Friday, May 29, 2015

French Fridays - Week 2

This past week has been enjoyable. Once again, plenty of sightseeing, but we were able to go to church on Sunday with a message focused on Pentecost. Surprisingly, my French has improved (I finally have my left and right organized after listening to all the directions). I was able to follow along on the message on Sunday, partly because I knew the topic and partly because I could understand.

Golden Gate at Versailles, France, 2015
Believe it or not, but the church is within walking distance to Versailles Palace. I had an enjoyable time walking around the area. Primarily, Marie Antoinette's territory. It's amazing how much land and power the family had. It also surprises me the French Revolution didn't happen a few years earlier with the gaudy display of wealth.

On Wednesday, the family we are staying with took us into Paris to see Notre Dame and Montmartre. It was a beautiful time, and I enjoyed it immensely. We were able to walk around and do some shopping for gifts to take home, not to mention take some beautiful shots of the Parisian skyline.

Last Saturday, we toured the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and walked the Champs Elysees.

This coming week, we head south to Lyon then east to the Geneva area. It should prove to be a fun time in both places.

One thing I'm learning is France, like any other country, is a mixture of cultures, histories, and religions. The tension between the various pasts and convictions sometimes boils over, but for the most part, France just moves along as it has always done.

I've always enjoyed studying cultures, but taking the time to talk with people about their country has given me new perspective on it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Greetings from France

I have arrived with only a few minor hiccups along the way. All in all the time here has been enjoyable, I've been able to see the birthplace of John Calvin since I happen to be staying in the town where he was born. Noyon, France, which is up in the Northern part of the country.

Tuesday morning, I arrived, and spent most of the day adjusting to the new schedule. Thankfully, my body adjusted and on Wednesday, I was ready to go. We spent the morning at the John Calvin house (Jean Calvin here in France), and looking around the beautiful cathedral in town.

Interestingly, during World War 1, most of the town was destroyed by bombardments, subsequently forcing the community to rebuild everything during the 1920s. Still, it's a beautiful town here in northern France. In the afternoon, we traveled around the countryside to see an old ruined abbey which was at one point a place of pilgrimage. Jean Calvin would travel there with his other on a holy day so he could touch the skull of Saint Anne. Now, most of the once beautiful location is gone.

Today, we went sight-seeing. How does this play into a vision trip for France to see if I should move here? It is an interesting question, I grant you, but it's part of the culture. Finding the culture, and seeing how they see themselves and their history helps me navigate the territory. By seeing the countryside, traveling the roads, and generally just listening to the population, I'm able to discern more about the land, and if I would like to move here.

Chateau de Chantilly, France, 2015
One of the places I went today was the Chateau de Chantilly known for pottery, horses, and lace. While the grounds are beautiful, and expansive, I enjoyed the beautiful artwork displayed including portraits of kings, queens and other influential individuals.

Some other paintings included seascapes and landscapes, with Arab influence (the man who built the collection had served in North Africa during the 1840s, and loved the culture and inhabitants).
Chateau de Pierrefonds
After we finished there, we headed home by way of  the Chateau de Pierrefonds aka Merlin's castle - the location used in the television series, Merlin. While we didn't have the opportunity to travel inside the location, we did have the opportunity to look around. It's a massive building built for defense.

All in all, I have enjoyed the trip so far, and look forward to the next leg in Paris.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm going on an Adventure!

I can come up with a few different elements to head this post off with, but an adventure seems to be the best one. Later on today, I'll be flying out of the US heading East to Paris, France, for a little over three weeks.

Arriving in Ireland 2007
It'll prove to be an enjoyable trip, filled with opportunities to see new places, meet the locals, and generally learn about the wonders that are France. While this trip focuses on whether or not I should move to France in the future, it will also provide opportunity for me to learn about the culture. I have a few books set in France at various times, and while Medieval France is not 1940s France and neither time period is modern day France, elements remain true such as the weather and some of the landscape.

Do you have to go to a country to conduct research? Nope. People create fantastical worlds simply based upon theory, but it can prove helpful to visit when given the opportunity. Also, it adds to the memories and understanding we have for locations.

Traveling expands all our minds, I can't express the thought enough because I believe we should all travel more. By experiencing another culture we gain insight into their viewpoints and opinions. The same can be done by studying a culture's arts, politics and history, yet many of us do not.

One of the ways to create interesting characters and worlds is to create a functioning culture. For example, Azure Maris has a culture unique to Deep Waters. While she travels around learning about other cultures, her opinions are countered by her own culture.

Some of the best books utilize the worlds in which the characters live. While we may never visit Middle Earth, many who read the books can visualize the landscape through reading Tolkien's words. Travel provides the extra information we can utilize to create these worlds.

Friday, May 15, 2015

French Fridays - Last Minute Things

I'll be leaving for France on Monday - I'm finally excited about the trip. I'm looking forward to traveling to see a new country, new faces, and new experiences. It will be interesting to meet the missionaries in France, as well as seeing how God is working in the country.

That being said, I don't know how often I'll be able to update the blog, but as I can, I'll add photographs and thoughts.