Posts Tagged ‘travel’

    Sun filter redwoods DSC05158For the better part of my adult life, I have lived in places people would consider tourist destinations. I like living in places people want to visit. I like meeting new people and don’t mind giving directions when people are lost. Besides it’s kind of fun.

I’ve learned a lot. Tourist can be interesting and quaint or sometimes totally mindless, completely unaware of their environment and generally disrespectful to the people who have the privilege of living there year round. I’m often torn between wanting tourists to be safe and wondering if I really give a damn. It all depends on their attitude and how they treat the rest of us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I mostly don’t mind tourists. And I have nothing against airbnb and vrbo. I’ve used their services and most likely will continue to do so.

That being said, I want to share a few helpful tips for people who are vacation renters to help you get along better with the community you are renting a home in. Wherever that may be…

1. Be respectful of our community. If we say hi, smile or wave show some respect and do the same. It’s called being friendly. You’re not in a resort where some may feel it’s appropriate to be rude. If you were, you’d be paying a lot more money with bell hops, room service and in-house gourmet restaurants.

2. Please walk your dog on a leash at all times and pick up after your furry friend. If we politely ask you to put a leash on that pup and hold it in your hand, don’t give us a dirty look. Leash the pup and say thank you for caring. You don’t know what the dogs are like who live here and not all dogs play well with others. If your dog were to run up to greet another, the other dog may take that as an attack instead a friendly invitation to play. I’m only attempting to look out for the well-being of your pet and mine.

3. Pick up your trash, including your dogs poop. You weren’t raised in a barn were you? Do you think leaving trash and poop around your own neighborhood is a good idea? Don’t leave it in mine or my yard, put it in it’s proper place… the trash can.

4. If you build a fire on the beach or anywhere else, be aware of the fire danger. Sparks fly and can create forest fires. Also, please use firewood and not wood with nails or put glass bottles in the fire. We really don’t like cleaning up the mess you’ve made. And it makes our lovely beach dangerous for everyone else. Stepping on glass or a rusty nail is no fun and it’s bad manners on your part. Better yet, don’t build the fire.

5. Again, be respectful of the neighborhood. Loud parties after 10 are frowned upon, period. Unless of course you invite all the neighbors. Otherwise, we will most definitely call the person you are renting from and/or the police. You are renting a house, not the community.

Basically, just be a decent human being, that’s all we ask. You’ll have a much better time and the rest of us will be greatly appreciative.

Now one last thing, and this one is for the people who are buying homes in neighborhoods specifically for renting out as vacation rentals. This one is really important… Get to know the people who live in your new neighborhood year round. Make friends with them and listen to their concerns. Exchange phone numbers and emails. Be friendly and supportive. And be conscious of the amount of parking you have available in front of your home. My parking area is not your parking area. I can not stress any of these enough. The year rounders are the ones who will notice if your house is broken into, a window has been left open that can be seen from the street or will call the fire department if your house is on fire. We will contact you if there is a pipe that has burst and is spewing water all over the place. Your ownership of a vacation rental is not a license to be disrespectful to your neighbors.

Remember, you are changing this beautiful and bucolic neighborhood by renting your home out every week and/or weekend to strangers. And it’s not always easy for us to deal with your guests, especially when you or they are rude and disrespectful. Remind them it’s appropriate to have good manners and to be considerate with their dogs. Our neighborhood and it’s beauty are the reason you bought here in the first place and the reason your guests want to visit.


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The day started out sunny, very exciting, then turned cloudy and rainy. We weren’t quite sure what to do but, Den suggested we take a trip to Giverny to see Monet’s garden. Especially since it was one of my top 3 things I wanted to do while in Paris and our days here are dwindling down. We checked the train schedule, bought our tickets and headed out the door. We were getting out of town. Didn’t matter if it rained, we are empowered with umbrellas and raincoats. Besides, a day in the country would do us some good!

We made our way to Gare St. Lazare and boarded our train. We noticed right away how silent the train is, it was unbelievable. The cars were clean and beautiful, seats were comfortable and I even had a little foot rest. Cool! The trip itself was quick and easy, we spent most of the time looking at one of my ipad apps about Paris, trying to decide what to do with the precious few days we have left. Before we knew it, we were in Vernon. And so far, the weather was holding up. Cloudy but no rain, a good omen.

