Chartres – Cathedral a 10, Food ??

On Thursday we took the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Chartres. It is a big, modern, and clean city; quite nice. After lunch we went straight to the Cathedral, the city’s main attraction for most visitors thanks to its historical importance. It has some of the best Gothic construction ever, according to those who know such things. We would return multiple times during our stay. One of the most memorable visits was when we went on a tour of the crypt, which is not actually where people are buried but is a series of chapels built under the church. It serves as the foundation for the structures above.

Even in the presence of such a beautiful, as well as spiritual, icon, we soon were searching for food. Our lunch at the first bar/tabac we saw was actually one of the better meals. We sat outside in a lush courtyard accompanied by un petit oiseau with a nest in a decorative sculpture. The server was friendly, easily interpreting our French. The portions were just right, which for Tricia and me means small.

The next day, we tried one of the restaurants near the Cathedral. It was OK but not great. I fear we were the recipients of tourist fatigue, little attempt to speak French to us, just English. As is often the case in tourist areas, the cuisine is just passable since most customers will never return. However, to France’s credit, that is not as common as in some tourist places we have visited over the years – the French are proud of their food.

We ate at the Cafe Blue for both lunch and snacks. Even though it as close to the Cathedral as possible, it had great service and food. Its setting is perfect for gazing at the church and watching the people parade by.

On Sunday, needing some variety, we ate at an Italian place. Sadly, the service did not live up to the ambience of the shop/restaurant. Our French is understood most everyplace we go. Tricia is often complimented on her French, and occasionally even my much less elegant elocution is given positive marks. Yet for some reason it appeared the servers were snickering at us. When I told one man that the meal was délicieux, which was a stretch, but I was being kind, he cocked his head as if he didn’t understand. They must have understood, as they brought us our orders and such without ever a word of English. I could have overlooked the less than stellar food, but the arrogant attitude kind of took the glow off of the meal.

Walking along the river, we spied a couple of cafes and bistros perched above the water. Both of them were away from the Cathedral, which may make them more local oriented. So my conclusion is that the Cathedral is a 10. The food, however, is still inconclusive. We may go back to Chartres one day. If we do, it will be to visit some of the less famous churches and explore the food in more depth. Both of those pursuits are worth a trip.

La Rochelle, Not New Rochelle

La Rochelle is located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine on the Atlantic coast, about a four hour drive southwest of us. Though rich in history and reputation, thanks to the Dick van Dyke Show, my enthusiasm did not match Tricia’s though I never said anything. Every time she would mention going there, reminding me of the city’s frequent mentions in the book “A Bite Size History of France,” which we had both read, the first image that came to my mind was Dick van Dyke who lived in New Rochelle on his old TV show.

Well, we went to La Rochelle and I am so glad we did. It is one of my favorite places in France, hard to make a list of better places, and of course one of the criteria for a great place is the food, La Rochelle has some of the best we have had.

The Pont de I’le de Ré takes you to I’le de Ré. It is 19 miles long and 3 miles wide, with a number of small communities. We ate lunch at La Marine in the village of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. We ate outside next to the harbour and of course had seafood. Tricia had hake, which she said was great, I stole a bite and do agree. I had Cocotte de la Mer, a seafood stew of mussels, shrimp, langoustines, and shellfish, in a cream sauce all baked with a puff pastry crust. (You get just a peek of Tricia’s hake in the distance.)

A wonderful meal for sure, the sauce was so rich and the seafood perfect.

The next day we ate near the old harbour in La Rochelle. We had heard that Andre’s restaurant was the best in the area, but we passed by it as a bit touristy. Just a few yards down the street we stopped in front of Le Bistrot d’la Chaîne, greeted by the delightful owner we took a table, and we are so glad we did. Other bistrots around us and the crêperie across from us had more people, but I know none of them, including the patrons at Andre’s, had a better experience than we did.

We both had one of the best meals ever, the kind that makes it difficult to recall any other meal that was ever more enjoyable. The service was perfect, she helped us with our French, we watched a parade of people walking by, and spent a pleasant couple of hours on a warm but not hot day.

After an entrée of raw oysters our mains came. Tricia had scallops, I had grilled shrimp and risotto.

