Dear Reader (posted 2022-10-01),
Forward and Table of Contents can be found here.
Date: Thursday 2022-08 04 & 05
6 Months of planning, preparation, and training, 3 airports (YYC, AMS, GVA), 2 planes (both KLM), a train, and now I am disembarking from a boat that has carried me for 30 minutes across Lake Geneva from Lausanne Switzerland to Evian-Les-Bains, France. Close to the dock there is a what used to be a grand Casino.
Well over 40 years ago I was at this same casino with hair below my shoulders and a shaggy poorly kept moustache. I had placed my bet at the roulette wheel on double zero. The croupier spun the wheel. The ball landed on double zero. The croupier claimed I had placed my bet late, and I received nothing. In the ensuing years I would enter the gambling world twice more. In the next round I bought a collection of resource stocks. I am embarrassed to say, one of those stocks was the gold company Galactic Resources which is infamous for poisoning the Alamosa Rivera with cyanide from a poorly maintained heap leaching operation. A decade or three later I tried my hand at the stock market again. I lost more money, and then slowly came to the conclusion that if I don’t know enough to play the game properly, then I’m the one supplying profits to others. Now my hopes and expectations are lower. I have an advisor who knows the rules of the game. My returns are smaller but consistent. So how long did that lesson take to learn?
I walk past the casino up a side street to a pedestrian mall along that mall, past a large public square to my hotel, Hotel Continental. I had chosen the hotel partly on the recommendation of David May (see forward) and partially because great adventures start at the Hotel Continental. For John Wick fans, I don’t need a coin to check-in. The exterior shots of the hotel in those movies are in fact of the Beaver Building and not the Flatiron Building as I had initially though. The photographer Alfred Steiglitz, who was instrumental in establishing photography as an art form, created a captivating collection of photographs of the Flatiron Building – a collection I have always admired. It will take me over 2 weeks to be able to answer the question am I here to walk or capture images? The answer when it arrives will be “depends on the hour”.
Some of my hours in Evian are spent wandering the area, some hours are spent trying to wrap my head around the journey ahead, and some are spent under café umbrellas, watching the world, and writing in my notebook.
2022-08-03 – YYC Airport
“As this grand adventure begins, I am still on familiar ground as this is the 4th time, since December 2020, I have been in the “Vin Room” in the international section of the YYC airport. I think and hope that my current feeling of disbelief will give way to amazement and being more present (note to self – don’t forget to breathe). I am also feeling lighter in spirit. My 3 previous flights were to the UK were emotional affairs that weighed heavy on my soul. As well, I was inclined to pack too much mental, emotional, and physical baggage. (As we will find out later, I got 2 of these right on this trip).
2022-08-03 – YYC Airport
“The woman behind me at check-in is headed back to Bahrain where she and her husband have been for the past 3 years. He works in Oil and Gas. She loves it there and thinks that the Bahrainis could teach Canadians a thing or two about tolerance.
2022-08-05 – Evian
“I am sitting under a sun-bleached pink Evian (bottled water company) umbrella outside looking towards the Hotel de France at the bar / café, “Caravelle”. It has has been a hot day and women are wearing as light as possible. Older women here wear great colourful prints and fabrics.
Last night at the Caravelle, I ate a delicious charcuterie meal. Dessert was a shot of whiskey poured over two scoops of vanilla ice. I spilt the bowel of ice ream, lost the whiskey, and admitted to myself that the magic glass of never empty beer (Moretti) had made me at the very least a little tipsy. Long day.
On the other side of the pedestrian mall the man with grey hair wearing a baseball cap who owns a miniature black poodle is relishing his bowel of vanilla and chocolate ice cream – each spoonful raised with shaking hands. I love that a faded yellow Kodak sign is still protruding from the first floor of what was once a tobacconist.
It is time to wander back to the hotel.
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