Saturday, July 31, 2004

Hot, Hot, Hot......

Hot, humid, sticky, wet, steaming...all adjectives that describe Houston's weather this weekend. Trotted off to Office Depot for their Teacher Appreciation Breakfast - free food, some free goodies and 10% off on all purchases. Then to Salvation Army in the hopes they were having a book table box sale. They were but slim, slim pickings - all religious books which I know nothing about. Home to sort, toss and deal with e-mail. Have my calendars sorted out so I do feel a bit more under control - I have all my booksales listed. According to Booksale Finder it's going to be a busy autumn. The next step is to make a list a'la Besty Ray.

Still fiddling around with E-Bay books, moving some to Amazon, consigning others to the half price box. Amazon is proving to be brisker than E-bay which is quite a switch.

Cooked a REAL dinner tonight - it's time to stop eating everything that comes across the pike and think less and no fried! The weight I took off prior to Europe came back, which I suspected it would since I indulged in cheese and chocolate. Of course saying no to sweets will be tricky now that work is about to start again!

My Beloved played golf on both Sat. and Sunday and is feeling the heat a bit. I'm laying off on Dr. orders, but given the heat, I honestly don't mind to much!

And oh, it's going to hurt when that alarm blasts forth tomorrow morning!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Back to work - sorta...

Well the day is approaching...I went up to school today, just to have a look around and dump some of the STUFF I've collected over the summer. The carpet cleaners had come and gone and as always, everything was piled up higgley piggely. It will take at least an hour to put all the chairs back and such like. And why, do they always manage to leave the spots behind? I now know them like old friends - the one by the door is from a spaghetti celebration lunch and the one behind the circulation desk is compliments of computer tech who practices "do as I say and not as I do" when it comes to coffee. School was empty but it was very early. Tomorrow school is closed which is nice, that way I needn't feel guilty about not being there. Of course I could be, but there won't be an A/C and suffering is not on my agenda.

I am feeling overwhelmed and totally disorganized.... I must sit down, put things on my calendars and make a list. I will still be overwhelmed but at least I'll know what's causing the landslide. Plus, I can cross things off and feel accomplished and course lists appeal to my type A personality!

Stopped by Library Media to say hello and catch up on the news. Always good to see the friendly folks there. Lots of new librarians on board, and new challenges what with funding cuts and increased emphasis on teacher librarian collaboration.

Hit a couple of thrifts on the way home - no real finds but some ok stuff. Went to a new coffee shop to release another Bookcrossing book - and picked up one for myself!

Home with the Democratic Convention on TV. Tonight is John Kerry's acceptance speech. It's being over analyzed to death and he has yet to set foot on the podium. I miss the old conventions, with the fraction fights and drama as to who would get the actual nomination. Now it is a done deal, so the convention is nothing but a 4 day infomercial. The graphics are more sophisticated and the budgets are bigger but the intent is the same. Convince people they really need and want something they really could very well live without.

Ollie, the No Maintance Kitty Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Last Thriftcom of the Summer

My thrifting buddy and I went forth to our last thriftcon of the summer - 
 headed to the southwest portion of Houston,  home to a mini United Nations of cultures and some of the worst drivers in the city.  It was half price clothing day at the Salvation Army and the place was wall to wall kids,  all of whom were bored and playing with very LOUD toys.  However it was worse at Value Village where they were racing the kiddy cars up and down the aisles while their parents paid them no attention.  I am not exactly anticipating the new school year with baited breath.

Pickings were good though - a box of assorted books, 2 of which have already sold on Amazon, some almost new Cole Haan shoes,  couple of shirts and assorted stuffed animals for school.  Very pretty, hand made pottery serving dish with lid. And I found one of my thrifting Holy Grails - Pampered Chef Stoneware.  This time it was a loaf pan, brand new, never used. Can't decide whether to keep it or e-bay it.

Besides the final thriftcon, it was also the week for my final culture trip.  Culture Buddy and I trotted off to the Fine Arts museum to see a Diane Arbus retrospective.  Many of the pictures were familiar but some very new.  The exhibit included her notes and portions of her diaries and letters.  Her photos are odd and she was even odder.  The comments she made about the birth of her daughters and how she felt about them were both chilling and unsettling. How very sad to feel that alone and that unconnected in the world. 

