Posted by: 2girls2europe | July 18, 2011

De-stressing and Coming “Home”: Annecy, France

I am the dad who will not stop for directions on a family trip.

In keeping with this persona, I study and scrutinize each city’s map, walk (run) so quickly I leave Jessie in the dust and act out a bit when I don’t know (exactly) where we are/where we need to go/how to get there.

[In case you wondered, Jessie is the mom who tries to subdue the temperamental husband. She has a 50% success rate.]

Well as you can imagine, I place a great deal of stress on myself in this (admittedly self-imposed) role. Getting from place A to place B kinda happens a lot on this trip.

Luckily, we just visited Annecy, France. (Pronounced “antsy.” For example: “Jessie was really Annecy because she thought we were on the wrong train.”)

Oh so purdy.

Oh so purdy.

Initially, I didn’t know how much France and I would get along. The first few people we encountered after disembarking from our train in Annecy treated us with that “oh-you-don’t-speak-my-language-so-I-have-a-right-to-be-rude-to-you” attitude. You might be familiar with it.

But after arriving at our hostel in Annecy, I felt an immediate sense of relaxation.

Behind Annecy Hostel’s quaint wooden gate sprawled a front yard reminiscent of my childhood, with several bikes parked outside and trees flanking the sides. Inside, a tiny little French woman bustled around, checking us in and muddling through the few English phrases she knew with the utmost cuteness. While she babbled about the common area (complete with Marilyn Monroe wall decal) and kitchen (with fire engine red cupboards), I couldn’t help but notice her nervous little tendencies that reminded me of my Grammie (an anxious little Italian woman).

How could I get stressed in a place that felt like home? The song “Lollipop” (by the Chordetts, not Lil’ Wayne) played in the background, for goodness sake!

Once we explored Annecy a bit further, my affection for the place only grew. The narrow little streets lined with French, Italian and Greek restaurants in pastel stucco buildings greeted us as we ambled into the “old city.” Around us, we heard smatterings of English and Spanish, but primarily, the foreign tones of French. A tourist destination for actual…French people? How novel.

Aw, Jessie with her bike!

Aw, Jessie with her bike!

Soon enough, we found the lake—the main reason we had come to Annecy in the first place. Aqua blue and surrounded by tall Alps brimming with forest, we fell in love.

Me, by the lake!

Me, by the lake!

After gaping at the idyllic scene before us from various angles, we hit the local “beach,” a grassy area where bikinis and boobs ruled. As a caveat, the average age of the topless women there? 65+. Jessie and I opted out of the “No shirt? No problem!” understanding.

I kept falling asleep under the radiating sun, and then awaking to the sound of laughter, talking and splashing. For a moment I would think I had returned to the city pool back home, only to open my eyes to the towering mountains before me, and remember that I was far, far from there.

As we tend to do about 4-5 times a day (Jessie thinks it’s more around 50), Jessie and I got hungry in Annecy. During one quest for a reasonably-priced lunch, Jessie and I tentatively entered a little shop called “Bagels and Cupcakes,” where we gestured and charaded our way to paninis, cookies and cupcakes. We befriended the man behind the counter, who thought our lack of French made us adorable (take that, stereotypes!). In our three days there, we became regulars at B&C. And on our last visit, our French friend whipped out some English he had been hiding up his baker’s sleeve and gave us free pastries. C’est magnifique!

During the evening, we returned to the lake only to find music and a dance floor full of salsa enthusiasts. We stopped and watched for about half an hour, chuckling at a girl who thought salsa dancing equaled grinding, an overenthusiastic middle aged man with crazy facial expressions, and a young couple who obviously had one thing on their mind, if you catch my drift. I even found my dancing doppelganger: a girl who looked somewhat stressed out the entire time, but was trying super hard. I almost introduced myself.

Jessie, reenacting the dance moves

Now as I ride on this train to a new place, reflecting on Annecy, I feel a great sense of peace. For a few days, I put away my map and my furrowed brow and I let a little French town take care of me. I might still be thousands of miles away, but I feel pretty close to home.

Au revoir, Annecy.

Gina

 

 

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