Category Archives: Travel

Sceaux far from Paris

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As I said this past Saturday, I got to escape Paris for several hours this weekend and visit Sceaux (pronounced “so”—ha! now do you get it?), where my friend Matthieu lives. Sceaux lies no more than 15 kilometers from the center of Paris, but it feels like a completely different world.

In Sceaux, the streets are dotted with cozy houses and leafy trees. The neighborhoods are quiet, and children’s toys sit in driveways and frontyards waiting for the next adventure. In the middle of the town, there is a park and a château (Parc de Sceaux). Canals weave their way across the park, and fountains spew water into the air like geisers, their mist falling like rain upon the passerby.

And the trees. Oh my, the trees. If it weren’t for the manicured branches, I’d say this park is more like a forest. Even better, the leaves are changing colors. They come dancing to the ground like fire-red rose petals, flashing orange like flames in the grass.

I was so thrilled to escape the noise, hustle and claustrophobia of Paris, even if only for a few hours! It really makes a difference, getting out of the city for a little bit. Then, when you go back, you can appreciate once again all the perks of your sunless, starless, hyperactive Parisian life. Or you can just plan your next great escape, like me. You’re probably sick of my Paris-bashing and my nature-girl talk. But at least I’m honest. 

If you’d like to visit Sceaux from Paris:

Hop on the RER B, heading South, and get off at Bourg-la-Reine.

Check out this site for info on the town’s attractions, and this blog by Le Monde to find out all the local secrets and activities! Oui, c’est en Français, but Google Translate does a decent (as in only mostly horrible) job.

…and that’s it. Not bad for a day trip, huh?

Merci, Matthieu, pour l’invitation! Ce Samedi était trop génial!

Do you ever feel pent up in big cities? How do you cope? Leave a comment and share your tips!

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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Enter the Madness: Braderie de Lille 2012

I had the pleasure of visiting ma soeur française in Lille, a college town in Northern France, last weekend. This was the perfect time to be in the city because it was the weekend of la Braderie de LilleImagine a giant flea market that falls on Black Friday, and all weekend long! It seemed that all of France had flocked to Lille to partake in the city-wide shopping bonanza. Shoppers flooded the streets and sidewalks, shuffling inch by inch from store to store. Why all the frenzy? Every store and business in Lille cut their prices in half, or more. Pieces of furniture normally priced at 300 Euros sold for 100. Designer clothes normally priced at 150 Euros sold for 30. If you are the kind of person who marches straight through the front of the boutique and into the clearance section (me!) then this is the event for you!

I spent all of Saturday shopping and I managed to get some smokin’ deals:

2 Embroidered Scarves– 6 Euro

2 Jean Paul Throw Pillows– 50 Euro (originally 110 each)

Manoukian Skinny Jeans– 19 Euro (originally 79)

Another aspect of la Braderie is the the food. The menu? Mussels, fries and beer. So delicious! But quite perilous for the little sea creatures! Thousands upon thousands of empty shells sat in mounds along the streets; the piles stood several feet tall– pauvre moules!

By the end of the day, my feet were aching from wandering the city and my hands were throbbing from carrying my purchases. Even so, attending la Braderie proved to be a fantastic way to explore Lille and all it has to offer. It’s a lively place, and I can’t wait to visit again soon.

Merci beaucoup à tous, spécialement ma soeur française, for making this weekend so special!

À bientôt!

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From Prescott to Paris: 6 Tips for Conquering Travel Fiascos

My mom and I  were supposed to arrive in Paris at about 5:00 p.m. on August 16th. Well, in case you haven’t guessed yet, things did not go as planned. We didn’t get to Paris until almost 10:00 a.m. on the 17th. That means it took us 40 hours to get from Prescott to Paris. And that doesn’t even include the three hours it took us to get from Charles de Gaulle to our hotel. I should’ve walked.

These 40 hours did not pass smoothly. First, our flight from Phoenix to Dallas was delayed an hour. No problem. But then, once we arrived in Dallas Fort Worth we discovered that our flight to London was  also “delayed,” as the American Airlines agent said. “Delayed,” for 12 hours. This so called delay meant that my mom and I had to rebook our flight from London to Paris and cancel our hotel reservation for that night. American Airlines would be giving us a place to sleep, along with two free meals.

We hopped on a shuttle with all of the other London bound travelers and headed to the hotel. We were relieved by the prospect of sleep, but our relief turned quickly to bafflement. When we pulled up at the hotel we saw that all of the guests were standing outside in their pajamas and a firetruck was parked near the entrance. There had been a fire. Of course! we thought. Of course. It wasn’t long until I started laughing, laughing at the absurdity of it all. I chuckled along with the cartoonish voice of the emergency alarm, mimicking the warning until I had it memorized.

My mom and I caught a mere two hours of sleep that night. Our flight to Heathrow left at 7:30 that morning. The next night, at a hotel in London, we slept for about 3 hours.

If arriving in Paris had meant the end of it all, then this would be an ordinary scenario. But no. Our journey was far from over. Once we landed in Paris, we still had to get from Charles de Gaulle to the sixth arrondissement, which requires a train ride and a metro ride. This meant lugging not only ourselves through the underground, but my classical guitar, one backpack (stuffed to capacity), my mom’s carry-on bag and my two suitcases, both of which are the size of mortally obese 8 year olds. When we began this voyage, getting through the metro with all of this seemed manageable. WRONG. Paris has zero ramps. Zero drinking fountains. Zero elevators and/or conveniently placed escalators. We dragged, rolled, tugged and kicked all of our luggage up and down every stair, through every tunnel, between every ticket booth. By the time we clamored to the street we were soaked in sweat and heaving, thirsty and starved.