We grabbed a cab and set off for Giverny, it was only a few kilometers away and we wanted to get there as quickly as possible. You can, however, take a bus, a tour or walk. I’ve done the walk both ways before, and after a long day of shooting, you’re bone tired. There were vast fields of amazing yellow flowers, as far as the eye could see. Den asked the driver to stop and he got out to take pictures. I stayed in the car, I was a little worried about the memory cards I had. They have rapidly gotten full and I wanted to save the space for Monet. After Den’s picture excursion, we continued on.

All I can say is wow, Monet created a beautiful vision of loveliness. It’s one thing to see the house and gardens on the internet, it’s another thing entirely to see them in person. We toured his home first. He had such an amazing eye for color. Each room painted differently either in a single hue or combination, including the furniture The dining room was lemon yellow, the sitting room robins egg blue with darker blue details (even the grandfather clock!), Japanese wood blocks covered the walls. His studio was large, airy and divided into two parts with reproductions of his paintings covering the walls.  I thought it was interesting that Monet’s bedroom was large and airy, with 3 big windows to view the gardens while his wife’s room was smaller with a little window looking over the street side of the house.

Now the gardens! Even on a cloudy day with a little sun and drizzle, they were spectacular. Tulips, so many different varieties, so many colors, they leave me speechless! At this point, I think it’s best if I let the pictures speak for themselves. Please remember, none of these are color-corrected. That will happen when I get home. For now, just enjoy the slideshow.

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I never made it to Versailles. It was one of those days that unfolded itself and led me through the labyrinth of  surprises. First off, I just couldn’t get moving to save my life. So instead of pushing, I let go. Versailles is one of those places that requires a full day, not a half day. It’s huge, beautiful and grand, you don’t want to rush it. I decided to walk until I found a metro station.

cheesy deliciousnessOn my way, I passed the cheese shop, then the charcuterie…by this time my mouth was watering. All those beautiful meats, pâtés and cheeses. And weren’t we talking the other night about how we hadn’t had any of those yet? Well, that was going to change tonight! I mean come on, you can’t come to France without eating cheese and pâté, why it’s….uncivilized! I made a mental note of the locations so I could stop on the way home. Finally I came upon a metro station, checked the maps and decided today was going to be another cemetery day. We hadn’t really explored the whole of our neighborhood so, being the cemetery freak I am, I thought Montparnasse Cemetery it is.

Pere Lechaise and Montparnasse are very different. Pere Lechaise is a riot of chaos, wild roots and decaying stones. It oozes and drips with history as it rushes up the hill, while leaving parts of itself down below. Montparnasse on the other hand is more along the lines of orderly modernity with a bit history mixed in. It’s flat with everything more or less in it’s place, a smattering of old and new neatly placed together. Now this doesn’t mean it’s easier to find who you’re looking for in Montparnasse, I spent the better part of 2 hours looking for Man Ray’s grave, I must have walked around or near it 20 times! Not until they began to ring the bell for people to leave did I find it. And to tell you the truth, I expected it to be more…”artsy” than it was, I was a little disappointed. There were other artists and non-artists, there that I found a lot more interesting, even vivacious and carefree, if you will.

My mom loves gizzards and through her, I learned to love them too. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a restaurant today that served an incredible green salad with gizzards and smoked duck, it was fabulous, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I’ve never had gizzards like that, they were tender and succulent, melt in your mouth and with the added delight of duck, oh my! If only I can figure out how they cooked them. That was only the beginning of my food day! On the way home, I picked up a duck pâté, 4 different cheeses (a cow, a sheep, a goat and a blue), pots de crème (a coffee and a chocolate) and french bread. For dessert, we have lemon meringue tart and some bit of chocolate deliciousness. Yes, I’m going to need to diet when I get home. And I have to say right here and now, when I walked into the cheese shop, the aroma was overwhelmingly delicious, I hadn’t smelled those smells since I lived in New York. Wow, the choices were almost too much to bear!

So, I want to leave you with a little nugget. There were little signs in Montparnasse people left on some of the graves, they said regret. It kind of nailed home to me, we sometimes have regrets when loved ones die. And I realized, I want to die with as few of these as possible.

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Yesterday morning we awoke to beautiful, glorious sun. The park across the street was filled with sun hungry Parisians most of the morning, even a guy laying in the grass, soaking up the rays. Seemed like people were relieved to be done with the rain for a bit. I strolled down d’Alesia to run errands and people watched the whole way. I enjoyed myself immensely.

Later in the day, we took the subway to Pere Lechaise, one of the coolest cemeteries I have ever been to. The reality is that Pere Lechaise is the reason I like to visit them in the first place. I am fascinated with the way in which people wish to be remembered. And in Pere Lechaise, remembrance truly comes to life. Buried there is Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Maria Callas, Chopin just to name a few and many others I don’t know. The graves here are full of creativity and meaning. I urge you to check their website for a wonderful little tour, click on the little crosses and see who you can find, double click and see their graves.