Thanks to Tricia for the photo

Travel is about learning and of course food. Two lessons from this trip. First off don’t let old blurry mental images prevent you from visiting a place you really have no sharp image of. The second lesson, which I have mentioned before, is to not rely too much on guide books or other bloggers, yep that includes me, for your decisions. You might go to Andre’s and have the meal of your life, or you might go to d’la Chaîne and wonder why we raved. All I know is we loved La Rochelle, and really loved the two meals we had there – we are pretty sure we will return.

So keep trying new places and tastes, you will discover the wonder of the world along the way.

Waiting in France

“Waiting time is not wasting time. Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” Henri J.M. Nouwen

If Nouwen is correct then France is a good place to develop your spiritual life for this culture has waiting woven into its very fiber. At times I welcome the lessons waiting teaches, other times lack of patience and uncertainty rear their unspiritual heads.

The ubiquitous drive-up service in the US is pretty much non-existant here in France. Starbucks has drive-through and of course you can order on your phone so as to not be inconvenienced by waiting in a line to place your order then waiting again while your order is prepared – no chance of prompting Nouwen’s spiritual life here.

In France you sit in a delightful café and wait patiently for the server, which will most always take much longer than any place you go in the US. Yet you don’t see people looking around trying to catch the eye of the server or overtly flagging them down as would be common back in Seattle. Or compare Japan where many restaurants have a button on the table for the sole purpose of summoning someone, nothing like that here.

Knowing how important un café is, it is usually brought out relatively quickly. However if you are sitting down to lunch minutes will go by between being seated and someone coming to take your aperitif order, and more minutes until it comes – so it goes all through the meal. Wait times between courses would earn even the best establishment poor reviews outside of France.

Yet the French take it in stride, just as they do waiting in a line at the supermarche. Just this morning we waited for a few minutes while the couple in front of us carefully bagged and stacked their groceries into their cart, then engaged with the also patient checker to pay, which was slow as the shopper methodically entered numbers into a keypad. There were at least three more folks with carts behind us, no one was impatiently glaring, they, like us, chatted, knowing their turn was coming.

One does learn to flow with the waiting pace as it applies to shop hours. Yes, many shops close at about noon only to re-open at 2.00pm. Many are closed on both Sunday and Monday. And it is not uncommon to find a place you were intent on going to, which you expected to be open, be closed with little explanation. The only explanation of course is C’est la France!

The most challenging waiting comes from anything associated with the government. France is famous for their bureaucracy and its associated paperwork, something that even my best pre-moving mind preparation did not grasp. No matter what it is you want to do there is a dossier involved and it is impossible to get all of the documents correct the first time.

In June of 2022 we submitted a 1.5cm thick packet of documents to get our Carte Vitale, healthcare card. So far it has been returned, yes the whole packet, four or five times requesting additional information. We last returned it with a letter two months ago, our relocation consultant says that since we have heard nothing from them that is good news, yet we check the mail daily.

Car insurance requires more than just a call with the VIN number and your drivers licence number as it does in the US. All of that for sure, but copies of your visa and all the accompanying docs get sent in. I am enrolled in a French Driving school to get my French licence, the paperwork for that was about the same as getting our visa. You submit it all and days or weeks go by until you hear.

We renewed our visas, starting in January, and of course received multiple requests for more info. We are all set, we have our provisional visa renewal yet are still waiting for the final card, or actually the notification that we can make an appointment with the prefecture to go an pick up our card.

The aspect of waiting that Nouwen does not mention is the uncertainty that waiting can produce. Since he is a man of God he would probably advise that uncertainty is an opportunity to express faith, and I am sure he is correct. BUT when you are waiting for a visa to see if you can stay in the country, car insurance to allow you to drive, etc. it can be a bit stressful as well.

Yet we are getting pretty good at it, or at least used to it. As I finish this blog I realize I get to face the uncertainty of what will happen when I attempt to uploaded it since we have painfully slow internet service out in rural France. So I will hit publish, refill my d’eau minérale gazeuse and hope you get to read it. In the end my goal is to be more like Neville, he has this down perfectly.

A Bistro, an Auberge, or Both – You Choose

Should you ever get near enough to meet-up with us in our rural part of Normandie for lunch we would recommend a choice between two places: Le Bistrot Saint Julien or Auberge de la Source. Both are about 15 minutes away.

