It was all a dream, a dream that started in January when one of my colleagues and fellow runners at Orange Running Club shared a hospitality package for the Paris Marathon. P18 500 the flyer said for return flight from Johannesburg, accommodation and meals.
The whole team had that WOW moment...imagine running in Paris... but as a team we had already committed to several other local marathons which meant it would overstretch us budget wise. We had two trips lined up between January and April, and it really didn’t make much financial sense...maybe we could consider it for next year...agreed.
But the marathon stayed on my mind, I just couldn’t shake off this feeling that I really wanted to do it...and I wanted to do it this year...I had that monkey on my back kind of bother...the one that just won’t go away. That’s when I started thinking that if I missed the Easter trip maybe I could divert the funds and do Paris instead.
The more I thought about it the more feasible it seemed. So I went onto the website of the South African based travel agency that had put the package together, dropped them an email and asked a couple questions about what I needed to do to make Paris a reality.
First things first I had to register for the marathon they said and registration was on its last and final call at a cost of €150 (P1 500) and it was smack in the middle of January. As a single mother I wasn’t about to part with that much money at that very crucial JANworry point in time so my heart kind of sank, oh well I shrugged.
But a part of me wasn’t ready to give up...I put it out to the universe (my friends) that if anyone was planning to get me anything for my birthday this year they could deploy the plan and contribute to the #GetCarolToParis fund instead...lol! It started as a joke, but my friends responded, the pledges came through and that’s when I realised that all wasn’t lost...I really could do this. A week later my dear friend (let’s call him Kgaitsedi) asked for my banking details and ka ching...he sent through his pledge.
I was taken aback, didn’t realise he had actually been serious about this. Turned out his pledge was exactly what I needed to take the first step...so I went online and registered for the Paris Marathon. Once I got my registration confirmation I knew then that there was no turning back, come what may...this girl was going to Paris.
Instead of going the South African based agency route I decided to do things on my own...I contacted Nyasha at local Travel and Tours company and asked for quotes which worked out to be cheaper than the package advertised...great news. Also did my own research to check out what it would cost me if I did more than just the marathon, what if I took Trisha aka The Baby with...we could start off in London (because this is home for my daughter and I could leave her there with her aunts while I took on the world) spend a few days there...move on to another city (didn’t know which one at this point) then finish off my young tour with a bang in Paris?
I started thinking about this and planning on how to make all this happen...then the universe threw Geneva in the mix...so I took it, the third city of my tour would be Geneva. Registration in hand and POA in my head I approached my boss and had a conversation with her about how I would like to take two weeks off work to go run in Paris.
I think at first she thought I was joking...but when she saw my leave application in the system she realised that this girl was serious. So with my registration in hand and leave officially approved I paid a deposit for my flight tickets...and just like that I was well on my way to my three city RUNcation.
And the countdown began
Excited as I was to be travelling and experiencing the world, I knew that I had to train hard...imagine travelling all the way to Paris and returning with no medal...that was not an option...I wasn’t about to embarrass myself and the team like that. See Paris Marathon only has the 42km category, no 21km, no 10km...just 42km which has to be completed under 6 hours for one to get a finishers t-shirt and a medal.
So it wasn’t just a fun run...it was a race against the clock and I had to prepare for it...mentally and physically. So the training began...regular short distances during the week and long runs of up to 30km at the weekend. It wasn’t easy but it needed to be done, the only way to succeed was to prepare for that which lay ahead.
Come 29 March when everyone was going about their Easter plans, The Baby and I boarded to London and as per my plans I spent a few days in London, met up with some friends and partied up a storm that weekend. I wasn’t a novice in London so the city tour wasn’t necessary. I had done it the last time I was there. So the first few days of my tour were spent touching base with old friends and catching up.
Then it was off to Geneva...by myself. I must say I was quite nervous about travelling to a foreign land all alone. My mother was worse, she kept calling every other hour to try and understand where exactly I was going and why I was going there and my response was always ‘I am a tourist ma, so I am going to do things that tourists do in foreign lands’...lol!
I left for Geneva on a Tuesday plan was to stay there until Friday then pass on to France. Come to Geneva they said, it is warmer than London and you will have fun. So I got to Geneva Tuesday night as per the plan, woke up the next day and there was no sunny skies...lies...I had been sold lies...lol!
So my entire Wednesday was spent indoors because the weather was foul and I couldn’t do anything. Thursday morning I woke up, opened the blinds and yes...the weather God’s were on my side today...the sun was out and it was a beautiful day and I was going to make the most of it. So I made my way to the heart of the city and in true tourist style booked a seat on the two hour tour bus.
Geneva is deemed a global city, a financial centre, and worldwide centre for diplomacy due to the presence of numerous international organisations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the UN and the Red Cross. In actual fact Geneva is considered the main humanitarian home for refugees.
If you look at their flag, you will realise that it’s the inverse of the Red Cross logo/flag and this i was a way of paying homage and gratitude to the Canton of Geneva for all the work they have done and continue to do in this area...pretty cool right?
But the city isn’t just about trade and diplomacy...We all know that the Swiss are famous for their chocolates and most importantly their watches...ain’t nobody makes better time pieces than the Swiss and the city is evident of this...every corner has a shop that sell watches, every corner and I am not exaggerating.
In addition, the Pentecostal religion based city boasts of beautiful green landscapes and is home to the World’s first water jet, the Lake Leman (which features in both France and Switzerland), the iconic outdoor clock made of flowers as well as the broken chair. All of whose rich history and symbolism are explained thoroughly during the two hour city tour.