And that brings me to…

Savannah’s 6 tips for conquering travel fiascos:

  1. Accept your situation and have faith. When you’re stranded at an airport it is hard to be positive, but try to look for a bright spot– it’s better to have a flyable plane than to crash in the middle of the ocean. My best friend told me to think of it this way: “In accordance with the conservation of misfortune, you used a lot of your own quota of misery on the trip over, and as a result the rest of your stay will be much nicer!”
  2. Make friends with your fellow travelers. Perhaps the only pleasure I enjoyed during this mess was getting to know the people I met along the way– Louise from Aberdeen, Michelle from Florida, that Italian guy. We became a cohort of sorts, and we kept each other going.
  3. Give yourself some time to rest.  My impulse was to power through to the end, to stick it out and suck it up. But your body and your mind needs to recuperate, so give yourself time to rest when you can. Nap, stop and sit a while, eat.
  4. Enjoy where your are, whether you planned to be there or not. My mom and I didn’t get stuck anywhere at the right time to get out of the airport and visit, but if you have half a day or so until you’re back in the air, get out and explore a little bit. Go to a pub, stroll through the streets, have a meal. Why not?
  5. Take pictures; you’ll laugh later. Looking back, I really wish I’d taken more pictures of this experience, albeit mostly miserable. I love the picture I took of the firetruck and the sound I recorded to go with it!
  6. Do some drugs. Meaning buy an over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol or Advil that will soothe your aching bones and help you sleep on the plane. Traveling across time zones and sandwiching into airplanes can make it hard to rest.

Bon voyage! I hope you have more luck than we did!

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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Along the Joe

Hello hello! I’ve returned from the Potato State and I’m ready to get back  into the swing of things! My 10-day hiatus turned out to be the most relaxing time of my entire summer, and I’m feeling grateful for the rest because in just 20 days (!!!) I’ll be on my way to Paris.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite shots from my adventure in Idaho. My family lives in St. Maries, a backwoods town along the St. Joe river. The trees are so green here that they seem blue, and the fields shimmer like gold in the sunlight. During the summer, children splash in the river and boats speed across the lake. In the valleys, the grass moves through the wind like scales on a snake. Only minutes away, the forest stands like a thick, tattered canopy over the moist, sun-speckled earth. It’s a place of contrast. A place of beauty. A place of freedom. The perfect escape.

My trip to Idaho gave me just what I’d hoped for: rest and rejuvenation, room to think and, even better, room to not think at all. Now, it’s upward and onward (literally) to the next journey– 11 months in Paris. Expect some changes here at Untethered as a Cloud. I’ll be donning my beret and writing with a French accent.

A bientôt!

Savannah

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Photos of the Week: Escape to Colorado

Colorado is the kind of place you go to to rebel against the 21st Century. Its endless fields, dense forests and copious pockets of absolutely zero cell reception make it an excellent home for anybody who wants to escape our rapidly modernizing world of tweeters, bloggers and Facebook stalkers….or anybody who just wants to get away for a week and spend some quality time with the people they love. That’s what I did this past week in Colorado– explore a new place with my family. Here are some snapshots of the trip:

a blue sky and a barren landscapered rock formations

To reach Colorado, we drove north through Flagstaff, Ariz. and into the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Indian reservation. Then, we made our way into Colorado, where we stopped near Cortez to set up camp for the night. The campsite sat nestled in a valley, surrounded by aspen trees and dandelion fields. We built a fire, then kicked off our trip with hotdogs and smores. Classic.

a purple floweran etching in an aspen tree

Throughout the week, we hopped from  town to town like frogs hopping across a pond on lilly pads. Every town we visited seemed smaller than the last, and each one seemed like it belonged in its own version of the Andy Griffith Show. One of my favorites was Buena Vista. We stopped at a park here to eat a picnic lunch of ham sandwiches and cantaloupe, to let my cousins fish in the pond and to get some play-time on the swings before hitting the road again. It was the perfect pit stop.

fields and a blue skya reflection of a red house in a ponda collage of a park scene

Another of my favorite destinations turned out to be Breckenridge, one of Colorado’s tourist traps. I managed to steal a few hours of alone time while the rest of the family played at the ski resort. On my solo adventure I discovered a gem of a book store, Ole Man Berkins.  This little hole in the wall is bursting at the seams with rare and vintage books, movies and clothes. The shelves are treasure troves of knowledge and fantasy. I ended up buying a vintage edition of Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, along with Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, short stories by Stephen Crane and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I finally had to force myself to leave. Had I stayed in Ole Man Berkins any longer, I might’ve gotten sucked into a literary time warp and been lost forever in a world of words.

books on a shelf

From Breckenridge, we made our way back to Arizona. We stopped at a lake to swim, play and eventually, spend our last night under the stars. All of our driving had me feeling like a sardine, so I rolled out my yoga mat to practice in the afternoon sun.

In the end, for better or for worse, my week in Colorado didn’t turn out to be anything like the catastrophic family road trip movie it could’ve been. There were no fires, no skunks, no dismembered limbs. There was, however, a lot of bonding, debate, adventuring and fun. Not to mention I figured out where I’ll flee to when urban America gets taken over by robots…or when I retire and live out my dream of being a rancher/farmer/wild horse-loving lady. Whatever comes first.

Escape this week. It’s worth it.

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

P.S.– Do you have any crazy family adventure stories? Or do those only exist in Hollywood?

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