A Day Late of the Day of Thanks

P1400031 (1)I am grateful for, as Violeta Parra’s song “Gracias a La Vida” says: Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto. Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco. (Thanks to life, which has given me so much. It gave me two beams of light, that when opened, can perfectly distinguish black from white). P1090656

20171123_113241   I am grateful for my legs with which I have walked, gotten lost, discovered and have found my way again.

I am grateful to have led a life that has been enriched by many cultures.

I am fortunate to have traveled to many corners of our globe and been able to immerse myself in other people’s worlds.P1170385

So fortunate to have never lost that child in me that marvels at everything she encounters.   20170608_083434

P1000255To have the ability to link words to relay what I feel and see, has given me such joy, for it creates an avenue in which others can share in my experiences. I wish that with them I’ve been able to weave a shawl in which my readers can cocoon themselves, if only for a brief time, from anything that may ail them.

I am grateful that with the passage of time I have learned to accept myself with all flaws and that though I don’t always like them -seldom in fact- I have learned that if you wish me to be better or different, you should not accompany me in this journey called life. That if you cannot accept my dark days you then don’t deserve to share my good ones. Guess that means that I have learned to love myself and am extremely fortunate, that when I did not, I have had friends that have loved me more than I was capable of at the time.

I so very much treasure that hug, that call, that post, the shared coffee/drink/meal which has saved me in more ways than one. LoveHence I am grateful for your presence in my life, no matter how brief. It has left a mark and taught me much. No real way to thank those who lent me their hand, their ear, their warmth on a more permanent way.

I am grateful to have accepted and dealt with the storms along the way and to have been able to enjoy the clarity that inevitably follows.  P1260629 (2)

I am grateful that I am having a hard time condensing the list of that which I am grateful for and that they far outweigh the bad.

I am grateful to be. I hope that I have, even in the slightest of ways, graced your list of what you are thankful for.20171123_112505

What are you grateful for?

 

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About last night…

I get home and play with Viola and Falstaff, my fur-babies niece and nephew, for a while. I stop, make sure their cat flap is on lockdown, put on the alarm and head out. Nothing out of the ordinary. Going to get a bite to eat and come back.

I have a bloody mary and fries at Zinqué which satisfies my nostalgia for France since I think the owner is French and it is spoken all around me, but it leaves me feeling guilty for the calories I inhaled. So I walk for a bit.

I am walking away from the house towards the beach, where I walk every day, with no intention of actually reaching the beach. Ah, but I look up and the allure of a sky that predicts a truly glorious sunset cannot be ignored. 20170801_195348

So I go, already feeling the sand between my toes.

There is some hesitation in my step for I won’t be able to share this one with anyone. 20170801_194918All hesitation vanishes when I direct my sight to this sky with its fading light, and color show. 20170801_195601   20170801_195135_001Tonight the sky is all mine. And the embrace I receive is from life itself reassuring me that all will be alright. 20170801_195408

My mind and body slow down and I take it all in. Though I’ll never be a beach bum, a beach girl I am. Fitting, for it is Yemanyá, the goddess of the sea and moon, who is my mother orishá.

A reminder to write along the way.  20170801_200152  20170801_200139

 

 

And another that my gender rocks.

 

And another…. 20170801_200237 (1)

 

And I reach home content.

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A Face in a Pasadena Hop

I have learned to live with myself and my aloneness. I even like it. Yet, on this Sunday brunch day –my ears on sound overload with the cacophony of adult laughter and little kids’ high pitched voices infused with an enthusiasm only they can muster in whine and wonder– the word “alone” acquires a connotation I dislike.

I sense a weird stillness next to me. I turn my head as much as I can, trying to not be too conspicuous. Her head is bent slightly. Her short, jet-black hair pulled back with a slickness no gel could possibly achieve. A headband placed there for pure adornment, for no strand moves. She looks sprung out of one of those Japanese anime. Her food is lined up in front of her: brioche toast floating in a lake of maple syrup, followed by a plate of scrambled eggs, and a little further a bowl of fresh fruit, and coffee, on the far edge of the table, too far for her to reach. She picks up her fork and starts playing with her scrambled eggs. Not a bit of it reaching her mouth. She shakes her head slightly and turns it towards me. Though fascinated, I turn mine away.

From the corner of my eye I see her shove the brioche plate away from her, placing it to facilitate its removal by the waitress. She brings the scrambled eggs plate closer to her, still playing with it. She takes a bite.

