I had a day of decompression in Paris on Tuesday--not nearly enough to decompress from all that I had learned from the trip, and certainly not nearly enough time to visit Paris. But I took the train into the city and went to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Good enough for reconnaisance for the next trip.
So now, I'm finally back home and finishing off this trip journal. It's hard to say what affected me the most on this trip, whether it was the beauty of Strasbourg, the fun of meeting my German cousins and learning how the Irmens came to America, or the emotional roller coaster of the World War One "Over There" Tour. I'm exhausted, but in a good way, having finally made the trip I've dreamed about for so long.
It was definitely full of unexpected lessons (including driving lessons), the most important of which is that no matter how much I plan, there is always enough uncertainty when traveling in a foreign country to keep the adrenaline pumping. I certainly gained greater sympathy for visitors and immigrants to our country who don't speak English yet. If it were not the kindness of the French and German people in helping me find my way, I would probably still be "over there." But my French is now a little better. And I'm now a little more broke. But I got everything I wanted from trip---and more. It will take me years to process it all.
Thanks for following along with me through this journal. Your encouragement made me discipline myself to do what I've never been able to make myself do before, and journaling was really important on a trip like this. Now, if I ever get around to writing that book about my grandfather, I'll have these notes, as well as a mind's eye view of a little of what it was like for him.