Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We're going to Venice...

We are going to Venice to take Italian language classes from the Venice Italian School. We hope that Lucia and Diego [the sister-brother instruction team] are as charming and helpful and they appear to be online and via email. Lucia organized an apartment for us on the Campo Santa Margherita, which looks to be entirely spiffy.

In the spirit of excitement about our up-coming trip, I'm posting some shots from my last visit to Venice:

The Rialto Market:The fish market:
The Grand Canal:
St. Mark's:
A small canal:
The Moors:
The view from the Bridge of Sighs:

A gondola stop
The Rialto Bridge
An alley

Friday, June 4, 2010

We left Brittany and came to Aix

We had a spiffy time in Brittany (Bretagne, Breizh)... this was the first time that I've ever rented a car in Europe, and I must say it is certainly difficult going back to trains and walking, in a way, because of the freedom having a vehicle affords the traveller. We would have been thwarted significantly without our Peugot Partner to help get us around... it was a bit nerve-wracking, at first, what with the unfamiliar signage, etc., but it soon became relatively easy to zip around. While we were driving around, Melinda discovered the radio station of her French dreams, Radio Bonheur, which plays all oldies, all the time (100% Chansons Francaises!); I haven't heard that much accordion since the Walter Ostanek vs. Frankie Yankovic battle for polka supremacy.

We managed to get as far as Carnac to see the menhirs... we also saw Kermaria an Insquit, with the marvelous Dance of Death... we went to Guingamp (home of Radio Bonheur), Quimper, Roscoff, St. Pol de Leon, Morlaix, and many more places. I will update the list when I get home... after the 16th. Brittany was delightful, and I recommend it as a holiday destination for anyone wanting a chance to visit an authentic region of France.

We give thanks to the Cudennec family, without whose generosity our trip would have been impossible... Nicole, for suggesting the possibility in the first place; Josy, for making it happen; and Joel, for welcoming us to Locquirec so warmly.

Now, we are in Aix, preparing to take in some of the delights; today, we are going to get a tour of Cezanne's studio, ane, later, we are going to a ballet. A full enough day, I think.

I need to sign off; the time is ticking down on this computer... until the next time...

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Paris

I am taking this opportunity to pen a quick note to my reader [whoever you are!]... Melinda has gone off shopping with her new friend, Thuy... they seem like peas in a pod, especially considering Thuy's bright green coat. I have an hour before meeting Martin at the Gare de l'Est; he's coming in on the ICE train for a visit, from Frankfurt.

The wedding went off with a hitch; the church, l'Eglise Saint Augustin, is dandy... evidently a good example of ecclectic architecture [Romanesque, Byzantine, Baroque...], and a spiffy spot for the nuptials. Rosemary and Frederic did a good job; no one fainted or ran away or any of that stuff, and they appeared delighted to be getting married, as they should be... they make a lovely couple and, if they do succumb to the rather intense and sometimes cringe-worthy family pressure [from both the Taiwanese and French sides!] to reproduce, they will make beautiful babies and, I am sure, spectacularly nice parents... but, I get ahead of the game... and I'm not even related.

The reception was on a rather luxurious boat on the Seine; it was moored at the pont d'Iena, most notable for being right across from the Eiffel Tower! Talk about a money shot! The first picture of your wedding reception having the big, famous pointy-thing of Paris in the background certainly speaks of a romantic ideal. The meal was delicious, with fine food and fine wine... there was dancing and the ship made the trip from the mooring to approximately where the Canal St. Martin meets the Seine, and back again. The best part was how nice everyone was and how much of a good time was had by all. There were 55 people attending, and this seemed like an optimal size. We sat next to Richard, Melinda's other childhood friend who attended [other than Rosemary]. He had arrived that morning from Philadelphia... I am sure he was quite exhausted, but he gave a good show of hanging in there.

Well, I will finish off a little less abrubtly than the last post. By the way, I had a croque monsieur,
il était délicieux!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Paris in the Springtime

It has been a while since I made a post... it is not that there's been nothing of note going on in my life, but the most noteworthy aspect of my recent being might be my colossal laziness. However, the past is just that, and now nothing says blog post like being on a trip.

We are in Paris, particularly because Melinda's [and my] friend, Rosemary [see earlier posts... she's the one in the middle!] is getting married to Frederic, here. Today is Thursday [I think] and the wedding is on Saturday, in the 8th arrondissement... this should be fun. We're here for 10 days, staying at the Hotel Montpensier, in the 1st arrondissement... right near the Louvre and easy to get to and from.

This morning, after a delightful breakfast, we walked around, looking in windows [and popping in to a couple of stores... I bought some underwear and a shirt at Celio, and Melinda bought a scarf at Carole], past the Opera Garnier, to Galleries Lafayette and Printemps, the big department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, where Melinda purchased a spiffy blue jacket. We also went to a nearby jewelry store, and Melinda got a necklace and a ring to match the dress she brought for the wedding.

