“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” ~ Bill Bryson, an American author who lives in the UK. He is most well-known for his travelogues and non-fiction books.
So, here we are again, in a place where everything is indeed “a series of interesting guesses”. While we favor France, we could be any foreign country. And even though we’ve been traveling for many years, the fascination is as tangible as our first trips abroad, and the challenges are still never-ending.
As we said in the last post, Tours is the smallest city we have lived, yet it is still easy to walk 8-11k (5-7 miles) each day. Wandering allows us to learn our way around, and to find those hidden gems provided by serendipity.
One day, with Mike and Kathy took a long stroll along the banks of the Loire. The sun was out, the winds were still, the birds were singing, and butterflies were flitting to and from the colorful spring flowers that had emerged.
Returning across the Pont Wilson toward our apartment, we turned to walk around the 13th century Abbaye de Saint-Julien. The church had always been closed when we passed by, with no information as to when we might be able to visit. We were all admiring and photographing the ancient building surrounded by the cherry trees filled with blossoms when a small door opened and a friendly woman motioned to us asking, in French, if we would like to see inside. Of course, we replied. As we entered, she indicated that she had seen us making photographs, and thought that we enjoy the light of the sunny afternoon painting the interior with colors and shadows.
Before we left, the woman who had let us in again motioned to follow her to a side room where she happily shared some information about the church printed in English as well as some postcards of the stained glass. It was evident that she was proud of the church and wanted to share.
The real bright spot though, was when Mike, who had translated a phrase on his phone played it aloud to her resulting in a big smile, universally understood. The phrase? “You are a rock star.”