Princes and Paupers

Swiss Church

In august 2014 I traveled with a close friend to Lausanne, Switzerland and Paris, France on a company trip. This is a top 20 company in the world, which meant all expenses paid and no expenses spared.  My friend and I arrived in our Swiss hotel room and I couldn’t find the luggage rack.  I thought a luggage rack was a sign of a nice hotel room.  In my education of how the wealthy live, I found out those who can arrive in their rooms with their clothes pressed and hung in the closet, shirts folded and placed in drawers, and their shoes polished and placed neatly away; ready to go just like that.  What poor pathetic beings we must have seemed to the hotel staff.  It’s good for them to be exposed to such poverty.  People live like this, oh yes they do.

Lausanne was like a Hollywood set, perfect in every seeming way.  A facade, but it wasn’t. It was solid, aged, with all the expected history of a nation founded some 500 years before our own.  The city overlooked Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.  The air was crisp and clean with only a trace of humidity, which I’m sure the Swiss have their top men trying to neutralize.

 

We ventured into the Alps in search of chocolate.  On a long winding train we passed through several little towns along the way.  The towns seemed as remote as some villages in the Amazon, with a peaceful quality that made you want to sell everything you owned and move there.  Each town had a church at the center- interesting for one of the most Godless nations on the planet.   The constant reminder of the cross, like a little stone in your shoe, must make you think.  The Alps were a sight to see, I admire anyone that looked at those peaks and said, “Yah, I’d like to walk up there.”  Back at the chocolate factory, we bought an American sized 50 pounds of chocolate.  The chocolate was made the same way for hundreds of years, from the same springs and same cows eating the same grass; truly something special.  We had lunch in the famous town of Gruyere, famous for its cheese of course, and made our way back down to the city.

On to Paris

The next five days were spent in Paris.  We visited the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, Napoleon’s Tomb, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral- all the great sights. All were unique and interesting in their own right, but, in my opinion, The Arc de Triomphe was the most impressive monument in Paris.  It’s massive, and, even in its largeness, the carvings and the ornate detail in its construction are so impressive. The sites are special, but the people and history associated with each is what makes them great.

It’s hard to try to say anything about Paris that hasn’t already been said.  Great food, surprisingly friendly people (with the occasional rude store clerk mixed in), seven Euro Cokes, swarms of Asians, all things you would expect from a tourist centered European city.  Paris is among the few places on earth you can sit and watch the world walk by.  You can walk and walk and walk, find a cafe, spend three hours eating, then walk and walk and walk some more, all the while in awe of what your seeing.  Maybe I’m a gullible tourist, but I think Paris is a must see.

Living like Kings

All in all it was great to live like a king for nine days.  What motivates a person means a lot, this is why my friend is running a business and I’m moving to Africa.  Is one more noble than the other?  I don’t think so.  I believe Winston Churchill said something like this: it’s doing what we can, in whatever station in life we happen to find ourselves.  It’s taking big chances and not fearing failure, but knowing what to do when failure comes.  

Matt

 

 

 

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