We caught a little rain as we were touring the cemetery but, it wasn’t a big deal, it only lasted 20 minutes and we had our trusty umbrellas. Somehow, I thought it was fitting the rain began as we were looking for Jim Morrison’s grave. I came here 20 years ago and at the time, you could sit around and pay your respects. However, the bust that used to sit on his grave has been stolen twice and people have been writing on the graves nearby. As a result, a barrier has been erected to keep everyone at a respectful distance. And at this point, even the nearby tree is being decorated with chewing gum! Personally, I think the tree is pretty cool, sort of a mass art project befitting a troubled artist.

After walking through, what I know was an extremely small part of the cemetery, it was time to go. The tenders were ringing the bell, letting everyone know it was time to leave. The cemetery, by the way, closes at 6pm.

On our way to the subway, we saw a really cool metal sculpture…four women painted green holding a cover over their heads. Coming from the cover was pure, stream fed water. We were encouraged to fill our empty water bottles. The water itself was smooth and delicious, quite tasty! We were later told these fountains are in various locations around the city and if we see one, fill up.

Today being May day or labor day in France, many places will be closed. As my friend Carol said, “any place that can be closed, will be closed.” So we plan on visiting places that we think will most likely be open and visit the oldest part of the city. We’re thinking maybe Place Vosges, Sacre Cour or Notre Dame. Not quite sure yet as the day is still young.

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Spring time in Paris. What a lovely experience. It is so beautiful that I don’t care if it’s cloudy or rainy with a slight chill in the air. It’s just lovely to me.

Everywhere you look, there is life and beauty. Everywhere. It’s in the food, the shops, it oozes through the air like a silky blanket wrapping itself around your shoulders. Yes, I’m in love.

We have had beautiful meals full of flavor and nuance. Met helpful people, some who don’t speak of word of either language we do and yet, we have communicated with delight through a nod of the head or a smile here and there. So far most everyone has been happy to assist in any way. We met a sweet older woman last night who insisted we eat at one particular bistro even to the point of getting a young woman to translate. By the time we realized we needed to hurry to get there, the restaurant had a long line. Tonight we will go back at an earlier hour.

We had an amazing lunch at Bistro Les Papilles near the Luxembourg Gardens. The lunch was exquisite. There was a zucchini soup with bacon (nothing like I’ve ever had in my life!), braised leg of lamb with vegetables and for dessert a panna cotta with carmelized bananas on the bottom and some sort of foam on top. The perfect ending to an amazing meal.

For dinner we went to L’entrepot near our apartment. L’entrepot is a cool place with music, movies, bar and restaurant. It was packed last night and the staff was hoppin’ busy! I had duck served with braised apple, while Den had salmon with braised celery root. The flavors….mmmm…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

We are loving our apartment. This is definitely the way to go in Paris! Our first night here, we stayed in Hotel Elysa Luxembourg with a small room near the Luxembourg Gardens, a little expensive but sweet. If you stay here and are a loving couple, make sure you get a room that isn’t 2 twins pushed together. One you will fall between the cracks, trust me on this one. We paid more for room there per night than we our apartment.

Our apartment is in a mixed neighborhood, has great character that we love. It’s not in the most touristy area and that’s fine for us. We love walking, looking and experiencing life here. And it’s easy enough to get around on the subway for or rent bikes for larger excursions. Den and I are on different sleep cycles it seems, so once I awoke this morning, we were out the door. Not much time for waking up. I threw my clothes on, downed a bit of coffee and out we went. While standing on the corner, waiting for the light, I turned to see a sweet little old lady smile at me, I smiled back. Then we made eye contact and she looked me up and down and still smiled sweetly, at that point I averted my eyes, I was a little embarrassed. Then I realized my clothing choices and I had just passed inspection or at least I think they did. Mind you, I wasn’t dressed my best, but for morning, I did okay.

Here are a few pics of our trip so far…

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I feel a creative surge coming on. One that feels a lot like waking up.

I was thinking about it today, I’m about to take a trip that fills me with such joy, wonder and the possibility of magic… yes, magic. And I know it’s going to be an amazing adventure.

I get to delve into a world of just observing… choosing… allowing myself to feel a place that has always filled me with delight. They call it the city of lights, I call the city of magic. You never know what you’re going to see around the corner, down the hall or in the garden.

It’s a lot like life.

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