I've had a few emails from friends wondering if I'm anywhere near Paris. Just want to let everyone know that I'm safe in Rome. But I'm grieving with the rest of the sane people in the world for the people of France who have lost family and friends in the brutal assault of the most lovely city in Europe.
I haven't been posting anything on my blog for two reasons. For one, I've been pretty busy with language school. It's a very good school, and I'm learning a lot. But my apartment isn't in the greatest neighborhood, and I've been told by women in the area that I shouldn't walk alone at night here. I don't get out of school until 1 p.m., so by the time I walk a mile back to the apartment and have lunch, it's 2:30 p.m. It takes about an hour round trip on public transportation to get into the Old City to sightsee or visit a museum, so that leaves little time for anything. I've seen the major sights here on earlier visits, but I had a list of lesser known places that I hoped to have time to check out. Then there is the threat that other major cities in Europe will be ISIS targets, and that's enough to keep me in my obscure suburban neighborhood where I feel safe.
The other reason I haven't posted is that I can't figure out how to upload photos to my blog. I was able to do this on my old PC, but now I have this beautiful new MacBook, and I haven't had time to go through the tutorial on how to use it. I will eventually figure it out, but for now just don't have the time. I'm going to ask one of the young students in my class for some help this week. A blog post without pictures is pretty boring, I think.
The language school I'm attending is a good one, and I'm learning a lot. The classes are taught in Italian, and that's a challenge. I'm having the new experience of being the slowest one in the class. It's humbling, for sure.
I've connected with a couple people here through a social website called internations.org. I met a really interesting man who was both a sports and a travel writer for the Denver Post and then retired in Rome two years ago. He's traveled to 100 countries and has some really interesting stories, as you might imagine. I also met an interesting woman who was born in the Czech Republic, whose parents fled the country to Ethiopia as political refugees after WWII when the communists came into power. After one of the earlier military coups in Ethiopia, her family was stripped of their passports and forced to leave that country also. She lived in the States for a while and also in Rome a couple of times. This Saturday, she's going to guide me around Ostia Antica, the location of the harbor city of ancient Rome. So I'm making new friends, which is the most enjoyable part of traveling for me.
On Sunday, I'm going to visit my friends near Bari in the Puglia region of Italy for a week, and then at the end of the month I fly to ChiangMai, Thailand, to spend at least two months there. These are places I've been before, so my posts won't be as frequent until I start to visit new places, but there will be a few. SO STAY TUNED FOR MORE (WITH PHOTOS)!
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I had an ambitious agenda planned for my last day in Paris, starting with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. There was quite a crowd already when I arrived at half past nine.
I don't have access to the Internet at the moment, because I'm writing this in reflection at my mother's house in Michigan, so I can't provide any historical background, except to say that Notre Dame is on the Ile de Paris, which at one time was all there was to Paris.
There are some impressive stone carvings at the entrance.
And inside there are some very beautiful wood carvings of scenes from Christ's life.
The detail is really amazing.
And the stained glass in European cathedrals is always beautiful.
Outside, this man was surrounded by TV cameras and reporters and had five cars in his entourage, but I don't know who he is. Can anyone tell me?
I headed for the Rodin Museum next, but, to my great disappointment, it was closed. I usually check opening hours before heading out but forgot on this day. There were vehicles going in an entrance drive and a very nice man there allowed me to step inside and take a photo of "The Thinker".
The Opera House was next, which is a beautiful building on the outside and inside.
The theater is red plush!
The ceiling of the theater is a work of art.
There was a special ballet exhibit and works of art about dance were plentiful.
For lunch, I returned to Maison de la Truffle and had a delicious sampling of goat and brie cheese laced with truffle, green salad and wonderful French bread. I hoped to bring some of this delicious cheese home, but it wouldn't have been allowed through customs because it's made with raw milk. Anyone who lives in a country that requires milk used to make cheese to be pasteurized can testify to the difference it makes in taste. The brie in France is so much better than anything I've tasted in the U.S.
What trip to Paris could be complete without a cruise down the Seine? This is the type of tour boat I took.
You get a different view of Notre Dame from the water.
It was a great way to see some of the city's great architecture.
I couldn't resist one more view of this most famous Paris landmark.
And this is where my jouney ends. I return home enriched by my experiences, with a treaure trove of wonderful memories of the very special people I met and the beautiful places I've seen, and feeling very blessed indeed.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
I can't quite believe that my nomadic life is coming to an end. Whether that end is temporary or permanent is yet to be seen. My last four days were in the great city of Paris, and this is the perfect place to put the cap on my incredible journey.
I spent the first night here with my Bangkok friend Dolly, and we enjoyed a long walk through the Bastille neighborhood before having our farewell dinner together.
Dolly left the next day and now I'm staying in my friend Caroline's apartment in androissment 8, which is a great location, close to almost all the "must sees".
My young Parisian friends are treating me like royalty again. Natalie and Caroline are the kindest, most gracious and hospitable young women you could ever meet. Caroline filled her cupboard and refrigerator with all kinds of goodies for my breakfast and snacking pleasure, so much appreciated. Saturday, I had lunch with Natalie and Caroline at their favorite Lebanese restaurant where I enjoyed the best food of this kind that I've ever had. Then Caroline took me to a wonderful little museum in her neighborhood, the Museè Nissim De Camondo, a mansion that was donated to the French government by a wealthy Jewish banker, along with an amazing collection of 18th century furniture and objets d'art. Every room in the mansion is decorated harmoniously with beautiful furniture, tapestries, carpets, paintings, clocks, vases, etc. etc. It takes a while to take it all in.
Here's an example of one of the sumptously decorated rooms.
Look at this beautiful carpet...the colors are still very vivid.
There was a "dish room" where I saw the most incredible set of china. Each piece had different birds hand painted on it and there were at least 100 different pieces.
It's an unusual museum and best of all, it wasn't crowded. That evening we had a fabulous dinner at Maison de la Truffe, where I had a wonderful risotto topped with shavings of black truffle and some truffle-filled brie cheese with arugula salad. I'm so lucky to have fellow "foodies" as friends and Caroline surprised me with this special dinner because she knows I love my truffles.
On Sunday, I went to the Museé Marmottan, which has the largest collection of Monet paintings in the world, many of which were donated to that museum by his last surviving relative. I was stunned by a room filled with huge canvases, the size of which I don't recall seeing before. Many were his studies of water lillies.
I've always liked Monet's water lillies, but this painting is now among my favorites. It was in Monet's first exhibition in Paris, and its name, "Impression: Sunrise" was coined to describe this new art movement.
There was a room devoted to Monet's crayon drawings and caricatures done when he was 17 and 18 years old. Who would think his style would evolve as it did from this beginning?
The line to get into the museum was long because there was also a wonderful special exhibit of 100 paintings from private collections, all from the great impressionists, and I felt lucky to view this wonderful art that is seldom by the public eye. I loved this Renoir.
Part 2, my very last day, to come when I receive some photos I need from Natalie.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
There's not a lot to do in Annecy, France, but it's a charmer. There's a beautiful lake here with Alps as a backdrop, and lots of swans gracing water so clear that you can see the lake bed.
There's a canal that runs into and out of the lake through the picturesque old part of town.
Walk across one of the several foot bridges crossing the canal and through the old stone tunnels to the street running parallel to the canal where there are shops and restaurants galore waiting for tourists with euros to burn in their pockets.
I'd rather watch the swans!