Monday, July 26, 2004


....I managed to add some links to my blog.  Took me 2 hours of trial and error - with may more of the latter than the former.  HTML is indeed tricky.  I felt most accomplished when I finally triumphed.  I now have links to our Trip Pictures, my E-Bay Page and BookCrossing.  Bookcrossing was very nice and even provided a cut n' paste text block so I got their cute little graphic too. 

Hauled book cullings to Half Price Books - the Montrose location, which is my favorite one. The clientele and the staff are always so eclectic; plus they pay more than the suburban locations. Of course, as always I spent more than they gave me, but there are 2 less boxes of books on the pool table so it was still a successful trip.

My Beloved actually wanted to go work out, so we meet at the gym and then had lunch together. Very nice surprise and break in the day.

A Day's Work Posted by Hello

Lots of odds and ends today since TIME IS RUNNING OUT.  Sorted back to school things, sent out e-mails about the blog and our trip to folks, mailed packages, planted more flowers.  Even cooked dinner.  A very accomplished sort of day in a low key putter kind of way.

Front Steps Posted by Hello

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Attempted to bring some fresh energy to our little garden plot by adding some flowers - Another Place in Time , my favorite nursery celebrated Christmas in July so I took advantage of their reduced prices. Of course I had to check out their scratch & dent section and found a pile of flags. I use them to decorate the library so I'm always on the lookout for new additions to the collection.

Front Garden  Posted by Hello

Put in long hours shuffling the book inventory for to Amazon - it's been a very tedious project but it is almost done. Amazon sales have shot up, though so it appears to be worthwhile. So far 26 books sold in just one week. That's a new record.   6 bags of books are out the door to Half Price books.  Granted, they will only give me pennies on the dollar but the empty space is more important than the money.

Sarah McLachlan was in town and she's a long time favorite of My Beloved so of course we had tickets. Good show, but the crowd made me feel oh so old! Most of my concert experience has been among the big 2 of Lesbian music - k.d. Lang and Melissa Etheridge , the crowd always does include lots of young baby dykes, but the gray hair and birkenstock set is always well represented. The Sarah McLachlan crowd had a bit of that, as well as a  sprinkling of queens but so many 20somethings. Strappy little tank tops, slip dresses, spiky heels and more surgerically enhanced breasts than I've ever seen other than on the Playboy Channel.  There were a few out of control screamers and the ubiquitous cell phone users  and  it was a very good show, with a singer who really enjoyed what she was doing and wanted to give the crowd their moneys worth. The non stop cell usage never ceases to amaze me, why spend $65 for a ticket and then talk on gab during most of the concert?  This 24/7 need to be in touch and top of things is something that I just don't understand.  I am on the wrong side of the generation gap and I don't like it!

Friday, July 23, 2004

An errand running I shall go

Yesterday was a day of frustrations interspersed with a few pleasant moments. I somehow misplaced My Beloved's credit card which resulted in much wasted time in searching for, not finding it and then canceling it. What an annoyance.

However did have lunch with my thrifting buddy and 2 other friends from the Betsy Tacy list at Baba Yagas, which is a Houston institution. In Houston, any restaurant that has survived 30+ years, the oil bust and the Enron debacle qualifies as an institution. Good good - lots of innovative vegetarian selections and even better conversation.

Onward to brave the Katy Freeway, get my glasses fixed (AGAIN) and to Target for cleaner. I've discover Method Cleaners and I really like the way the products smell. I have no clue if they are any better than the stuff at the dollar store - they probably aren't but the packaging is so much more attractive.

Braved the construction on Loop 610 to get more meds for Leia the High Maintance kitty- it's harder & harder to get to Gulf Coast Vet since the entrance keeps getting lost in orange barrels and the piles of dirt.

Leia the High Maintance Kitty Posted by Hello

I MUST start thinking about school again - boo - hiss so I got a stack of posters so I can make my signs. I really should go to work next week but just can't muster the motivation. Somehow the entire day was gone with nothing to show for it but a half empty gas tank.

I did treat myself to the new Jimmy Buffet CD - License to Chill. Haven't listened to it yet since My Beloved is not fond of the Man from the Gulf Coast, but he'll keep me company on my next round of errand running.

Busied myself this morning packing books, getting some books ready to release via Bookcrossing and putting together a care package for a soldier in Iraq. Someone on my thriftlist passed along the most interesting site - I'm going to try to send out one book a week. I certainly don't agree with the war or the government but the soldiers are another thing entirely. They need all the support they can get, and besides, librarians are supposed to put books in people's hands! I registered all the books with Bookcrossing, just to see what happens.

