I have learned to say “Canadian” when asked what nationality my husband and I are while traveling. I feel I’m only telling half a lie and really, these days, no one wants to hear “American.” So it beats me why I felt the need to explain the whole truth to the older couple sitting one table over from us at a mediocre dinner in Amboise, France last May.
My husband and I were halfway through a two-week self-guided tour of France; our once-every-two-years, long-ish, I-need-to-get-away-from-Toronto vacation. Other than a Band of Brothers tour in Normandy, I had planned the whole trip down to which SNCF or TGV trains we needed to catch to make the best use of all our days. We stayed in small, local hotels. We had gorged ourselves on the sights, sounds, and food of Paris and Bayeux. By Amboise, I was tiring of saucy meats for dinner and just needed to make it through one more meal before we descended upon the grilled seafood and vegetables of Provence.
We had placed our order with the waitstaff when the couple leaned over to us and asked “Vous êtes de quel pays?” That simple question kicked off a two-hour conversation (in French because they spoke little to no English) about traveling. Our French is by no means stellar, but we could make ourselves understood and fortunately could understand quite well their questions and comments. As a husband-and-wife team, that’s why we travel. We love the people we meet. (I, being the more introverted and outdoorsy of the two, travel for different reasons.) During this particular trip, we had amazing conversations with fellow travelers (you can find Boston College people everywhere, much to my husband’s chagrin), restaurateurs, hoteliers, museum staff, etc. It’s what makes cultural tourism more personal and meaningful to us.
Would I go back? France – yes. Amboise – probably not. I still have places to show my husband from when I spent time working in Strasbourg. I’m pretty city-weary now and would likely arrange to travel to much smaller villages, visiting the urban areas for shorter amounts of time. Perhaps a farm stay?