Lessons From The Ashes Of Notre Dame


Nothing lasts for ever.  That uncompromising truth was evident as the world witnessed the burning of the famed and renowned Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France on Monday, April 15.  Watching the televised blaze engulf a national landmark, brought anguish, pain and disbelief to mind, feelings eerily familiar and reminiscent of the 911 blaze at the World Trade Center in New York City.  Personally, I have spent time in both places and my reaction to this tragedy is certainly warranted.  Saddened by the destruction, I too respectfully want to offer to the people of France my solidarity in their loss and look forward to the rebuild.

Reminiscing of my visit to the historic tourist attraction many years ago, I hope to share some lessons learned from the ashes of Notre Dame.  I hope they’ll be valuable to all trippers and teach others how to memorialize their adventures too.  However, let me recount my time at the cathedral.  The first encounter was on a group tour back in 1994.  That year we visited attractions in and around Paris which included popular places like the wine valley of Champagne, Palace of Versailles, Eiffel Tower, The Moulin Rouge, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and shopping at Les Galleries LaFayette to name just a few.  Back then I was enthralled by the culture, cuisine and haute couture fashions of France.

The Cathedral was magnificent.  Works of art, relics, carvings, and masterpieces helped to make the house of worship a museum in an of itself.  Without and within everything was old, dating back hundreds of years.  Even with the steady flow of tourists, the sanctuary was quiet.  Some were huddled in groups closely listening to their guides giving historical details in tones little above a whisper, while others sat reverently in the pews.  I remember taking a seat for a few minutes too.   As our guide took us on the outside of the cathedral, one of the main requests was to point out the gargoyle that helped to make the cathedral even more famous via the movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”  Everyone wanted to see the hunchback.

As I look at the devastation left behind by the fire which has consumed brick and mortar, and has ended a part of history, I am reminded to approach future sightseeing adventures with these thoughts:

  1. Strike the iron while it is hot – If traveling to a landmark building/site that is deemed hundreds, maybe thousands of years old, or that has some acclaim to fame, take the time to stop and visit. Seize the opportunity to view, peruse, inspect, handle if possible, and learn all about the attraction.  Sometimes, tourists pass up the chance, or are turned off by the high prices of entrance fees to these attractions, but after traveling great distances my recommendation always is – pay the price.  You will only do it once, and you’ll have a lasting memory.  Look, I can still recall my visit 25 years later (wow, time flies when you’re having fun 😀).
  2. Collect memorabilia – Scrap-booking is a good tool for ardent travelers. Grab a piece of history by taking as many photos as you possibly can.  Daily record every detail in your diary.  Build a memorial of your experience via scrap-booking to tell your story of the trip using: photos, receipts, brochures, maps, postcards, etc.  (I will share some of my photos of the tour in France in a future post).
  3. Old versus new – When old things are lost and replaced albeit by new and improved things, the thing that is lost makes the new experience never the same again. The plan to rebuild reminds me of the Biblical account of the temple of Solomon that was devastated.  The elders and priests who witnessed the rebuilding, and who were familiar with the first temple mourned when they saw the new temple.  The newer temple couldn’t compare to the magnificence of the former temple (read the account in the book of Ezra 3).  The promised five-year building plan already declares that the roof cannot be replicated due to lack of similar material.  Also, time will tell of any further damage to the priceless artifacts that escaped burning.

Surely, with all the monetary pledges for the restoration pouring in, the new and improved Notre Dame will more than likely be a state of the art, updated treasure in five years.  However, only those who have visited in the past and can revisit in the future will be able to tell the difference.  I hope to be one of them, God willing.

Community Peeps share your impressions in my comment box below of your experience at Notre Dame Cathedral.  It would be great to reminisce with you of the iconic, world renowned treasure, as we all go through this difficult time with the people of France.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Stress Free Entry Tips


Vacations are meant to be enjoyable, relaxing retreats from the normal, everyday way of life.  Every traveler anticipates having a wonderful time away from home, exploring new places, eating exotic foods, viewing new and interesting places and things.  All these and more help to make up the most memorable time spent on holiday.  However, there are instances when because of poor planning and lack of foresight, your expectations for a fabulous trip can become unhinged.  It is therefore imperative that with careful itinerary planning you cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s especially when you want to attend a specific attraction.

There is no frustration like turning up to an attraction or event only to find tickets have been sold out minutes before you arrived, or the attendance quota for the day’s activity have been met.  What is a traveler to do to avoid such disappointments?  Well, here are a few simple tips you can implement into your travel plan before reaching your destination.

Internet Research – This part of the planning is key to making an informed choice of where and when to attend a particular activity.  In the research look for the best days and times to attend your activity.  Knowing the peak times will help you to decide how far in advance you will need to purchase tickets and arrive ahead of the crowd.   If free days are offered, quota amounts may be enforced and should be considered.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that you note the following:  opening and closing times, days of operations, free days, if any, entrance fees and discounts for seniors, children, veterans, and differently-abled.

Online Purchase – Almost every sightseeing activity will have a ticket booth on location.  However, where crowds are usually the norm, it is only wise to pre-book and pre-purchase your ticket before the event.  Many official tourist sites offer online services to select time and date of event ticket.  Confirmation numbers are provided to claim tickets at location, if a print option is not given.   Another possibility to secure tickets would be to ask your hotel concierge to reserve the booking and pay for the event via your hotel.  Again, communicating your event needs with the hotel management would help to offset any frustrations and stress in attaining your bookings, seat or entrance.

Always walk with a print copy of your confirmation, or, take a photo of the confirmation/ticket and keep in your smart phone.  Keep a copy of your online dialogue if you used a third party to make reservations.  Having your credit card with you is another way to verify bookings.

Crowd Avoidance – This may be impossible at times.  Sometimes as the crowd builds before doors open, you may find multiple lines, some pushing and shoving if people are not respectful.  If you have the time to spear, become familiar with the location a day or two ahead of your event.  First you want to know how to get to the destination without delay.  Then you want to see what the entrance activity is like, smooth transition or a bustle, is there one or multiple entrances.

Check Ticket Information – Whether tickets are purchased online or via a third party, it is very important to go over the details carefully.  A common mistake people make usually occur around the month and day selection.  Confirm receipt and validate if necessary.  If tickets are purchased months in advance, maintain a line of communication with management in the event of a cancellation, unexpected delay or postponement.

If you take these simple measures to gain entrance to an activity or event, then you will be sure to alleviate some of the needless stress that many encounter on vacation.  At the entrance sight you will be able to present your ticket.  Remember to always keep your confirmation number or credit card receipt handy if asked for further proof of purchase.  Doing all these things will help to ensure your memories are happy ones without a hint of misfortune or disappointment.

Community Peeps, have you been turned away from an activity/event/location just because you did not pre-purchase your ticket or were stuck in a crowded line?  If you have visited places like Machu Picchu, Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Galapagos, and other popular destinations then you will concur that it is best to have your ticket in hand, ready for easy entrance.  Also, these easy steps may be applied when traveling on long-distant buses, ferries, and attending entertainment parks.  Share in the comment box below your experience securing entrance to a must-see event or activity.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner