagging. Greg very graciously shared his beef stroganoff with me. From now on, I will not be requesting vegetarian on the plane!!
We left Edmonton in the morning and arrived in Paris early in the morning. Even though we were jet lagged and longed for a bed, we had decided that we were going to adjust to France time and go to bed early in the evening. It took awhile before our car rental was ready but by 10:30 a.m. we were sitting in our four door Peugeot trying to figure out how to use the GPS. We received help from the rental assistant. She was particularly helpful when she switched the language from French to English!!
Greg had to adjust to driving a standard and outside of stalling it a few times, he did a good job. We drove to Giverny where we saw Monet's house and garden where he lived when he became a successful artist and where many of his later paintings were done as he continued to explore the effect of light on what we see. We stopped there and shared a delicious bun fill with beets, goat cheese and walnuts. Even though we were exhausted, we were glad that we stopped there and enjoyed the beautiful surrounding.
On the plane, I had listened to a lecture about the theology of beauty and how beauty should reveal truth and goodness. As we stood surrounded by the colorful flowers, smelling their delicious fragrances, and as we witnessed the effects of light and shadows on the water, we knew that we were in the midst of beauty. During the lecture, the professor impressed upon her students that the ultimate essence of beauty is God and His Glory. She explained that everything in the world has this shining forth quality because God's splendor is breaking forth. Walking through Monet's garden we experienced that breaking forth of God's splendor.
WE had one hour left to drive to Honflueur which turned into a rather long hour since we had reached our peak of exhaustion. I did my best to entertain Greg by reading information about Honfleur – our destination – from my Kindle. Then I proceeded to tell him a little I learned about how stinky the Palace of Versailles was since men urinated in the corners of many hallways! I proceeded to tell him how King Louis XIV could hold court even while he sat on his special “toilet” which some people found offensive. What I found offensive was that special servants were assigned to wipe his behind! Desperate conversations for desperate times. Even my “stimulating” conversation had limits and finally we read a sign that if we could just drive ten more kilometres, we could stop and walk around and of course find a bottle of caffeine – Coke! The Coke only had limited effects of energizing Greg but enough to get us to Honfleur. We found our motel called Les Bleuets which is not fancy but very clean. We desperately wanted to go to sleep but instead we drove back into the main part of town and looked for our supper. We had become catatonic and we found a place that sold pizzas and we took the box back to our motel room and ate our Margarhita Pizza and Ham and Vegetables there. By 7:30 p.m. we were lying in bed and minutes later Greg was asleep. He woke up at 3:00 a.m. and then settled back into a deep sleep until 10:00 a.m. which he hasn't done for years and years. I woke up more often but mainly because it had rained last night and I had forgotten to take my pain medication for the evening to help control fibromyalgia pain.
In the morning, 45 minutes before breakfast would no longer be served, we entered the room at Les Bleuets to have a continental breakfast and no one else was in there. We were literally the last couple to indulge in a fresh bun and two patisseries – one stuffed with chocolate, another one stuffed with raisins. We washed them down with our glasses of orange juice and Greg's hot chocolate and my cup of tea.
By noon, Greg loaded our daypack with water and rainjackets and we began our walk into the town. We did experience some rain that required our jackets but later the rain stopped and the walk was lovely. When we arrived on Sunday, there were people everywhere, but today the walk was quiet and when we walked through a park, no one else was around.
Often when we are touring and visiting churches, we walk quickly through it and then head to the next tourist site. There is not that much to see in Honfleur and our pace was slow. Therefore, we made time to sit in the pews and even read a prayer from my Kindle. We looked more closely at the stained glass pictures although we weren't always certain what they depicted. We discussed how we Protestants may have lost some meaningful spiritual gestures when we no longer light candles. Along the wall, you could choose what saint you wanted to light a candle in front of. I don't really believe I need a saint to intercede for me, yet I believe I could light a candle as a gesture of gratitude for answered prayer, or a gesture of petition for something I longed for that God would answer. In fact, when we go into the church at Rouen where I believe we are going tomorrow, I may light a candle.