Still slogging through my / Amazon books. I'm so disgusted with half com that I'm putting most of my inventory on Amazon and experimenting with ProSeller. It is very tedious work but at least I have new BBC DVD to divert me - Anna Karenina, staring Nicola Pagett who was so lovely in UpStairs DownStairs. I really do want to finish this chore before I go back work again and loose all my free time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Where did the Summer Go?

It's almost over and it seemed like it just started! I get this feeling every year, but this year the summer really does seem shorter than usual- just this week and next and it's nose to the grindstone time again. Retirement is not an option at present.

I have 2 more projects to finish - cleaning out the elephants graveyard of tote bags known as the hall closet. I am sure I can find homes for said bags on freecycle.

The other is sorting out the Amazon / book inventory and culling the dogs. If I ever finish that job I will then attempt to do the same with the E-Bay books.

My Beloved shocked me on our recent trip by reading a book cover to cover. In that way we are an odd couple, since I am never without a book, if not two or three. I picked a copy of A Nasty Bit of Rough by David Feherty at a thrift shop since it was about golf and she loved it. I found myself saying "stop reading your book and lets go to bed". She liked it so much that she had me order his other book for her.
That was a first - that's normally her line!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Spent most of today sprucing up my trip blog, adding pictures and web links and it's now finished! Or as finished as it will ever be. My Beloved read it (she liked it!) but wishes to announce to the world that she does not nap as much as one might think reading said blog. She does grudgingly admit that she is high maintaince. :-) We spent the evening working on a memory book to send to everyone who gave us hospitality while in Holland. She chose the pictures, I wrote the captions and the end result is very nice indeed. It came compliments of her 550+ digital pictures and

As always my summer is slipping away much faster than I would like.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Back to Reality

Back to the laundry, the cat pans, the dishes, the grocery store, the gym and the errands - on other words, back to the REAL WORLD, after 3 weeks in a dream world.  I really did want to stay in the latter!  However, baring a lottery win this isn't likely to happen.  The cats on the other hand are very happy to have us home, though they were well taken care of.
Rambled through a few thrift shops in my toing & froing - found some books that might have potential.  I started up E-Bay again, after a 6 weeks break.  I hope business is better than it has been, I have books that need to move and college bills that need to be paid.
Musing thought of the day- where did all these people in People Magazine come from?  I've never heard of most of them.  Is this one of the first symptoms of getting old?

A Travel Sort of Day

We had a 2:30 flight so I had one final adventure in Amsterdam - I went to a weekly Book Sellers flea market on  Spui Square.  About 30 vendors, set up in tents.  Didn't buy anything - mostly due to the prices, which were fair but more than I wanted to pay.  There was a lovely selection of children's books, however they were all in Dutch and I don't know anything about Dutch Children's literature.  Most of the sellers specialized in one thing or another - lots of navel books or biographies.  The selection included a surprisingly large number of English titles.
Trip home was long but uneventful. Planes were where they were supposed to be and took off when they were supposed to and no flights were canceled.  For that we were very grateful.   The line at customs was VERY long - George Bush did not win many friends nor influence many people.  The contractors who were coming back from Iraq for 2 weeks of R&R were very vocal in their displeasure. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Last Sort of Day

Book Sellers on Spui Square 

Today was wear the shoe leather off our feet dayand our last full day in Amsterdam. We walked all the way to the WWII Dutch Resistance Museum, which is about 3 "zones" from the part of the city we are staying at. Of course, distances are all relative, and compared to Houston, this is a very compact city but it was still a bit of a trek. Made a stop at the flea market on Waterlooplein  - this one I gather has been there for decades, if not centuries. Like so many modern day flea markets, it's not longer a thrift shoppers paradise, most of the vendors were selling new goods. Hundreds of T-shirts, caps, belts, bags and ugly made in far East at slave labor wages jewelry. You wouldn't not have known that you were in Holland, but for the fact the T-shirts all had Dutch themes. In Houston it would be cowboys and at the flea market in Paris it would be the  Eiffel tower.  

The War Resistance museum was fascinating, a very slick, multimedia presentation of what it was like in Holland during the Nazi Occupation. Blessedly the information placards were in Dutch and English. However, there were many original letters and scrapbooks, which were only in Dutch. Note to self - must learn to read Dutch!