The first restaurant we went to after moving into La Thebauderie was Le Bistrot Saint Julien. In another blog soon I will address the different terms for eating establishments here in France: Bistro, brasserie, auberge, café, bar, restaurant. We chose Saint Julien for the same reason we would take a visitor there, it is next door to the ruins of Château de Domfront, a place we were anxious to see. We have also discovered that in the Michelin Travel Guide for Normandie it is one of only two restaurants listed for Domfront.

A bistrot (bistro in English) is usually a smaller more casual place with a local feel about it. Most will have a menu du jour, which is always the best value. Bistrots usually follow the traditional opening hours of 12h00 to 14h00, though keep in mind that does not mean they accept seating until 14h00, we have been to many places that stopped seating at 12h30 – 13h00. Many reopen later for dinner, Saint Juliens re-opens at 19h00.

This is where we go most often for lunch, we rarely, well I guess never, go out for dinner in Normandie. You know when you have become a regular when instead of au revoir (good bye) when you leave, the owner says à bientôt (see you soon). We have been on à bientôt terms for some time now.

In addition to a changing menu du jour, which at any restaurant in France will have fish on Fridays, Julien’s has a menu of local specialities. One of our favorites are the many tartins. Here is one Tricia had, as always thanks for the photo.

Look at that wonderful chèvre! One of my favorite tartins is chorizo. When our friend Tim visited he was daring enough to try the andouillette, an acquired regional taste; as I remember he quite enjoyed it.

Here is another dish that Tricia had, cod on black rice, and one of my plates.

Auberge de la Source is located in the tiny village of Saint-Cyr-du-Bailleul.

Auberge translates into English as “inn” or “hostel.” Some do have rooms as well as a restaurant. Most tend to be a bit upscale from a bistro but not always – traditional and local products are the norm.

During the week Auberge de la Source only has a menu du jour, while on Friday and Saturday they have quite an extensive menu and no menu du jour, though they do have prix fix options. Like Saint Juliens it is operated by a husband and wife team, something that is quite common here in rural France. The chef at la Source is classically trained and it is evident as soon as you see the first dish, even if it is the apero.

We have had many great meals there, and will have more. Here are a few more photos, thanks again to Tricia for almost all of these in the blog, check other photos out on her blog.

There are plenty of places we go to eat, but these tend to be our most frequent stops. It is a pleasant characteristic of rural France that in some of the most out-of-the-way villages you discover a bistro or auberge, that may be quite plain in its exterior appearance, yet the food and experience is truly memorable. For Tricia and me that is one of the joys of travel, whether it is around where we live or in another country, we do love food – and of course we love it when friends join us.

Manifesting Paris in Spite of Les Manifestations

After a week in the warmth of Faro we headed to Paris planning to spend a couple days there before catching our train to Flers on Monday. There were moments of trepidation as we anticipated being in Paris. The unrest in France over the legislation to change the retirement age from 62 to 64 is still strong, and the accompanying les manifestations are happening every day or so, some turning violent. Paris being the largest city and the capital experiences the most frequent of them. When we were in Paris 11 days ago there were huge piles of uncollected garbage on the sidewalks, since the sanitation workers are still on strike we knew they would only have grown. So the thought of just flying to CDG and pretty much heading to the train station instead of spending the weekend was discussed a few times.

We decided to wait until we arrived in Paris and had a chance to assess the situation firsthand before determining our next move. We arrived in Paris and the next morning we went to Le Musée Rodin just as planned – aside from the garbage piles Paris was pretty much normal. Tricia took this beautiful photo.

The years I spent traveling for work taught me that most travel situations are worse on the news than in real life. I have had my share of delayed and cancelled flights, hotels that lost my reservation, etc. but as far as actual nightmares I don’t really have any stories to tell. My practice was always to take as many precautions as I could, like always getting to the airport at least two hours early, and think of alternative plans should there be a problem, more often than not everything would go according to plan, or with just a change in flight time or something.

Years ago I traveled to Jakarta to do a seminar, during a time of major political upheaval in the country. Some acquaintances insinuated I was nuts to go there; I went any way. I landed, took a taxi to the hotel, checked in, then took a taxi to Planet Hollywood. BTW the bar there was so cool, it was built around a volcano that erupted and shook the place every 30 minutes. Not a rioter in sight, but I did get cool t-shirts for my nieces.

