The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land. ~G.K. Chesterton
Before I had children I worked so that I could travel. I had simple wants. I didn't want to trek through the Himalayans, cross the Sahara or visit the pyramids. I just wanted to spend some time in Europe seeing the world my grandfather had left. As I was to discover, he left it for a good reason. I learnt to appreciate Australia in ways I might otherwise not have. After all, there is something to be said for having no history.
We didn't have an awful lot of time ~ comparatively ~ so we had to prioritise which countries we wanted to spend our time in. Scotland, obviously. Both Dearest & I still have family in Scotland. I have some Norse blood, Dearest has hot Spanish blood. To do both Norway & Spain necessitated a long trek through the middle of Europe. We were driving so our terminus was Paris.
Now plenty of people are enamoured of Paris. I am not one of them. Oh, there were things I was rather keen on seeing & we did see some of them like the Louvre & Notre Dame but I have one quirk in a personality that isn't fazed by too much; I do like a clean loo. And this from a woman who has lived with the Australian outside dunny. If you have never experienced this just count your blessings. There is nothing quite like wandering through a pitch black night & long grass in snake country looking for the dunny down the back paddock that is likely as not to be a hole in the ground with a splintery slab for a seat & a whole black hearted host of mosquitoes whose sole intent is to bite your bare bum! When you are seated & in no position to run the spiders start unwinding from above your head ~ to say nothing of the ones that are probably living under the seat. Then there is the sawdust & scoop & newspaper nailed to the wall instead of a chain & proper loo paper. So you see I thought I had experienced the worst the world had to offer in loos until we got off the boat in Calais & experienced a French campsite.
I can cope with most things. Running blocks? No problemo. Bidets? O.K. Other people's excrement up the walls & over the floors & streamers of paper everywhere? EEEEEEEWWWW!!!!
We thought we'd just been unlucky but everywhere we went it was the same ~ or worse! The only clean loo we ever found was run by a German. You could have eaten off his loo floors it was that clean.
So we decided early to limit our time in Paris, which meant limited time to see those things Paris is famous for. We wandered through the Louvre for most of a day then against his better judgement Dearest agreed to drop me at the Notre Dame while he sat in the van & recovered from too much sightseeing. A church is a church is a church in Dearest's book & even one of the world's finest stained glass rose windows was no enticement. His only stipulation was not to take him back to the campsite through the Arc d'Triumph.
Now I have little sense of time & almost no sense of direction so I wandered happily for far too long then got lost trekking back to the car. Dearest handed me the map. I have enough trouble with an English map. One with important information in another language completely defeated me. I took poor Dearest in an almost direct line straight to the Arc d'Triumph!
Have you ever seen this thing? Something like 15 roads feed into it. There are no lights & no lanes. It was peak hour. As we arrived we watched as two different cars flung open their doors in the middle of the traffic, the drivers leap out & with much Gallic waving of arms & vitriolic French hash out their differences as the traffic flowed around them. The gendarme threw up his arms in disgust & wandered off to have a quiet ciggie out of the fray. Meanwhile Dearest found himself being pushed further & further towards the centre of the incoming traffic, like a screw being tightened. He was not a happy Dearest & it was all my fault.
The French are a wonderful people & their escargot are to die for but there is no escaping the fact they are among the world's more erratic drivers. They understand only one thing. Dearest dropped the clutch, revved his engine & headed straight for the nearest exit. The traffic miraculously parted like the Red Sea.
At some point, when I am again childless or alternatively when Ditz is rich & famous & can pay to fly mummy around the world, I have plans on returning to Europe. Paris is not on my itinerary.