Travel

Quick notes and photos of my travels

Paris – November 2012

Arc de Triomphe on Armistice Day

Paris, France – November 11-16, 2012    

We arrived in France on Armistice Day but sadly arrived too late to make to The Avenue des Champs Élysées to see the procession and laying of the wreath. 

First full day in Paris. We did 3 of 4 bus tours and finished the evening with dinner at Le Dome in Montparnasse. Time to re-adjust my clock…night all…Tomorrow we tackle Le Louvre.

Finally. Working Internet! Spent all day in the Louvre and walked the streets of Paris shopping til we dropped. Back at the hotel with some work to do. We are pooped out!!! Tomorrow, Musee du Rodin, Muse d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, and whatever else we can fit in…

Musee de Rodin…Truly a dream come true. Finally, I walked in his footsteps. Saw the early clay sculpture of my favorite work ever, the kiss. This to me is romantic love and passion. I am always so moved when I see it.  Listening to 3rd graders speak eloquently about Rodin’s “Gates of Hell” was nothing less than extraordinary. Art education in Europe is inspirational!!! The US should pay attention. Let’s celebrate the intellectual and the artistic. “The opposite of War isn’t peace, it’s creation”  

We also visited Musee d’Orsay and spent some quality time with Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Renoir, etc.   The spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral

Back home in Oceanside. It’s weird waking up and not seeing monuments and palaces from my window. It’s already as if was only a dream. Hopefully, it won’t take me 47 years to get back. Next time, I will go more slowly and soak more in.

My first time in London – 2009

June 18, 2009

A quiet morning in our house in London. The house we’re staying in is fabulous. It’s full of art, so it’s like living in a gallery for 9 days. We’re staying in a quiet neighborhood in Knightsbridge about 3 blocks from the Thames. Started my first day off with fish and chips at The Dove, and then toured London on a Big Red Bus. It was frigid (I am not kidding) but we roughed it and rode atop the bus after we had pasty’s (NOT my favorite) and then went to see Billy Elliot. I slept through a large part of it, out of sheer exhaustion.

Yesterday was incredible. The weather was beautiful, at some points even hot. We not only witnessed but followed along with the changing of the guards. (Do the Changing of the Guard walk with Big Red Bus, you won’t regret it!) We toured the Tower of London and I was just in awe that in the middle of this bustling city was the fortress where so much history took place. So many tragic stories. My favorite story of the day though was a somewhat personal one. Recently, I have been researching my ancestry and so I could possibly find places in England where my family lived. Yesterday, I found the place where one of my ancestors died. Grufford ap Llewellyn, Prince of Wales was being held at the Tower of London and tried to escape by hanging a bed sheet out the window and climbing down. Partway down, that bed sheet tore and he fell to his death. Now I know I come by my klutziness honestly.

Today, we have to do some work and then we’re off again. I hope to get some shopping in today. Pictures are coming soon. The longer I stay here, the less I am sure I am coming back. Just kidding. I tend to say that every time I go somewhere new. 

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“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. For there is in London all that life can afford.” ~Samuel Johnson

Epic Day in London. Got some business done and then shopping at Harrod’s and went Les Miserables on the West End. I bawled like a baby. The cast was perfection!!! Tomorrow starts 3 days of work (gotta pay my dues for this bounty). Have a lovely day my US peeps, I am off to sleep so I can make the donuts tomorrow morning.   Went on the Old Globe tour this morning (Henry V tomorrow afternoon). I nearly hyperventilated when I caught a sneak peak of the inside of the theatre. Back at the house to finish some work, but out again tonight. Tomorrow is a free day for tooling around London, and then back to the states on Monday. I could totally live here!   Cheerio Mates, and Mind the Gap!

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A Trip to Dover

June 23, 2013

WHite Cliffs

Late last night I got my laptop back, so I feel like now it’s an easier job to chronicle my travels. I still cannot seem to find a replacement battery for my camera, so I am relying on my iPad (not such good quality) and the kindness of my traveling companions for pictures. Today, we got a bit of a late start in the morning, but made our way to St. Pancras (not pancrEas) Station where we, with many delays, caught a train to Dover. The goal was to see the famous “White Cliffs of Dover” take some snapshots and then, well, figure out “something” to do. We made tentative plans around midnight last night, so needless to say, they were rife with indecision. We know there was “some” castle nearby so we thought it would be cool to see a castle. What I don’t think we realized was just how much castle we would actually get to see, and that is actually was Dover Castle.

Dover Castle is 21 miles away from France and on a clear day, you can see France. Sadly, it was not a clear day, especially in France. 😉

Roman Tower

Dover Castle was built by King Henry II who coincidentally happens to be my 57th Great-Grandfather. The castle is 800 years old and was built next to an ancient Roman Lighthouse which, was built over 1200 hundred years ago, and I must say, looks pretty darned sturdy. The site played an incredibly important military role as late as the second world war. We took an amazing tour of the underground tunnels, some dug in the Napoleonic Era, that was used as planning grounds for the rescue of the allied forces in Dunkirk. Unlike most castles and historical locations in the UK, Dover Castle wasn’t kept up by the government for tourism purposes, but it was actually a strategic military location (who knew).

