Mitchell & Dee Bitting

Odyssey Trip Blogs

Mitchell & Dee Bitting

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”

― Hans Christian Andersen, "The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography"

"Our lives are not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments and places that take our breath away." ― Anonymous

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris June 18th 2019

As the saying goes, all good things--including this odyssey--must come to an end, so today we packed our suitcases for tomorrow's flight from Paris to Orlando. Our direct flight departs Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport at 2:40 PM local time, and is scheduled to land in Orlando around 6:30 PM. During the past sixty-four days we've traveled thousands of miles (with over a hundred of them on foot), taken almost 1,100 photos, and blogged more than 32,000 words. Of course, we suffered our fair share of aches, pains, and bumps in the road during our journey this year, but the memories of so many amazing sights--and especially the moments spent with dear friends--more than compensated for any setbacks and disappointments we encountered along the way. This final blog entry is mostly an attempt to highlight some ... read more
Bon voyage!
Our odyssey begins
Blooms in the Palmengarten

Europe » France » Upper Normandy » Giverny June 17th 2019

Today we arranged for a private tour of Claude Monet's former house and gardens in the village of Giverny, located about 50 miles northwest of Paris. Our driver for the day, Philippe Coste, an associate of Serge Molho whom we'd met two years ago, picked us up from our apartment at 9 AM. After some traffic congestion leaving Paris, we reached the former home and gardens of Claude Monet (1840-1926), the revered painter and founder of the French Impressionist movement, around 10:30. Once we left the Paris metropolitan area behind, the drive through green countryside and small villages was very scenic. When we arrived at the Fondation Monet, operated by a private, non-profit organization, the ticket line stretched for 150 feet! So we stood in line for about 45 minutes before gaining entrance, but the wait ... read more
Claude Monet's garden
Water lily pond
Claude Monet's garden

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris June 15th 2019

The weather since our arrival in Paris has been unseasonably mild, with temperatures hovering between 60- and 70-degrees during the day, with partly cloudy skies, and a few light, intermittent showers--quite a contrast from two years ago at this time, when we sweltered in 90-degree-heat! Today we decided to make a short outing to visit the Rodin museum, which is located adjacent to Les Invalides, the complex of buildings that includes the Dôme des Invalides where Napoleon Bonaparte is entombed. With the assistance of a bus ride as far as Les Invalides, the total walking distance would be less than a mile roundtrip, so the strain on Dee's sore foot would be minimal. After our lunch at a friendly little Italian restaurant down the street, we caught the bus as far as Les Invalides, where the ... read more
Le Penseur ("The Thinker")
Monument to Victor Hugo
Le Baiser ("The Kiss")

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris June 13th 2019

Since Dee bruised her foot in the unfortunate tumble she suffered earlier this week at Notre-Dame, we've stayed close to home, venturing out only to eat, buy groceries around the corner, or to take short walks. She's been able to hobble along at a snail's pace, but is understandably nervous for fear of another misstep on the rough, uneven streets and pavements that are so common here--and in many of the other venues we've visited during our trip. It's a bit nerve-racking for me as well, so I hold on to her hand even more tightly than usual to help her maintain her balance as we walk. Yesterday we decided--reluctantly and sadly--to shorten our trip by 5 days, thus returning on June 19th instead of the 24th. Given Dee's reduced mobility, it made little sense to ... read more
Horse and buggy in Paris?
Chicken piccata

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris June 10th 2019

This morning we decided to witness, with our own eyes, the damage suffered by the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral as a result of the recent fire. We learned of that tragic event just before we began this year's odyssey, while staying with our daughter and son-in-law in Orlando prior to our departure the following day. Since it was nearing lunchtime, we stopped first at the Café Constant, hoping to find an indoor table open, but instead had to settle for a cramped sidewalk table. This tiny café on rue Saint-Dominique, owned by the celebrated French chef Christian Constant, has become so popular that it's difficult to find seating--no reservations are accepted. I thought I recognized the young waiter from our last visit two years ago, when he served us and our granddaughter, and confirmed this later with ... read more
The former wooden spire

