It’s hard to believe, but today is the last day of our sprawling travel adventure. I want to talk a little about what this trip has meant to us, but that will have to wait a moment. We haven’t been sitting in our room for the last week. There are more pictures and more stories that I want to share.
One of our favorite outings in Bordeaux was a visit to L’Intendant, a wine shop in the heart of the city. Bordeaux has plenty of wine sellers, of course, but this place is special for its presentation. I had read that L’Intendant approaches wine almost as theater, and I’d have to agree. The floor space is tiny when you walk in. The focal point is the spiral staircase. Wine lines the walls, grouped by type and region. We made two trips, one just to climb and gape at fancy (and expensive!) wine. One fun game is spotting the most expensive bottle. Is it 500 euros? Two thousand? Three thousand a bottle? The man running the counter was almost intimidatingly polite; he said “Madam” like he was talking to an heiress, not a backpacker in shorts and a questionably laundered T-shirt.
Our last few days were in Orleans. We picked this city not knowing much about it. It was on the same list of “Most Underrated Cities in France” where we found Bordeaux, back when we realized some of the cities we wanted to see were outrageously expensive and that we needed to alter our course. Orleans is Joan of Arc’s hometown, so they have many statues and other sites dedicated to her.
The city is also right by the Loire chateaus. We decided to go see the Chateau Chambord as a day trip, which worked out great after a few mishaps finding the shuttle. Cheateau Chambord could easily be a Disney castle. I’ll admit I might have demanded that Andrew refer to me as a princess while we were walking around the grounds.
The chateau also has an impressive spiral staircase–our theme for the week!
Wrapping up our final days, I’ve felt torn between trying to capture as much as possible (I photographed every street in Orleans, I think) and looking forward to being home. Andrew’s been craving Mexican food, and on our last night in Orleans, we found a Tex-Mex place that had fajitas and margaritas. So now that we’ve got that fix in place, maybe we don’t have to come home after all…
So that’s how I find myself on the train from Orleans to Paris this morning, with seats with our names on them for tomorrow’s transatlantic flight. When we set out on this trip, we imagined adventure, novelty, chances to push out of our comfort zones, and plenty of good times spent together. We’ve found all of that in the last six months, and in many ways traveling together has affected us more deeply than we’d imagined. We know now, for one, that we can spend 24/7 time together for months on end without getting tired of each other, or running out of things to say. We found new ways to support each other and discovered new ways we’re complementary (Andrew’s excellent at the here-and-now, always the one to look up how to get from the train station to our hotel. I’m your woman for what’s-next planning, thinking two countries ahead to make sure we’ve booked everything we need). Our marriage is stronger because it was the one thing we could count on for sure, from country to country.
Traveling has also impacted our ideas for the next part of our life. We’ve had so many conversations about where we want to live, how we want to spend our money and time, and what we want to steal from other countries in terms of food, decor, and life philosophy. It only sank in recently that we’re going back to the US, but never back to the life we left behind. There will be a new city to live in, a new job for me, new schedules and routines, a new apartment, all waiting for us up ahead. One night over dinner (in Venice? Greece? I can’t remember), we were talking about the life upheaval that is The Trip, and I said what really interested me is the full circle: not where we are July 30, but where we are next January 30, a year after we left. We are flying back to our families tomorrow, but the adventures are far from over.