Dover

After the tour of the tunnels, we took the gigantic hike up the hill to the Castle. It was amazing!!! The Tower of London tour last year was really impressive, but this castle was absolutely awe-inspiring and breathtaking. With a few exceptions of roped-off places and a couple of sealed doors, we were able to travel pretty freely through the castle. There were maybe a dozen or so castle guides around that could tell you bits of the castle’s history, but for the most part, they didn’t intrude on snooping or lingering. In recent years, the curators of the castle began restoring some of the rooms in the castle (Henry II’s sleeping quarters, The Throne Room, the kitchens, and laundry, etc).

The absolute be-all end-all though was the view from the top of the tower. You could see as far as the eye could see an entire 360 degrees. I would compare the experience to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. I stood in the turret facing the full force of the cold, cold wind and just felt what seemed like the freshest air I had ever felt on my skin. I felt like Rose on the bow of the Titanic. I can only imagine how heady it must have been for Henry to stand at the top of his tower and to see his kingdom from that view, knowing that everything he could see, was his… (and then some).

Atop Dover Casle
The View from Henry II Towers

After the much quicker (ah, gravity) walk down the hillside, we took a cab to the docks, took so pictures of the cliffs and then had dinner at Cullin’s Yard, which, very anachronistically, had signage that read “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” (just a little too Americana for me) We had a fantastic dinner, and dessert, my first taste of Banoffee Pie, and then made our way (another hike) to the train station and made it back to London just around midnight.

It’s hard to believe it’s already Monday and I’ve been away from home for a week already. I miss my babies (okay, my adults, lol) but I am so grateful for this week we’ve had to meet fantastic people and see such amazing and historical places. Two more free days and one long work day and then I am headed home. I sure wish I could just go without sleep…there is still so very much I want to do!!!

Barcelona

I am in love with Barcelona…Gorgeous city…the whole city is a work of art. I’ve stepped into the Mediterranean for the first time, visited La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Park Guell, all massive and incredible works of art and the great imagination of Antoni Gaudi. Last night ate and drank in 4 Gats, which was where Picasso met with his contemporaries. (I feel like I’ve been stalking Picasso lately), surrounded by engaging men from Holland and Belgium. I feel like I am walking through a dream.

Tomorrow is my last full day in Barcelona and I am already feeling melancholy. This city has captured my heart. There’s a pace here that’s like a heartbeat, slow, steady, calming. As we sat at dinner tonight, near the end of a fantastic meal of tapas, (my new favorite thing EVER) ready to get the check to leave, our waitress said “sit, relax, let your food digest”, and brought us tiny and incredibly delicious margarita-itas, ;-), it occurred to me that this defines life here… slow down, relax, enjoy a beautiful life. It’s been a full week, of interviews, meetings, dinners, and parties, and yet I don’t feel frenetic and stressed. It’s definitely something I want to bring home with me…along with my tapas cookbook (and maybe a beautiful European man 😉 – Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she??).

“Once” in London

Saturday, June 22, 2013   My mind is reeling from seeing “Once” again. We were in the third row tonight and so it felt so much more intimate than it did when we saw it on Broadway. Declan Bennet and Zrinka Cvitešić were an absolute revelation.   They do a great thing before the show where they invite audience members up on stage (the set is an Irish pub in Dublin) and the cast jams for about 20 minutes. I took part in the experience and it was such a joy, one; to be so close to the action and two; to look out into the beautiful house. I got a little teary looking out and feeling that feeling of being on stage again. It’s been 19 years. It’s hard to believe that.   I love the life I live and am truly thankful for all the gifts that life has given me, but I sure do miss being a part (even a small one) of making music and live theater. To live the full expression of life through music is such a beautiful gift.  

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My soul was touched so deeply tonight. If ever you get a chance to see this show (it’s touring next year) even if you don’t consider yourself a “musical” fan, think of this as a play with AH-MAY-ZING music, and see it!!!   A little musical gem from the show: Falling Slowly

Taking in London

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I have finally been to Notting Hill and I can say without a doubt, I am in love with it!!! Now I just need to win the lottery so I can buy my flat. I found the most beautiful flat. It’s got an eggplant exterior and white rose vines growing up the walls.

In-store for the rest of the day, Covent Garden (one of my happy places) and Parliament tour. Tonight, we’ll see “Once” again. I am so looking forward to that. I’m thinking the accents will be spot on.

Yesterday, we played by ear. We set out for the British Museum and over-shot our tube stop (I blame Adam Levine for being just too cute) and so we decided to just walk through London, we ended up at a pub, Hoops and Grapes and decided to do a pub crawl. We threw in a visit to the British Museum (amazing place, could do with a whole day there), saw the Rosetta Stone (I already feel much more brilliant) and a lot of other amazing archeological treasures.

Then we took the longest taxi ride (in which I left my raincoat in the car) to The Angel (our second stop on our pub crawl) and had lovely fish and chips dinner overlooking the Thames.

After our dinner, we decided to take the tube back into Piccadilly Circus to see “Thriller Live!”. The final stop on our pub crawl last night in our little Holland Park corner of the world. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of it and I just walked by a half hour ago. lol It’s cool and misty in London today…I can’t say I’m not loving it!!!