I recently completed The Travel List Challenge and out of the 100 places to go before you die, I discovered I’ve already been to 27 of them. Ok, I thought – over a quarter of the way there in my 31 years of life.
A while ago now, Mr ELG and I did the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and after the memorable turns and twists of the road, we ended up at Port Fairy for the night in this gorgeous stay called Oscar’s. Bushes of lavender greeted us along the path to reception and I vividly remember the dark paneled flooring leading out to the verandah where we took breakfast the next morning which overlooked the inlet with all of its boats bobbing up and down. Over eggs and OJ, I recall having a conversation with a fellow traveler about how I could definitely come back here again to which he replied “Oh no, there are too many places to see in the world to visit them twice.”
Years later and with my new gadget in hand ~ the kindle; I am completely immersed in the book Sarah’s Key. Set mainly in Paris covering two time periods, I read about the streets of the Marais and the secrets of all the buildings. I read about Sarah and her horrific struggles during 1942 and grow fond of the character, Julia who is living a completely different life in 2004. Reading about Paris, I think of the many times I have been to the city and will continue to go back. Not using the traveler’s ethos, I have been to Paris 4 or 5 times and it was only last month that we were back there again taking BIT there for the first time. We rented out an apartment in the heart of the Marais on Rue Rambuteau giving the stroller a good run for its money as its wheels ran over and over the uneven cobblestone ground on a daily basis. Mr ELG and I love to explore the city’s arrondissements and get lost and found again and again.
Yet it was reading my new book, back home in Sydney that from afar I was seeing the city of lights in a completely different shade. Gone was the excitement and fondness I feel when I think of Paris and instead I felt sick to my stomach whilst reading a fiction piece that referenced a real-life event that took place in Paris in July, 1942. In all of my education, I had never heard or learnt of the events known as the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup and when I asked Mr ELG if he knew about it, he said it rang a bell but he could offer no further detail. Admittedly, I have never been a WWII history buff but in the way this book was describing the numbers of people taken by the French on both 16 and 17 of July, 1942 I was in disbelief and felt ashamed of my ignorance that I had no knowledge of this topic and had to learn about it from Wikipedia instead. I finished the book in a weekend and now 10 days later, it is still on my mind. And I know that when I next go to Paris and walk through the streets of the Marais, I will stop to think about the 13, 152 people taken those mornings and feel grateful to have no such worries in life as those people did during those crazy years in our history.