I'm not really sure what to write about, so i guess i'll just start writing...
There's a lot of history in Europe. Every town has been around for at least twice the amount of time as any place in America. Down every street you can find old buildings with little shops, bakeries, butchers, and restaurants squeezed together. The cobbled streets wind and bend through narrow alleys. Ruoen in particular was filled with old blocks where the buildings all seemed a bit askew and sagged out over the tiny street. Church steeples and cathedral towers pierce the sky instead of high rises and sky scrappers. The cities often have rather unimpressive skylines compared to the modern american metropolis, but the view of a modest river town with a massive cathedral was enough to inspire thousands of impressionist paintings (and they never tired of painting the same scene either).
You don't find gigantic warehouse stores as frequently as you do in the US. Shopping for food is more often done in smaller grocery stores, corner stores, bakeries, butchers, and open air markets. You can usually find what you need, but they often are only open until 8pm, and if it's sunday outside the UK, good luck finding anything.
I spent just under 3 weeks in France, a more abridged trip than some of the other places. I had about 2 days in Ruoen and then about 2 weeks in Paris. Paris is certainly nice, lots of history, old buildings, plenty to see, and always something going on. I didn't stay in Paris that long because I really liked the city or wanted to see more. I'm not really a city person, and Paris is a city person's city. My reason for staying was simply to spend time with a good friend, and to that extent I really enjoyed Paris. The city is pretty dirty. The streets and sidewalks are littered with discarded cigarettes and dog poop (yea watch where you step in Paris). My impression of Paris is that is a rather gray city. While London was quite green, Paris is mostly concrete and stone. Sure the buildings and monuments are more impressive, and they have some nice gardens scattered here and there. Of course this impression isn't helped by the fact that it was mostly gray and drizzly while there.
For my exit I took a commuter train out to Euro Disneyland. An odd phenomenon where there were more english signs than french and, of course, my old friend Mickey Mouse. I didn't actually spend anytime in Euro Disneyland but instead took a bus a couple of stops and then a short walk to the nearest toll booth on the main road going east from Paris. From here I pulled out some cardboard signs and tried to make my way to Germany. My ride came from a fellow from the UK who had pulled off at the toll parking lot to refill his transmission fluid. He was on his way to Romania (and perhaps then on to Greece, he hadn't decided) and was going right by Frankfurt. Good company and a ride to Frankfurt, can't ask for any more than that! He dropped me off at the airport where I got in touch with a friend from camp who lived in Frankfurt. Fortunately he was up at midnight and lived pretty close to the airport.
Since then I've been enjoying some beautiful autumn weather in Germany and soaking in the german culture through schnitzel, donner kabobs, chiliwurts, and chocolates. There are lots of traditional little towns tucked in the hills and woods around frankfurt. Once again it's been great to hang out with a friend as well. Soon I'll be moving on towards Berlin, and hopefully seeing a couple other friends in the next few weeks.
It's nice to have a mix of time with friends and time alone. Time with friends is always fun. Time alone forces you to meet new people, branch out, and in many cases see or do things you may not otherwise. Sometimes it can get a bit lonely, and there's always an extra level of uncertainty (especially if you don't know the language at all). It's been nice to spend time in just one place as well. While traveling your always packing up, moving, and settling down temporarily again. It can be tiring, but at the same time I get a wonderful feeling when I get back out on the road. Sometimes you get quite comfortable where you are and its hard to move on. But it's great once you stop worrying and just go.
In my travels I try as much as possible to take things as they come and not worry about the future. There so much to worry about: where to go, how to get here, where I'll stay, is it safe, what to eat, do I still have enough money, etc. Those are things people worry about all the time, basically will their needs be met? Of course we often don't even know exactly what we need. On top of that we often think we know how they should be met. I've found it's our worries or our view of how things should be blinds us from other opportunities.
Well thats enough for now, heading out tomorrow, need to get some sleep.