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Finding a New Obsession… or Two, or Three.

We move again.  This time from a hotel to another apartment.  It is also the day that my scene will be shot.  The day starts relatively early for us since there is quite a bit to be accomplished.  For now I lazily get out of bed and go down to the café for breakfast.  A sacred ritual that must not be set aside even in the most hectic of days.  Must not let a heavenly croissant and noisette wait long. I watch daily life pass us by as I sip and go over my lines mentally.  Paris, France, 20th arrondissement P1150632 Then it’s onward to finish packing, doing my hair and getting into a taxi to our next home.  We get one quickly.  On the way he tells us that the neighborhood we are staying at is very much a village within a city.  I’m liking the sound of that.  We have been given instructions to ring the bell of the apartment owner’s neighbor and that she will give us the key and let us in.  Filming starts at 1:00.  It’s 11:30 and no one answers the bell. I breathe in and try not to think that I still have to find my wardrobe (for the shoot) in the suitcase, iron it (after searching for the iron in a new place), get make-up ready, hair retouched and centered for the scene.  We text the guy.  We wait. I breathe. I entertain myself with the floor tiles which are old and I really like. Paris, France, floor, tiles He texts back from California where he lives. That amuses me. I’m in his place in Paris while he is in my hometown. He, on the other hand probably isn’t amused since I think it’s about 2:00 am for him when we text.  We ring her again and she finally answers.  So we go in, and my mad dash begins.  Clothes found.  Iron inexistent.  Ring neighbor. May we borrow your iron?  Check.  Iron.  Good that I don’t have to search for the adapter. Go over lines. Make-up done. Hair retouched. And is it a film wrap (end of filming)?  No. It barely has begun. We film. I grab my camera when they do the other actress’ close up.  La Pleuresse, Paris, France, filming, short film They shoot my close up and then it really is a wrap!

The next day I wake up to my usual calm self. I look out the bathroom window and see the usual windows with flower boxes that I so like to look at. Flowers, window, Paris, France Flowers, window, Paris, France

We are off to the Sacre Coeur but knowing us, there will be a lot side trips before destination.  Already after coming out of the metro metro, Paris, France, Sacre Couer I see so much to photograph.  An old car antique car, Le Progrés, Paris, France, street scene, cobblestones, café, Parisian bistro that seems to be positioned just right for people to capture it on film.  I find it amusing that it is parked next to a café that is called Le Progrés (progress).  Is it trying to say something to this antique car?  Would love to identify what kind of a car this is. This building caught my attention Building, Paris, France not so much by its architecture but because it was on the top of a steep street and would probably have the best views. I find the balcony architecture, Paris, France, building, balcony that I would like to look out of every morning (second after the deck from our beloved péniche, Soleil, on the Seine.) We are in Montmartre; I’m hungry.  Grant you, no relation of one thought to the other but in my mind there is, for as soon as I see a place to eat my pace quickens and ends up in this café, Le Carrousel, which has gotten terrible reviews but I found really good with great friendly service.  I do notice, as I am heading there this group of women that have stamped on their T-shirt my feelings about this city: “J’adore Paris!” t-shirts, Le Carrousel, Montmartre, Paris, France Once mydog, street scene, water fountain, Abbesses, Paris, France tummy is full sandwich, pizza, hot sandwich, salad, food, Parisian bistro, latte we continue our exploration of the area. I’m enjoying seeing bits of life happening around me.  A woman kneeling down to get water from a fountain for her dog. Abbesses, Paris, France, buildings  Streets so steep it seems that they are going right into other buildings. Signs that make me think and laugh internally.  Imagining a conversation that goes somewhat like this:  Hi! Where are you staying? At My Hotel in France. Really?  Which one? Just My Hotel in France. Oh?  You own one? hotel, Montmartre, Paris, France Buildings that keep on making me look up.  Paris, France, Montmartre  Then off to see a street, rue Cavallotti, that a friend had mentioned to me that when the shutters are down, art comes up.  P1180924_2  P1180927_2   P1180929 P1180930 P1180931_2  Aside from the shutters I look into the few stores that are not shutter closed.  I love the mannequin on the window of a vintage clothing store with the reflection of a building on the glass. vintage clothes, rue Cavallotti, open-air gallery  A Do Not Enter sign made cute by graffiti. P1180935 We walk on and bump into Le Moulin Rouge.  The plaza is teaming with tourist, tour buses, people in line to go in.  I would like to see a can can dance but the place is crazy expensive and we have already done something crazy at Les Jules Vernes so I content myself to look from the outside.  Loving the red car in front of the place matching with the Moulin.Les Moulins Rouge As usual I find a window to be amused by.  Window  We walk a bit more. Loving the ups, downs and curves. P1180957   P1180958 And enjoying seeing an old windmill on top of the restaurant Le Moulin de la Galette.  Wait, a windmill?  Yep, one of only two remaining from 1717 (from 14 originally).  windmill, 1717, Le Moulin de la Galette  Did you know about D.E. Inghelbrecht? He was a pretty famous self-taught composer and director and we pass the building he lived in where he also has a statue commemorating him. music, classical, French director, composer,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9sir%C3%A9-%C3%89mile_Inghelbrecht  We are starting the roundabout climb to the Sacre Coeur.  Le Consulat I have a feeling this restaurant has been photographed a lot.  I look up, as always, and photograph one of its windows. It has a flower and bull (symbol for Taurus which is my astrological sign). Window

