We just completed the Tour du Mont Blanc, an 11 day, roughly 168km hike from Les Houches, France through Italy, Switzerland, and back into France. We don’t have a lot of time to post pics and comments now as we are still on the road for another couple of weeks before we move home, but we thought we would quickly post some of our favorites.
A quick note to say that we’ve handed in our dissertations(!) and our moving out of our flat in a couple of hours. In the end, these last few days were pretty much the whirlwind that I had anticipated, though built into that was getting to spend time with friends that were important to us this year, so, no regrets.
We’re off on our hike and anticipate being relatively unplugged so the blog will be quiet for a few weeks, but I’ll be back with pictures and stories, and some final thoughts on the honey year. Tomorrow is our one-year anniversary! See you soon.
First, some final pictures from Paris (we got back on August 22):
I’ve been waking up nervous most mornings. We’re well into our final few days here in London. Every day there are good-byes to be said. The flat is cluttered, and dirty (“Oh well, we’re leaving,” has become our mantra), and there is a mountain of laundry to do. Today the flat will become even more chaotic as we get our big suitcases out from under the bed and open them on the floor to begin packing.
All the things that I still need to do swirl in my head constantly. I spend my days juggling dissertation writing, preparing to move out of the flat and back across the Atlantic Ocean, and planning for a big mountain hike (more below) – all the while wondering if I haven’t missed any balls that should be up in the air as well. This past weekend I inadvertently stood up a friend for breakfast because I had written her a note asking her to meet me Sunday, only I typed “Saturday” by mistake. Oh boy.
I’ve been making one last, big, final push to get my dissertation done, but I feel like I keep pushing and it doesn’t seem to want to move. I keep putting in longer hours – late nights, early mornings, work while eating, don’t stop for breaks, don’t go to the gym, don’t look at your “fun things I want to do before I leave” list – anything to get myself to just get it done. But it’s still many hours away from completion. I don’t begrudge my dissertation for consuming my time (really, my education was my ticket to London so that would be incredibly unfair) but I keep thinking I would love to have some time to think and reflect and slow down a little before I leave, instead of working on my dissertation up until the very last moment, packing frantically and running out the door (in my head I imagine personal articles trailing behind my suitcases).
People keep asking me how I feel about going home and I think I’m happy. And sad. And scared. The truth is, as much as I actively pursue challenges and adventure, I’m really scared of change. We’re going home to our families and friends and familiar streets where we know where everything is and how to get around, but there are some big adjustments too. We need to look for a place to live. I’m starting the final leg of my residency which will be completely new and I will no doubt go back to feeling like I don’t know anything and am at the bottom of the totem pole…because I won’t, and will be. Allan starts work at his old job but in a new office with new colleagues. So even though we’re going back to the familiar it will all still seem, at least for the first while, very strange.
About this little walk we’re doing: We’ll be hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc before we come home, a sign that our time in London really has come full circle. The Tour du Mont Blanc is a long-distance trail around the base of Europe’s highest mountain (Mont Blanc) that takes you through France, Italy and Switzerland. Last year we had wanted to do the hike as our honeymoon, sometime between our wedding in early September and moving into our flat a few weeks later. It didn’t work out because our student visas didn’t arrive in time for us to book the trip, but it ended up being for the best. Instead, we did the complete opposite: a Mediterranean cruise, where we basically slept the whole week, exhausted from the wedding, packing, consecutive red-eye flights and jet-lag. There’s no way we would have survived the hike. I had pictured the hike as a leisurely walk, the two of us strolling hand-in-hand along smooth paths through charming villages, eating meals of fondue for dinner before resting in a cozy bed and breakfast at night. In reality, this trail is a proper 170km, 11-day hike, with, on average, one kilometre of ascent and descent daily. We’re told to prepare for everything from heat to hail, and all the other weather patterns in between. Most nights we’ll be staying in mountain huts in dorm rooms of a dozen people or more.
I can’t wait.
And we’ll be doing it exactly a year after we had planned to do it. Instead of a prelude, it’ll be a grand finish to our European adventure.
Yesterday we spent our morning working on our dissertations, our afternoon criss-crossing the city by foot and our evening with Suvit. Some highlights:
We hopped on the Eurostar bound for Paris late yesterday evening for the last time. Destination: the land of cheese, pains au chocolat, lazy afternoons laying out in parks, and…Suvit!
My childhood (adolescent-hood?) friend Suvit moved to Paris in March for work and immediately invited us to stay with him. As a testament to his coolness, his flat has a view of the Eiffel Tower.
I don’t have a picture of us with Suvit yet as we arrived after midnight and he left for work early this morning. He’s working the entire time we’re visiting, which works out just as well since Allan and I are still putting in long days polishing up our dissertations. I wrote my supervisor an e-mail this morning, in response to a request that I send her some work by Friday, that said (no joke), “At the risk of sounding like an undedicated student, I am in Paris right now and the weather is amazing.” We’ll see how that goes over.