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Travel

Aix en Provence and When Things Don't Go To Plan

No matter how much you plan, you can’t control everything…

Feeling More Like Myself

After 2 days in bed, I was feeling a bit more like myself and ready for some more adventures.  I boarded a train in the morning leaving Geneva and heading to Marseilles.  When the train got to it’s final destination, I grabbed my bags and booked it to the car rental counter.  Car keys in hand, I set out to explore Marseilles and take in some of the Mediterranean air.

A few hours of exploring later, I got in the car and drove to my whole in Aix-En-Provence.  For my first day in Provence, I decided to take it easy; I was just getting over being sick and didn’t want to push my luck.  So I decided to explore the town I was staying in.  Aix has an incredibly long history, dating back to when it was founded by the Romans.

Aix-en-Provence

I started my first morning with breakfast at a cute cafe on the Cours Mirabeau.  Even in the middle of winter, the terraces were open (albeit with outdoor heaters) – I opted for indoor seating.  Afterwards, I made my way to the Passage Agard: a covered shopping arcade.  Upon exiting the arcade, I continued to wander the “old town”.

The famous Cours Mirabeau, lined with shops and trees, divides the “old town” from the “new town”.  The old town is famous for narrow winding streets and buildings dating from the 16th-18th centuries.  The l’Hôtel de Ville (built in the 1700s) sits on Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.  Formally used for the Corn Exchange, it now is home to the towns numerous markets.

I fell in love with the market; seeing the fresh produce, seafood, meats, cheeses, jams, and spices was incredibly.  Walking from stall to stall, all I could think was that I wished I had a kitchen to cook in so I could sample it all.  The flower market was also a favorite.  Even in the heart of winter, I was able to see the most incredible blooms.

After some more walking, I made my way to the Quartier Mazarin.  On the other side of the Cours Mirabeau, in the “new town”, lies the Quartier Mazarin.  The streets are straighter, wider, and laid out like a grid.  These streets I found to be so quiet and peaceful, and in the heart of it al is the Place des Quatre Dauphins.  In a city often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains, the Fountaine des Quatre Dauphins is definitely a jewel.

Still not feeling completely myself, I made my way back to the hotel for an early night.  I woke up the next morning feeling run down again.  I made the choice to stick around Aix again hoping to finally beat the infection.  I kept the day light, and went to bed early.

More Trouble

I didn’t sleep that night.  Without painting a picture, I spent the whole night worshipping the porcelain throne.  I once again found myself heading to a version of urgent care.  My thought was that the antibiotics weren’t agreeing with me; what other reason could there be for my evening spent contemplating the colors of what I had eaten for dinner?  I was quickly informed that nope, the meds were fine.

So what was the problem now?  Turns out that Gastroenteritis was running rampant through Aix-en-Provence.  My poor weakened immune system couldn’t fight it off while fighting the upper respiratory disaster I had previously picked up.  More prescriptions in hand, I once again buried myself in my hotel room bed.

How does that even happen?  I got sick with not one illness, but two!  The chances have to be astronomical for the that to happen, but happen it did.  At this point I was exactly 3 weeks into my trip.  I couldn’t visit the famed colleges because they were closed for interviews, my rental car broke down during a massive snow storm, my plans were changed due to a pilot strike, and I got sick not once but twice.  To say I was feeling jinxed was a complete understatement.

When All Goes Wrong

For weeks I had planned every minute of every day of this trip.  My hopes and dreams seemed to be dashed before my very eyes.  With each small thing that went “wrong” my heart was breaking a little more.  But as my heart was breaking, my spine was growing stronger.

At just shy of halfway through my trip, I needed to refocus.  Things happened, that’s just life.  While it truly sucks when things don’t go to plan, it’s all about how you deal with it and recover.  Looking back at the first 3 weeks of my trip, I had made more on the fly alternate arrangements than I could count, I dealt with car troubles twice, I sat in a car on the side of the road in the dark by myself, I got seriously sick twice and had to deal with doctors who didn’t speak english.  But you know the amazing part?  I did it.

Truth Bombs

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, shit happens.  You don’t have to be the eternal optimist to keep it together.  All you have to do is be strong and persistent; unwilling to lose what you have gained so far.  For me, I knew that regardless of what happened during the first 3 weeks of the trip, I still had 4 more weeks to go - and I was in Europe.  If your car is going to break down, let it at least be where the story will be good.

A lot of the time on social media, you see everything perfect; photoshopped and cropped within an inch of it’s life.  It’s hard to look at a constant feed of carefully curated flawless moments and not wonder why someone else’s life seems so “perfect”.  But behind every impeccable image, is a thousand photo fails.  For me it’s important to show that it really doesn’t always go right.  I can’t speak for others, but behind each image I post know that this stuff happens to be ALL THE TIME.

It may sound a bit like I’m patting myself on the back for most of this post.  And well, I am.  There’s a pride and satisfaction you find in yourself when everything seems to be working against you, and you prevail.  I’m happy to report that the next four weeks went gloriously smoothly – sort of.

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