In the morning, before we left for Le Musée, I did what I always do on a Paris morning, I went to le cafê for un café and a sketch. Le Maine Café on Avenu du Maine was just a couple of blocks away. This morning I had company from the friendly café kitty. Other than the garbage merrily flying up the street thanks to the brisk wind, it was normal Paris. (Please though do read my note at the end of the blog)

Walking back from the Rodin we were on the alert for lunch, a passion that we share wholeheartedly with the French. We rarely search the internet as the adventure of exploration is part of the pleasure and internet comments are usually written by tourists, we like looking for where the locals go. We came upon Le Standard Rive Gauche, and what a find. At the moment it is our new favorite in Paris.

Another photo by Tricia

My entree, Le Tigre Qui Pleure – I have no idea why it is called “the crying tiger” – was one of the best beef preparations I have ever had, the sharp knife they provided was not at all needed. The sauce was amazing with just a whisper of soy and spice. Chef Paul Bocuse would be proud, though I am sure it was not found in his strictly traditional cookbook.

I actually took this photo

So the moral of the story is that people and the news tend to focus on the negatives and exaggerate them – something I fear I do as well, but must strive to avoid. So my advice as theTravelsketcher is to plan well, but not over plan, allow plenty of time, and above all be flexible – more often than not the worst case will never happen, and if it does, well embrace it as part of the adventure.

Travel as much and as far as you can, even if the longest trip you can take is just around the block, don’t let the fear win.

Note: I do understand the issues that the protesters are upset about, we try to see it through French eyes not our American eyes. So my thoughts on being able to travel to Paris without the strikes affecting us are not meant at all to trivialize the importance of the issues, nor the inconveniences they are causing, it is as Dickens said “The best of times, the worst of times” and I hope suitable resolutions are reached soon. Today as I write this it is another planned general strike day, and already there have been disruptions to the plans many folks, many will not be able to see the Louvre as planned, I do hope they will explore and make the best of the day, Paris on its worst day is still an amazing place.

Cruise Ship Food – a Bellcurve

Cruise ship overeating is legendary, even Rick Steves suggests using the stairs as much as possible to burn off the calories, but what is the food really like? In general, on land or on the sea, a restaurant’s food quality fits a perfect bell curve – the more people they try to serve and/or the more locations they operate, the more they approach the mediocrity-of-average, not bad, just not great.

Disclaimer: we have only been on two cruises, both operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, so my observations are limited to the two ships we were on. One ship was the Epic, a huge ship, the second cruise was on the Sun, which carries half as many people, there are however a lot of similarities between the two.

There are three categories of onboard dining experiences. Included in your basic cost are the buffets, and a couple of table-service restaurants. The third category is the a la carte restaurants. Each of these are quite different.

On Norwegian (NCL) The Garden Cafe, along with a couple of smaller buffets usually near the pool area, is standard. These are open from early in the morning until well into the evening, changing the offerings from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner. I think a majority of the folks onboard eat most of their meals here.

On the plus side is that there are a lot of choices, from grab-and-go, to prime rib. But the quality is always mediocre, and at breakfast a crowd of people, often pretty aggressive people, jam the place; no relaxed morning coffee and croissant here – though the croissants are quite good. For folks in a hurry, or those who tend to eat because it is required to live and quantity is more important than quality, these buffets are fine. Again, they are not bad, but as with most buffets, just not memorable.

On our most recent cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun there were two table service restaurants that were included with our basic booking: The Seven Seas and The Four Seasons. Both have the same menus which change every day. They are white tablecloth, there is a sommelier, and great servers – nothing fast-food about them at all.

These restaurants are quite a few notches above the Garden Cafe, being the food-motivated-travelers we are, this is where we ate most often. They are not open for lunch so if we were onboard our only choice was the Buffett. Tricia had some good soups: spinach, cauliflower. The entrees (appetizers for non-European readers) were quite nice, and the mains (entrees for non-European readers) were varied and done well. They definitely move the quality of food and dining experience to the right of average on the bell curve.

The third option is the a la carte places, we bought a package in advance that gave us two visits, you can buy packages with more visits, or you can just go and pay as in any restaurant. On both ships Le Bistro was the top restaurant, a bill there for two including wine would be about $150, similar to what we would experience in Seattle. On this ship there were a couple of steak houses, a Mexican cantina, teppanyaki, and sushi.