My food arrives and I salt it, spilling some of it on the table. I gather the spillage in a little mound, take a pinch of it and, in a move I hope nobody notices, I flick it over my left shoulder. The myth is that if you spill salt it’s bad luck and if you throw it over your left shoulder, where the devil supposedly waits, you will blind him and thwart his evil ways. I’m not superstitious but just in case… I feel a stare and meet her eyes. My behavior probably as strange to her as hers is to mine. She is blazingly staring at me but there is no life in her eyes. I doubt she actually even sees me.

She returns to her eggs and moves it to where she had left her now gone brioche plate. Seems like it all is perfectly choreographed. She brings the fruit bowl closer. Lowering her head she lets it meet her hands and cups it for a moment. I’m not sure if she’s praying or mourning. Picking up her fork she puts piece by piece into her mouth in an almost frenzied pace. And then she stops. Breathes. Lifts herself up a bit from her chair, reaches for her probably now cold coffee and holding it in two hands she takes little sips until there is no more.

At this point I make no attempt to make believe I’m not staring. She doesn’t seem to mind, care or acknowledge me.

Our checks arrive at the same time. I asked for mine. Hers just seemed to magically appear. Our change came in unison as well and I become part of this dance she has choreographed. Fitting that the only two lone diners were placed side by side.

As I am mentally thanking her for entertaining me through my breakfast she looks up as we exit and gives me one of the most disconsolate smiles that I have ever seen. It seems that her alone is not as welcomed or accepted as mine. It saddens me.

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Journeying and journaling on…

As those who have read me before know, I write because I love to share or, perhaps, I share simply because I love to write. However, I have been going through a bout of writer’s block. An article that I have promised my editor of www.better-lemons.com and the people I interviewed for it, remains unfinished. I grew tired of my computer screen mocking me with its blankness and decided, camera in hand, to take a walk. I am hoping this will guide me back to my keyboard and to getting things written.P1380796

Today I don’t feel like driving (unusual for me), so Baby Bright, aka: my Prius will remain parked in front of the house. Besides, I do not want to deal with having to find a parking spot.P1380685 Not that I ever do, but neither do I want to take a bus P1380681 and since I am lucky enough to temporarily reside in Venice, where the best way to really get around is on foot, I head out.

I would have missed a lot of fun images this neighborhood has to offer if I were not walking, like these circus-worthy bikes parked in front of a nondescript house.P1380683

Right from the start a smile finds its way to my face as I read a few license plates.

The first one also gives me a pang of nostalgia, reminding me of my Baby Blue, my previous Prius and a bond with it that I will never have with another. But back to Venice… This is a town of unabashed self-promotion, self-confidence and righteousness. Where most are a size 2 (or 4, at the most) which I will never be again which takes me, as I walk, on to the edge of that badland of doubtful self-esteem.

It is also a giving town,  P1380686 (So polite as well, the small sign says “Hello and Good Day! Please…) inclusive of all, P1380687 artful P1380693(There are hardly any blank walls, most have murals on it, some advertising something, others just leading you to a zen place and others expressing social justice.),

P1380788  P1380791  20170104_150015

with a real sense of humor P1380698and one that cares for its fauna. P1380697  P1380725 P1380726

P1380774 I have entered the Venice Canals,  P1380715 an area of Venice that I love. P1380732I am very much aware that due to my lack of sense of orientation, it is also an area that I may get lost in. I won’t mind though, for there’s a tranquility here that takes me to my quiet place. Quite an accomplishment since I tend to be a chatterbox.

Right off the bat there’s a “Yes indeed!” in my head as I read a sign.  P1380696

More than focusing on the canals themselves,

where swans become boats on steroids, P1380700 P1380735or just a canvas for reflections of palm tress,

I delight myself on the pop of color provided by the fact that it’s spring and flowers are blooming P1380705 P1380722 P1380716 P1380729 P1380721

Even the boats are trying to match them. P1380704

This little plant would be a perfect little Christmas tree P1380741 that would go really well with this deck that seems to have a bit of seasonal identity problem. P1380723

I love that on the canals an open space becomes a place to advertise creatively your art. This one certainly managed to catch my attention and I did go to this artists’ sites once home. P1380733 An abandoned post on the same lot also an opportunity to display art. P1380734

I enjoy the quirkiness of some canal facing decks. P1380702

Here, minimalist modern architecture and make-believe old new construction still live side by side with the old bungalows though there are fewer and fewer around since it’s an area where houses for sale start at 1.5 million and where one sold last year for 5.5 million.

All display some sort of art and my eyes stop at each façade searching for it.

This bridge reminds me that I live in a city where sets are common for this one IS a facade that in true LA mode sports an inspirational/positive quote of “No regrets. No bad days.”

Two hours later I manage to leave heading towards the busier part of Venice. First a walk on the pier. I really enjoy piers.

