Archive for the ‘France’ Category

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Heathrow to Cantebury, a two day stroll to Dover followed by a ferry to Calais and a train to Lourdes and more travel to Bayonne then St Jean pied port. Over the Pyrenees with several hundred eager pilgrims, sporting headlamps at dawn and forgoing all rest stops to race to find a bed and moving on if they were full.

This had become stresssssssful and not the sacred pilgrimage we had planned on so we saw that there were many accredited ways to arrive at Santiago; via Madrid, Portugal, Barcelona, and from the north-the Camino Ingles. Our research showed us this was the true way the British, Irish, or Scots would have made their way to Santiago several hundred years ago,so we jumped ship and headed to the city of Ferrol on waters edge and dipped our poles in the water and went the way less traveled.

It is fewer days than the busy Camino Frances and lovely and with fewer travelers thus more friendships were made. It was the meditative peace we had envisioned. The terrain was for mountain goats and the long 9-17 mile daily hikes were usually rewarded with a shower, a bottle of wine, and a bunk.

So we have arrived at our destination a wee bit early but we paid our dues with the 300+ miles and we got it done.

One Bite at a Time!

more than 400 kms later

more than 400 kms later


Monday, August 29th, 2016

The enormity of Lourdes is still with me several days later. It was magnificent, humble, serene, and frightening all at the same time.

Thousands of people were there from many countries and multitudes were there hoping for a miracle in the healing waters. The quantity of volunteers pushing blue wheels chairs of the seriously ill up to the front mercy gate from the property’s hospital to receive the sign of the cross from bowls of holy water was staggering! So many sick people! So much hope.

You can google Lourdes if you don’t know the story or watch the movie “Song of Bernadette”. But 69 verified healings have happened since 1858 (that are known). Personally my faith is in Jesus Christ as Lord and healer, not in a miraculous spring of water, but what desperation would bring me here? Maybe not for myself, but for my child?

Crowds were lined up filling every kind of potable container possible. People were singing, praying, watching, taking lots of photographs, touching, and holding each other. The multiple sanctuaries were beautiful and worshipful, the acres of parkland so restorative.

I came as a pilgrim not a tourist. Lourdes made me cry.


20 Years Older

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Took the Eurostar today from Brussels to London.

It was 18 years ago that Steve, Robbie, and I took it to Paris from London.

It still is amazing to spend 22 minutes of the 2 hour train trip under the English Chanel. It is actually 3 tunnels: 2 for trains and 1 small one for repair vehicles.

Lots of security (thank heavens) and so much easier than an airport. $70 apiece because we bought the tickets 4 months ago. The closer to the travel date, the more expensive the ticket. So we are winding down with a final 5 days in London.

Wow, never saw soooo many people here on Oxford Street, which is around the corner from our Victory Services Hotel for military folk.


My Room

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

We are aboard the Riverboat Harmony, sailing up the Rhine River in western Germany. We started in Switzerland (Basel), then Alsace in France, and now Heidelberg!

Thought I would show your our room #325. Everything we brought is nicely tucked away and our bathroom has a 4’x4′ shower with handheld shower head. We have a desk, and central table where we find our daily activities for the next day.

Our beds are turned down with a chocolate on the pillow each night.

There are about 140 passengers and 40 crew, 3 cruise directors, live music, a gourmet kitchen and too many fun things to mention. Talk about spoiled!!!


Fly Day

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

It is now april 5 and we arrived in Italy this afternoon. Pisa, blue skies, and 82 degrees.  It was like being welcomed by an old friend — the fluid song of the language, the friendliness, the fresh tastes. I am not counting the impatient honking of car horns.

As I was flying over the French Alps , repeat, as  I was flying over the French Alps (doesn’t that sound awesome?) I was praising in my heart of hearts for the journey I’ve had so far and the 5 weeks to come!!!!!

Hello, Italy!

Angels Unaware

Monday, April 20th, 2009

With a little help from my friends…

There have been a few times where Steve and I found ourselves stressed, lost, and grumpy and God has seemed fit at that very moment to let us know He’s still watching over us.

seattlefamilyIn Mont St. Michel, we had had a long (lost) day and we were entering the city when a bird flew over and did a major CRAP on my head. A nice family speaking English(!) helped me clean up. We found out they were from Seattle, great fellow- Christians, and they included us at their dinner.  Thanks Harriet, Ken, Ray, and Mom for making our day!

dupreefamilyJust arriving in Montalcino and wanting some connection, we heard Bea talking with her daughter Paige at the outdoor cafe in front of our building. We found out they hailed from Burlington, North Carolina and this was their 10th visit to Montalcino! I took notes when they talked of the “best” of everything we should try. Jim, Bea, Paige, and Michelle shared so much of themselves with us. Paige sings in her UCC choir back home, and was missing Easter too.