Chat NoirHere is probably the most bought souvenir image Tournée du Chat Noir and just in case you have been wondering as to the history, as I was, click here. More windows.  Windows And please say it ain’t so… a Starbucks amongst all this? Starbucks  A gallery window to counteract. Gallery  Wall art of something I couldn’t possibly have in this town.  Wall Art, Montmartre, Paris, FranceAnd more wall art of something that rhymes with it, but could be closely linked to it in reality.  Repression often brings depression. Repression

I’m learning so much about people I didn’t know existed.  Now we see the house where Maurice Neumont, a lithographer and painter who made propaganda posters, died. And I am loving the door.  P1180985_2   P1180986_2

I may have a new obsession with street art.  P1180987 P1180991_2 P1180992 P1180990 P1180982

I try not to dilly dally though, because the Sacre Coeur is just ahead. Sacre Coeur  I go into the basilica remembering my mom. The view from up here has always been so magnificent. P1180999

Sacre Coeur

We eventually make our way down passing the carousel.  Frankly the view looking up isn’t half bad either! Sacre Coeur

P1190042  Sacre Coeur  Carousel Horses

I wonder if this guy ever gets tired of his view? His apartment faces the basilica.  Window

Well, time to go back home so we get on back into the streets, Street Scene into the metro, Anvers metro Anvers and are able to reach home with enough light to look out the window onto a garden in the sky that our neighboring penthouse has.  Garden in the Sky

I know I have said this before but I do love this town!!

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Categories: 18th Arrondissement, Abbesses, Anvers, Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Sensory Overload. Oh My! Wow! Ay, ay, ay!

Today I left with some sadness the apartment that we called home on Rue de la Liberté for the past 6 days.  But I must admit I am excited about our next abode: a houseboat on the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower on our backyard, or better said back river (Is there such a thing?).  I wait for my taxi and say my final good-byes to the street I am familiar with and the neighborhood I did not feel alien to.  Our 4 bags and I are alone on the cobblestone enclosure on the first floor.  I am to move to our houseboat alone and will be met afterwards at noon.  A few hours before a visual adventure that I will tell you about soon.

I have an address composed of only two words:  Port Debilly and a phone number to call the owner of the houseboat just in case the taxi driver does not know where it is.  I am happy that I have that because the driver did not know where I was going so called Jean and was directed how to get to the péniche (barge).

Jean greets me at the garden and helps me with the luggage.  I would not have been able to do it alone and am happy that he is there.  See the plank I have to cross to get to the boat.  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river,   I go in péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river,  to a boat with classical music on, a view that is to die for,  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river,  Eiffel Tower a living room that invites reading and marveling at Eiffel Tower, péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower flowers in the kitchen péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, galley, kitchen (or galley), péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, galley, kitchen  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower a porthole through which I still can see the Eiffel Tower, péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, porthole, galley, kitchen  and a bedroom péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, bedroom with a skylight so that when we open our eyes we can see the leaves of the weeping willow above us, péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, bedroom (and yes, I still get incredible views from here).

I want to share this and the only one available right now is Tutu so I sit him on a chair akin in color to his.  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, koala, antique chair  He complains he can’t see the tower so I place him on a table.  koala More complaints so I make him the captain and he seems to be happy!

péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, captain, Tutu, koala

I go out to encounter first hand one of the many tourist boats that will be gracing my back yard.  Most of the tourists are facing the tower but some are facing me and the boat and taking photographs.  What conversations will I be included in with a “How lucky is that Parisian to be where she is?”  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, Batteaux Mouches, tourist boats What I didn’t expect was two Parisians walking on the Ave. de New York 6th arrondissement, Paris, France, Rue de New York(the street above the dock) and as I look up, one saying to me:  “Madame, vous etes privilegie!” and pointing at the tower. Yes, I consider myself very, very lucky!  And if the Eiffel Tower view weren’t enough, the Sacre Cour is off at a distance.  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Cour  The Eiffel Tower, the weeping willow (the only one on the dock and the one that is in on the other side of the boat), and the deck.  Oh my!!! péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, weeping willow, boat deck, deck And then a surprise as I look to my left.  A young little cat that seems very much at home on this boat.  I have a feeling she will be another house guest while we are here.  péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, cat, kitty

Dean returns from the first shoot on his film and takes it all in quickly since we have reservations at the restaurant at the Eiffel Tower:  Le Jules Verne.  The day is only at its midpoint and I don’t know if I can take any more excitement!  But we head out there walking since it is only about a 10 minute walk.  Eiffel is even more impressive up front.  Paris, France, Eiffel Tower, 6th arrondissement  The entrance to Le Jules Verne péniche, Soleil, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, boat, Paris, France, quay, river, Eiffel Tower, Le Jules Verne, view, food, Parisian restaurant  where you get into a private elevator that catapults Le Jules Verne, Eiffel Tower, 6th arrondissement, Parisian restaurant, table with a view, Paris, France you to the second floor 213 meters up.  Paris, France, Le Jules Verne, Eiffel Tower, table with a view, food, Parisian restaurant,

The food was acceptable.  Le Jules Verne, Eiffel Tower, 6th arrondissement, Parisian restaurant, table with a view, steak, Paris, France The view beyond compare.  Le Jules Verne, Eiffel Tower, 6th arrondissement, Parisian restaurant, table with a view, Paris, France  We get some madeleines as a gift when we leave to go out to the viewing deck.  Le Jules Verne, Eiffel Tower, 6th arrondissement, Parisian restaurant, table with a view, Paris, France More amazing views.  Le Jules Verne, Eiffel Tower, 6th arrondissement, Parisian restaurant, table with a view, Paris, France

And we return to the boat with even more excitement on the way.  A wedding…6th arrondissement, Paris, France, wedding photo

A photo shoot (with a car as its protagonist). Car, antique car, photo shoot, 6th arrondissement, Paris, France  We make a side trip to buy stuff for dinner so we can sit on the deck and watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle.  We take the underpass, Paris, France, 6th arrondissementup some stairs, Stairs buy our stuff and later that night sit on the deck as the tower surprises us by being multicolor in honor of the South African season in France.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, colors, twinkle, night view of the tower, 6th arrondissement

I have to go to sleep now because I really don’t think my heart can take any more excitement.  Nighty, night!