A brief look at the sea. P1380770 How does the saying go? A couple that surfs together stays together?  P1380758 Maybe not.P1380767

And then off to find a place to eat as I get more inspiration from store windows.P1380745 Reminders that, yes, I’m still in LA.  P1380772

Reflections that further remind me that I am in Venice.

And then… Thailand. P1380779 P1380781

I find a place that has an outdoor patio, a cheap lunch and that makes me want to be back in Asia even after this most enjoyable morning.

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On my way back home my eyes don’t rest and fill my brain with images I can’t disregard. I love blue.

I again smile for in this town the garbage cans/bins are not only multi-lingual but a perfect place for art. P1380744 P1380789

Where a convenience stores looks like it’s still in construction from afar until you get closer and see that’s the way it was painted. P1380798 And where a lone street sunflower reminds me that one should always look up and you will shine.

At the door… thanks for coming along.

P1380793

 

 

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Letting Go and Feeling Naked Once Again…

Two years ago I wrote a blog, On Feeling Naked…, that revealed more of me than I really wanted to.   A lot has happened since.  This post, is a bit of a continuation on a tradition that I started back then.    It won’t deal with travel, Travel as most of you are used to from me, and neither will it have photos that may delight or appeal.  It won’t be long, or at least I don’t mean it for it to be so.  It’s a bit of a stream of consciousness so I perfectly understand if you – just about now – decide to leave.  Monks, kids, leaving

 

I twist it around my finger.  It is loose.  I slowly, very slowly start sliding it off.  My movement is fluid but comes to an abrupt halt as it reaches the nail bed.  Wedding Band, Gold Band I twist the band once again, close my eyes and, in one swift move, slide it into my right hand gripping it and surrounding it.  Three years ago my movements were reversed and I was sliding my mom’s wedding band on.  It took me almost two years  to be able to take it off.   I lost track of where it was after that and assumed I lost it.  In the first days of January of this year it surfaced unexpectedly.  I took it as a sign and decided that I would wear the simple gold band the first two months of the year as a tribute to the union that gave birth to me and made me who I am. Both my parents passed in 2010.  My mom in January and my father in February.  Today, the last day of February, it is time to take it off once again.

Pouting  I hate goodbyes. Goodbye Looking back a few years, it seems that I have been bidding farewell to so very much.  To places.  To life as I know it.  To sentimental bonds.  Every one of those separations, be they physical or emotional has brought me a greeting of some sort that has made me happy, Happy changed me and enriched me but I still am not fond of them.

The band is still ensconced in my hand.   I open my fist and am certain that I will not wear it again.  This time I must really let go.  The song from Disney’s Frozen, Let It Go, comes to mind and am grateful that it does,: for one line says: “Let it go, let it go and I’ll rise like the break of dawn…”

You will always be with me Mom and Dad MaandPa and I will forever be grateful for so much that you have given me.  You can let go of my hand now.  I need to take the rest of the journey alone.  I'll Be Fine

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Fog Guides Me Back to What I Love

It suddenly gets dark in my home office and as I glance out my window I see… nothing.  An afternoon fog has cloaked the beach and the pier and has made them invisible.  I’ve been yearning for a reason to stop doing what I should be doing and haven’t started doing so in a move I have not done in a long time, I reach for my camera, get my iPod and head out without a second thought.

fishermen, pier, Long Beach, Belmont Veterans Memorial PierAs I walk out to the pier the fog is still thick but it doesn’t stop the fishermen from going to their usual spot.

The lifeguards wouldn’t be able to see much if they were at their post.

Lifeguards, Long Beach, fog, beach

The Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in Long Beach is home to homeless, to fishermen, to seagulls, pelicans (and many other, unidentified by me, species), tourists, photographers and more.pier, Long Beach, fog

But I am interested in what happens below it so I take the path downwards.  Where the fog does not seem to interrupt daily activities.

 

pier, beach, Long Beach, fog    Long Beach, fog, pedestrian path, bike path

I don’t follow the path.  I go under the pier. pier, Long Beach, fog, beach, sand  pier, Long Beach, beach, fog

First I look across, fog, Long Beach, sand delaying what I am sure will delight my camera and myself.  And it indeed does  Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog   Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fogBelmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

Am I somewhere else?  I must look back and check.   Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

And once I’m sure I am not lost I once again enter trancelike state. Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fogBelmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog  Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

But my beach is being invaded…  Long Beach, beach, fog

So I look the other way.  Long Beach, beach, fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

To a spot of the beach where birds can play (or fight).   Long Beach, beach, fog, birds

Stare…  Long Beach, beach, fog  Where love is present and blind.  Long Beach, beach, fog, love

