Another tennis adventure is over. It was fabulous but a different atmosphere from the start. I’ve been struggling with how to express my feelings without giving the impression that it was less enjoyable. That certainly isn’t true. I had a marvelous time. I met new friends and reconnected with some old ones. Being part of a group is always interesting and sometimes challenging. It behooves everyone to make allowances but some are more willing to be flexible than others. It’s like a Venn diagram; multiple groups, some of which overlap and some that never touch.
I was quite surprised that I wasn’t able to make time each morning to post a daily blog like I did in Australia, even though we had a similar leave time schedule in the mornings. It seemed to take more time to write down my full thoughts on the day before. It’ll be interesting to see if this travel log is much longer than Australia’s when I get it typed out. Or perhaps it was savoring the latte, fresh pastries and fruit each morning that made me a laggard about writing. I brought the Eee Pad with the intention of writing and ended up down loading my photos each day as a back up to my camera, posting a few of those to Facebook.
What was I feeling? Is it that Europe is so old compared to Australia? My memories of Australia are of openness, freshness, liveliness; a young girl dancing at her first ball rather than a stately matron smiling indulgently at the antics of youth. And yet neither Rome nor Paris was dull; perhaps weighty is the proper word. All the years that stretched out into the past seemed to weigh down the present. In Australia, life stretched forward with little behind.
To me, Australians seemed to be the happiest group of people that I had ever met. They work hard and yet, collectively, they give off a joie de vivre that for all it’s a French phrase I didn’t feel in Paris. It’s hard to explain. The Romans and Parisians that I met were friendly and cheerful but there was an inherent formality about it that I didn’t find in Australians. The contrast was very clear when our bicycle tour guide turned out to be Australian.
I know that the universe doesn’t revolve around America but not all American travelers are so savvy. I certainly saw French intolerance come to the fore when dealing with rude tourists. I must say that at times it’s embarrassing to see how some Americans behave abroad. I was just starting to ask for directions in the Louvre (boy is that a confusing building) when a man sort of barged up to the desk and demanded an information sheet. I’m surprised the man didn’t turn into a block of ice given the look of Gallic disdain the lady turned on him. And then the shrug and dismissal as she turned back to me and politely answered my question, in French. When I was a teenager visiting Europe, I was repeatedly taken for being Dutch from my facial features. Not surprising since my grandmother was born on the Belgian-Holland border and my mother in Antwerp. I had a similar experience. If I kept my French requests simple I was taken for a European rather than an American.
A contrast in cultures but that’s the reason that I love to travel; not just to see new things but to gain an understanding of how different people think and live.