Several months ago, I published this post about everything I love about my adopted French hometown of Chambéry, following a National Geographic Intelligent Travel questionnaire. After revamping my answers a few months ago and sending it in to be considered for the site, I got word yesterday that Intelligent Travel decided to publish my post as part of their weekly “I Heart My City” feature!! They made a few edits to make it more consistent with their questions, and they added a bunch of flickr photos, some of which I don’t even recognize where they were taken….but hey! It’s still pretty cool. I hope that this highlight will encourage people to consider visiting this little corner of the world 🙂 And I hope some of you will also be encouraged to publish similar pieces on your own blogs, and to share them with National Geographic. Then maybe you, too, will feel as famous as I do today !! ❂
taken April 22, 2015 in an exhibit in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain.
Once upon a time, many moons ago, I went to London. I had originally planned to go way back in February to see a play my friend Natalia directed, but it ended up not working out. Still, I couldn’t leave the continent without visiting the theatre capital of Europe, so I planned a few days’ visit in between moving out of Chambéry and hopping on my flight back to DC. After a 5am wake up call to lug my hundreds of pounds of luggage across cobblestones, onto two different trains, through the airport, and across Paris to catch the Eurostar, I was 100% exhausted, and in a very strange mood…leaving my French home probably forever, saying goodbye to dear friends, and suddenly being thrust back into an English-speaking country (who know how disorienting that would be?!). So I wanted to keep my plans as uncomplicated as possible. The universe must have picked up on some of those karmic vibrations or something, because after being in London for less than one day, it helped my trip become simple in a way …
I’ve gotten a few questions recently about packing for TAPIF. Figuring out what to bring for seven months, in a strange country, for a professional job, which takes place over mostly winter-y months, all while keeping in mind airline limits is not a simple task. My number one recommendation is: make sure you can carry what you pack. You’ll inevitably have to lug your luggage through the airport, onto a train, through a metro system, across cobblestones and up 5 flights of stairs, and while passersby are generally kind to someone in need of an extra hand, you’ll be much more confident if you know you can at least manage it on your own if no one is around to help. After that, what you bring and what you leave behind is more or less your prerogative, but here are some of the guidelines I used.
In Chambéry, I was blessed to have several groups of friends who I adore and hope to stay in contact with for many more years to come. Two of them you may be familiar with, as they are frequently mentioned on my blog. First is Hannah, my Beyoncé dance party room/soul mate (too bad she’s already taken!), and second is Uptown Julia, queen of the swine-dune and my heart. Both have also been blogging with me all year, and to be honest, I think we’ve really kept each other on track, constantly bragging to one another about how we just finished writing a post or taking bets on who’s gonna write their account of any given weekend first. I LOVE reading these girls’ blogs: they are colorful and hilarious and it’s so fun to read about similar events from our different perspectives. I’m sure that in a few months, when my “homesickness” for Chambéry is flaring up, my first stop will be their blogs.
A few weeks ago, a fellow TAPIF assistant and blogger, Anne à l’aventure, published a post about reasons NOT to travel, which got me thinking… It may not be a popular opinion, especially in the Instagram Age where #wanderlust is the most noble of ambitions, but I am increasingly coming to terms with the notion that I’m simply not cut out for the “traveller lifestyle.” One look around my bedroom will tell you why: I have only lived here six months and already my walls are covered in postcards, train tickets and children’s drawings. Dozens of books are stacked on the floor next to the slowly growing pile of flashcards and worksheets used at school. Markers, pens, post-it notes and girl scout cookies clutter my desk and my window sill is home to not one but two plants. This is not the kind of place that you can easily pack into a backpack.
Another six weeks of school, another two week vacation. And this time we wanted to get the heck out of the snow and mountains, so we booked a TGV to MARSEILLE! Marseille has a certain reputation in France… the kind of reputation that made our friends’ eyes widen and say, “Attention, hein?! Be careful!” when we announced our trip. So then when there were reports of a shooting there the day before our planned departure, we had to make a serious game plan, which essentially boiled down to “DON’T BE AN IDIOT” (sidebar: the shooting was non-fatal and most likely a result of the visit to the city of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. My favorite part of the story is that Valls was in Marseille to congratulate the city for their recently reduced crime rates.) And anyway, when has the threat of a little street violence ever been good reason to cancel a trip?! If that were the case, no one would ever go….to most major cities in the US……