I so wished that my Father was still alive, he lived through the occupation and perhaps the museum would have spurred him to talk about his experiences - assuming he would have been willing to go. Some of the other visitors were of his generation and were telling their children and grandchildren about their experiences as they walked around. Fascinating ease dropping.

We wimped out and opted for the Trolley on the return trip. Got off at the Dam Square which was in full swing. Street performers, tourists and everywhere the destination sweet smell of pot. I don't think I'll ever smell it again without thinking "Amsterdam".

Street Life on the Dam Posted by Hello 


The Dam Square! Posted by Hello

My Beloved went down for a nap and I hoofed it over to the The Booklet , a small  used book store specializing in English language books.  I found it purely by accident on my way to the Anne Frank Huis.   It's a small, hole in the wall bookstore.  I picked up some new books for the trip home and dropped off some I'd finished.  The owner introduced me to and allowed me to register my leave behinds on her computer.  It will be interesting to see if they find new homes!  I'd first heard about Bookcrossing via a member of the Besty Tacy Listserv, but it had never made off my "gotta look into this" list.  Now it has and I'm glad!  It's like Freecycle for books.  
That evening we meet my cousin - actually he's the son of my cousin, who lives in Amsterdam for drinks. He does employment law for a large corporation.  He took us to an old, style Amsterdam pub where we had much beer and he introduced My Beloved to Bitterballen.
The Dutch have some of the best "borrelhapjes" on the planet, which makes sense since the "borrel hur" is such an integral part of the culture.  We tried to translate borrel hur into English but couldn't.  It's so very Dutch.
I've also finally figured out why everyone speaks to me in English when I address them in Dutch.  It's my accent- I speak Dutch with a distinct American accent so they assume I'm polite tourist who has mastered a few key phrases.  I then answer them back in rapid fire Dutch, which causes them to do a double take and ask me just where I learned to speak the language.
It seems most of the Dutch speak English but few Americans speak Dutch.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A Cultural Sort of Day

This was MUSEUM day with a capital M. Started out with the Rijksmuseum, which has only one wing open due to remodeling. It was rather pleasant actually, one didn't feel compelled to see THE ENTIRE PLACE, which I gather is quite large. They had pulled the "high points" and the rest is shut up or on tour. Many, many portraits on men in ruffs looking smug, as well as the NightWatch, which is overwhelming and some delightful landscapes. I found the still lifes to be amazing - such a use of light and color.

We took the Trolley Car. I like Trolley Cars - they show up at 10 minute intervals and take one just where one wants to go. And it is easy to find them- just look for the rails in the street!

We skipped the Van Gogh Museum since My Beloved had the beginnings of a sinus headache (not surprising since the weather did an 360 about face and it began to rain). Down she went for a nap while I trotted off the Amsterdam Historical Museum. Many, many, many more portraits of smug men in ruffs. One gets the impression that the city was run for many years by the Dutch version of a "Good Old Boys" club. The museum traced the history of the city from the 1200's to the present and was quite interesting - and thankfully all the placards were in Dutch and English. Very interactive and up to date.

Followed it was a splashy walk in the rain and a cup of coffee in a pastry shop.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

A Bookish sort of Day

This morning My Beloved opted for a taxi ride to the Amsterdam Harley Davidson store and I opted to stay behind and muse on bookstores and where to find them. And find them I did - 5 within easy walking distance of the hotel. I found 3 gems for my collection 2 by Noel Streatfeild & Lois Lenski and a Sue Barton novel. How they got here is beyond me but I will give them a happy new home in America.

Also went to Lush, which I'd heard raves about from my Canadian buddies on the Maud Hart Lovelace list - and it was indeed lush. I bought some of the fabled bath bombs and can't wait to try them.

The sun surprised us by coming out, so after lunch we went on the obligatory Canal Boat Ride, which was most interesting and much more detailed than I thought it would be. Even took us out into the Harbor. This city is rightly named "The Venice of the North".

