After Germany we traveled to Luxembourg, for no other reason than to add another country to the loose itinerary we were winging across Europe. As the Aushfahrt sign symbolizes entrance within Germany's boundaries, Luxembourg welcomes visitors with the biggest potholes this side of Bratislava. Its roads are like the surface of the moon!!! I have no pictures of my stay here, nor any real knowledge to impart about this tiny, mysterious nation, the only evidence of my visit being an IBIS hotel charge on my credit card and memories of eating some truly terrible lasagna. Thankfully we would soon be returning to France, my favourite place on the planet and home to the best cuisine in the world.
Traveling south, we made the pilgrimage to Rocamadour.
Traveling north, we walked the beaches of Normandy.
Nearing Paris during the end-days of our holiday, I couldn't leave without admiring the gaudy extravagance of Versailles again. Last year I came prepared: wisely pre-booking everything, I made it through the gates with relative ease. This year was a shit show. My father's sore hip made it nearly impossible for him to walk any great distance, so I ushered him to a seated location where he could comfortably wait for me as I purchased tickets. The line outside of the ticket office didn't appear to be too long; my naive estimation was 15 minutes tops…2 hours later, my father assumed I abandoned him. He would also get to experience the longest line on earth though as we both had to stand in ANOTHER one for almost two hours before actually entering the palace. Springtime in Paris is glorious.
After completing a University of Wisconsin-Madison course on the French Revolution at the end of March, I wanted to reinforce my studies by retracing the actual steps of my current historical muse Marie Antoinette. However, It's hard to have a moment of reflection at Versailles, to soak in the rich history and everyday pomp and circumstance that played out on its stage. One can barely admire the intricate gold leaf craftsmanship without being forcefully shuffled along by other inpatient tourists who spent most of their day waiting to get in. Not much has changed since 1789 it seems; although fighting to secure the perfect selfie is a tad less honourable than social uprising to secure rights for all of mankind.
The view overlooking the Grand Canal in the gardens of Versailles is one of my top three favourite scenic spots in the world. It is inspiring. Uplifting. Visual perfection. Olfactory nirvana. The perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely lunch (as long as you pack it yourself). As my father and I shared a $21 egg salad sandwich that I waited 40 minutes in line for, the increasingly overcast sky threatened to put an end to this short-lived bliss. He was pretty much done for the day, well exceeding his limit for physical activity, and thus it did seem a suitable time to say goodbye. I would return one day. It saddened me that I couldn't say with certainty if my father would. Right after we left, the sky blackened to shades akin of night and a torrential downpour flooded the cobblestone streets.
As we solemnly packed our bags into the Renault the next day, exhausted by our month-long adventure but sad to see it end, my dad asked me to find the easiest route to Charles de Gaulle airport wisely wishing to avoid the stress provocation of driving through central Paris. Unfortunately, the GPS in our car didn't map out our path that way (or I was too stupid to program it correctly). Instead of choosing the easiest route, it selected the quickest…which brought us right through the city again. On the downside, my dad experienced his final "warm" European greeting, the driver of a tour bus we accidentally cut off practically hanging out of his window to shout obscenities at us. I assumed they were; Rosetta Stone hasn't included them in their lessons yet.
The upside was that we got to see the Eiffel Tower one last time.
After returning from our holiday, my father visited the doctor to get a second opinion on his sore hip. He was originally told the pain was caused by a kidney stone. I felt it might be a fracture.
After running tests, he was informed that his cancer had spread.