Right now, Melinda is at a bridal shower, a cooking class for the ladies... it looked like fun, but no boys were allowed, so here I am in the cybercafe on Boulevard St. Michel, across from the Jardin du Luxembourg, reporting to you. Later, we are going to meet for drinks and then have dinner... which reminds me that it has been a while since breakfast, and dinner won't be any too early, so I should head for a non-cyber cafe for a bite to eat to sustain myself... the good thing about thinking about having lunch is that it will be lunch IN PARIS, which makes everything better; eating a cheese sandwich at home is nothing compared with eating a cheese sandwich IN PARIS! Hmmm, thinking about a cheese sandwich has me thinking that

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Frankfurt am Main

Our European wanderings have brought us to Frankfurt, which has the duel attraction of being a good city from which to base some touring, and of being the home to our friends, Martin and Arabella. We are happily ensconced in the Hotel Diana, where the staff are friendly and the breakfast is big. We've visited the fine arts museum and the sculpture museum, as well as wandered around town. Yesterday, Martin drove us to Darmstadt, to visit the printing museum therein. Despite Arabella's insistence to the contrary, the museum was not boring but great; I think that I took about 100 pictures, but then I get very excited around moveable type. They have all kinds of machines, most of them operational, and the volunteers who work there are gems. The pressman, Peter, was particularly helpful... he was also excited that we were from Canada. He asked "where are you from?" and I thought he meant the country, but he had already pegged us as Canadian and wanted to know the city, so I told him "Prince George" with all the confidence that he'd have to ask where that is, but he said "Oh, I've been there three times and will be there next summer... I have been through to Prince Rupert, to Alaska, and to Jasper, and next year I am going to go from Vancouver to the Yukon to take the Dempster Highway!" Needless to say, I was impressed. I gave him my card and hope that he calls, so I can return some of his hospitality.

Also in Darmstadt we visited the Mathildenhöhe, which has a gallery and a lot of Jugendstil architecture. It also had a restaurant [thankfully] where we had Swabian specialties, in honour of Martin's heritage. The gallery had a delightful show by Nedko Solakov, a Bulgarian artist. His work consisted of emendations he made to the gallery space; after the last show was taken down, all the cases and pillars as well as labels were left in place, and he mainly wrote on the walls in felt pen, drawing little stick figures, writing satirical text, and making comments about art, artists, art patrons, and life in general. I enjoyed it, especially since the fellow on the cash register tried to warn us that we might not like the show... he even gave us a discount, because he was afraid we'd complain [there was a sign saying that no refunds would be given... I think that they have had a lot of complaints!]... after the show, we assured him that it was great. Oh, besides the gallery show, we were told to go downstairs for the rest of the exhibit, which consisted of taking off our shoes, putting our feet in plastic bags, putting on the available rubber boots, going up a set of stairs, then descending a ladder to an underground, bricked water reservoir, where we waded through a foot of water to the far corner, where there was a desk with a lamp on it, with a sign telling us that he had run out of ideas and perhaps we could offer him one... there were pencils and paper and a box to put the suggestions in... I offered a suggestion, but I am pretty sure that just walking through the water and contemplating his request constituted the art work.

Well, the clock is striking 5:45 [we are in an internet cafe right next to a church] and we are meeting M and A for dinner, soonish. More updates to come...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vive La France!

A quick note for you, dear reader, in case you are wondering... we are in Strasbourg and have been for a few days; it is Bastille Day, so we anticipate some decent fireworks, tonight.

This is a good city for sightseeing; there is a lot to do, but the main part of the old town is walkable... nothing is too far from anything else. The cathedral here is exceptional; until the one in Cologne was constructed, it was the tallest in Europe (142 m). The centre of the city is all walking streets bordered with lovely half-timbred houses.

The food has been dandy, too; choucroute is the specialty, and we've had spatzle and other french/germanish delights. The wine is fine... I have always been a great fan of Alsatian wine, and it is great to be in the homeland.

Tomorrow, we set sail (or hop the train) for Frankfurt; this has been a bit of a short stay in Strasbourg, but I think that we will return. It will be good to see our friend, Martin, tomorrow, and get to looking at Hessian stuff.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Now, Avignon

Just a quick update for my reader...

We had a great time in Barcelona, then took the train out of Sants Station on the 5th. We got to Avignon, and have been moving pretty quickly ever since. We have seen the Palace of the Popes and the Pont St. Benizet (the bridge from the song) and numerous sights around Avignon. As well, we took a day-trip to Arles, and two tours: one to Pont du Gard and Chateauneuf du Papes; and one to Les Baux, Gordes, and Roussillon. As well as the structured activities, we have been seeing a lot of street theatre, as the Avignon Festival is going on right now. Our meals have been dandy, too. We had one particulary good one at a place called La Fourchette (recommended by the fellow who did our wine-tasting at the Palace of the Popes... a wise investment... he said it was his favourite restaurant in Avignon); I had foie gras, then dorade (one of my favourite fishes), with peach soup for dessert, all washed-down with a lovely rosé... spiffy. It has been action-packed. Tomorrow is our last day here... on Saturday, we go to Strasbourg; it is a long train ride, but there are no changes.

Well, this is pretty much it for now... typing on a French keyboard takes a little getting used to.