Spoils from the Cigar Store! Posted by Hello

My Beloved was done in by the walking - she mis-judged where the cigar shop was and we had do some back tracking so she napped while I hoofed it to the Anne Frank Huis. It was high on my list of "must sees" and was worth the wait in line. The book and the various films can't convey what it must have been like - seeing actual rooms was eye opening. So tiny and so hot and stuffy. Everything was very sparse & stark , it's not at all "touristed" up. People were quiet and respectful - there weren't as a many Americans as I thought there would be. Most of the visitors were Dutch. Of course there was one school group of teenagers - I think they were English or German who looked bored. There must be some teenage rule that says one must never show enthusiasm or emotion. I bought a new copy of the Diary in honor of the visit.
That evening we went to the "Rosse Buurt" -the Red Light District. Like pot, sex is legal in Amsterdam.   However, I found the area very depressing.  It was seedy and down at the heels with a very surreal atmosphere.   Most of the women appeared to be only going through the motions to attract customers and had no more animation than one of the robot figures at Disneyworld.

Comic relief was provided by yet another Japanese tour leader, who came shuffling into one of the sex shops with his group in tow.  The reeked of whiskey and looked oddly naked without their cameras (photography is forbidden).   They got positively big eyed at the sight of all the toys and we quickly exited stage right.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Amsterdam the Groot Staat

Today we started the last leg of our journey - 4 days in Amsterdam - we took the train from Eindhoven after having lunch with my aunt and uncle on my father's side who had driven down to pick up my mother for a visit. I do so like the Dutch trains - the schedule is better than Houston's busses. Just climb aboard and ride in comfort, with room to spread out till you get to your destination. No lines, no cramped seat with your knees in your neck because the guy in front of you has his seat back, no metal detectors, no feeling like cattle being herded through the doors.  The Centraal Station had a Victorian feel to it - tall, brick and looming with lots of carvings.

We are staying at the Ambassade Hotel. This time around we are in the heart of the tourist section The Heren Gracht- that wasn't the case in Paris. Old hotel with modern amenities, which encompasses about 10 old houses. Rabbit warren of corridors with twisty, narrow staircases. The staircases result on a killer workout on ones calves - I am still feeling the effects of climbing the ones to the top of the Arch de Trioumph in Paris.

Took our customary introductory walk and had dinner at Moders, a restaurant serving old fashioned Dutch food. I introduced My Beloved to Stamppot, which she loved - figured she would since it's basically mashed potatoes and sausage - her favorite comfort food.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

More Than 8 Cousins

The much awaited Family Reunion has come and gone and a wild success it was too. Given that in the states a reunion consists of my mother, brother, his lady, my sister, her husband and son and My Beloved and our girls, it was a bit intimidating to attend a gathering with 2 aunts, 3 uncles, 8 cousins and the respective spouses and children of said cousins. Not to mention my own brother & mother who were also there. Everyone found it most amusing that we all live in America, yet choose to meet in Holland. Fits in well with our family pattern which is to spread out and visit the world.

My Beloved, Mother & Cousin Posted by Hello

Oddly enough (or maybe that's normal, what do I know about family reunions?) , there was no strangeness at all. We swapped family stories, looked for family features- I have a cousin who is the spitting image of my father and of course had multiple wine and toasts. The ages ranged from 2 - the son of my one cousins, to 83 - my Mother and her twin sister who are the family matriarchs. The guests came from all over Holland, America and Brazil (a cousin and his family who are about to move back to Holland after 10 years abroad).  My uncle provided everyone with a copy of the Helfrich Family history which he'd just finished.  I have copies to take home to my girls - my uncle in Australia kindly translated it into English for the English speaking branches of the family.

The Family Book Posted by Hello
The weather surprised us all by cooperating and we had blue skies and sunshine, most unusual for Holland which is noted for chilly rain. The setting was the picture perfect garden of one of my cousins - grass so green it belonged on a golf course and brilliant flowers. One nice side effect of all the rain is the lovely flower gardens that are everywhere.

Zimmerman Family Group Posted by Hello

Good food, good conversation, good fun, what more can one ask for?

The Entire Clan! Posted by Hello

Friday, July 09, 2004

Back to the MotherLand

We've migrated from France to Holland. Took the train and we have seen the light - it's so civilized. On the train to Brussels we were severed breakfast - crossiants, coffee with real cream, fresh cheese, fresh cherries, pastry and real butter. On real dinnerware with actual metal silverware. No paper, no plastic, no fake food.