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris June 9th 2019

We departed Munich yesterday morning on a Lufthansa flight to Paris, and our arrival turned out to be memorable, in more ways than one. On the bright side, this marks the 10th visit to the City of Light since 2001, when it first captured our fancy. People sometimes ask us what is so special about Paris that makes us want to return, time and time again? Is it the centuries of history, art, culture or the French joie de vivre? Or perhaps it's the baguettes, crème brûlée--and the rest of the fabulous French cuisine--that appeal to us? While all of this is certainly true, to some degree, the answer is more elusive. The spell that Paris has cast upon us over the years may best be explained by the French phrase, Je ne sais quoi (literally ... read more
Crème brûlée
Yellow Vests demonstration
First glimpse of the Iron Lady

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Munich June 7th 2019

Our time in Munich is rapidly coming to an end, as tomorrow morning we fly to Paris, which will be the final stop on our journey this year. So today we decided to visit a few more sights with Peter and Rosita, who have graciously volunteered to act as our private tour guides for the last ten days! We met them at 10:00 AM on the Königsplatz ("King's Square"), a sprawling square on the western side of Munich that was built in the style of European Neoclassicism in the 19th-century. Today it's a focal point of the city's cultural life, with the surrounding area home to many museums and galleries. As we popped-up from the U-bahn station, the monumental size of the Königsplatz became apparent, with blue skies and grassy fields serving as backdrop for three ... read more
The Führerbau
Nazi Documentation Center museum
Virgin and Child (Madonna of the Carnation)

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Dachau June 5th 2019

Today our friend Peter volunteered to drive us about 12 miles northwest of downtown Munich, to the small town of Dachau (pop. 45,000), and site of the infamous Konzentrationslager (KZ) Dachau. Dee and I rode the bus to Rotkreuzplatz, a square in the Neuhausen district not far from his and Rosita's home, where we met him by 9:30 AM. After 30-minutes of driving we reached the Memorial Site, which is foremost a place of remembrance--a cemetery, but at the same time a museum and place of learning. In addition to a main exhibition on the history of the Dachau camp, which encompasses some 43,000 sq.ft. in various buildings, the Memorial Site offers an extensive educational program, archive and library. Peter had little difficulty in finding a parking place, and we were surprised by the sparse crowds, ... read more
Memorial to victims
Grisly camp images
"dirty starved skeletons"

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Munich June 4th 2019

The mercury reached the mid-80s today, which marked the first time since we began our trip 50 days ago that we've experienced warm weather. Fortunately, there was a light breeze blowing most of the day, but by mid-afternoon we chose the shady sides of streets for walking, and were looking for park benches under shade trees. We left our apartment around 10:00 AM with the intention of returning to the sprawling Viktualienmarkt, the daily food market and square where friends Peter and Rosita had taken us last week, but which had been mostly closed for the Ascension Day holiday. We chose a route which led us through the Gärtnerplatz, a peaceful little square--actually a circle--that is anchored by the Gärtnerplatztheater, an opera house and opera company that opened in 1865 as Munich's second major theater (after ... read more
Fresh asparagus
Ceiling detail

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Munich June 2nd 2019

Spring has given way to Summer here in Munich during the past few days, with sunny skies and temperatures reaching 80 degrees by mid-afternoon. This past Friday, we took a day off from sightseeing, opting to relax after attending to some domestic chores. Yesterday we were invited to lunch by our friends Peter and Rosita at their home, a beautiful apartment located about 3 miles west of the Old Town. Peter was kind enough to make the trip to our place by bus, so he could familiarize us with the bus route, and to provide us with some tickets. Munich's extensive public transportation system is as elaborate as it is impressive--with subways, street trams and buses--and, like everything else here in Germany, it appears to operate like a well-oiled machine. We arrived at their apartment to ... read more
Rosita's luncheon feast
Great Hall
Nymphenburg Palace

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