There was the vacationing Sheriff from Poway who patrols 4S ranch whom we met at the 2nd wine tour. There were the college girls in Vernazza who were also looking for a room. They happened to be from Pt Loma Nazarene and were good friends with Tyler Kuehl from the Church of Rancho Bernardo.

Even KC and Jonathan’s friends, Jenn and Mike and their new baby Logan in La Spezia, were welcoming on a rainy Sunday.

More signs of amazing grace.

A Piece Of Pisa, Per Favore

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

When we saw the forecast for lots of rain, we made a route change and went to Parma!  It is a big city, but very nice and friendly (featured in John Grisham’s  book “Playing for Pizza“).  The Cinque Terra we figured would be all washed out, so why not head a mere 2 inches in the guide and see why Mr. Grisham fell in love with this place.  Those two inches contained the French Alps, just a few miles from Turin (site of the 2006 Winter Olympics).  

leaningsteveBeautiful, breathtaking, and…”Coast, we are nearly out of gas!”  Due to all of the switchbacks, we almost ran out of gas.  We arrived and had a great hotel and an awesome italian meal and a long walk around Parma before we headed to our reservation at Camp Darby in Pisa (a little-known military base with beautiful accomodations).

So heading out early we had to cross…guess what?   The Italian Alps!  But this time we took a major highway with buckets of tunnels and incredible engineering feats. 

We were scheduled to be in Pisa around 1 pm, but we got in at the ususal Morales-time table of 4:30 (at least it was still daylight).  We managed to go against the traffic, swimming upstream, and see the bapistrypisasights in town with fewer tourists as it was near closing. With the start of Easter week and school breaks, this place is bedlam.

We passed on climbing the  Tower, but were moved by our time in the Duomo and in the Bapistry.  The acoustics in the bapistry is such that every 30 minutes a guide comes in and sings a trio of notes spaced apart, but because of the echo and it’s 10 second length, it comes out sounding like 3 people singing at once (a full chord)!

It is amazing to actually be here and see this all in person.  And it blows me away to see and to know the effort, talent, devotion, and faith to build it all. Amazing!

No Grace In Monaco

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

newboatMonaco has the most and richest people per square foot on the face of the earth.  It was pouring, foggy, and quite stressful. 

There were a lot of tunnels on the way there as she is carved out of a rock and built up a sheer wall of a mountain.  It is supposed to have the bluest water (Cote Azur) and beautiful promenades (Nice and Cannes) but I will just have to take their word for it.

And while I’m whinning:  when you go by train you arrive at your destination energized and ready to go.  When you go by car however, you arrive  FRAZZLED!


Friday, April 3rd, 2009

thinksignAll is NOT glamorous in the world of travel, and we find that we either love or hate Lucy (our GPS with an attitude)!  If our guides tell us we will be driving for 3 hours, you can count on us needing 5.  She will take us to the most remote corner of anywhere and then lose her signal and just stop. 

With all the water in Holland, she didn’t know whether to have us travel on a road or canal.

In Monaco, she had no understanding  of what a one way street was (we spent an hour going 3 miles…round and round and round). 

And because she thinks she knows it all, if we ask to get out of Monaco and into Italy, rather than take the best road, she just takes us up and out and into the French Alps, whereas 2 miles out of our way would have given us a real road and not a cart path.

Now tomorrow  she has her last challenge for awhile: to get us to Montalcino from Pisa in the 3 hour drive time indicated…or she goes in the suitcase and I go buy a map.

Mont St. Michel

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

montstmichelnightYes, right out of a picture postcard, this amazing Abbey sits in the middle of the bay, with the tide coming in and out.  It started  way back in the 700’s by a monk who heard voices (“if you build it , they will come”).  This is a real homage to the faith of so many who toiled through tremendous obstacles to create something on a rock in the middle of the water. . . and with no electricity, cranes, power tools –  just dedication and alot of talent and innovation.   Could we build something like this on one of the Coronado Islands off San Diego today?

viewfromourroomI was thrilled to actually stay on the island in one of the few hotels, and thanks to the generosity of my church, to ask for a special room – one with an awesome view!  The Abbey itself is incredible to tour.  Reading the book “The Pillars of the Earth” before, really made this place come alive for me (thanks, Joe Hewitt).  Of course, there were a trillion steps which I took one at a time with my bum knee, but nothing was gonna stop me from this experience. Steve was so patient.

I will bring you up to date on the Bayeux Tapestry, bird poop in the hair, and enjoying dinner with other Americans, later as a flash back. 

We traveled from noon until 8:30 pm, traversing a lot of France  on our way to Monaco tomorrow!  It was a crime not to even see one chateau in the Loire Valley, but if I am lucky I can have lunch in Provence tomorrow.