The Getaway Paris Day Three

The original plan was to go to Bruges on Thursday March 30 but due to the train strikes on the Thalys line to Brussels our itinerary was cancelled. So we shuffled our schedule to visit a museum and the Catacombs instead and use the weekend for the two day trips.

Friday March 31 arrived with two main events on the agenda. Instead of the huge and endless Lourve Museum Rachel and I opted for the more intimate Musee de L’Orangerie which houses the impressionist and post impressionist artists like Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau and Sisley. We had purchased bus tour tickets to Giverny for Sunday April 2 on Thursday so this museum was a nice warm up to the Giverny road trip. Now I’m not really a museum person when I travel. I like to wander around outside exploring the architecture and artistry of the city. But I hadn’t been to Musee de L’Orangerie before and since it houses the largest Monet lily pads paintings I liked the symmetry. The Musee de L’Orangerie is located near the Place de la Concorde and easily accessible by metro. Again the photos speak for themselves and I started taking brief videos to capture the feel of the exhibits. The museum isn’t cramped and has a cute gift shop to browse in as well.

At 1:30 pm Rachel and I made our way to the Catacombs located at Place Denfert Rochereau metro station. I took video inside and this labyrinthine underground network of tunnels is fascinating and ferociously beautiful for its intricacies and indelible depth of human remains literally and figuratively speaking. When we emerged at the exit I exhaled and looked to be sky for gratitude if you know what I mean.

In the evening we ate at a Lebanese restaurant called Falafel Cafe which was outstanding. Lot of food and great atmosphere capped the day off just poignantly. Parisian restaurants generally don’t start dinner service until 7 pm ( 1900 hr) which for me is late. I recently read both Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin don’t eat any food past 4 pm so I wonder how they would survive in Paris?!

When we got back to our hotel room Swan Lake ballet was on the television so I watched it until the last curtain call because I was wide awake. The whole day filled my senses with excitement and exhilaration from the sensuousness of Monet’s water lilies to the barren darkness of the Catacombs. Light and darkness seemed to be the order of the day.

Modern architecture meets impressionistic past
Monet in its glory
One can sit on a sofa bench and gaze
Accompanying video better exemplifies

My mood this winter 😁
Family is the zenith
Overthinking is underrated 😊
Le Dance!
In Bleu too
The electricity of the color palette
In the queue for the Catacombs
Highlight of my day
Extremely narrow staircase down
Dampness is palpable
Graffiti everywhere 😢

The fascination and horror
Piles everywhere
Our favorite metro stop
Thank you!
Steampunk inspired
On our way to dinner

Free fallin!
Sculpture extraordinaire
Great color choice
Street art at Falafel Cafe
Scrumptious dinner

Friday was a jam packed day so we tried to sleep although I had insomnia and jet lag still. More on that later. Our two day trips were next…

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

The Getaway Paris Day Two

Confession time: I neither really tried to learn French nor did I properly research the places we were going to visit in Paris. My guidebook of France was dated 2013 last time I was in France. My game plan was to go with the flow and see how we felt each day and what the weather was going to look like. I had packed for seasonal weather and ended up overpacking a tad.

So on Thursday March 30 Rachel and I decided to walk around starting with a glance at Notre Dame which was under construction still from the fire of April 15,2019. We couldn’t get too close because there were barricades encompassing the basilica. We then passed by the Shakespeare and Company bookstore which is in the 5th arrondissement founded by George Whitman in 1951 and houses aspiring writers. We then tried to get tickets for Saint Chappelle but the lines were a bit long so we stopped for coffee/tea and a loo break instead.

We then took a stroll around Luxembourg Gardens a bit. Then walked to Les Jardins Botaniques. The gardens around Paris are well manicured and maintained even for late March. There is no entrance fee and we saw many people leisurely walking around or lunching there. I’m sure in the summer these gardens are crawling wall to wall with people so I am truly grateful that Rachel and I could mooch around in solitude. Too many crowds of people makes me anxious not in a Covid sense either.

In the evening we ate at a Moroccan restaurant L’Homme Bleu where I had Tajine Iham Lahlou. After dinner we stopped at a bakery to buy some dessert. We capped the night by watching an episode of The Mentalist in English which I had never seen but will soon watch the entire series.

