MA-losophy in France: Little tips to keep things flowing gently

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

It’s the little things by car
I mentioned in an earlier blog why it was a good idea for my family (totaling 11 with children plus an elderly woman) should have a couple of cars and pay for parking when in Paris (by the way, leave three hours ahead of time to get to the airport) vs. get a cab. For small, more confident groups, of course, there is the train. But I’ll cover a few more things when traveling by car in France. When on the highways you will see signs that say “Aire de… (then a unique name).” These are rest stops where you can find food (that can be pretty tasty and even fresh), toilets, gas, sometimes a nature park, sometimes showers.

Entering Ancient Lyon area by car (the day we went rogue).

If you don’t have the European computer chip in your credit card check with your bank on how to get one prior to leaving for Europe (while your at it ask them for a card that doesn’t charge a fee per transaction overseas). If you don’t then you will have to go into the shops to pay for gas rather than swipe outside, have to press the “attendant button” (usually a picture rather than writing with so many languages spoken in Europe) when attempting to pay expensive tolls (the blue sign with the word “peage” is the autoroute — charges tolls — and is faster than the highway — green sign — which is no charge) with your credit card because you’ve run out of Euro (we paid up to 50 Euro per car for a toll from Annecy to Avignon), and restaurants will take longer as they attempt to run your card through their fancy, hand-held processors (pretending like your card should work won’t make this process go any faster either).  And if you don’t know French? Well, add more time.

Be conscious of your speed. France has radar camera boxes that take pictures, they send the information to a central office, and then mail you a ticket once they track down your information (Confession: Nearly 3 months after our trip, we received a fine for 45 Euro — going 8 km/h over the speed limit, 118 in a 110… 9 — over the speed limit in the States — and fine doesn’t apply). I speak from experience when I say that France makes it very convenient in multiple languages to pay your fine.  So be warned that France is cracking down on speeders and you can get traffic tickets up to 6 months after your trip.  See http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm?topic=93380 and http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/speeding-ticket-from-france.cfm with people chatting about getting tickets in Europe. If these links don’t work you keyword search “Rick Steves traffic tickets in Europe” (as an example), or just take it from me: one of the rogue law breakers.

Tidbits U.S. drivers should know: there is no right on red, it’s illegal for a driver to use a hand-held phone in the car, driver’s come up very fast from behind so don’t make sudden lane switches, hang in the fast lane when passing only (if you are in the way you will see blinking lights in your rear view mirror signaling to get out of the way), July and August can be bumper to bumper as this is also European holiday time.

Privacy?
Yeah, well, forget it if you are traveling with family. I had a conversation with my oldest daughter and also with her boyfriend who came along on this trip and I warned, “You know. You are in your early 20′s and you’re going to be sleeping next to your hot girlfriend (my daughter) for two weeks and you won’t be able to have sex. You may want to consider getting your own place.” “We’ll be OK,” responded the penny pinching side of this youngen.

Privacy in our Avignon area rental? Forget it!

I don’t have any problem saying, “I told them both so.” Half way through the trip electricity was beginning to build. My neglected husband and I didn’t take into account that my elderly mother would have to take the room with the more soundproof door because she snored. So, it’s celibacy or get a private room. C’est la vie.

The food is great, but remember coffee is a diuretic
While I’m a tea drinker, most of my other family members enjoy coffee. In every space we rented there were always cute little coffee spoons, coffee and espresso cups, and decent coffee (and sometimes espresso) makers. Plus, you ordered coffee, espresso or tea after lunch and in the afternoon. If your body isn’t accustomed to this, expect it to catch up with you (meaning you will get the s#$ts). You can do a couple of things. One, pharmacies in France have highly qualified professionals that can actually give you prescriptions to solve your problem within a day. Another option is to bring items with you that will bind you up. Gross? You’ll be glad that I told you this before you go to Europe.

Since I’m being gross
Are you one of those people that gets a dry throat and nose at night and on airplanes? You know I’m going there. I run a bit dry so I carry sesame oil with me to put up my nose at night and on airplanes (commonly used in Ayurvedic practices). I also keep a throat spray next to my bed (water isn’t good enough for me). Keeping your nose moist keeps bacteria from forming in the dry spots in your nose. You do your own research, but when I do this consistently I don’t get sick when I travel abroad (I didn’t pay attention two years ago and was super sick for several days upon my return).

Keeping your feet warm is very important as well. Socks alone won’t do. Bring house shoes or wear your shoes. Carpet is not the norm in Europe unless it’s a chain (even then there are no guarantees) and losing warmth through your feet can (again) end up being a challenge to your immune system.

I did a couple of other things consistently to beef up my immune system while traveling to make sure my head and chest remained clear. Get advice from a trusted professional on what’s best for you.

OK, one more gross matter. Airplane food. Even with international travel, unless you are in first class pack your food. Buy a meal prior to getting on the plane, bring items that you might eat for breakfast and snacks. Or, eat when you get off the plane. Sure, there might be a few decent morsels here and there, but it’s inconsistent.

The MA-losophic message is keep your stress low and your immune system high
There are times when we do new things and say, “let’s go with the flow.” To flow, however, means that you aren’t swimming upstream but are gliding on a gentle current. Things come up, sure, but they don’t have to pull you under.

We should also consider this in daily life as we face new information, new challenges, new experiences. How can we prepare just a bit more to float rather than sink?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

1 Comment Posted in Asheville Wholistic Integrative Professional, Family, Natural Rythym, Walking your path
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One Comment

  1. Great piece. This entire series has been such fun!

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