I have learned that I am a skeptic and that my caution can overwhelm me. So it was a good thing for me when Michael shared his perspective on travel. “When you are a traveler in a foreign place, it’s much like jumping into somebody else’s board game. Everyone knows the rules except for you, and nobody tells you how to play along.” From that point forward, I began to observe how others go about doing things in the places where we went.
The earth is still the big blue planet with the laws of physics remaining the same, and people are still people, no matter where you go. It is the subtle differences in culture that make a traveler feel like a foreigner. Even visiting England with our common understanding of language, there are differences to which we have had to adjust. What we call pants, are called trousers. Here, pants refer to the undergarment. The elevator is a lift and you may also offer someone a lift in the car, but certainly not a ride. Chips are French fries, and crisps are potato chips. If you ask for what you want but don’t ask rightly, you’ll get something you don’t want, despite understanding the language.
France was truly a culture shock to us with the language barrier being the greatest difficulty. Despite always putting forth our best, “Bonjour!” our awkward attempts at communicating made it difficult for us to read their response. Never-the-less we made our destination to pilgrimage Giverny and were awarded a bonus round in discovering the largest collection of Monet paintings was on exhibit at the Grand Palais. What a coup! We picked up our game pieces and made our move.
Our next move was to visit the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and in the whirlwind of activity we watched with amazement the narrow busy streets, with its buses, autos, motorcycles and bicyclist weaving in and out of each other. Enjoying the showmanship of a street vendor’s artistry we picked up a “Voila!” and took sweet pleasure in sharing a crepe sucre.
With another spin of the dial we boarded the Euro star, moved our game pieces to St. Pancras station, London, hopped aboard the East Midlands to Hull, and landed on Grantham Station where we grabbed a bite to eat at Siam Garden then caught a street car back to Harlaxton sweet Harlaxton.