We changed trains in Brussels and Lana foiled a pickpocket. He offered to help with the luggage and then she felt his hand heading toward her pocket.  luckily all her documents were firmly zippered up in the many pockets of The Super Tourist Vest.  She spun around and glaredat him and he too off in one direction and the train took off in the other.   Arrived in The Hague  (Den Haag)  without any further incident till we tried to connect with my relations. That involved  a series of Laurel and Hardy incidents, turning a Jaqaur into a clown car, torrential rain and miscoummincations & lost telephones that would have made a perfect plot for a Beany Malone novel.  However, we gathered (once we connected with my cousins and brother) that this happens all the time so we all had some wine and good laugh. 

Relaxing in the Midst of Confusion Posted by Hello

We did enjoy the roses in Westbrook Park with my mother and her twin sister (till the rain started) .  My brother was also in The Hauge as a judge for a rose contest which was held there.

Mother & I and the Roses Posted by Hello

Love among the Blooms! Posted by Hello

The Roses & The Sun before the Storm! Posted by Hello
Twins Among the Roses Posted by Hello

The following day we slept late (to recover from Paris) and then went forth on the street car to see a bit of the
city. Wandered about, admired the buildings, had coffee and lunch and walked on the beach at Scheveningen - the same beach I used to play on as a child.

Enjoying the Beach Posted by Hello

Having never spend much time with cousins, since I haven't any in the US I'm finding it very novel to visit with people my own age whom are relations. Tomorrow is the big family do, with 40 something people - all of whom are related to me. I hope My Beloved isn't overwhelmed.

What I do when My Beloved is being Girl Photographer! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

But We'll Always Have Paris....

Once again we had Paris in the rain - and some serious rain it was too. The morning cry was "Eiffel Tower or bust" - we couldn't leave Paris without seeing it.  In fact, I am sure there is a law that says all first time tourists MUST see it or they can't leave the city.  And it is BIG - the pictures give one no hint as to how immense it really is. It was damp and wet, but the streetside markets had umbrellas for sale - 14 Euros later we were all set to brave the weather. While   we encountered the entire population of Japan at the Louvre, every British teenager appeared to be at the Eiffel Tower. Being more or less 16 years of age  they all had to squeal, rough-house, push and of course talk constantly on their cell phones. A bit to much humanity for me, but the view at the top made up for it. 360 degrees worth of Paris, a wet, grey, chilly Paris but it was indeed Paris.  My beloved braved the gift shop while I braved the heights.

High atop the Eiffel Tower Posted by Hello

Down we came and headed toward Napoleonic tomb in the Dome Church  - on foot.  Hiked through a park and took some time to enjoy watching the dogs at play. Some of our favorite experiences in Paris haven't come from the Guide Books.   None of our meals have come from the guide books, we've just stumbled into cafes that look promising and we've yet to be disappointed.

Buy My Sweet Lavendar! Posted by Hello
The Tomb and Church were  overwhelming- much, gilt, stained glass and statuary. It was not nearly as crowded and the people were respectful & quiet. Again, major frustration set in  at not being able to read the placards. I feel so ignorant for not knowing any French - and it's also very tiring.

The skies opened, we got wet yet found a Taxi - My Beloved has taxi gris gris just like she has parking space gris gris, so we headed home to dry off.  Normally we used the Metro but when it's raining a taxi is a nice luxury.

My Beloved took a nap, I headed for the Paris City museum, The Musee Carnavalet which isn't far from our Hotel. Again, I could not fully appreciate it, since everything was in French, but I had a fine time wandering around looking at the facilities. It is housed in a 16th century town house. I kept thinking of Calico Captive, one of my favorite books which is set in Quebec, Canada in the 1600s, and some of homes Marian Willard encountered must of been like this home.  '
Went back to the hotel via The Place Des Vosges, a square of lovely, symmetrical mansions built in the 17th century.  Very peaceful, looking very much locked in time.

My Beloved took a nap, and so was fresh and ready to attempt the Arc de Triomphe . We got very brave and took the bus, so we could see a bit more of the city. Again, like the Eiffel Tower it was BIG - much bigger than it looks in the pictures. I climbed all the way to the top - another killer spiral staircase but the view was worth it. Almost better than the Eiffel Tower since the streets around the Arch are like spokes of the wheel. Afterwards, we opted for a taxi back to the hotel and went down The  Champs Elysees, which was a major disappointed. McDonalds, The Gap, Virgin Records...Nothing but major American chains. Not at all French - a sad commentary on how the American brands are taking over the world.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Bring Out Your Dead

