I’ve been in my hometown of Baton Rouge for the past week, after driving nine hours from Nashville. I came home for my baby shower (which was lovely) and was also able to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day at our annual parade.
One of my big objectives during this home visit was to download our arsenal of family photos that my dad keeps on DVDs. We’re talking tens of thousands of pictures. I think I got most of them.
Much of my travel began long, long ago, as a child- on family trips. I wanted to document and write about some of this travel, as it had a lot to do with shaping me as a person and how I view traveling to this day. I think travel is one of the most important tools we have to learn about the world, about people, and about ourselves. I am extremely lucky that my parents had this mindset while raising us, and now that I’m about to be a parent myself, I hope to raise my children the same way.
So here’s a little foreshadowing of what’s to come.
The French Riviera Now (sort of)
I recently came across the digital files of my back-packing trip across Europe from 2003. So, it’s not exactly now, but it’s definitely more recent than 1985! My sister and two friends joined me in Spain that summer, where I had been living for eight months, and we traveled around Europe via planes, trains and- well, mostly trains…. (there may have been a bus in there somewhere).
After two of the four returned to the states, my friend Laurin and I continued on to Eastern Europe, then back trough the south via The French Riviera.
Returning to places like Nice and Cannes nearly 20 years later is interesting. You have all of these faded memories and pre-conceived notions about how you will feel and what you will experience, but in the end, all of your experiences are new ones.
What Stood Out
In Nice, it was the pebble rock beaches. The trickling sound they made, clinking and clanking against one another as the gentle waves pulled them up the beach and then retreated back to sea. The ambiance and mood was very romantic. At least that’s what I remember thinking. Nice was slower-paced with great restaurants and a fun nightlife vibe.
In Cannes, it was the glitz of what you would expect to see in the French Riviera: the yacht-filled harbor and she-she beaches.
In Monte Carlo, Monaco, it was the opulence; sheer and blatant wealth that laughed in your face. The massive, super-yachts with helicopter pads, the decadent casinos and hotels took center stage.
The French Riviera Then
When I was about six, my family decided to rent a house just north of Cannes for the summer. It was fun. I was a kid. I loved being in another country and discovering all of the weird and wonderful things it had to offer, like croissants for breakfast! And what was with the warm milk on the shelves. Didn’t these people believe in refrigerators?
What Stood Out Then
Our house was amazing, in a hill town overlooking Cannes and the sea. It was our base of operations. While my parents went out and galavanted around Europe with their friends, I stayed home with my two siblings and cousin Michelle (also our baby sitter) and played in the pool and on the beach.
The beaches. I couldn’t get over the fact that women didn’t wear their bathing suit tops!! Scandalous! My cousin Michelle tried to get me to take my top off, but I refused vehemently! Also, I didn’t want anyone to mistake me for a little boy!
The food. Like I mentioned, I thought the whole warm milk thing was strange, but I loved the warm, buttery and flaky croissants and other fresh pastries we would get in town every couple of days. I remember the smell.. I had never smelled anything so wonderful and tasty in my life!
The house. It was such a neat house. There was the pool, which was essential with three young children in the summer time.
There was the amazing little garden.
And then there was our neighbor, who had a vegetable garden and chicken coop. Cullen and I would go over to the fence every day to talk to the old man who lived there, and he would kindly give us fresh berries, produce and eggs! I just thought that was the neatest thing. I knew we were eating fresh, from the earth.
And the VIEWS!!! I remember the views…..
We dined alfresco at cute Cafes.
We entertained ourselves, like only kids can do…
And we explored the quaint, cobblestoned town.
Finding this treasure trove of old travel family photos has inspired me to start a new series: Throwback Thursdays! I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do reliving these amazing and insightful memories!!