A lot of walking around made me realize how extremely out of shape I am. As the pictures illustrate I took more nature views than ones of myself. Thus far I fell in love with Paris all over again and we still had three days left.

Notre Dame under construction

As close as we could get
That sky ❤️
The smallest building in Paris up close

I managed not to lose these earrings
Ultra cool
Ode to la Armitage
Tres chic!
Love those dragons
Flower power
Very tranquil
Viva Le resistance!
That reflection is da bomb!
We both love flowers and gardens
Sky did all the talking
Very well manicured
Tucked away side street
Near Pantheon 5th arrondissement
Black crow visiting
Botanical gardens
More pigeon friends
Entrance gate
Cherry blossoms 🥰
Exit gate
View from our balcony look what was photobombing
Desserts magnificent

My takeaway from the day was sometimes not planning just gandering around leads to unexpected gems. The botanical gardens weren’t really planned but ended up one of my favorite stops so far. The Moroccan dinner in Belleville was amazing and I would definitely eat more Moroccan food in Washington.

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

The Getaway: Paris Day One

Before I begin the journey in Paris I thought I’d explain the logistics that went wrong getting to Paris. Originally Rachel and I had booked our train tickets on Eurostar from London to Paris Gare De Nord station. On the Saturday March 25 I got a notice from Eurostar that our tickets had been cancelled because of a scheduled train strike on the France end. Now we had originally planned a day trip to Bruges via Thalys which had gotten cancelled the previous week because of said train strike planned on March 30 our Bruge day. Needless to say I scrambled to get airplane tickets from London to Paris on Tuesday March 28 nonstop to boot!

We arrived at Heathrow Airport via the Elizabeth Underground line about three hours early. We checked our bags and went through security. Our gate hadn’t been posted yet so we decided to grab some lunch at the Giraffe Cafe. It was typical airport junk food cuisine but when in Rome and horribly hungry you eat what’s available. The flight from London to Paris was nonstop on British Airways and uneventful. Charles De Galle is a huge huge airport and immigration was long because both Rachel and I are non EU members. Once we got through Immigration we got our bags and had decided previously in London to Uber to Belleville because quite frankly I was lazy and the thought of lugging my 22.3 kg luggage on the Paris metro gave me anxiety. The Uber driver had parked in the Departure parking and once we found him off we went to Belleville.

My first impression of Belleville was TriBeCa New York with cafes and food markets lining the streets and bicycles and motorbikes intermixing in the traffic. Belleville lies between the 19th arrondissement and 20th. Our hotel was a hop skip from the Belleville metro line. Once we settled in we decided to grab a bite to eat then just chill out. The lunch at the Giraffe Cafe actually for me was a godsend because I was still fairly full once we arrived at our hotel.

On Wednesday March 29 we decided to start with the Sacre Coeur basilica ( meaning Sacred heart) which sits on top of a hill overlooking the heart and soul of Paris. I had visited the Sacre Coeur twice before with my sister in 2007 and again in 2013. Each time the beauty and grace of this landmark washes over me. So this time with Rachel I walked around just soaking in the history and architecture of this magnificent building. We then walked around looking for the film locations of the 2001 movie Amelie which Rachel loved and I ironically enough saw for the first time on my way home to Washington. The movie was set in Montmartre arrondissement which is more of an artistic area of Paris with small cafes and boutiques and cobblestone side streets.

From Montmartre we made our way to the Jardin de Tuileries where we had sandwiches for lunch. Then in the afternoon we took a river cruise down the Seine which my collage of pictures will do the talking. One of the joys of having Rachel as a travel companion is her sense of adventure and packing in a lot of sites in a day. So by Wednesday night we were knackered and ready for the next day to arrive.

At Heathrow
At Sacre Coeur
View from the street
Vernacular ride up to Sacre Coeur
View from the top of the hill
Top of the stairs at Sacre Coeur
Magnificent architecture
Brisk day
Amelie landmark
Another view
I couldn’t resist
Another movie location
Little church tucked away
Hmm 🤔
View from the left of Sacre Coeur
Front gate
Quiet lot of construction
Duck friends
View from bridge going to meet the river cruise

Goofy time
River cruise view
Moody weather
Stands out even from afar
Ray of light

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

The Getaway: The Voyage

So Day Two in London was threefold: walkabout the city, afternoon tea at the Wolesley and then ..ABBA Voyage in the evening. The walk around the city started in Aldgate where Rachel and I were staying at the Premier Inn a modern chain near the Aldgate East underground station. The weather was cold and windy but sunny compared to Sunday’s rain. We started at the The Garden at the 120 which was free admission ( always a good thing 😁) with monumental views of London.