Categories: 6th arrondissement, Eiffel Tower, France, Paris, Ramblings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Tus Ojos Son Mi Ventana!

Today, again Dean is off to help out a friend on his short.  But contrary to yesterday, for me it’s a day of play.  I intend to say good-bye to my neighborhood by visiting its many alleyways, villas – as the French call them.

cobblestones, Parisian apartment, door, entrance, mailbox, 19th arrondissement, Paris, FranceAs I leave I take a last recognizance look of the cobblestones and door I will cross only a few times more.  The cobblestones take me back to my hometown of Asunción where they are common.  I almost expect to see a horse carriage when I open the heavy wood door.

Quartier de la Mouzaia is a working class neighborhood (and I proved that yesterday with all the chores I did.) It was built between the end of the 19th and early 20th century.  Running down the hills (one where our apartment is located) are some twenty pedestrian street or villas.

Each has its own feel to it.

19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, villas, pedestrian street, Paris, France, cobblestone street, 19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, villas, pedestrian street, Paris, France, cobblestone street,    19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, villas, pedestrian street, Paris, France, cobblestone street,    Villa3    19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, villas, pedestrian street, Paris, France, cobblestone street,  I didn’t visit them all but did not tire of walking around.  Of course, there had to be one with a scooter as its emblem .  Villa

Red brick is predominant on the houses 19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, Paris, France, red brick, lavender, window, door, building  but, as the villas, each has its own unique character. And you see burst of colors which in previous walks I had not noticed.  19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, Paris, France, door   19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, Paris, France, window, door, pink façade, pink building  19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, Paris, France, window, door, blue and green façade, building

And then there is a surprise graffiti that is in Spanish!  Tus Ojos Son Mi Ventana, 19th arrondissement, Quartier de la Mouzaia, Paris, France, window, graffiti

I have yet to visit my local park Parc des Buttes Chaumont and if I don’t do it today I have a feeling I won’t do it at all so I go to the metro Botzaris metro, 19th arrondissement, Botzaris, Paris underground, subway, Paris, France where love is in the air and enter the park from a side street.  Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France, park  Boxing, or tai bo, in the open air may be fun.  Parc des Buttes Chaumont, tai bo, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France, park But a bite to eat at the park’s entrance may be a better idea. Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France, park  Maybe some sunbathing after that. Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France, park  While enjoying the view. Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France, park  Going to ignore vandalism in this oasis.  Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France, park

As I leave a see a vendor with maté by his side.  I automatically assume that he is either Argentinian, Uruguayan or Paraguayan so I ask him in Spanish where he is from and it turns out he is French but lived in South America for a year and adopted maté as his drink of choice.  It is a small world!

Getting late and I’m meeting Dean at a station Metroat the other side of town so I go back home passing another villa (alleyway / path) where a cat makes sure I understand this is his villa.  19th arrondissement, Quartier de Mouzaia, Paris, France, villa  19th arrondissement, Paris, France, Quartier de Mouzaia, cat, cobblestone street

I notice that my front door also provides that burst of color that the Quartier is known for.  19th arrondissement, Quartier Mouzaia, Paris, France, door, red door And I photograph the inner courtyard. 12 Rue de la Liberté, Paris, France, Quartier Mouzaia, courtyard, windows, Paris, France Everything seems to have character here.  Even a window with clothes drying.  12 Rue de la Liberté, Paris, France, Quartier Mouzaia, courtyard, windows, Paris, France

I get to Portes de Vanves metro, Paris, France– and I must say I am very proud of myself for getting there on time after two transfers on the metro – (Everyone who knows me knows that I have zero, zilch, no sense of orientation so this was a feat for me!)where we are checking out another possible shoot location.  The market of Antique and Old Books.  Portes de Vanves, book market, antique books, Paris, France   Portes de Vanves, Paris, France, books, antique book fair  Another window I like.  window, Paris, France  Back to our neck of the woods to have a great Vietnamese meal at Chez Kim.  Chez Kim, 19th arrondissement, Paris, France

And enjoy our last sunset in this part of town.  19th arrondissement, 12 Rue de la Liberté, sunset, window

Sunset

Wait till I take you to where we are moving to tomorrow!!!!