Where a congregation is not unruly.Long Beach, beach, fog

Well, maybe just a tad…Long Beach, beach, fog, birds

Where people come to de-stress…Long Beach, beach, fog

Or ignore the waves and the beach altogether…Long Beach, beach, fog

Where unfortunately, man leaves his tracks…Long Beach, beach, fog

Where a father and son bond in daily exercise and share their path with seagulls…Long Beach, beach, fog, runners, father and son   Long Beach, beach, fog

Long Beach, beach, fog, pier I go back to the magnet that the pier has turned out to be for my camera.  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  On my way there these flowers on their last breath stop me in my tracks.  Is it an offering to Iemanjá, the Queen of the Ocean, in Brazilian culture?  Long Beach, beach, fog, flowers, offering  Long Beach, beach, fog   So much to photograph I don’t seem to be able to still my mind or my steps.  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  So I go up the pier to where I started.  Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

 

 

Where I am reminded that I really haven’t been traveling at all.  Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

 

 

Long Beach, beach, fog, pierLong Beach, beach, fog, pier

Long Beach, beach, fog, pier   Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

But somehow I do feel as if I have taken a short trip and as I leave the pier I feel recharged and ready to tackle what I had procrastinated in doing.  Pier  Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

Maybe…

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the Key, Need to Get Back to the Rugby Game

St. Malo (or maybe it was just the mussels) has induced me into a sense of complete restfulness.  The day has been jam-packed with visual stimulation, emotional contentment, exercise and it has made me a bit tired.  I am longing for quietness and time spent relaxing doing nothing.

We have made a reservation at a farmhouse not far from St. Malo.  I am so craving the remoteness of it all, though I am a bit apprehensive as to how to get to it.  The owner has given us what seems to be an address.  FarmhouseOur GPS seems quite confused but we head in that direction and… do not find it.  We are on roads where only farmland sees us go and come and go and come back again.  GPS has given up on us and and we on her.  Farmland I text the owner in French on our French sim card/phone (so glad we have one) and he answers “My dear, not an address.  It’s the name of the farm.”  So on our way we see another farmhouse with people outside.  I get out and ask and they in turn ask me “Ah, you are the Australians that are going to stay at Dominque’s?” Yes… I mean no. Where is the farm? Don’t know how, but we reach it thanks to the actual Aussie at the wheel and guidance from above.

I am immediately in love.  Garden The farmhouse attached to the main house is rustic but just exactly where I want to be.  P1190798  The owner and an English-speaking friend are outside to greet us. P1190789A little fox terrier that can’t be dirtier and smellier if he tried is coming down the road.  Dominique introduces us to him. It’s the neighbor’s dog that comes to sleep with him to keep him company.  We are invited into Dominique’s home where he gives us a proud grand tour.  He has built it all by himself.  Even his Japanese garden is designed and planted by him.  P1190808The dog is trembling and I ask if he is cold.  No.  He has Parkinson.  A pang of remembrance of my mom and her disease hits me.  Is this a sign of some sort? My heart skips and I do not refuse the dog when he cuddles up to me, no matter how badly he smells.   We have tea.  We learn about my host.  I am charmed.  He has escaped the rat race after years with a company as their graphic artist.  He also suffered a devastating loss.  This is how he copes.  His visiting friend is building a cabin on the property and easing himself into farm life; he’s a commercial director.

His neighboring farm has cows.  We make their acquaintance.       P1190792  P1190793It’s almost 10 pm and it’s only now getting dark.  Magical hour is here…the sun is going down.

P1190795We settle in for the night.   The bedroom is on the second floor and quirky and fun.  To go up you open a “door” that is technically on the floor.  P1190805  And the bedroom has a lamp made by the owner (as most of the farmhouse).  P1190800  With a typewriter that reminds me that I write. P1190801 And a window P1190803 that looks out to the garden and the cows, and  the pasture and… I’m going to bed now.

P1190817We wake to fresh croissants, bread, a bottle of milk and tea at our doorstep.    I bring them into the kitchen.  P1190799  And go out, still in my pj’s. P1190836 How liberating is that? P1190810 P1190809

We are leaving today and I just want to enjoy every single moment of this peaceful feeling this farmhouse gives me.

I visit the cows and they are more curious about me than I of them.  I am thankful for the electric fence that separates us!

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 I’m enjoying the outdoors so very much.  But we must go back in. I look to the side and back and everything, just everything give me this ahhhh feeling. P1190842 (1)  P1190843 (1)  P1190864

I go to the room and pack. P1190838 As I go downstairs at the doorway are two sets of rubber boots!  P1190873 Dominique is outside and he tells me that the boots are just in case we want to take a stroll in the back.  The weeds are overgrown and it may be wet so he brought us boots.  Since I am not going to take him up on this offer he takes me around his garden.  P1190870 P1190878 I so want to stay but we are continuing on today to Cap Frehel and Fort La Latte.  We say our good-byes.

