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Week 47: Paris: Movies, Bakeries, Sites, and Chartres

Before going to Kenya, I planned to visit two places on my way home from Kenya if I had a layover in London, my dad’s only cousin lives in Paris and one of my best friends, Brian, and his wife, Kellie, live in Edinburgh currently.  Things worked out and it didn’t cost anything extra to extend my layover in London, yay.  I have learned that when an opportunity like this presents itself, you better take it!  So, I did.

I was privileged to visit my dad’s only cousin, Rick, in Paris for one week recently.  In 2006, I visited him for two weeks and had a very good time meeting his friends and getting to know him better.  He has lived in Paris my entire life.  Rick is a movie buff and so we watch movies I haven’t seen when we’re together which I love.  We’ll be on the subway and he’ll ask me if I’ve seen a movie and I’ll give him a very blank look and then three hours later I have seen it.  This trip Rick introduced me to Gay Purr-ee, 3 Women and What Ever Happened to Sweet Baby Jane to introduce me to director Robert Altman, Diary of a Country Priest, and The Straight Story (amazing, if you haven’t see it) and Mulholland Drive (rated R for good reason) to introduce me to director David Lynch.  I really enjoyed all of the movies and look forward to seeing more oldies that I’ve never seen.  Rick also introduced me to Gore Vidal and bought me one of his historical novels, Julian, to read and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I really enjoy trips where I learn about new ideas and gain valuable knowledge (instead of just site seeing) and my time with Rick has always been that way.

We did do some sight seeing because Rick works at several places that are right by the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe.
Cousin Rick and me:

I had forgotten how amazing the bakeries are in France.  Rick helped remind me with breakfast every morning looking like this.

Breakfast from the bakery:

Rick is an English teacher at different schools around Paris so I was able to see a lot just by accompanying him to class.  I’ll let pictures do most of the talking.

Saint Jacques Tower
(Check out those gargoyles)

Notre Dame:

Rick and Oscar Wilde’s Tomb:

Jim Morrison’s Grave:

Outside Louvre:

On Sunday, Rick took me to a town 50 miles north of Paris called Chartres.  Chartres is famous for it’s cathedral, Chartres Cathedral.  The stained glass from Chartres is used on many Christmas album covers and is breath taking.  We were lucky to catch an organ concert on one of the most impressive organs in one of the most impressive churches I have ever seen while we were there.  Rick also took me for a long walk in Chartres without telling me where we were going.  It turned out we were going to a gravedigger’s house who had decorated his entire house (and eventually the next lot) with pieces of shattered plates, glasses, and pots.  It was incredible and I will post a video of it in the next week or so.  It is impressive, you’ll agree.

Chartres Cathedral (check out how different the spires are):

Chartres Cathedral:

Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass Windows:

Eiffel Tower and me:

Eiffel Tower and trees:

Arc de Triomphe

Amazing Park by Rick’s house:

So, after a very good visit in France I was off for my first visit to Italy.

My Luggage and me:

If I am ever President of the World…

If I am ever President of the World, I am installing pillows on the back of all plane, train, and bus seats.

Example of where pillow should be and why:

Week 47: London: From Matutus to Buses and Trains

Before going to Kenya, I planned to visit two places on my way home Kenya if I had a layover in London, my dad’s only cousin lives in Paris and one of my best friends, Brian, and his wife, Kellie, live in Edinburgh currently.  Things worked out and it didn’t cost anything extra to extend my layover in London, yay.  I have learned that when an opportunity like this presents itself, you better take it!  So, I did.  Then the wheels in my brain started turning (danger!) since I had a month or so of free time I thought maybe I could get a Eurorail pass and see a few places in Europe I’ve always wanted to see without having to fly back over the ocean later, save the environment and money (I’m down!).  Turns out, I can get a Eurorail youth pass as a youth for only two more months because I’m 25 and under.  So, I did.  Furthermore, I am couchsurfing where I don’t have to pay for places to stay and meet really interesting people in the cities I visit.  So, the trip is costing a train pass and basic food.  Amazing.  Opportunity seized.


My plane arrived into London at 6 AM and I slept rather well on the eight hour flight up from Nairobi.  I had asked people what they recommended that I do in London.  My old boss and good friend, Allison, recommended going on the open air bus tour of London.  She said, “I know it’s corny and pricey, but it’s worth it.” Allison had spent a year in London as a YAV and said she knew more about London than some Londoners because of the tour.  I only had two days and one night in London so this was a great way to the see the tourist sites and hear about the history of London in a short amount of time.  Furthermore, you can hop off and on the bus for 24 hours.  So, although it was corny and pricey I did enjoy myself.

Westminster Abbey:

Me and Big Ben:


Mac Store in London:

London was also my first experience couchsurfing. is a website people join like facebook, where they create a user profile, but the ultimate goal is to help people who are traveling find a couch to sleep on wherever they are.  It’s free and the host is supposed to provide the traveler with breakfast, but that’s not the best part.  The best part is meeting and staying with a local person and not in a touristy place.  The experience in a city is completely changed by having someone who lives there host you and give advice on what you may like to see.

My first host was Richard and I was his first surfer which made for a good match.  I got off the open air London tour bus with my 50 lbs of luggage on my back.  I could see the landmark metro stop on my bus tour map from which Richard’s directions started.  I had the mindset of, “I walk three miles or so in Kenya without any problem,” however, I don’t have a 50 lbs bag on my back… I would have been fine, but I didn’t google map the directions and ended up not finding his house and wondering around a bit which is all good, except the bag was with me and my back.  Eventually, I realized I needed to look up the directions he had e-mailed me again and take a break.  So, I walked down the street looking for food and internet.  I found a Pizza Hut (I hate to eat at States’ food places abroad) and went in because they had wifi and I knew I would leave full which is what I was interesting in at the time.  I found my mistake in the directions and made my way to Richards.  I arrived and was very happy to meet Richard who was a very nice man who welcomed me very graciously into his home which was only a ten minute bus ride from the heart of London.

Richard and Me (my first host):

He was drawn to my profile because it says that I am studying to become a Presbyterian minister and he is very involved in his church.  So, he recommended that the next day I go to see John Wesley’s church, home, and grave.  The next day I did just that.  John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist denomination and is known for his heart being “strangely warmed” when hearing a preface to Romans by Luther.

First, I stopped by the Tower of London, but it cost a lot to get in and didn’t fit well into my thrifty month.  Not a good foot to start off on.  So, I went to John Wesley’s which was not listed on the tourist map, but I fully enjoyed.  I was the only person there when I got there.  I was invited to watch a 20 minute video about Wesley, then given a tour of the church, his house, and his grave.  It was fantastic and much more interesting for me than seeing the Tower of London would have been.

John Wesley’s Pulpit with me in it:

John Wesley’s Bedroom (where he died):

John Wesley’s Prayer Room where he would begin his day at 4 AM and end his day as well:

John Wesley’s Grave:

I love London and it’s history.  As I was on the bus, I looked to my right at one point and there was a tiny plaque which read, “Here the first post mark was officially posted.”  That’s pretty crazy for a small plaque.

After this I headed back to Richards to get my belongings so I could make my night flight to Paris. I had not seen all that I wanted to see, but there will always be things left over. It is impossible to see it all. Sounds simple, but is terribly hard to learn.

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