Categories: 19th arrondissement, Botzaris, France, Marché du livres ancien et d'occasion, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Paris, Ramblings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Scouting in Paris

Today starts late again (I will stop pointing this out or you are going to think I always wake up late).  We are here to film a short and today we are going to meet and have a table read of sorts with Dean’s lead actress, Lydie Melki.  We meet her at the 16th Arrondissement where she lives and I immediately see her as “Sophie” who she will portray.  Casting long distance has its shortcoming but it seems that she will be a perfect fit. We chat, we read, we shoot the breeze, and we make the acquaintance of Buster, her Greek mix-breed.  dog, rescue, mix-breed, cuteness  Get ready for doggie picture overload.  dog, rescue, cuteness, mix-breed  dog, mix-breed, cuteness Buster4

We need to do some scouting and she needs to walk Buster so we leave to later reunite for dinner.  It will be 7:00 pm when we do so.  She is a bit surprised at the “early” dinner time.  I smile remembering 9:00 pm dinners in South America.  Parisians are more used to eating at 8:00 or 9:00 pm.  Most restaurants don’t even open before 7:00. We are looking for a bridge that gives off a sense of romance or longing.  We don’t quite find it but I get some cool shots.  One, of the Eiffel Tower with the Statue of Liberty (in a reduced size) in front of it.  The Statue was given by the Americans around 1888.  Originally it gave its back to New York and upon request by the Americans was repositioned and now faces the same direction the one in New York does. mini Statue of Liberty, Paris, France, Eiffel Tower, 16th Arrondissement, bridge, River Seine  Here are some other shots.  Not many, since in the next posts you will be seeing a lot of it.  Eiffe  Eiffel Tower, 16th Arrondissement, River Seine, Paris, France  Eiffel Tower, 16th Arrondissement, River Seine, Paris, France

We go to a restaurant Terrace Mirabeau, Chef Pierre Negrevergne, Pierre Négrevergne, food, great food, Paris restaurant she recommends: The Terrace Mirabeau, manned by Chef Pierre Négrevergne which is there and comes to our table.  We are seated, after all, in the best little corner of the place.  Food is absolutely fantastic!  Everything was above average.  As a grand finale, Dean has a trio of sorbets that, at least up to now, are the very best I have ever had. The Terrace Mirabeau, sorbets, dessert, 16th arrondissement I have a desert that looks like a hot dog – Paris-Bestes – (probably spelled wrong) that achieves making me stop talking altogether so as to enjoy it to the fullest. Paris, Paris-Bestes, The Terrace Mirabeau, 16th arrondissement, dessert Silence that comes as a good break since I have been struggling with my French but managed to have Lydie understand me and manage to translate a few things to Dean.  Fortunately she speaks some English too.

It started to pour so when we part we decide to go straight into the subway and home.

Tomorrow more scouting at Pere Lachaise, going to check out the houseboat we are moving to, more of the Eiffel Tower and just walking the streets of Paris.

Come with me.  I promise we will have fun!

Categories: 16th Arrondissement, Eiffel Tower, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

I Have an Eye on London and a Golden Ticket

After the rainy and cold two days we have had, I firmly believe we are due for a wonderfully sunny day.  Do they exist in London?  Yes! They do.  Though the cold has not left, the  morning shows no clouds with the sun actually out.

The hotel is on Queens Gate which leads to the Queens Gate entrance to Hyde Park. only half a block away.  Queens Gate, Hyde Park, London

I have grown used to the the red double-deck buses but this old one in a gray that reminds me of and Airstream makes me smile widely. Double-decker bus, London, England

Destination today will be Portobello Road Portobello Road, London, England where there is a world famous market on Saturdays and Sundays. Portobello Market, Portobello Road, London, England

It gives me a bit of nostalgia to see all the antiques. Antique market, Portobello Road, London, England  Antiques, Portobello Road, Portobello Market, London, England I used to have an antique store and I found much joy in discovering treasures to sell.  Today I am not a buyer.  I am one of the thousands who visit from all over to listen to music, to browse and, if lucky enough to get good weather, to enjoy the sun that so rarely comes out.  bicycle, mews, London, England

Back on the bus double-decker bus, London, England because again the weather rules our steps and there is not day better than to visit the London Eye.   First Big Ben welcomes us.  Big Ben, London, England Big, bold, beautiful, regal, imposing and so very iconically London. Big Ben, London, England

There are seas of yellows and red everywhere.   Two German soccer teams are playing the final game in London today.  You see them all over catching the sights before the game.

German soccer team

 And here is the London Eye.  London Eye, ferris wheel, London, England  A huge ferris wheel where I will put my fear of heights to rest so as to be able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of this city.

First, a look back at old Big Ben.  Big Ben

And after the tickets are bought an hour wait before going to the line (cue in Brit English) so a walk around, seeing performers perform and kids and adults enjoy, is to be.  Street performers, bubbles, London, England

The London Eye has little space-like capsules London Eye in which it takes you up to give you an incredibly wonderful view of the city.  Vertigo does not hit me at all.  The capsule is stable and they don’t pack too many people in London Eye  so no claustrophobia either.  It’s a well run machine.  Don’t think that even Disney could do better.  And now I will quiet so you can savor the view.

But first, let me introduce the competitor of the Eye:  The Shard.London Eye, The Shard  And now I really am going to let you enjoy the view. P1170106

Hey, they are higher than me for now!  London Eye capsule   London Eye, London Eye view, London

London Eye  Big Ben from London Eye  London Eye  Back into the tube (Westminster Station) and to a very industrial feel.  Westminster Station

All sorts of transportation are used today.

I am now going to hold my breath, make a wish, count to three and be a child again.  I want to view paradise so I will simply look around and view it.  Does chocolate give away were I will be next?

I present my Golden Ticket Willy Wonka,  at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  Royal Drury Lane Theater, Charlie and the Cocolate Factory  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Magic it was.  So well staged and engrossing .  Funny, sweet and the vessel through which I regress to a time where only a few things matter.

Dinner at an Italian restaurant -continuing our Italy themed English vacation- and headed back to The Gore where a warm four-poster bed will cocoon me until morning.

Tomorrow will be epic so please come with me.   Would love to share.