These restaurants do give a fine dining experience, though they will push your budget significantly above the initial cost of the cruise. The service is always well above average, and if you get there early you can usually score a table by a window to watch the water go by as you dine.

My desert at Le Bistro on the Norwegian Sun just a week ago, quite nice.

Here are photos Tricia took of some of the dishes we enjoyed. (Be sure to visit her blog for more photos)

We ate well, avoided the Garden Cafe when we could, which should come as no surprise to those who know me since I am not a fan of any buffet, on land or sea. On NCL you can have average meals, good meals, and really good meals, but you will pay for the really good ones. In the end I don’t think I would go on this type of cruise for the food. If food is one of your prime reasons to travel, as it is for Tricia and me, other options for travel are a better choice than cruising – though I have heard of gourmet cruises, hmmmm?

A day of Spanish missions, sketching and prayer 

A whole day and all I needed todo was drive 40 miles, so I opted to visit three old missions and spend the day sketching and praying.

First stop was the famous San Juan Capistrano, I would love to see the swallows return but I fear it would be crowded, today it was full of school children yet I found some solace nonetheless.

This is the tiny chapel for Saint Peragrinus. It was the perfect place to read the Morning Prayers.

Here are more from San Juan Capistrano, including the old chapel, and the living quarters for the priest.

Then I went to San Luis Rey, much smaller with  seminary and retreat center, nice place for Noontime prayers.

Last stop was in the foothills of Palomar Mountains, famous for the observatory. Mission San Antonio de Pala is much smaller but so enticing to set and do a mid day devotion.

Planning a trip: Part 1 – Where to go?

1799_cruttwell_map_of_the_world_in_hemispheres_-_geographicus_-_worldhemisphere-cruttwell-1799The vagabond, off to see the world with nothing more than a backpack and a dream, is a romantic image, in reality it is probably not the best way to approach your next travel adventure. The other extreme, a spread sheet with the entire trip laid out in 15 minute increments has a certain penal quality that stifles spontaneity and serendipity. I am a believer in planned spontaneity – just enough structure to give a bit of security.

So what should you plan at the minimum? There are three questions you should ask, they seem obvious but let’s explore them a bit more in this blog and some future blogs.

1 Where to go? – Itinerary

Unless you are blessed with unlimited time and money you need an itinerary of places to visit, your basic pathway.

2 Where to stay? – Accommodations 

Rick Steves has suggested finding your hotel or in when you arrive in the city, visiting the tourist information office, calling or visiting hostels and hotels until you find one that works. Yes that is easily doable, and may even save a few dollars, it certainly will connect you with the people and the place. Yet, for me, it takes up time better spent with a sketch pad in my lap, a meal to savor, or some place to explore. So I make accommodation part of the planning.

3 How to get there? – Transport

Basically your: air transport, trains, and rental cars, from major location to location, as well as getting around while in the area.

Planning a trip for me is not a linear process, it is pretty random  – looking at a BnB one moment, a train trip the next; plenty of ideas that need to be collected for future reference so they can easily be searched. And a way to get the basic structures in place that also prevents missing something important. After we look at some thoughts on the three questions above I will offer some suggestions on organization. But first…

Where to go?

I often ask people, “If we had tickets to go anywhere in the world, where would we go?” The top three answers are: Greece, Italy, Australia. Surprisingly, at least in my mind, is how frequently Greece is the number one. Since I have never been to Greece I wonder if I am missing something?

There are some considerations when deciding your destinations. Destinations and itinerary are not the same thing: Destinations are pins on a map, itinerary is the sequence you will travel. Itinerary takes into account time available, transportation logistics, and budgets. For me it works best to start by picking places unconstrained by time and money. Then, unfortunately for those of us with the realities of limited time and money, the list gets refined and usually reduced.

