Well... certainly, there is no lack of tourist attractions, history, or beauty in France.
It took us a long time to get to Paris. It took me a long time to get to the Loire Valley. I studied a lot about the chateaux in school and I've always been interested in seeing them, at least a few. Joseph, on the other hand, had never been particularly interested in Paris and had never given a thought to the castles. Our trip was really for me, sweet man.
Today, I am thinking of Versailles.
We had a fun and exhausting time there. One thing we did right -- we stayed a night in the area. We weren't rushed and yet, we were. I wanted to see EVERYTHING -- the palace, the gardens, the Trianon complex... Since we were right there in town, we had a full, long day at the palace. While "everything" was too tall an order, I saw what I most wanted to see and more than I knew to expect.
I noticed something. Altogether, excluding the Louvre, we visited seven chateaux. Obviously, they each have their own personality and, for lack of a better word, aura. To me, Versailles felt haunting and not in a good way. It's opulent, magnificent, and we thoroughly enjoyed the grounds/gardens. But I felt a deep melancholy as well -- not within myself, but somehow, all around. It was probably due to my imagination. I couldn't keep thoughts of the French Revolution springing to mind. Yet France moved forward and the world went on. Still, for all its grandeur, Versailles was sad to me.
It makes me think about our lives today. I hope we can leave some joyful echoes.
As for the tourist experience of the palace, we found it vast but organized. There is plenty to do and see, indoors and out. We considered renting a kayak, but we opted for a golf cart instead, which proved an amusing hour. The grounds are extensive and the golf carts cannot go everywhere. But it was still fun.
I would like to add a few words about the town. Versailles is an old and beautiful city. There are lots of restaurants, shops, and things to see and do. We stayed in an AirBnB, in a 250 year old house that had been lovingly renovated. Our host's family had been in Versailles for generations and it was obvious that he loves his city. He was quick to let us know that there is a lot to see besides the palace. We believed him. Maybe another time...
I don't have a bucket list, per se, and I do NOT approve of skydiving. I get it. It's safer than driving, yada yada, and you're going to do it whether I approve or not. None of that means I have to like it when you jump out of a plane.
I'd always thought to go hang-gliding, though. It never struck me as particularly dangerous and enjoying an eagle's eye view of the mountains I love held great appeal. So when Joseph announced that we should go paragliding in Turkey, it wasn't in me to seriously object.
And there is that something about challenging yourself to do something at least a teensy bit out of your comfort zone.
It was a cool, cloudy, November day in Oludeniz when we went, and we had to wait for the clouds to disperse a little. We trusted Birsen and Kerem, our guys from FlyLiberty, so we weren't worried. And oh, it was so much fun!
I admit, as we drove to the top of the mountain (thousands of feet), I began to feel a little anxious. We just kept going -- up, up, up -- and I'm a little uncomfortable with heights. I joked that I would just stay in the van. I believed I was voicing more concern than I felt in order to amuse the others. In retrospect, looking at the photos, I probably was as nervous as I thought I was pretending to be. I'm holding on tight and don't look that comfortable. As to that, I wasn't comfortable! My coat was bothering the heck out of me. Next time -- and we hope to go again soon -- I won't wear a coat or anything so constricting. Or sunglasses! Kerem insisted I wear his, but I don't think I needed them, especially on a cloudy day. But I digress. In short, Joseph looks relaxed and competent in his photos. Born to it. Me, not so much.
Despite that vain displeasure, I found it a refreshing experience. Does that sound odd? For one thing, it's fun. And then, there you are, high above the forest and sea, a sure, cool breeze blowing... Everyone has asked me how it feels to jump down or jump off the top of a mountain. I don't feel that I did. We backed up, ran a little, and jumped -- up. I never experienced a feeling of falling. Kerem skillfully maneuvered the parachute and the wind took us! It was smooth sailing with spectacular scenery. Eventually, we glided gently to the ground.
Would you prefer something less soothing, more exciting? The experience is, of course, tailored to the customer. I expressed anxiety and, I realize now, was clearly nervous, so Kerem took it easy. But they do stunts and loops and all sorts of things if you're up for it. Maybe next time.
I'm really glad that we did it. It was a fun experience to share with my sweetheart. He didn't rub it in that I was the poster child for awkward and afterwards we celebrated with a beautiful dinner in Fethiye.
Many thanks to everyone at FlyLiberty. Oludeniz, I look forward to seeing you again!
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran
From me to you with a smile.
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