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Being a Child Again

Today we start off late.  We walk around the neighborhood, which has Fulham as the closest underground, and head off to Covent Gardens.  My pancita (belly for all you non-Spanish speaking peoples) is kind of grumbling so I must go to the closest eatery before I get cranky and unbearable to deal with.  First, however, we take a look around.Covent Gardens, London

 

And then literally dive into the first restaurant we find which happens to be an Italian one.  Bella Italia. BellaItalia1  Bella Italia, Italian restaurant, Covent Gardens, London  Food was excellent.  My salmon delicious. Dean’s spaghetti bolognese as well.

So now with pancita llena (full belly) we venture off to explore Covent Gardens.   There are all sorts of performers around.  People that look like statues, musicians, street musicians, street performers, Covent Gardens, Londonclowns, and Charlie Chaplin.  Charlie Chaplin, Covent Gardens, street performers, London    I’m liking this area.  It’s thriving.  Paella -which I am sure is cooked purely for my delight in the biggest paella pan I’ve seen. paella, Covent Gardens, London  Full of life and craziness. Business mixed with tourism.  Work and play cohabitating somewhat harmoniously.  Covent Gardens, London

 

Taxis (London cabs) waiting to whisk those that can’t handle it away.  London Cabs, taxis, Covent Gardens, London   London cabs, taxis, Covent Gardens, London

Theater is next!  How I love it.  Today I will be a child again.  Matilda is on the itinerary.  We go towards the West End where it is showing.  The Broadway equivalent of London.   Love the area.  WestEnd  West End, London, Matilda, theater district

 

Yay!

Matilda

 

I really think it clever how they have the directions to the seats and the cast written in chalk.  Stalls is the equivalent of orchestra in the States and that’s where we are headed.Matilda, theater, London, theater district, West End

The theater is smaller than expected which makes it quite cozy.  Matilda, London, theater, theater district, West End

We leave refreshed.  Matilda started slow and then was just perfect.  Left a smile on my face.  Walking around the area at night is fun.  Bicycle, West End, London   And what is London without Agatha Christie?  Agatha Christie, London, West End

But it’s unseasonably cold so a stop at a café is in order.  And since we are in the Italian theme a pseudo Italian café is in our path.  café, Caffe Concerto, West End, London, theater districtcafé, London, West End, Caffe Concerto

 

Back to the underground Underground, tube, London, Leicester Square metro   underground, tube, London metro, London  London, underground, metro, tube, Leicester Square metro   where even the locals are tired. 🙂  Earl's Court, London, underground, London tube, tube, metro

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Feel like I Just Won an Oscar!

versatile-blogger-award

My first nomination ever and now I understand how those Golden Globe and Oscar nominees feel… it’s an honor to be nominated.

I couldn’t possibly beat Mary-Ann’s Snoopy jig – done twice – upon being nominated so I won’t even try.  A heartfelt thank you to her for having a blog that I delight in following, Not the Family Business and for being generous in passing on the hug with this award.   Though along with it comes all the guilt because I have not kept up with it as I should. It makes me feel a bit less guilty though that those who don’t know me have a bit of info/photos/reflection to be had in the pages already written.  However, this will spur me into action to bring it up to date!

So I am now supposed to share 7 random things about myself.   Hmmm, where do I start when I already feel I have shared so much?

1) Versatile.  The definition describes me quite well.  I grew up in 10 different countries because my father worked for the United Nations and relocated every 2-4 years.  Had I not been versatile I would not have been able to survive the first day in a new school or in a new country with new languages and cultures.

2) I am an only child.

3) Though my “official” profession is actor I have a huge passion for photography, painting, writing and traveling.  All of which I must, must do.

4) I can’t live without music whether it be the one in my soul and heart or the one one I hear.  (That makes me sound kind of kooky, doesn’t it?)

Happy5) I love to smile and I do so often for I am grateful for so much!  (Does this count as two?)

Bike / Amsterdam6) I don’t know how to ride a bike.  Don’t judge me.  Balloon over Bagan And I’m terrified of heights.  (Yes, this definitely counts as two.)

7)  When I was awarded this my first thought was: “Oh my, I’m in the middle of moving I don’t have time for a post!” and now I can’t be happier that I’m doing it or that someone thought me worthy of it.

Blogs That I Follow

The Write Transition  Her writing is hilarious and she always makes me laugh.  She has a book out that isn’t funny just really entertaining.

The Yum Yum Foodie  What can I say.  He loves to eat and travel and has great tips for both.

Scott’s Perspectives   I like his perspective and he lives in Thailand.  Think I want to retire in Chiang Mai.

Wanderlustress  She does it all and she lives in one of my favorite places in the world.

Where’s Phil  He has a plan… and photos that bring out the wonder in common scenes.

Beyond the Brush   She likes photography and painting.  My kind of gal.

Soul Dipper  Because she truly has a good soul.

Along the Way  I like the fresh outlook she brings to her trips.

When Life Clicks  Johanna’s photography is innovative and fun.

Paths Unwritten  He has a degree in writing and anthropology and doesn’t know what to do with them.

Gallivance  Like their traveling and the origin of their blog name.

And of course, Not the Family Business

So there it is.  And so it goes.

Myanmar

Categories: Uncategorized, Versatile Blogger Award | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The End… and Hopefully, a Lucky 13!

I wake up to two lovely little kitties.  A cup of tea. Relaxing morning.  A day of no hurries and hopefully no worries.

