An Ode to Notre Dame

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

A deja-vu connection.

The fire at Notre Dame is devastating. A loss of history and an international icon. For me it brought up many feelings.

A view of Notre Dame past.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2017

My first trip to Paris was with an exchange group at the age of 16. Though I had been oversesas with my parents before that, this was my first trip without them. I had studied French in high school and the text books had many photos of France. And I still remember, vividly, standing in front of Notre Dame, on that first trip, and thinking, “Wow. It’s like my text book has come to life.” It was such a staggering sensation to see my very first international photo come to life in front of my eyes. As if the page had taken on dimension and I could touch it, walk next to it, go inside it, it was real!

“A fire that burns deeply in everyone.”

That first trip to France was what gave me my life’s desire to travel and learn languages and meet new people. Seeing that symbol burn was like burning away a part of me. That first summer in France, a group of strangers from around the US became some of my best friends, one of whom I am in touch with to this day. I lived with a host family, on a farm, in the middle of nowhere. A native New York girl, with, at the time, no siblings, spent a month with 7 sisters and 1 brother and host parents that I still visit every year. All this happened at a point in my life where I was quite depressed. This experience, especially my host mom, pushed me back into the seat of my own life.

France is the country where I fell in love with cows. I explained in another blog post that a cow in Normandie, Amazonie, became my very first real pet. She made me feel wanted, and seen and like I had a friend every moment I spent with her. France is also the place of my first “true love.” Paris has been, for so much of my life, a home, a respite, an escape, a connection to creativity, friends, wine, food and shopping. I have gone to France almost every year since my first time there. I love driving by each monument in the taxi from the airport, or walking by them along the Seine. Around the world, any of you who have been to Paris and loved it, surely you have a story about Notre Dame. The famed gargoyles, the beauty along the river, a mass…this fire blazed through all our hearts.

Learn about Heather and what set her on her world journey. She also explains why this life is not just for Millenials, it’s for anyone that wants to create a life around what they love most in life. 

Listen to an episode of the video interview series that will inspire you to follow your heart. Whether you want to travel full time or have another calling, this series is for you.

See the amazing people I’ve been meeting on my travels and the fun stories that go along with the meetings.

Check out my travel photos from around the world to see the world from wherever you are.

If you’ve been thinking that there’s got to be  more to life than work, or, you’ve lost your job, and wonder whether now is the time to do something you’re more excited about, this quiz will help you. Answer a few questions and get a free guide to help you know the areas you need to work on, followed up with inspirational and helpful tips to put your dreams into action.

Traveling the world full-time may sound glamorous and exhilirating. (In many ways, it is!) But, it’s not full-time fun. Before you decide to go, take this quiz to make sure you’re ready, and, if not, find out how to bridge the gaps.

This fun quiz helps you understand what your travel personality is, and how to make sure you indulge it when planning your next trip to maximize your enjoyment!

This one is pure fun – test your transcontinental travel trivia knowledge. Hit the button below if you dare take the quiz and see your score! 

If you enjoyed the first quiz, see how you do on the second one! More fun, more tricks, Click the button below to test your knowledge!

If you want to see every post I’ve written, starting with the most recent, this is the place to start!

In 2020, I was traveling in New Zealand as the coronavirus pandemic brewed, and, got stuck there. If you want to read about what this time was like and traveling during this time, check out this page.

Many of my blog posts are about things I’ve discovered about myself or about being, while I’ve traveled. If you’d like to focus on posts that only have self-discovery themes, click the button below.

I’ve been traveling the globe solo, and many of my posts share thoughts and resources specifically for other solo travelers. If you’re a fellow solo traveler, or you’re thinking about solo travel, this is a collection you will find of interest.

Sometimes I write posts where I give insider information on certain cities I’ve visited, which may be more along the lines of places to go, how to save money, etc. If that’s your main interest, check out this compilation of posts.

At the heart of international travel is learning about the many different cultures and ways of being around the world. The posts compiled on this page speak, specifically, about the cultural observations I’ve had.

If you’re looking to read blog posts about specific destinations, click the country of your interest below to go to it’s blog page and get country-specific reviews and thoughts.






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Want more in-depth information about travel? Trying to figure out how to afford full-time travel (or, doing what you want to do, full-time)? Check out these items!

Looking for a photo or a travel-related item to reconnect with the spirit of travel? Check out this page to see some of my photos and where you can find them as prints and various photo-gifts..

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Ready to start a more fulfilling life but can’t figure out the money part? This eCourse may be your answer! Click here for more details.

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