Words can’t describe how fabulous this gem of a London city mark really is so here are some photos:

Rachel’s interpretation of a certain actor’s famous pose 😁
A window cleaner up there!
One can see for miles and miles
A nice fellow Sky Garden observer took this photo of us

After the Sky Garden we mooched over to Spitalfiels Market where we had a bit of lunch ( I bought a pretzel which I shared with my pigeon friends) then we scurried on back to the hotel to change for our afternoon tea at the Wolesley. The first time I had afternoon tea was in 2019 with Rachel so I knew the place and what to expect this time. We sat in the center left this time around so we could people watch a bit more. No celebrity sightings though. 😢We each had two types of tea and between the finger sandwiches ( two helpings ), the scones and the desserts we were full to the fifth finale. We had just enough time to traipse back to the hotel for a second time to change for .., Voyage.

Now I do realize ( sadly) that ABBA are not popular with everyone which is fine. Like I’m not a fan of country music. But to me ABBA’s music represents my childhood which was very positive and family oriented growing up in Germany. At the height of their success in 1977 my family lived in Germany which is the birthplace ( Stuttgart) of my late mum. So when Rachel suggested seeing Voyage while we were in London I jumped up and down. The arena built specifically for Voyage is on a Tube Underground line Pudding Mill Lane. Rachel and I didn’t dress up in ABBA ware but the excitement of the crowd was certainly contagious. The show is somewhat secretive because the avatars of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anna-fried are holograms on the stage. There are live backup singers and a band but the whole show centers around these four avatars which look pretty darn real from where we were sitting. The show opened with “ Hole In Your Soul” and ended with “ Thank You For The music”. By the time “ Dancing Queen” played most of the crowd were out of their seats rocking out! The innovation and meticulous care that ABBA put into this show for me made this experience one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. It’s so hard to describe what one is seeing that it’s brilliant in its conception and execution.

All three of these events took place on Monday March 27 so by Tuesday March 28 we packed our bags and headed by the Elizabeth line to Heathrow to start the next leg of our getaway.

Rachel’s photo after the concert was over
Savoring my tea
Ignore the bottom half 😁

My pigeon friend at Spitalfields Market
Walking past Globe Theatre
View from Millennium Bridge
Walking around London

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️

The Getaway

“Vacation all I ever wanted. Vacation had to get away. “ It’s been three years since my last holiday abroad. Last time in 2020 right on the verge of the global pandemic I travelled to London then to Edinburgh. I’ve been asked why I love to travel and my reply is to getaway. I feel free when I’m in a new place. No getting up at 5 am every weekday. No responsibility at work. I can plan or not plan activities at my leisure.

So three years later I decided to travel to London to see my friend Rachel who I met through the fandom. We are both meticulous planners and discovered that we travel well together. Now traveling with another can be tricky. One person could be a late sleeper or night owl while the other isn’t. One could be punctual while the other is perfunctory. One could be a spendthrift or the other could be frugal. Fortunately Rachel and I are very similar travelers.

I arrived in London the morning of Sunday March 26, 2023. My flight ✈️ had no hiccups in delays except the inbound flight from San Francisco that we would use for London arrived 30 minutes late. I had a nonstop flight so this was a non starter for me. I’m a restless sleeper as it is so I only got about three to four hours of sleep on the flight. Once I landed at Heathrow I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station where Rachel ( in London since Saturday March 25) would meet me. We then took the Tube ( subway ) to our hotel in Aldgate. Was easy peasy except lugging around a 48 pound suitcase on the train.

After showering and changing we headed out to Greenwich to “mooch” around. I had never had a proper Sunday Roast in London so we ate at The Queens Head a pub which as luck would have it started their first Sunday Roast that very day. I love when symmetry abounds. I was ravenous and devoured the pork, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables in mirthful bites. We then walked around and I couldn’t really tell you what we all saw because I was exhausted from the flight. The weather was rainy and cold but then I like cold and don’t mind rain. Packing for a trip with multiple cities can be difficult. I tried to pack enough to cover all weather types as well as give myself options without over packing ( which I’ve been guilty of in past trips abroad). I always take comfortable walking shoes like sneakers( trainers) as well as a rain jacket or all weather jacket. Comfort comes first.