KittyMy co-guide is hard at work at surveying the possible places to go in the vicinity.  He finds Multnomah Falls in the Colville Indian Reservation.   It is a 30-40 each way side trip but I think it is going to be worth it.  Piper surveys our bags, we give her a last hug, pet Phineas as well and off we go.

Baby Blue is hesitant.  No more snow or ice, right? I hope not. And so we go. It is cold but not brutally so. The mountains and the falls are waiting.  I think I would have liked to have explored more of Portland but am looking forward to being in one place for a while.  As we get close to Multnomah there is a spot that many are parking.  Wakheena Falls InfoIt’s Wahkeena Falls Wakheena Falls  and if they are smaller than Multnomah Falls I really am looking forward to those!  The Falls We decide to hike up to see them close up.  Path up  Nature provides us with such beautiful intricate forms. Tree Swirl The sound from the falls is thunderous. Thunder Noise  Water Thunder

Though it doesn’t need to scream for its power to be understood, it does so anyway.  We have zigzagged up quite high. Dean Photographer Dean stops for a photo, I continue on to a little side road that leads to nowhere but provides me with a sense of quietude which almost overpowers the coldness that has creeped inside my bones.

Quietude  Nature provides us with ice sculptures.

Ice Sculpture  Ice Cascade  Fern covered in Ice

Moss WallWe could continue around but another 3 miles in unisom with the cold is a symphony I do not wish to play so back from where we came from it is.  Return Path  There is a bench up ahead where I sit and think of sliding back down…  Falls Up Ahead briefly… until I think of what a block of ice I would become.  I am most thankful that my heavy breathing (panting, really) is muffled by the sounds of gallons of water streaming down.  Wakheena Falls  Streaming Down  Wakheena Falls

We get to the car, put the heat on full blast and go the few minutes to Multnomah Falls.  Multnomah Falls  The visitor center is really quite quaint and the falls are impressive indeed. P1140304

Multnomah Falls  P1140311Magnificently upright, 611 feet up. According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princes who wanted a hidden place to bathe.  Loving the bridge in the middle.  We walk up to it, cross it, get a bit wet, and head down once again.  Seattle -5 hours and 40 minutes away- is next.

We arrive in Seattle well into the night, tired but happy to be where we will set camp for 11 days.  We are technically not in Seattle.  We are in Bellevue, WA about 40 min. away by car.  A friend has so graciously and generously lent us her home while they are away.

I awake to Dec. 30 a day away from the end of the year and I can’t believe that a year has passed so fast. It has undoubtedly been one of the best I have had.  An assessment will follow.  Too much to ponder and be thankful for.  Enough for another blog in itself.   Today we go to an outlet mall.  We do some shopping but most stores are closed.  It’s Sunday and they have closed early.  I manage to be more flustered at the wheel than ever and miss more exits than I thought humanly possible.  We have dinner at Outback Steakhouse (definitely an Aussie theme these days) and go home and chill (though the chill is outside).

On the 31st there is no doubt that we are going to spend it around the Space Needle observing the fireworks.  We dress in layers.  Thermals, long sleeves, sweater and coats.  Oh, and gloves, scarves, beanies, and a small backpack to store layers that we put on and off. I know that I don’t want to drive so we go to Redmond -where the bus stop is and only 3 minutes away from us- smack in the middle of Microsoft “campus” as someone said. The 454 takes us to Pike and 5th St. and where it drops us is exactly where the monorail s that takes us to the Space Needle. We get there and go into the Armory at Seattle Center were I delight in a miniature train village set up in the middle of it all. Don’t think that there is a kid in us that is not fascinated by trains.  Train Village

Horses and Trains

Horses and Trains

Train Village

Always Wanted a Tree House!

Always Wanted a Tree House!

We then go into the lobby of the EMP Museum (Experience Music Project).   What caught my attention was the Frank Gehry building it is housed in.  Just incredibly unique and beautiful.   EMP Museum   EMP Museum  EMP MuseumToday is a bit grey but in the sunshine this building must glisten.  The photos don’t really do it justice. It reflect the Space Needle, competes with it and distorts it.  EMP vs. Space Needle  EMP vs. Space Needle

Time and Temperature  It’s still relatively early and there are no crowds and since we are hungry we walk to Pikes Market.  On our way we pass Top Pot Doughnuts, an institution in Seattle.  Top Pot Doughnuts  We make a beeline towards it only to find that they have sold out on the doughnuts.

Pikes Market  We arrive at Pikes Market.  I love markets anywhere in the world.  This one is not so huge but bustling.  It’s a mix of arts/craft fair, fish market, vegetable, flower market waterside.   Pikes Market  Pikes Market

There is lots to look at aside from the horizon.

Can you spot the real bird?  Bird, Fence, Sunset

Rings nature creates on wood.P1140391 Carvings that man creates on wood.  Totem Pole

Bird surveying his territory.Bird in Sunset

The sun is setting and it is beautiful.    Pikes Market  Pikes Market  Sunsent on Pikes Market  Pikes Market

We go inside and have our last meal of the year (or what we thought was going to be our last meal) at a cafe at waterside.  A salmon bisque, a clam chowder, crab cakes and a chocolate bundt cake.

P1140410

Clam Chower, Salmon Bisque, Crab Cakes  Chocolate Bundt Cake

Back on the monorail and the Seattle Center.  We first stop at the Skating Rink. Seattle Center Skating Rink  The Armory is filled.  The outside not so much.  It is cold, very cold.  Two Californians sitting next to us are saying how unused to this weather they are.  So am I.  But then the fireworks start and all is forgotten.  Here is a link to the video.  Here’s a link to the second part (with the finale) which is sideways, not because I laid down but because I had the brilliant idea of changing the camera angle thinking that I could fix it later… I couldn’t.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!  Thank you for being an important part of mine!