At the Cap we find two lighthouses.  One, built in 1950 you can climb.  P1190880 (1)

P1190881 (1)  We do that and are rewarded with beautiful views.  P1190890 (1)  P1190885 (1) P1190886 P1190887 (1)

P1190899 (1) From here we can also see the smaller one constructed in 1685.

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On the way down the 145 steps I wonder why I didn’t make use of this chair when I was going up!  P1190903 (1)

P1190906 (1) We walk the surrounding area.  P1190908 (1)

   It’s windy but I am thoroughly enjoying this walk.  P1190917 (1)  P1190918 (1)  P1190931 (1)

The water is crystal clear in places.

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A school group listens their teacher intensely.  I imagine none have vertigo since they are pretty close to the cliff. P1190986 (1)

We go towards where the car is parked to then drive to Fort La Latte.  P1190990 (1)  P1190992 (1)    P1200001 (1)

Forts of all kinds as well as walled cities fascinate me.  Something comforting about a place that protects itself from the outside world attracts me.  I choose to not think of the reason why a wall and such strong edifices are needed in the first place.  The approach to the fort is almost soothing.  You pass the caretaker’s home and continue down the path to the fort.  P1200002 (1)  P1200004 (1)  And here it is.  P1200010 (1)  We enter through a drawbridge.  And as soon as we do there are cannons and other instruments of war/protection.  P1200014 (1)  This is a bricoleP1200017 (1)  The water is crystal clear here too.  P1200031 (1)  The vegetation is so pretty.  P1200040 (1)  P1200038 (1)

And the view from one of the towers is exquisite.

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Once on the ground these daisies along the fence do a lot to keep a smile on my face.

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And I just loved this mailbox on a house on our way to the car. P1200088 (1)   We drive and encounter Brittany’s idea of rush hour!  P1200090 (1)

We have made a reservation at a hotel in Sene:  Chambres D’Hotes Villa Sahara.  When we arrive it looks more like a house than a hotel.  Parking lot empty.  Note on door:  “If you arrive please call this number and someone will be here soon.”  We had paid through a website already so I call the number.  Yes, her son will be there soon.  He arrives and hurriedly opens the door, tells us he needs to go back to the rugby game.  Shows us the room and gives us the key.  Oh, and we are the only guests so we can consider the place ours.  So we own a B&B for a night.  🙂 P1200098 (1)  P1200096 (1) P1200095 (1)  The key ring that he gave us even has an “L” on it.  P1200100 (1)  In the morning we wake up to people coming in to make us breakfast and promptly leaving just to return before we leave onto our next destination!

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An Archangel Burns a Hole in a Skull and Malo Isn’t really Bad at All

The morning was uneventful which is okay by me since the rest of the  day (and this post) is going to be jam-packed with visual delight.

We are renting (“hiring” in Aussie and Brit talk) a car and heading out to the coast.  Our first stop will be Mont Saint Michel.  I’m a bit nervous about the drive.  French drivers are really good but drive at lightning speeds.  Fortunately I won’t be driving.  Dean has bought a GPS for our journey so we won’t be getting lost either.  We don’t have much of a route set up. We are traveling, as always, waiting where the winds – in this case the wheels – will take us.  I like it that way though at times setting up good accommodations requires a bit of knowing our itinerary ahead of time.

I cross the street to buy some croissants and milk and coffee for the road. And we are off.

