Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nashville, Lebanon, Chelsea, Austria, Opera

This is more about the experience than the images...Image are pretty much just snapshots but they help tell the story.

What does Nashville, Lebanon, Chelsea, Austria and the Opera have in common?  How do they relate?  That is the addicting part of travel...the world is drawn to your fingertips.

After our time in was time to move to our next adventure.  Even though I had traveled in Europe years ago...the rest of the trip (other than Paris) would be new not only to my wife but also to me.  We were departing the border village of Colmar to the heart of France....The Loire Valley.  Land of the Chateaux.  I had studied these amazing structures since high school and now they were about to become real to me.  We would be spending enough time in this area to really get to know the people, to talk about life and the differences we experience from the others who live in this beautiful country.  We were moving to the countryside and would remain in rural settings until our last 8 days in Paris.

Now for the pictures.  We boarded the train to Tours, France...a town in the Western part of France and it would be our first "Bullet Train"....the TGV - Train Grand Vitesse...High Speed Train.  These amazing machines are bound to rails but speed up to 300 miles per hour...a public rocket sled.  You really realize the speed of these behemoths when passing another train heading in the opposite direction. There is very little space between passing trains... literally 3 to 5 feet.  When you are traveling at upwards of 300 miles per hour and the train going in the other direction 5 feet away is moving at the same speed...a blink of the eye and it passes by.

As I had mentioned in an earlier post....dogs and cats in Europe rule supreme.  Even on public transportation.  Chelsea the cat sat wide eyed on the head rest of the seat in front of us.  Moving up and down the aisle hoping for a stoke on the back as she passed by your seat.  Chelsea often climbed into empty seats to watch the countryside speed past.  I heard the lady in the 3rd photograph (reading her kindle) speak when she boarded the train and I could tell immediately she was from the southern United States.  With Chelsea as the subject of conversation, we began to talk.  I asked her where she was from and where she was headed.  "I'm from Nashville" she said in that famous southern drawl...but I am headed back home to Austria.  She told me an amazing story.  She attended Indiana University during her college days and studied music...piano to be specific.  During the last month of her college career, she was in the Music building practicing her piano...not sure what the future held for her.  "It is so difficult to get a job playing the piano" she said.  A lady walked into her soundproof music practice room and stood there listening as she played.  After she finished...the lady began to speak...and speak with a heavy German/Austrian accent.  It so happened that the lady was head mistress of a piano studio in Salzburg Austria.  "How would you like to live in Austria" she said.  "I  need a piano instructor and you fit the bill perfectly".  Stunned, the student from Nashville with an unsure future had just been offered a job in one of the most important music capitols of the world (the land of Mozart).  30 years later, she still lives and teaches in Salzburg.

Chelsea's owner (in the second picture above) had been listening to our conversation.  In broken English, he stood up, looked at us and said "I am an opera signer".  He was a Lebanese immigrant now living in France and had become an Opera singer in some of the venues of France.  So immediately, the Nashville/Austrian piano instructor, the Lebanese/French Opera singer, Chelsea the cat and a guy and his wife from the Midwest were deep in conversations about France, Austria, Music, Indiana and the love of animals...all on a train...drawn together like old friends.  This part of traveling is the most rewarding part of the experience.  And as a bonus I was able to be the translator between the Lebanese French speaker and the Nashville piano instructor.  It just didn't get any better than this!


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