May 2013 be the best yet!

Categories: EMP Museum, Multnomah Falls, Oregon, Pikes Market, Seattle, Seattle Armory, Seattle Center, Seattle Space Needle, Uncategorized, Wahkeena Falls, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Xin Chao

I wake to an almost eerie sunrise, tinting the haze in an orange-red color becoming a grainy photograph in my mind and on my lens.  Laos has been special.  Unexpectedly so, beautifully so, and my heart sinks a little as I put my bag out the door for it to be picked up.  But I am missing my name written on my ID tag in Vietnamese and Cambodian, so the journey continues.  Besides, in Vietnam I have a familiar face of a friend waiting.  It will be nice to catch up and hear about his life as a local.

We will experience flying a new airline for us: Vietnam Airlines.       Just right to get us in the Vietnam mood.  Somehow, Robin William’s voice as he says “Good-morning Vietnaaaaam” doesn’t seem to get out of my head.  Our flight is delayed an hour which allows me some time for coffee which comes in a heart-shaped cup. I add the local paper and some Thai music on my headphones.  I close my eyes for a moment and think of how enriched I am by all the experiences I’ve had so far.   The silly grin surfaces on my face once again.

 As we arrive, it surprises me that the airport is not very congested.  Sufficient immigration officials for all of us so we spread out, almost one to a line.  “Paraguay?” mine asks inquisitively.  “Yes”, I smile.  I am used to this interaction.  Happens in every country.  Sometimes they chat about it, sometimes they have to look it up on their list to actually confirm that such country exists.  Here I get a scowl.  Alone?  No, with tour.  Where?  To Myanmar, Thailand…  NO!  Where tour?  Oh, they cleared immigration already.  I get a shrug from him.  From?  Laos   Another shrug.  Ticket?  Uh, which ticket?  Next to??  Oh, here’s my itinerary.  By bus to Cambodia next.  I’ll make it short for you guys… In total I got (in about 10 minutes) around 7 shrugs, numerous scowls, a request to produce my alien card from the US, and when he ran out of questions and reasons to question my visa he just stared at me scowling and I at him, still smiling.  He still has my passport.  My mind was wondering what next and my heart at this point was racing, racing to nowhere but exerting itself nonetheless.  GO!, he says and I enter Vietnam as I see my guide coming back for me.   Turns out that all the nastiness could have been avoided had I slipped a few bucks.  Or then again, I could have ended up in jail trying to bribe a public official.  I wasn’t going to take any chances.

It’s mid-afternoon on a Saturday in Ho Chi Minh.   The city seems to be on speed. The sounds of motorbike engines punctuated by horns, people talking loudly and my gasps, as I see more than one unsafe driving condition and near    miss, are not melding together well at all.       

It’s Bangkok craziness times three.   We are instructed that when we get off the bus, if we cross the street we should not stop in the middle, not walk back, not run.   Supposedly they will skirt us if we just walk calmly. If I raise my hand, as in Bangkok, will they stop?  Giggle.  Nope, but you can raise both arms in signal of defeat says my guide.  Ay, ay, ay!

We go to the Ming Phuong lacquer factory.  They give us a fan upon arrival that I will use throughout the rest of the trip.  The process of lacquering is so time consuming and involves so many steps that I now understand why it is so expensive. So much patience involved.  This woman is breaking the duck eggs to apply on one of the steps.  These men are varnishing, seemingly unaffected by the fumes that emanate from the pool.  And, yes, two of them are smoking away as they work.  The result is astounding on some of the pieces.  

I buy two small items.   Little old me, who never buys anything on vacation, must have had a crash course ‘cause my suitcase is getting mighty heavy!

Next we head towards the Notre-Dame Basilica in the center of the city.  For the record, I don’t think I’m in France, there happens to be one in Saigon that was built in 1877.  It is pretty though not that impressive when compared to the European cathedrals.     

We turn around I see a vendor.  Like the colors.  Snap a photo.  

Remember April 29, 1975?  On April 30 Saigon fell and the reunification of Vietnam into a Communist state began.  This marked the end of the Vietnam War.  On April 29 the CIA personnel was evacuated from the top of the CIA building.  A famous photo by Hilbert Van Es captures the moment for posterity.   We are staring at that building now.  The actual building will be demolished in a week’s time to give way to a new development.        

We have to cross the street to the Central Post Office.  We live to tell the tale. The building is beautiful. Inside as well.

Guess whose portrait overlooks it all?  

On the side are phone booths with world city clocks on top.  

I immediately spot California. 

As we again cross the street to the bus (and survive) I hear that Amarjit has had her camera stolen in less than a few seconds.  We are all heartbroken.  She had all the photos of the trip in the one SD card that was in it.

We go to the hotel.  The group will have dinner there.  I was going to call my friend but no need.  His girlfriend and he are in the lobby waiting for my arrival.  I take a quick shower and go to dinner with them.  I leave my camera or I would share photos.  Tried a soda, lime and sugar concoction that I loved and my first Vietnamese-style soup, which was great.  We eat outdoors.  It’s really crowded and I am reminded that it’s a Saturday night.  The evening is still young and we (actually they) decide that we should go dancing at The Sheraton where there is a live band.  Haven’t danced in years and made up for it tonight!  Haven’t gone to bed this late in a long time either.  The cab tries to charge me much more than what he told them he would.  Hey, I’m good at this by now and give him only what was arranged and open the door to the lobby at 2:00 am.