It’s a two-hour ride to Mont Saint Michel and it just flies by.  Before we know it we are approaching the very familiar site of Mont Saint Michel.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island As we get closer the little spots I see in the distance turn into munching cows that concentrate solely on eating and disregard the island behind them.  They create a perfect photo-op that I can’t let pass by.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island, cows  We park the Renault (which curiously enough has not been named by us) and take a shuttle bus Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, bienvenue, bienvenidos that takes us closer to the entrance and then walk to the island which is linked by a causeway, which makes it technically not an island any more.  A fact that does not deter from its beauty and impressiveness.Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  There’s a medieval town on the mount with its expected winds and turns and narrowness.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, medieval town  The hoards of tourists remind me that this has been, through the ages, one of the top pilgrimage sites for Christians.  The abundance of souvenir shops Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, souvenirs lining the quaint (and exercise inducing) steep streets may make you forget that this place has much history, dating from when years didn’t have four numbers.  It also has a peculiar history.  It is said that before the abbey that’s on it was built in the 8th century, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church. Seems that Aubert ignored the archangel so Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger.  The abbey was built afterwards.  First there is a little chapel we visit.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, chapel  And then onwards towards the abbey. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, souvenirs  The abbey is built on the islet’s top point so it’s a bit of a climb. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, church  It has a gothic feel to it.  The church Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island is more austere Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, church than any of the other churches we have visited but if it doesn’t quite match the beauty of the others it holds its own by just where it is situated.   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island   Before heading back in I am fascinated by how large the seagulls Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds are around here. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds  And how privileged they are to fly so high and have such an amazing place to land.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel  Once my eyes get unglued from the birds and the view, my imagination takes flight.  I can almost see the robed monks going from one side of the abbey to the other through this bridge.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, bridge  And going about their chores around water source which has the largest faucet I’ve ever seen.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, water, faucet  We go back inside to explore how the monks lived.  I like the simplicity and solidness of it all.   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  As usual, I am distracted by a window with a soft view of the outside.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, window, stained glass  But I concentrate on my steps in the inside for it is dark and a gentleman going down the steps has fallen.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, hallway

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, Archangel Michael, psychopomp, archangel   I encounter the Archangel Michael in the basement.  He is a plaster replica of the one that is on top of the spire and he is the one I mentioned earlier who burned a hole in the bishop’s skull.  I certainly would do as ordered!  He is also a psychopomp – which I wouldn’t mention except for the fact that the name made me giggle – though the responsibilities of one are quite serious.  He leads the dead and weighs souls (didn’t know souls had weight) on the day of judgment and is often presented with a balance in the scenes of the Last Judgment. I would definitely want this guy on my side!!

It isn’t a sunny day but it almost enhances the feeling of going back in time.  The view, with the tides low around the mount, is a bit surreal.

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel  Another unique feature of Mont Saint Michel is that the bay around it has the highest tidal variations in all of Europe.  At low tide the Mont is surrounded by sand.  At high tide the water comes in at an astonishing speed, compared to a galloping horse.  In fact, Wikitravel has a warning that says that it is not unheard of for tourists to die after being cut-off by the tide if not crossing through the causeway.  It must be quite a sight but we didn’t stay for we were headed to Saint Malo.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides I, quite the contrarian, have to look up as we are going down.  A door caught my attention and reminded me that this place was also used as a prison.  What a history!  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, door  As we descend the many steps we pass The Mere Poulard which cooks its famous mega omelettes on an open fire.  I was sorry I wasn’t hungry enough to eat there.  They looked really good, served in a really great setting.  But I am glad I didn’t for the reviews on yelp were pretty bad and at 28 to 60 Euros an omelette it would have been quite disappointing to not have an extraordinary meal.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, La Mere Poulard, omelettes, restaurant  One look back.Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island, causeway

And we leave.  Mont Saint Michel, car park, Normandy, France  The Renault is waiting for us.  Mont Saint Michel, car park, Normandy, France  We have already paid for our ticket so Saint Malo here we come!

Saint Malo was recommended by a travel group I belong to, The Travelzine.  They said the walled city was lively and a good base to explore the area. We are not staying there (more on that later) but I am fascinated by walled cities and we figured it would be a good place to have dinner before we on to the farm.  We enter the narrow streets of the walled town and are at a loss to where to park.  A delivery van is blocking the street in front of us so I get out and ask him where to park.  He tells me to follow him and takes us to a municipal parking lot (car park for my Aussie and Brit readers) right next to the water and marina.  We cross the street to the city itself entering it through the Saint Thomas Gate.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  We are rewarded with beautiful views as we climb the steps to walk the wall that surrounds the city.

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

I’ll just be quiet now, for the view captivates me and hopefully captivates you as well.

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Malo.  Malo in Spanish means “bad” or “mean”.  This “malo” is good!!!

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled cityThere’s a lookout point that has a telescope which points into the direction of areas I have some connection with.  The Falklands (Malvinas to the Argentinians and from where a lot of my friends are).Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Rio de Janeiro, where I lived for 4 years. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Quebec, where two children of a family I considered my own live, one of them who I taught to drive.

A pool on the side of the sea that reminds me of Australia, a country I have learned to love because of who I love.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  It’s not that warm outside but there are people enjoying it, diving from the board.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city The city was not only walled but well protected. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  I loved the city but later Brittany locals (the region the town is located in) would tell me that they consider it a “sad” town mainly due to its history and the fact that it is walled in.

