Adventure Is Out There? No. It’s Right Here…

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

-G.K. Chesterton

We recently had the opportunity to go on a 10 (or so) day break. Some friends and I decided we wanted to go to Mont Saint-Michel, Lourdes, and Barcelona, before going back to Gaming to leave for Rome for the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II. We did a lot of planning last minute (though a lot of people seemed to be doing that), and so we were greatly stressed. Since we would be traveling in France a lot, we had to use a lot of French trains, which you can’t reserve until you are in France (if you have a EuRail Pass and an American credit card). So we mapped out what we were planning on doing, booked our hostels, booked our trains to Paris, were (as) ready (as we would be) to leave.

Our plan was to leave Gaming at 6:30 Wednesday night and get to Mont Saint-Michel Thursday night at 6:00. We packed, we got on the bus to Scheibbs, and, when we got to Scheibbs, I realized I had forgotten my EuRail Pass in my room… [I am a living testimony: Always make sure you have EVERYTHING.] That was a fun realization! (NOT!) One of my friends and I took the next bus to Gaming. I found my EuRail, and we figured out the trains that it would take to get us to Paris in time to make our (potential) connection to Mont Saint-Michel. That day/night was the longest day of my life. Between many transfers and getting (maybe) 45 minutes of sleep, from hanging out for over an hour in an Austrian McDonald’s to sitting amongst a…colorful group of sleeping passengers in the Salzburg train station, it was quite the night/day. And we can’t forget to mention the man with an eyepatch, leather jacket, and cowboy boots who came up to my friend and me in McDonald’s and said, pointing to me: ‘Believe me: He’s an a$$hole.’ We looked at each other confusedly, to which he said, ‘I heard what he said,’ and then he walked out. We still don’t know why I’m ‘an a$$hole.’

There was never a transition from it being Wednesday to it being Thursday. Travel StressGaming to Scheibbs to St. Pölten to Salzburg to Munich to Paris. I can’t say I’ve ever had a day quite like, nor do I expect to have a day like, that ever again. I really owe my friend who went through all of that to help me. After getting to Paris, we found WiFi, found out where our friends were (at a train station across town), and rushed to that other station in order to make our train to Rennes (on the way to Mont Saint-Michel). Seeing them was one of the greatest feeling, realizing we didn’t have to rush and wander in order to find them.

We eventually made our way up to Mont Saint-Michel, where we were picked up by the man from our Bed and Breakfast. He and his wife were so 100_1836sweet! It was a great little place in the rural area with a few inexpensive restaurants nearby. I felt so at home, and they did well to make sure we felt thus. We figured it was just going to be some impersonal hostel, but we got there to find out how great it was. And it was fairly inexpensive. If anyone ever plans on going to Mont Saint-Michel, I greatly recommend it! For dinner, we went to a nice little British restaurant. The owner was so kind and funny. I got to enjoy a ham, tomato, and cheese sandwich, chips, and a cider. I would greatly recommend that as well. (If you stay at the B&B, they will no doubt recommend it, and that would be one of the few places, probably, with easy access to it.

That next morning, we got up, packed up our things, and had a lovely (bread-filled) breakfast. Then we headed out to Mont Saint-Michel for the day. It was quite beautiful. 100_1843For those who don’t know what it is (which is understandable – I knew nothing about it until the day before we left), it is a monastery (with a city and fortress) set upon a mountain island. Throughout the day, the time goes out, revealing the sand, making the island look like just a mountain. At night, the tide comes in and fills the bay once again. We didn’t get to see high tide, but it was amazing to see the constant decrease of the water in the bay. We spent the day exploring the island, gazing upon all that the island had to offer (which is sadly a lot of tourist shops). We had the opportunity to join the monks and sisters for prayer at noon, to a Stations of the Cross procession through the streets at 3:00, and for (some of) the Good Friday service. They were all in French, so we didn’t really understand, but for most of it, we either had an idea of what they were saying or had translations. We got to have a fairly relaxing day, enjoying the beautiful weather and the beautiful island.

Because we weren’t able to get a second night at the B&B, we had a different ‘hostel’ at which to stay. We made our way to Pontorson to be picked up by our hostel. When we got to our hostel, it was…interesting. We stayed in an upper room of a house with a barn. There was a shower that sat in the corner of our room – we weren’t going to be showering at our hostel that night… The man had a folk band, and they were playing that night. It was fairly cozy, and quite personal. It was just interesting. We lined up our trains for the next day, and then hit the hay (after much of that always-interesting tired conversation). That next morning, we got a ride to the bus station and then made our way to Rennes. In Rennes, we went to make train reservations. We had many to make, so it took quite the effort, but we managed to find an employee with good English who was really helpful. We had made (basically) all of the reservations we needed for all of 10-day, at a decently inexpensive price. [We ended up giving her flowers for all that she did. I think we made her day – she was SO happy.] From there, we began our long journey to Lourdes.

Mont Saint-Michel is a rather touristy spot. It’s a sad reality of how that and other places have become just another sight for tourists to check off their list. I mean, we were sort of tourists. But when something becomes just another tourist attraction, it detracts from the beauty and the authenticity of the place. Despite the touristic tendencies of the island, the island and abbey were still beautiful. In addition to that, Mont Saint-Michel is still surrounded by a very rural and agricultural area. Dare I say it, it was a nearly hobbit-esque area. Cities are cool. But Gaming has made made me grow even more in appreciation of small towns. They have more character, and you are always surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. There is such a beauty in the simplicity of rural areas. It is truly my dream – though unlikely to be fulfilled – to live in a hobbit-hole-type house (obviously scaled up to accommodate for my height). [If I could live in a hobbit hole and teach Theology, I would be completely content for the rest of my life. Well, maybe not completely. But that sounds like one of the best ways to spend the rest of my life.] Riding these trains through these rural regions gives me more than enough to take in. Sometimes these train rides make me appreciate this journey more than the destination – though I do have a great appreciation and love (most times) for the destination. If I have to get somewhere, why not take in the beauty of the journey?

“Looking at beauty in the world
is the first step of purifying the mind.”

-Amit Ray

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Duc In Altum

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Oh, My Lourd(es) | Eärendil Star
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  4. Trackback: What I Learned in Austria Is… | Eärendil Star

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