Ending of A Trip, Beginning of A New Chapter


I’m back in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, after 4-week non-stop running around in Europe.

Maybe I was not fully awake, there was quite some confusion. My flight from Zurich landed at 9am, but by the time the transit bus took us to the other terminal, it was already after 10. I spent the next 30 minutes looking for the United check-in counter. When I found it, I was already right in front of the boarding gate. I was surprised how I came this far without a boarding pass – even I repeatedly explained to the security control and the duty free shops, they did not seem to care.

Oh well, at least I had some duty free shopping conquer, although that was not part of the original plan. When I was window shopping in one of the cosmetic shops, this young sales girl kept calling me “auntie” in Chinese, which significantly hurt my feelings. I later learned that she was born in Paris and learned her Chinese from her Cambodian parents. But that still did not stop me piling all the sample anti-aging cream on the face, until I made sure I looked better than an old vampire. In the end, I decided to take home four bottles of the Swiss born Le Prairie, which cost me arms and legs. At least, she might not have to call me auntie next time, I hope.

As I sat down for a rest, my sleep bugs kicked in. Alas I had only slept for 2 hours last night. I fumbled in my pocket and picked the last 4 euros amongst the coins from US, Brazil, China, and Switzerland. That allowed me to afford a small cup of coffee, enough to keep me awake for another couple of hours.

Looking back at my trip, I had to jot down some of the highlights, including:

  • For the first time, attended a French wedding, a very classic one at Chateau de Chambord

  • For the first time, went to nude beaches, not exactly I would recommend if you are into the classic

  • Survived multiple clueless conversations due to language barrier, such as with the Belgian in Loire Valley, with the Spanish in Mallorca, and with the cows and sheep on mountain slopes in Innsbruck

  • Hung out with the 2 year old Jessie from Paris to Zurich (also Shanghai 2 months ago) and finally got her to pronounce my name, in her own creation, as Belala

  • Surviving the snow mountain and glacier cave trip in my summer shorts, the only clothes I had at the time

  • Beat the tourist crowd to see Eiffel Tower at 7am - after driving at rocket speed from Loire Valley

  • Bitten by unknown insects at Bruno’s hunting field and traveled the next few days with a huge infected elbow at the size of half of my fist

  • Encountered and scared off a psycho exhibitionist at a quiet train station in Zurich in the dark

  • Learned to express in the Swiss precision in Switzerland, such as “my home is 6 minutes away”, “the train leaves in 17 minutes”, and later never had to arrive at the train station more than 1 minute earlier

  • Obviously looked clumsy in my camera gears and obtained many free photography tips from random tourists everywhere I traveled

  • Enjoyed the in-depth conversation:

    • About life philosophy with Jenny and Chip on the rehearsal dinner

    • About life balance and happiness with Roseline on the Chateau tour in Loire Valley

    • About Taiwan history and politics with a Taiwanese retired couple on Mt. Titlis

    • About Europe’s social security and China’s democracy with Hubert and Esther in Innsbruck

    • Last but not least, enjoyed being alone but did not feel lonely, especially when I walked along the Seine, drove in the French countryside, hiked toward the mountain top in the Alps, and sat by the train window from one country to the other

My flight just announced boarding. Although there is so much more to explore in Europe, I feel it’s about time to go home and begin a new chapter.(I have posted 6 photo albums of my Europe trip, see below links; or click "photo journey" to see more travel pictures)Paris & Versailles, FranceThe Chambord WeddingLoire Valley, FrancePalma de Mallorca, SpainSwitzerlandInnsbruck, Austria