We spent a bittersweet day visiting the gorgeous Chateau of Chenonceau while saying goodbye to Western Europe. Tomorrow we fly from Paris to Athens. From there, we move on to Turkey, Israel, Jordan, then Egypt, and from there on to Tanzania and beyond.
In a strange way, it feels like we are departing for a big trip all over again. We have somehow come to know and understand the part of the world we have been traveling through. Even though our travels so far have been punctuated with short forays into some strange and different places (Morocco being the most foreign, but the former Eastern-bloc countries being other examples), we have mostly been in familiar territory.
But tomorrow, we move into the unknown. Greece, with its foreign alphabet. After only a short week in Greece, on to Turkey and then the Middle East.
But today, we enjoyed one of the greatest examples of western civilization, the Chateau of Chenonceau, arguably the lovliest Chateau in a countryside that is absolutely rotten with them.
And after touring the inside, we found some pure pleasure in the grounds, which consist of thousands of acres of both manicured French and Italian gardens, forests, fountains, paths, and a hedge maze. The hedges comprising the maze were only about four feet tall, and the center is a 15-foot gazebo, so finding one’s way to the center is hardly a challenge. But after we snooped around the many pathways for awhile, we started maybe the best game of hide and seek any of us has ever played. We raced around the hedges, hiding, lurking, peeking, running, shouting, sneaking and blowing our whistles.
We will miss France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, England and the west. But we went out with a bang, enjoying the simple happiness of running and laughing together. We are ready for the next stage of our journey.