Elizabeth Kinney - Travels 2005-06 travel blog

Shaun and me at our Leeds Christmas Party

A Christmas tree in my favorite shopping area in Leeds

Another view of my favorite shopping center (although I can't afford much...

Me, Julie and Jackie at Carraba's in Tulsa... sorry, a little blurry

What a wonderful three weeks! I had a great time at home visiting everyone and just spending time relaxing (although now, as I attempt to finish up an essay, my brain is completely on vacation). But it was great to see everyone and hang out a little. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are excited about the New Year as well! I'm telling you, I made a list of 7 reasons why 2006 will be my best year ever... and I really think it will be.

For now, I'm back in Leeds, UK. Yesterday, on my flight from Paris to Manchester, we were up high in the clouds. I've never seen anything like it from all my flights before. It was brilliantly sunny and fluffy white clouds completely made a floor below the plane. It looked like we could just skip along and bounce off the clouds forever. It was beautiful... kind of how I picture heaven. So, it was about time to land, and I could tell it was going to be interesting flying underneath the clouds because they were so incredibly thick. Sure enough, it was a little turbulent, but once the plane got inside the clouds, it was dark.... I mean, there is no way the pilot could see anything.... So I was hoping the radar was good! Finally, we made it underneath the clouds, and there might as well have been a sign screaming "WELCOME to ENGLAND" because instead of the beautiful sunshine just minutes earlier, it was dark, drizzly, and overcast. BUT... at least I now know that the sun IS there... just covered up by some fluffy clouds. England is still gorgeous when you fly into it, despite all the rain. Everything is green and hilly and tree-y (that's my own word).

Although my flights here were all good, this time I flew Air France... not a great decision. Yeah, the flights were fine and the service was good, but I DON"T SPEAK FRENCH! Not even a little. So, even though I flew out of Houston (a largely American place I would say with a little Spanish mixed in) the flight attendants insisted on speaking French. Bonjour, Merci... and I'm thinking C'est une erreur (Is this a mistake)? Then on my flight, I sit by a guy my age from Texas who is going to work in Afghanistan for the second time (man, he must be brave) and by a French lady. Now the guy and I had a great time talking about traveling, his kids, and stupid French flight attendants :) The lady on the other side of me wanted to join in the conversation.... although she didn't speak ONE bit of ENGLISH. Not one word. Yet, the whole flight, she would tap me on the shoulder and attempt to tell me and the guy things. And, no matter how many times she repeated things, I still didn't understand. She was really nice, don't get me wrong, but it still didn't help me understand her.

The dramatic moment of the flight came when she started choking or hyperventilating or having a heat stroke.... I'm not really sure. She just started pointing at the light, waving here hands around wildly, and saying things in French. I offered her my water bottle and pushed the flight attendant help button (who never came by the way) while the guy beside me gave her mouth-to-mouth (OK, exaggerating a little) and attempted to save her. I still don't know what happened, but a couple minutes later, and she was fine.

Finally, I have some words to say about the Paris airport... was it built in the 1800s? Really, for an airport that is a major tourist destination for millions of people each year, you think they would update their facilities. Even though directions were written in English and French, I still wandered around the airport in a daze (thank goodness I had a five hour layover, because I used 3 of the hours searching for my plane.) First, the planes don't pull up to the gate... you have to get on a little bus outside the plane. My plane landed at concourse D. So, I got on a bus where they took us all the way to concourse A. Immediately after I get off, a sign says to get on the bus to go to concourse F. So, I switch buses and ride all the way past D back to F. Then, when it is time for me to catch my flight, they shuttle all of us waiting at gate F48 and take us on a bus all the way to concourse B (again, past D). Of course, I had no one to complain to, but everyone around me was griping and jabbering about this being the worst airport in the world. Aside from the airport in Bosnia my friend on the plane told me about, I'd have to agree! What a trip!

OK... I'm not really complaining about all this... those are just some interesting examples about life in Europe. Now I'm back to work trying to become a stellar student. Oh, I did go for a run today and hurt my knee pretty bad. I ran a lot during break, so I don't know why it decided to hurt today. But I was just running along and all of a sudden it kind of popped. For real, it hurts to even walk. So, hopefully it will be better soon.

Finally, I'm reading Max Lucado's new book "Cure for the Common Life." I highly recommend it.... especially if you are contemplating careers or wondering about your purpose in life. It's just refreshing. I'll leave you with a thought from it...

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is (1 Corinthians 12:7) and each of us is an original (Galations 5:26). It says that God has pre-packed a 'bag' for us of all the tools we need to serve him and live out our purpose, and by deciphering our tools, we learn what God 'pre-packed' us to do! "It is God who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus, and long ages ago he planned that we should spend those lives helping others." Ephesians 2:10.

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