First identify your travel context. Why do you travel? I am sure there are many ways to approach this but here are three:

  1. Exploration – you travel to see and experience other countries and people, it is the destination that is important, someplace you have never been or returning to a place that you loved. When people ask me where I would go with those free tickets I quite often respond with Scotland or France, I love those countries, the people and the culture.
  2. Interests – some activity or topic motivates you to travel, you are looking for a place to do something specific or to experience. Skiers might be motivated to try the slopes on another continent, golfers to play in Scotland where it all started. History buffs would find a trip to learn more about some period in history attractive. Hikers, mountain climbers looking to add to the peaks that they have challenged.
  3. What makes it a good trip for you? Think of past trips, what were the best parts, the most memorable days, and why were they good? What were the times you found yourself restless, why? Do you prefer big cities or countryside? How important are museums and iconic sites? How important is nightlife or shopping? How important is good food, dining out? Lots of activity or plenty of relaxing time? Time and place for photography or art?

Personally, seeing new places and experience the culture is high on my list. I would rather spend a few days in one location and not visit as many places. What is perfect is when I can stay long enough to have morning tea at the same tea shop that they recognize me when I walk in. Painting and sketching are major interests, but so far they are what I do while in a place and not the motivation to pick a place. Good food is going to get me to San Sebastian in Spain one day, but I like Spain anyway. We tend to stay in big cities only briefly, anxious to rent a car or take a train to get out into the smaller towns and the countryside. Shopping is low on our list, and nightlife pretty much nonexistent.

As important as it is to consider these things about yourself, it is even more important when you are traveling with other people. Unless there is some harmony on these basics there will be conflict on the trip. Frank discussions are essential.

Start with broad geographical areas then work your way to specifics. What part of the world is attracting you right now? Europe? Asia? South America? Yes, I would start at the continent level.

Browse images, travel pages, maps, guidebooks, talk to people. Then start listing possible areas and cities. At this stage don’t worry about sequence or time spent in each. Once you have some key locations identified it helps to look at them on a map. Look for patterns, try to see how it would flow going from one to another. If there is one city that is quite distant from the others, think about how important it really is – the travel to reach it may be expensive or take time from more important places.

Now comes the sequencing, list the destinations out in a logical order, taking geography into account. Then begin to factor in time for the overall trip, and the time you would like to spend in each location. My personal preference is to spend more time in fewer places as opposed to racing from town to town, place to place just to say you have been there. It is rare that I would ever want to spend less than two nights in a place, because if you travel in the morning, you arrive at the new location in the afternoon, or late morning at best. Then you spend the night and get up and travel again, so you really do not get to experience much of the culture or get a sense of the place. With two nights you get an evening, a whole day, and maybe just a bit of the next morning. If a place is not worth staying two nights I would question how important it really is.

In the next blog we will discuss setting up a table to track all of this simply, and talk about transport.

Travel – tear down the walls

tower-of-londonYears ago we were staying at The Tower Hotel in London. As the name suggests it is next to The Tower of London, which is a Medieval Fortress that housed the Royal Armory and still houses  the Crown Jewels of England. It was built for protection, a place for the Monarch to retreat and defend themselves if they were attacked.

One morning, as usual, I was up early and went out for a walk. The Tower sits next to the River Thames, it is surrounded by a park – a perfect place for a walk. It was early enough that the London traffic was not yet awake, nor were there many other people out. As I walked around the walls, I considered what it must have been like to live inside the Tower. Though the Tower was used as a prison as late as 1952, its original purpose was a Royal residence, and a lavish one at that.

As I thought of what life would have been like in the parklike setting of moats and stone buildings, gardens and trees, as well as security from all dangers, eventually my mind began to focus more on the walls. Walls to protect you, walls that kept you safe from the enemies outside, walls that gave you security – walls that kept you in. Then it hit me, “the very walls that we build to protect us become the walls that in-prison us.” Fear builds walls, we find safety behind them, those on the other side of our walls become the adversary; outside the wall is a scary place, better to be incarcerated within our walls than to risk the perceived dangers beyond the wall. Walls may protect but they are a barrier to freedom.

This is one reason I like to travel, it breaks down walls. Prejudice is based on ignorance which leads to fear, and our fears build up walls for protection. When we travel and meet people that are different we discover that most folks in this world are pretty much the same. We all want to just do our jobs, have a place to live and food to eat, raise our kids, and have some fun along the way.

I remember that morning often, and am reminded that to really live life to the fullest you can’t hide from it. We live in a crazy world, with politics that frighten, yet I refuse to stop traveling, in fact I am motivated to travel all the more and I encourage others to travel as well. Relationships and understanding tear down walls, we need that these days.