Here are some initial photos of my first day in London.

Flew United nonstop flight
Proper Sunday roast was pork, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding
Took awhile to eat everything

Cutty sark
Pigeons abound
A dying breed
View from Greenwich Park
Windy and rainy
Greenwich observatory
Signs of Spring
Map of Greenwich park

More of the Getaway to follow.

Stay healthy safe well ❤️❤️❤️

Trainant dans Le Coucher du Soleil

Right now the news in France centers around a bill that has passed increasing the retirement age from 62 to 64 in order for French citizens to receive a full pension. Apparently there is rioting, strikes ( ie garbage) and general unrest at this new law. As an outsider non European I can see why French citizens are upset. One works hard their whole life so they can retire and live off their pensions at a young age. Whereas here in the US many of us including myself will work past age 63 either out of economic necessity or because we have no pension plan in place that will cover our expenses for the remainder of our lives.

My coworker is 84. She has worked at this practice over 30 years. She used to work four days a week then three now she comes in on Fridays. She is immaculately dressed, always bubbly and positive and a consummate professional. She says she works to make extra money so she doesn’t have to rely on her husband for handouts. She takes vacation days here and there and in all the three plus years I’ve worked here she has never called in sick. Did I mention she’s 84?

Retirement can be a blessing and also a curse. My dad retired last year at 85 after the 2021 tax season because he started to get panic attacks at his computer. He said it was his body’s way of telling him to stop. He has a limited budget now because he has only his social security and Army retirement benefits to live on. But he seems relieved that the stress of the tax season is in his rear view mirror. To be honest I haven’t thought about retirement at all. I used to work six days a week until 2016. I don’t miss working on Saturdays and looking back over the last fifteen years I don’t know how I worked 14 hour days but then I was younger too. 😁

I do enjoy getting up and dressed with a purpose a place to go to each day. Sometimes on the weekends I get nothing accomplished because I’m tired or lazy or overwhelmed. With work I don’t ever feel that way. I like people depending on me asking my opinion and helping others. Will I feel any different seven years from now?

Should a government control a workers retirement age or is protesting against this policy effective?

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Let It Go! Go With The Flow

On the heels of Monday’s March 13th post theme on retrospection I dug around some old playgrounds to see what a few ghosts were up to. Perhaps I was digging my own grave, but I came across an incident reference that had a huge ripple effect for me a few years back. I don’t really write about fandom stuff anymore although I have gotten to know some wonderful bloggers and commenters through the fandom that I am quite fond of now. Even though my overall opinion about a certain actor has altered over the last three years ( really since October 2019) I feel blessed that through the fandom I’ve met some incredible people. This blog probably would never have existed without the encouragement of a couple of fandom people in 2018. In turn this blog has given me opportunities to get to know some wonderful and inspirational bloggers the last year and a half. ( The Rhythm Section trio in particular) So I asked “ self why drudge up the past?”

Well a few Sunday mornings ago I was curious what was going on in the fandom world on a couple of blogs I don’t follow (I know curiosity killed the cat). Sometimes reading commentary you don’t want to hear is a good reality check. So I read a post that I knew in my gut was about me and not in a good way. I empathized with some of the post because I too realize the importance of taking care of oneself mentally and physically. And the incident referenced in the post has affected me ( still does) because it generated a ripple effect that I’m still ambivalent about today. I will say for the most part I’ve shoved it in the rear view mirror.

From an outsider’s view point it all seems puerile and sophomoric. But at that time in the fall of 2020 between all the negativity at work, my mum’s ill health and pandemic woes I was still looking to the fandom for an escape. I’m admittedly strong willed and opinionated but I would like to think I’m respectful to others so when I’m accused publicly of doing something I didn’t do and feeling humiliated about the accusation it makes me feel vulnerable and angry. So privately I emailed some thoughts in retrospect I shouldn’t have written. I don’t think I’m conceited or imperious. In fact most of the time my insecurities take over and I self destruct. Mind you it’s not easy to write this blog post speaking in tongues here but I need to let it go and move on up.