We communed with the dead today -all 6 million of them in the Catacombs under Montparnasse. They were moved from older cemetaries in the 1700s. Very eerie yet strangely peaceful. The Resistance operated out of them during WWII and it was easy to see why. They must go on for miles and miles; twisty, dark, shadowdy corridors, all lined with bones and skulls.
We wanted to go to the top of the tallest building- Tour Montparnasse (very much an ugly glass rectangle) but we got lost. Thus we had to hoof it to the catacombs before they closed.  It is, very easy I've discovered to get lost in Paris. There is no grid, the streets wiggle and twist and keep changing their names. The first couple of times it happened, I kept trying to figure out just where I'd made a wrong turn. However, that proved to be extremely futile and a great waste of time. Paris streets have much in common with a 12 step program, you just have to accept the fact that you will be confused & lost , figure out where you are and move on from there. And accept the interesting things you find along the way.

Also on the docket was a visit to Tea and Tattered Pages, an  English Language used bookstore, the BMW shop and Hein Gericke , My Beloved's Holy Grail of motorcycle clothing. She bought waterproof boots and is a happy camper.  Her Harley Boots, while long on style are very weak when it comes to keeping ones feet dry.

We'd hoped to explore another area of Paris tonight but age and aching knees have set in. In some ways, Paris is very much for the young!

Monday, July 05, 2004

Cultural Overload

Attempted The Louvre today, along with the entire population of Akron, Ohio and at least a goodly percentage of the population of Japan. In fact this would be an excellent time to visit Japan; since everyone who lives there appears to be in Paris. The tour guides were all very busy - they manage their brood by holding up umbrellas or a folded map and the group scrurries after them like well trained lemmings.  The Akron, Ohio contingent consisted mostly of high schoolers getting an obligatory dose of "culture" which most of them, given the amount of giggling and cell phone usage that went on did not appreciate at all. The males had a bovine air about them -- what with their slack jaws, semi open mouths, glazed eyes and constant gum chomping.  The girls all wore tight pants and crop tops, all the better to show off their belly button rings.

Everything and everyone said the Louvre was overwhelming and it is. It is an art maze, best experienced in very small doses. We concentrated on the Greek statuary. The rest will have to wait for another visit.

Besty and the Great World has a chapter set in Paris, so of course I had to do the pilgrimadge.  That meant a visit to Pont Neuf, where Henry IV showed Besty a way to reconnect with her Joe.
At the Louvre I insisted on viewing the statue of The Winged Victory - another Betsty Tacy tie in!  My Beloved was tolerant - of course it helped that I went with her to a cigar store!

Winged Victory (Betsy-Tacy Tie In) Posted by Hello

Henri IV - Betsy & The Great World - and Me! Posted by Hello

Henri IV (another BT Tie-In) Posted by Hello

The afternoon was spent on Medieval architecture - Norte Dame and Sainte-Chapelle. Stunning enough to make one consider converting, were it not for the position of the church on a few crucial issues. Gothic architecture is supposed to make one awe struck and inspired and it did just that. 

We were total tourists that evening - a dinner cruise on The Seine. Touristy or not, it was still great fun. One does not appreciate the bridges unless one sails under them. My favorite part was the return trip - the banks were lined with young people, talking, dancing, singing and romancing. It was like watching a floating floor show.   They all looked so young, carefree and love - and in Paris on a clear, cool July night, how else could they be?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Paris when it rains

We are in Paris, where I am coping not very well with a French Keyboard, which will make the spelling worse than usual. We arrived after an all day traintrip from Innsbruck.

Planning the Paris Trip Posted by Hello

Much French countryside - Impressionist paintings flying past the windows of the train;
Played hotel roulette but ended up in a much nicer one than planned- The Hotel Villa Beaumarchais.  
We are close to Bastille Square , in what's become a trendy part of Paris called The Marais.  There are lots of shops and resterants and it's more residential than tourist filled.  Luckly there is an internet cafe not far from the hotel - run by Koreans who speak little English but we're coping.

Today was chill day, kick back; sleep till 10 and recover day. We took a morning walk and found a market, complete with street preformers.  The food booths took my breath away.

Dancers at the French Market Posted by Hello Lana napped.   I took several long walks and figured out the French laundermat.  That was an adventure.  This city is everything everyone says it is and more: It is New York to the 10th power; even in the rain.

Magic, magic, magic