Stepping onto the sidewalk or train platform and being surrounded by a pea-soup-thick layer of cigarette smoke (though I’m assured that far fewer people smoke now, especially younger people…which is really sad, because it feels like GAGILLIONS of people smoke, so if this is a reduced amount, yikes). Stepping in dog crotte on the sidewalk.… Continue reading France: What I will NOT miss
Picking up a phenomenal, still-warm baguette on my 6pm walk home. Knowing that out of 100 people who take a cell phone call in public, 97 will leave the room/train car, 2 will speak so softly I cannot hear them, and the other person will be glared or stared at because everyone else knows the… Continue reading France: What I will miss
This week has been pretty huge in the food department. I had escargot (albeit chopped up in a puff pastry with gobs of butter and garlic)…yes, I ate a snail. And while I didn’t run after the hors d’ouevres platter for #2, it wasn’t bad. Twice this week, I had fois gras. This is BELOVED… Continue reading Food update: oh boy
Have I mentioned recently how insanely fortunate I am to have had these 89 days? I have LIVED IN FRANCE for three months! It was truly an amazing experience, and Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation are responsible for my time here (especially the kind folks of District 7980). My goals as a scholar were… Continue reading HOLY COW!
It looks fake, it really does, but it happened this afternoon in the most perfect place.I am a huge fan of the late, great artist Alexander Calder. (I even saved my pennies in 1998 when I was making no money to fly to DC and see the huge retrospective at the National Gallery.) Calder lived… Continue reading Art, even for non-art-lovers
Today, I took the backroads through the western part of the Loire Valley, passing through about 20 little villages. As I drove through one of the last ones (Artannes-sur-Indre) around 5pm, I looked to my right at one intersection and saw a small crowd and some colorful lights…. …so I parked and walked down.In the… Continue reading The Christmas season
Tomorrow, I will drive.For only the second time in three months.This is big: The driving gene is in my Midwestern DNA and a necessity for survival out there (other than Chicago), unless someone (cough Obama cough) comes up with a much-improved intra- and interstate train system and infrastructure and community-building support for rural towns.But back… Continue reading On the road again
For dummies, or pour les nuls. Neither sounds great.One of the many brands we share: the For Dummies series of books. Seen everywhere here, but this one was found at the Château d’Amboise, where Leonardo Da Vinci lived for a spell, did some work, and was buried.
France’s Loire Valley is home to hundreds of châteax (plural for château…yeah, it’s much easier to just add an s like in English, but them’s the rules here). These are, in general, amazingly beautiful buildings that range from small castle-like homes built by lesser lords when kings lived in the valley to massive, grand palaces.… Continue reading Château? Gesundheit!
A cup of hot mulled wine in your hand as you weave through the quaint wooden cabins, deciding which cute little grandma makes the best Bavarian pretzel or bredele, the traditional Alsacian Advent cakes…it’s a tough day, no? Here’s a little oompa band to get you in the mood. Hum this tune as you battle… Continue reading Oompa band at Christmas market