Is looking back at the past behavior healthy? Can it induce a change in behavior? In the grand scheme of the universe does it really matter? Perhaps Monday’s post about positivity triumphing negativity portended my rabbit hole dig into the past. I read through some old sent emails in preparation for this post that made me contemplate someone who was a huge support system during lockdown. Hence the ambivalent ripple effect. At one point the negative jab at me resulted in my hesitation to comment on any fandom blog because I feared being accused of “ forcing a blogger to blog what I wanted to read” which is ridiculous and I think a mean thing to say to anyone. Like I would have that kind of power over anyone? Looking back now I’m glad I stood my ground although I began sliding back into my shell.

Well the environment at work has gotten better. I’ve not allowed the coworker to treat me abusively anymore. She even addresses me by my first name! 😁 I’ve taken the advice of the fellow blogger and stayed away from blogs I deem toxic to me. I’ve stopped suggesting or even overtly cheerleading fellow bloggers in comments. I try to show my humor when I can now. I’m trying not to overthink which is admittedly difficult because that’s part of who I am. Most of all I go with the flow.

And I can play here any music I like 😁

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Muliebrity Every Day!

I used to own a tee shirt that said Girl Power. I bought it in the late 1990s at a Target store. I think the slogan was an ode to the British girl band The Spice Girls. I wasn’t a full on fan of them but I did like that they projected symbols of women equality and fortitude. Women don’t often band together for a common good. For instance the movie Mean Girls typifies just how detrimental women can behave against each other. In the movie karma prevailed but on the internet especially social media that isn’t always the case.

I think women can be both feminine and fierce without losing their identities. My mum worked up until she got married. My dad gave her a monthly allowance to handle all the grocery shopping, household needs and school expenses for my siblings and myself. In return she was a model Army wife. She threw theme parties ( very popular in the 1970s), went to Army wives luncheons and coordinated all our housing moves. She did all of this with outward ease. I once asked her if she missed working full time and she said she did work full time every day.

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

A Small Battle Cry

So last weekend I was looking forward to a long overdue appointment to get a facial and eye brow wax at a local franchise establishment. I had visited the place last year and thought it was decent not grand but not bad either. A few days prior to Saturday’s appointment I rang them up and asked if they had any earlier time slots than 3:15 and that I wanted to get my eyebrows waxed at the same time as the facial. I was told “to just ask the esthetician when I came about the eyebrow wax.” Sure no problem. Saturday arrived I checked in and waited for the esthetician who escorted me back to her room and went over some preliminary instructions. I then reminded her about the eyebrow wax and she said no the “brewing machine had not been turned on and needed a hour to get hot” ( I’m paraphrasing her response). So I countered then heat it up now since the facial takes about 50-55 minutes and the eye brow wax will take like 10 minutes. She said no. I told her I specifically asked for the eye brow wax with the facial when I called a few days ago about the appointment. She countered “ nobody told me that “. So my voice went up an octave in frustration because I have special plans next weekend and wanted the facial and especially the eye brow wax on Saturday to relax me and doll me up. She didn’t budge so I said I felt uncomfortable and left. Then I madly googled eyebrow wax near me found a place with same day appointments and was welcome with open arms. I also booked the next eye brow wax with them.

What I took away from this experience:

1 I hate confrontation ( the original post today was all about that but I have postponed it for now)

2 I hate looking forward to something and having my plans spoiled through no fault of my own ( usually I do something to wreck my expectation)

3 I hate when people don’t take accountability for their actions or lack of action as was my case ( see all my work rants)

4 I hate “making a scene in public” ( the German and Irish were on loudspeaker)

5 I hate feeling duped or that I’m not worth going the extra mile for (ie turn on the freakin machine while I’m having the facial)

Did I overreact? Was I a total bitch to this esthetician? I almost wrote a scathing review online but I decided I’ll never go to this establishment ever again. And there are greener pastures to graze in.

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Dream A Little Dream

Dreams are mystifying at times. Some dreams are crystal clear like floating on a bed of clouds or being chase down the street by Freddy Kruger. But others are in that grey area for me. I haven’t dreamt about my Armitage crush in a very long time. But his new Netflix gig aptly called Obsession drops on April 13.

Dreams are __________ what for you?

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️