PARIS WAS FANTASTIC. The End.
Just kidding. The difference between southern France and northern France would be subtle to someone who just visited for a few days. But to me the difference was almost palpable. I noticed the standoffishness and self-interest I first felt from the people in Toulouse (brought on by there pride of themselves) was replaced by scheming and greed. The entire place was a tourist trap. While the scenery was beautiful, it seamed like every shop, every restaurant was trying to find a way to take more and more of our money. Things were beginning to get tight as my budget was getting depleted and the touristy Paris seemed not to care as food and drinks became more expensive. I mean seriously, a can of Coke for 5 Euros?
While this feeling of getting screwed over was common, there were occurrences of true generosity. Versailles was such an example. The tour was fantastic and the guide seemed genuinely pleased with our presence and very passionate towards his work. His boss had the same pleasant attitude and was a blast to be around even though he didn't speak a word of English. A man like him would make it far back in the states.
The gardens we saw were amazing. I find it difficult to imagine these types of plants doing well in the Texas heat but they are something I have always wished for in my own landscape. The colors and precision of the gardeners was inspiring and I will definitely bring back some ideas for my personal use at home.
Overall This trip has been a blast. I learned a lot. I ate a lot. But most of all I long for home. The time abroad has allowed me to think more openly to new ideas and has also strengthened my own opinions. It has been a reinforcing experience that makes me happy and proud to call a place like Texas my home.
Oh did I mention I got engaged?!?!
Gargoyles are awesome. I bet Katrina will get sick just from looking at this picture. I won't drop my phone I promise!!!