... always with an eye looking back on our leaping forth in October 2022 to enjoy trekking into bite-sized European neighborhoods ... looking at events we were trying to experience there: did they actually materialize for us—and if not, what got in the way? Were such disappointments inevitable?
And then addressing the 500 pound gorilla in the room—were these destinations worthy ones, in the first place, for peeps of our years and experience? Hmmm.
[On the photo above: I still cannot fathom the truly sad changes I found here in Avignon. The arty wine bar pictured has closed, along with many of its neighbors; the row of grand plane trees became diseased, died, and had to be cut down. I have shock and sorrow, surely , but also gladness for having seen it before its glory dimmed.]
And yet for all the change I observed, many wonderful parts remain emotionally magical—breads fresh and wholesome; little hikes that still offer surprising vistas; really old places of Christian worship whose majesty beckons yet; smearing soft cheese instead of butter on world-class bread; finding a seductive new wine label for under five euros. Never-seen vistas, fresh and exciting for all 360 pulse-quickening degrees.
The Core Concepts page (apple core link here) was proved true, because it turns out that the population factor was indeed a remarkable indicator about whether or not I'd enjoy days and hours in streets and byways and parks, and in old ruins continuing to bask in the mystery of centuries. The more people crowding around, the less restful the place felt—and the more it became difficult to receive the story being conveyed there.