Feeling young all over again.  Let’s see if I still feel like that tomorrow.

Hello! (Xin Chao) I have my name in Vietnamese now.  Does that make me a local?  

Categories: Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, Uncategorized, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Kob Chai Lai Lai

I am a bit disoriented.  Where am I?  Oh yes, Vientiane, Laos.  It is the capital and its largest city.  Sabaidee@Laos hotel (I promise to have a Review Page on all soon.) I had left the curtains open before I went to sleep and am rewarded with a pretty cool sunrise.  It is still dark.  I grab my camera from my bedside table and snap away as it gets lighter.   

I get up and notice that I have not unpacked yet.  I wonder why and go about doing so.  As I hum a song to myself and go into the shower I realize that I am feeling absolutely, completely well.  Was I really sick yesterday?  Was it a nightmare?  Did I imagine it all?  Definitely not!  My imagination is pretty developed but for good.  Never would have I imagined being so sick.  The main thing is that I am well and ready to go.  Later on I would consult with a doctor friend and he said it was most certainly a case of mild food poisoning, otherwise I would not have recovered in 24 hours.  I wouldn’t call it mild but it is now forgotten. Down to kow sao (breakfast  in Lao). I go with a smile on and a “goooooood morniiiiiing” to all.  It is so nice to find some of the group in the restaurant, remarking that it was good to see the old me come back.

We are taking a tour of the city.   Laos gained its independence from France in 1949.  Vientiane certainly has a “Frenchness” to it.   We pass by the Presidential Palace , which is not open to the public and only used for formal ceremonies, on our way to Ho Phra Keo “Hall of the Emerald Buddha”.  It was there that the Emerald Buddha, taken from Chiang Mai, had its home until King Rama I, repossessed it and took it back to Thailand.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t figure out whether to point my camera at the flowers…

Or at the Buddhas around the museum.   One in my favorite pose of “stop the war, make peace”   

Another in a pose –and attitude- I should adopt:  walking meditation  

In any position (or mudras as they are called) these Buddhas are beautiful.  This one is in the Bhumisparsha mudra symbolizing the enlightenment of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. 

Or at the Nagas  (mythical serpents, protectors and guardians of treasures) flanking the steps going in. 

 We continue to Wat Sri Saket, home of 6,840 Buddhas.  Some in little niches.  Fascinating to see so many in one place.  

Really sad to see the storage room of the ones damaged in the war.  

But the surroundings are also worth exploring.  This is where I find a Smiling/Happy Buddha.  The story –according to our guide- goes that Buddha was so handsome that many where those he attracted while meditating.  To avoid interruptions he transformed himself into a plumper and less attractive version and therefore happily gained solitude for his meditation.  Looking it up it seems it may have other versions but the constant is that the parasol is for protection. 

Our trip leader finds a nest in a tree, of what is a delicacy in Thailand and Laos:  ants.  He points and pokes at it.      And the ants get angry.  

Then they are really, really mad.     So we leave them alone!

Next is That Luang stupa, said to contain remains of Lord Buddha.  It is impressive.  

The day is brutally hot, there is no shade at all and I can barely stand it, so head back to the bus.  Snapping photos on my way back.

It’s hot even for the monks! 

This building is a Monk’s Center.  The streetlights look very French to me. 

Off we go to Patuxai or Victory Gate.  It was built to commemorate those who fought in the independence from France.  At first sight it is a copy of L’Arc du Triomphe in France and when I ask our guide if he doesn’t find that fact ironic he doesn’t seem to believe so.  It is, however, decorated with mythological Buddhist half female, half bird figurines (kinnari) which makes it quite Laotian on inspection.     

Other details also make uniquely Laotian.    And as I climb steps up to the top on each level there is a mini shopping mall of Lao crafts and souvenirs as well as architectural details that continue reinforcing the Laotian side of this monument.       

The view from above.   

From there, the rest of the afternoon and night is on our own.  I decide to have a mani/pedi since it’s on our way to our hotel.  Will be my first in Southeast Asia.  Unfortunately, though the ambiance was unique the service was not the best.    My feet are happy campers anyway for the little TLC I have provided them.  Little do they know that in the afternoon I will join our guide and some of the group for a walk on Vientiane’s boardwalk and will make them work all over again.

The boardwalk is a surprise.  I am finding that in laid back Vientiane there is much more to see and do than I expected.  Again I wish that I knew how to ride a bike.  Though even as it gets darker the heat is quite oppressive.    
King Anouvong overlooks all this activity.      Giving his back to the “new” aerobics craze and the free class that is held in open air behind him.  
Which I decide to join… for less than a minute. 

I have a feeling he wouldn’t approve of this girl’s attire, an American flag printed on her shirt.  

Alongside freestanding exercise equipment stands this banyan tree, completely ignored by most.  I just stand in front of it awed by its intricacy (and dutifully avoiding –due to highly allergic reaction to exercise- even looking at the exercise machines in front of it 🙂 

At night I join part of the group to eat a pizza, of all things, at a French restaurant in Laos.  Kinda weird, huh?

We leave Vientane, and Laos, tomorrow morning.  I, once again, will be leaving part of my heart.  The Lao people have an acceptance of all things ingrained in them by their religion.  Acceptance… something I should add to my vocabulary and to my life.    Kob chai lai lai (thank you much) Laos for giving me a life lesson.

What will Vietnam (our next destination) teach me?

 

 

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Laos, Uncategorized, Vientiane | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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