Saturday, March 24, 2007

What becomes of the broken-hearted? They travel

Travel, if you haven't guessed it by now, is wonderful. It satisfies and spurs on the curious. It lets the restless stretch their legs. It provides answers and new questions to those seeking them. And it helps cure a broken heart.

There is no pain like the of having your heart broken. The definited, dense pain, the crushing of your insides, your sudden inability to breathe. There is no way around it; having your heart broken by someone you love is the worst feeling in the entire world. Sometimes, even more than death, because it is a whole-hearted rejection of YOU.

And while there is no quick-fix for such maladies - Time is what heals all - there is a cure:


When I was 18, I had my heart broken for the first time. Coincidently - or not - this was the year I headed off to Australia and New Zealand to travel by myself for 6 months.

I was not independent by any fact, one of the reasons why I was in such rough shape was because I had become too dependent - on my boyfriend, parents, everything. So, it was surprising to find myself planning for this trip alone.

I don't know how it came about (soooo long ago, it feels) but I knew that I had to leave. My Ex, my heartbreak, the aftermath...everything was home. I wanted to go away as far from home as possible. And Australia is pretty much as far as you can go.

And so I hopped on a flight to Wellington and that was it.

Travel soothed my aching soul. It opened up my eyes to new possibilities. It wasn't about hooking up or about finding new loves. It just made me realize how much there was out there in life and that having my heart crushed was not going to stop me from moving on and living my life.

After 6 months away, I came back a changed woman. I gained independence which hasn't fully left me to this day (and I pray it never will). I found a calling in life (independent travel). I met friends, challenged fears, had adventures and truly got to know myself as me.

It didn't cure my broken heart but it helped fix it at a faster rate. I had distractions of a new environment. I had the advantage of not being around things that were familiar or reminded me of him. And as I met more people, I realized that he wasn't the only guy out there for me. That no matter how dearly you feel that someone is the one, that there will be others. Yes, it takes time - for me it took over four years (save a one month relationship in the mix) - to find someone else. But it happened. And in the meantime, I traveled because travel itself was like a new lover to me. And I never felt alone because of that.

I know that no matter what happens to me and my heart, that travel will always be willing to embrace me with open arms. Now, all I have to do is figure out what to say to my other partner - my job.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tour Stop Paris: The Notre Dame

There is no greater symbol of Gothic Architecture than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

Constructed in the early gothic era between 1163 and 1285, the Notre Dame has captured the world's interest from the start. In 1185 Heraclius called for the Third Crusade from the Notre Dame. Then came The 100 Years War frm 1338-1453. In 1431 Henry VI was crowned King of France within Notre Dame. The Dauphin Francis weds Mary Stuart at Notre Dame in 1558. And in 1793, revolutionaries vandalized the Notre Dame, destroying the "gallery of kings" and stealing all valuables.

Let's not forget Victor Hugo and his Quasimodo of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a brilliant combination of history and folklore and a legend that lives to this day.

Esmerelda's Staircase

Aside from the flying buttresses, archways, stained glass windows and intimidating spires that make up the two towers of "Our Lady," the most famous draw to the magnifcent building is it's famous gargoyles.

If you are visiting the Notre Dame, I recommend that you be prepared to stand in line for a long time.

The lines are long for both the free entrance to the inside of the cathedral (which is quite stunning, even though I call it "boring" in the video) and for the tour of the towers.

Though the towers cost money (free if using your Paris Museum Pass, a real life and moneysaver) it is definitely worth it. Just be prepared to tackle a lot of steps and check your fear of heights at the door.

Peek-a-boo in Quasimodo's Bell Tower

The Notre Dame is also an important place for religious processions (one of which I stumbled upon during my visit to Paris two years ago).

And of course, the cathedral remains a huge tourist attraction, no matter what time of year it is...Summer....

Or Winter...

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