Hunger strikes me and Dean knows me well enough to get me into a restaurant fast before I get cranky. 🙂 So we dive into Le Lion D’Or.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, restaurant in Saint Malo, I’m glad we did cause it had great reviews on Tripadvisor and I would add mine to them.  I had a really great huge plate of mussels that was delicious though the mussels were small and could not compare in size to the Tasmanian mussels a friend and I had at the Sydney fish market, though they were matched in taste. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, restaurant in Saint Malo, The city is on the coast after all so I was counting on good seafood.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, marina, boats

Once we retrieve the car we are on our way to another real adventure… which I will tell you all about tomorrow!

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A Market That Was Not, And Everything Else That Was

I’m going to the market. Not a mentionable fact except that the owner texted us saying that Place des Lices is a well-known market. People come from all over the area to it.  I am one that loves markets so, needless to say, I am not missing this one.  Dean is.  I head out alone.  It’s Sunday and the streets are deserted.   Almost seems set up for me to enjoy this town through my lens.

P1190471

P1190472 Here comes the blue door deluge.  One I had not photographed the day before. P1190473

 I reach Place des Lices in no time at all but find it as deserted as the streets. P1190474  I peek in and in fact the installation is there but no people around. P1190475  I walk back and I see a couple with produce and baguettes protruding out of their bags and I ask them if they know about Place des Lices and they tell me that the market was on Saturday.  I resign myself but also am grateful that it wasn’t on for there would have been hoards of people. This way, I got to enjoy the streets calmly.

At the turn of the corner I am reminded of my hometown.  P1190501

P1190498I roam around a bit and see that Saint-Pierre Cathedral is opened. In reality there is a sign that says it is closed between 11 and 2 today but the door is open and I go in.  Turns out it is closed for the public but open for mass. It’s only me and I’m pretty quiet so I tiptoe in.  Right after me comes a Russian tour group.  The leader seems unaware or doesn’t care about the fact that there is a mass going on and talks loudly to his group of around twenty.  I cringe.  But I am also technically ignoring the rules so I move around.

The inside of the church is being repaired.  At the very end the congregations prays.  P1190477

If a cathedral has a life of its own, this one is not trying to impress but does. It is dark and uses much wood in its decor. It almost imposes introspection and demands you to stay and pray. I don’t but walk as close to the altar as I can without disturbing the congregation.  P1190481  On the side aisles (I am sure there is a proper word for the passageways on each side) there’s darkness from the paneling and I get this desire to just sit and close my eyes.  P1190485  The stained glass is beautiful though it is not the main attraction in here.  P1190482  P1190489

Before I leave I pass a little altar.   The name of Lourdes catches my attention.  My parents and I visited  Our Lady of Lourdes when I was around 6, footage that I recently saw. I don’t quite understand what it says but I have the urge to light four candles here to the Virgin.  2 for my mom and dad and 2 for Dean’s Nan and mum.  I am sure that they are looking down, protecting us as we go.   P1190490  P1190491

As I leave, I take a last glance – as I usually do. P1190478

I continue my exploration.  This wall is not pretty but anything that was built between the late Third Century and early Fourth Century has to have my respects even if the expensive and expansive wall that surrounded the city was soon to be found almost useless.

 P1190499    P1190500

P1190505  Wall art / graffiti again reminds me of Los Angeles.

  And what would this blog be without a little more on blue doors?  P1190506

This little tabby cat comes up to me and follows me as I reach the main plaza once again.  He gives up after a block.  P1190508

P1190502I reach home and am greeted with a nice cuppa (cup of tea).  Dean leaves to get a GPS for tomorrow we are renting a car for the next portion of our trip.  First stop is Mont St. Michel.

I am left to explore our home. This place we got through airbnb (I know I am sounding like an ad but it has afforded us some incredible opportunities to stay at wonderful places and meet such interesting people) is certainly not the most luxurious P1190512 though it is quite large and has really good vibes.  The bathroom is fun.  You have to go through a saloon-type door to take a shower. P1190511 Inside a sign that says its wombat crossing. 🙂 The owner has a lot of knick-knacks from Southeast Asia June 16 and that already makes him way cool in my book.  He also has tons of books some of the greats in Spanish literature. And how not love a place that has antiques P1190520 P1190518 that remind me of my little store and one which Tutu has claimed for his perch. P1190514 He is pretty stubborn just like this collectible bull which is my astrological sign. P1190524  Outside there is a kiddie park P1190525 that is for exclusive use of the building we are in, and on the other side is the park we visited yesterday.  In the middle some city work building and I catch a worker taking a break.  P1190528

I would cover the same ground I did this morning again, for when Dean returns we go out to dinner.  We settle in an Indian restaurant P1150654 where I have a vegetarian dish of spinach.  P1150658 It was delicious.  We chat at length about the town with our Nepalese waiter.  He tells us how he came to Paris first and is now in Rennes.  How there isn’t much to do but he loves it here.  I may have to agree with that!!

