One of my favourite places in Italy is Gubbio, a small city near Assisi and Perugia. (St. Francis tamed a wolf there and said wolf is buried in a church there. Seriously.) It has a rickety old funicular thingy that will take you right up to its very top, on the tippity-top of a mountain, but it is also fun to simply walk up (as far as you can) and back down the city. I did that one day in December with a Vietnamese friend/classmate and I shot this picture quite haphazardly. My friend had walked ahead of me as I tied my shoelace, and when I looked up I snapped the shot. My main goal was to get a picture of the architecture but it came out better like this. All of this is to say that this photo won honourable mention in Accenti Magazine’s 2015 photography awards (Accent is an arty magazine out of Montreal). I would have preferred winning but I think I’m kind of like one of those TV characters — on the Waltons or Eight is Enough — who never wins anything, always just comes second and yet learns valuable lessons along the way. Ahem.
I am very proud of self, because I managed to do a nearly five-week trip in France and Italy with only a carry-on bag! It is what Rick Steves recommends, and he is right. It isn’t easy, of course, but once you’ve done it you realize it is the only way to travel.
That said, were I to return to Italy to study for a semester (a possibility in future) I would not be able to manage that. A carry-on bag for three months? I don’t think so. One would end up buying too much and then have to buy a bigger bag with which to return home.
Still, it is terrific to not have to wait at the luggage carousel, and not have to fear losing one’s luggage. Better Half had his bag lost on the trip back, though he did — thank goodness — get it returned six days later. I’ve had my luggage lost twice: once coming back to Canada from Turkey, once coming back from Israel. Both times I got the luggage back, but it taught me to pack light.
I took this picture on Palm Sunday in Paris, a short walk from our little (borrowed) apartment. We had gone for a walk that day and noticed people carrying greenery everywhere — very lovely, though clearly, someone discarded or dropped theirs on the rain-soaked cobblestone. When I was a kid, Palm Sunday was something that made me envy my Catholic classmates. To me, it seemed very meaningful, remembering the crowds waving branches at Jesus when he entered Jerusalem.
We were reminded, by the way, that Notre Dame is an operating church, as we saw crowds even larger than usual leaving it that day, and leaving it with (not sure what kind of) leaves in their hands. I imagine that today, as well, it is packed to the rafters with tourists of all faiths, now all able to say they attended Easter Mass in such a famous place (though between you and me, I prefer Italian churches. Far more beautiful, both outside and inside).
Happy Easter and/or Passover, dear readers.
We spent a few hours wandering around Montparnasse Cemetery yesterday and today — peaceful and yet full of surprises. (I’ll post more pictures on this site later, I hope, but do check my instagram and Twitter feed, as well.) I wanted to post this picture not because I admire these two dead souls — I rather don’t, thinking them to be contenders for two of the top spots in my Gallery of the Overrated — but because I find it so bizarre that there are lipstick marks on the headstone. Yes, those marks are from girls (and maybe guys) slathering on gloss or lipstick and kissing the headstone. Ew! And really, do these two clowns deserve it? I think not. (Still, rest in peace and all that.)
Dear readers, I am in France. Paris. Parigi. My better half (he is here, as well) asked me why I always call it “Frankreich” and it is because when I was a student at the Sorbonne, many moons ago, I had nowhere to be at Christmas one year and a Swiss-German classmate invited me to come to Switzerland with her and stay with her family at Christmas. So I did. And as our train pulled past the French border she screamed out — in contempt — “auf wiedersehen, Frankreich!” I might have forgotten that but for what ensued when we arrived at her family home. “Judgment at Nuremberg” happened to be on TV that first night and when I expressed a desire to watch it — her mother asked me what I wanted to watch — the entire family went bonky and were all, like, oh wow, the war ended over 40 years ago, why do we still have to hear about Jews and how bad they had it?
It was truly creepy. I could not get out of there soon enough, but unfortunately, I had to wait till December 27th. Have never spoken to that girl or her Jew-hating family since. (I had the good manners to send them a thank you note, though.)