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From Atlanta to Amiens, France!

By June 2, 2010November 14th, 2012One Comment

I remain totally convinced after all of these years that travel is not only hearty food for the soul, but a unique way to build the critical skill of adaptation. Look around at our world today. If we don’t adapt, we don’t survive or thrive. International journeys help us to expand our comfort zones and ultimately be more comfortable anywhere in the world!

Early this morning my husband and I flew from Atlanta to Brussels, Belgium and dove into the adventure of adaptation. I’m conducting a one-day training on working with India offshore teams in France and we decided to make a mini-vacation of it. When we landed in Belgium we clasped hands and said, “We’re in Europe!” Although that fact was made obvious by the wheels touching down and the announcement welcoming us to Brussels, I believe that travel is about a collection of moments, a rich feast of memories deserving of celebration. Of course this feeling of elation was soon replaced by airport confusion, especially when we rented our car and attempted to get out onto the R-zero, a highway leading us to Amiens, France, our next destination. The following conversation ensued:

Me: Where are we going next?

Jay: The R-zero, then over to the E19.

Me: Great! There’s a sign for the R-zero!

Jay: Excellent. Let’s go.

Me: Wait, where did the highway go? Why are we in Lower Mongolia?

Within moments we had no idea where the R-zero was, the sign having lead us down the side streets of Brussels, back around a loop, through a roundabout, and onto a highway that in fact turned out to be the R-zero but was called E-19. After this minor setback we were on our way through farmland, ultra-green pastures dotted with sheep and black and white cows, windmill farms, and magical mist. We crossed the border into France and cheered for another first – we were in France together for the first time.

We arrived in Amiens safely and checked into our hotel after a brief driving tour through the town (translation: we got slightly lost due to outdated Google Earth information). Although Amiens is regarding by many Europeans as relatively unremarkable, Jay and I were smitten from the moment we entered its borders. After a nap to recover from that oh-so-restful airplane sleep, we changed clothes and began to meander through the cobblestone streets. Utterly charmed by this city, I cannot begin to describe what I saw, as thoughts only come in images, like that of a towering cathedral that mirrored Notre Dame, Paris with water-spewing gargoyles and intricate scenes of holy men and common men carved into the face. We stood in awe of the architecture and the weight of the stone, then walked where we heard the call, winding from the cathedral into a shady park dotted with pink, white, yellow, and purple flowers. Birdsong echoed through the peaceful green oasis and we strolled until reaching a gate.

We walked though and down stone steps and I saw my first set of French canals. Lined with colorful houses with roofs far older than my home country, the canals took my breath away as I watched water grasses sway and barges go by carrying nomadic French men and women. One curved and mysterious street lead to another as we watched vines creeping up the sides of homes, and finches dig for worms in someone’s garden plot. Crossing a curved steel bridge I could sputtered on my words; ahead lay a park with a magnificent weeping willow, flowing river on one side, and rows of home-grown vegetables on the other.

When hunger set in we made our way toward a waterfront restaurant, perused the menu and made our choice. We almost wept at the results. For me, a delectable pork cassoulet with beans, tomatoes, onions, and thick cut sausage baked into a warm hearty stew, elegant yet satisfying. For Jay, braised pork knuckles in cider and herbs. We groaned in appreciation over the complexity of flavors and raised our glasses in a toast to French cooking.

We returned to the hotel under misty, drizzly skies, which only seemed to make more magical the cathedral in the distance. We adapted to different road rules today, different foods, and even different ways of processing information. I welcome the opportunity to have my boundaries expanded and to appreciate why the cultures of the world have enchanted me again and again.

Stay tuned as we wind our way over the next week through France to Brugges, Belgium, and then on to Amsterdam. Thank you, dear France, for a day to remember.

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson, Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, Inc. inspires people to leverage the full power of differences. She has helped countless large-sized corporations establish successful operations across the globe and build bridges across cultures, distance, and time.

One Comment

  • Donna Flier says:

    Vicki and Jay,
    What a beautiful experience. As an American living in a large metropolis with friends who are also big city dwellers, I am sure we could adapt to an enchanting environment such as you describe here quite easily. We would love it!

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