As Walter Conkrite would say: “And that’s the way it is.”  Good-night.

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A Blue Day :)

We arrive in Rennes.  The apartment owner, an IT guy for public television there, meets us, gives us the key and we crash.  Train travel just seems to tire us much. We barely have enough energy to go to the local Carrefour to buy some essentials (directions given by the sweetest old lady carrying a bag of groceries).  Wish I could have photographed her.  Her smile just illuminated an otherwise plain face that has not weathered the passing years well. Her bent over body by the weight of the bundle and the crushing force of years on her shoulder generously stopped to guide us. A good omen.

We sleep.  We wake. After almost four weeks in Paris (with some side trips) it is kind of odd to be in another city. The day is beautiful and there is just no excuse not to go off and explore.

There is a park right next to us and it seems to be an oasis, a place of peace.  It is. As soon as I enter I notice this wall of climbing roses that is really beautiful.P1190370  P1190369 P1190368  I’m liking this Parc Hamelin Oberthür P1190378 quite a bit.  Would you believe this is their community center?  P1190372  P1190373 One heck of a buildingP1190377  I direct my attention to a game that is being played and that I absolutely have never seen before.  Just blocks of wood involved here. P1190375 Does anyone know what it is? I didn’t want to interrupt the players and ask. Now I am regretting not doing so.

I should have warned you but I have acquired a new obsession which is blue doors. So you will see a lot of them. Please just resign yourself to it. 🙂  P1190381  This town, as many others, has a Rue de Paris – where we currently reside. Something like Main Street in the United States or 10th Street (my GPS could always find one in every city and state.) I wonder how Daisy (my GPS has a name) is doing. This one caught my attention because it is blue but primarily because the graffiti turned into little hearts.  P1190382  I warned you, so here is another blue door along with windows to match. P1190386 I cross the street to photograph a garden by it.  That balcony up there seems just perfect to have some cheese, a baguette and wine at.   P1190390  This single family home stands out. P1190391 The front gate made of iron and flanked by beautiful yellow roses, my mom’s favorite.  P1190394  So toughtful of this town to place another sign so that I won’t get lost. This one is so French and almost Parisian in its white and black design. P1190398  Another beautiful home. P1190399 This is also a standard in France.  Rent-a-bikes.  First half hour is free and then you pay a nominal fee.  Wish I knew how to ride.  I can hear you snickering… please stop. I have a balance problem that never allowed me to learn. Really. P1190402

I think it’s a blue themed day; this car made everyone turn their heads.  P1190403  P1190408  Yep, definitely a blue day.  This is the door to the municipal pool.  How cool is that?

And of course the sky is as blue as it gets.   P1190413  We walk on and it makes me laugh to see this signage.  I thought Los Angeles parking signs were complicated! P1190416  We enter the street and it turns out to be such a wonderful surprise. P1190417

But first, another blue door.P1190421  The little cobblestone street we are on is super narrow and it’s not pedestrian only so it becomes a tango dance between cars, scooter, people, and café signs.  All careful to not kick each other in a misstep. In fact, Dean needs to move this sign, as we sit in our chosen bistro, so that this car could go through. P1190426  The meal is fantastic.  I have a salmon salad and a fried fish.  Just ultra yummy.  No guilt, for by now I have lost any feeble attempt I may have made on this trip of continuing to keep a healthy, low-caloric diet. P1190429 P1190431 Once well fed we carry on to discover some more.  P1190433  And discover we do.  A little festival of sorts P1190452 where farm animals and their babies are brought so that children and adults can see them.  Also there are fresh, organic, farm offerings of eggs, meats, jams, and breads as well as crepes and sorbets, but we have eaten so we pass by rapidly.

This little piggy went to market…. Remember the children’s rhyme done on their toes?

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These are La Limousine cows. Original from Limousin and not the ones you can ride on. 🙂

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These are examples of La Blonde D’Aquitaine.  P1190447 P1190448

We continue on.  What?  P1190455 And topple onto the most wonderful circle of buildings that I am smitten with.    P1190456

We enter an ice cream place that is all natural.  Sounds good.  And oh my gosh, was it!!!  Probably the best I’ve had on this trip.   P1190460   P1190459  I am loving the view of the plaza as well. P1190461 On home we go.  P1190464  As we walk a little balloon is floating in the air. We turn into children and play volleyball with it for a while.  Can’t show you photos because I was way too busy having fun!  This square signals that our street is not so far away.  P1190467

And I can’t resist but bring you another blue door before I close mine to sleep. P1190470

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