Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Sedona, AZ

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

bell rock in Sedona

The red rock formations of Sedona are stunning to behold, but there is much more depth to the rocks than meets the eye.  There are special spiritual vortexes that exist in Sedona.  These energy centers are located around Sedona, and can be more intense at the actual site of each vortex (4 main vortexes in Sedona) where a person may feel uplifted, inspired, or a strong positive sensation.

The above is Bell Rock, where the “balance” of masculine and feminine vortex is located.  I’m not sure if it was the vortexes I felt, but in a place so beautiful, how can you not feel good??

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

 mike and I at the north rim of the grand canyon
In the early summer of 1993 after graduating from university, my mom and I drove my little Honda Accord out to Los Angeles to start my first job.  Our drive out to LA was an adventure.  Remember when there were no safety nets like cell phones or the internet.  Driving across the country, you were on your own.  If you ran out of gas, you were walking to a gas station.  If your tire needed to be changed, you hoped a pay phone was nearby to call AAA.  Cross-country travel was still considered dauting and exciting.
Aside from sleeping at night, my mom and I drove straight from Michigan to California with the exception of making one stop– at the Grand Canyon.  The allure of the Grand Canyon took us off the highway, turning us into tourists, if not for just one hour.  That was the first and only time my mom and I ever did anything so adventurous, just the two of us.  It was a fun trip.  Thanks mom.

When I get home to Philadelphia, I’m going to see if I can find the photo that was taken in 1993 with my mom and I (rather than Mike and I, as above) standing in the exact same place in front of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

118 degrees! That’s hot.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

sea turtles mating

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Mike giving the turtles some privacy
Eleven of the 12 species of sea turtles can be found in the waters just south of Puerto Escondido.  Nesting season is between July – September, which means mating season is around that same window of time.  We hired a boat to take us dolphin and sea turtle watching, and snorkeling.  What we didn’t realize is that we would be intruding on the sea turtles mating.  We saw a ton of turtles, and pretty much all of the turtles we saw were in the process of mating.  Many were shy, and once they spotted the boat, “disengaged” and swam away.  But there was one couple who didn’t seem to mind when we got in the water to swim with them.

Dolphins road along side the boat for a while, and off in the distance we saw a giant sailfish jump out of the water and spread its top fin.

on France…

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Flea market in Villeneuve-les-Avignon For work I have been to Paris more than a dozen times, and although I love shopping in Paris, I’ve never had the typical love affair with France that so many of my co-workers developed. So, it took me completely off guard to find the Provence region in France so enjoyable. We toured the Provence region stretching from Marseille to the Cote d’ Azur and Monoco. I’ve heard the rest of France is nothing like Paris, and now I believe it. The people are so incredibly nice, and it’s beautiful and peaceful in the country. We went to a weekend flea market in Villeneuve-les-Avignon, stayed amidst rolling vineyards at Chateau Juvenal (a restored home, now a B&B), tasted wine in Chateauneuf du Pape, visited many other Chateaux, Roman ruins, and the homes of Renoir and Van Gogh. All in all it was beautiful.

one in Barcelona, now one in Cannes So beautiful that when we arrived in the Cote d’Azur to visit Nice, Monaco and Cannes, I really wanted to escape back to the sleepy countryside we just left. Besides the beaches and a few museums there isn’t too much to do, except shop. AND, I do have to admit, while walking along Rue d’Antibes in Cannes, I momentarily forgot myself in the haziness of shopping. I felt the urge to go into every single boutique and scour it for anything “new”. I probably would have except for two things; Mike waiting around (although I did suggest he  take a boat ride “somewhere”), and the fact that I can not fit anything else into my luggage. The Cote d’Azur is extremely beautiful and although the beaches live up to its namesake, I was happy when we retreated back into an old walled-city called Cagnes-Sur-Mer. As for France, I can see why people love it so much.

Are you ready for some foot-boulles?

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Are you ready for some foot-boulles?
Don’t underestimate these guys. They are the most ruthless athletes in Cagnes sur Mer. They rule the boulles court here. Boulles is basically bocce ball but French. There’s lots of yelling and arguing over calls that can only be settled by bringing out the tape measure. Very exciting stuff. Perhaps we’ve found a new sport to follow since we won’t be seeing any Eagles games this year. B-O-U-L-L-E-S !

We came, we saw, we finally got in.

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Chateau Grimaldi in Cagnes-Sur-MerWe sucessfully entered Cagnes Sur Mer, a fortified walled village in the area surrounding Nice. Granated, there were no closing hours, tickets, lines or any other barriers to entry, but still. This is our home for the next 3 days. Not the place pictured above… that is the center point of the village, a chateau once owned by the Grimaldi family, who turns out were once a big deal in these parts. Our place is down a bunch of narrow curved streets. It’s like a little Hobbit village. Its also the town where Renoir spent his final years and we went to see his studio.

IMG_1682 IMG_1642


Friday, August 24th, 2007

Culinary contributions from Nice include the Nicoise salad, ratatouille, and socca. I had no idea what socca was before arriving in Nice. Walking around the city though, its pretty hard to miss as it is printed on many restaurant awnings advertising it. To me it sounded like an interesting drink I should try. Maybe because it sounds so much like “so-co” ( southern comfort). Turns out it is basically chick peas pureed with olive oil and baked in an oven or fried. It’s actually pretty good– kind of like a pancake or a crepe mashed up on your plate. And for 2 euro 50 cents it’s the cheapest thing you can buy in the Cote d’Azur.

socca, a nicoise favorite. made from chickpeassocca, a nicoise favorite. made from chickpeas

Chateau Juvenal

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Chateau Juvenal B&B

We stayed a few nights in the wine country of Provence at a chateau turned bed & breakfast called Chateau Juvenal. It was run by a French couple who retired here to run it and make wine from their vineyard. Sounds like a plan.

Where’s that confounded bridge?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Pont Van Gogh which Van Gogh painted, and we spent 2 hours looking for

Vincent Van Gogh spent his final years in this little town called Arles. There’s lots of scenes around town that he painted, like the one above, the Langlois Bridge. Looks just like it, right? We had this lovely view all to ourselves and got to enjoy art in real life without another tourist in sight. How did we get so lucky? Well, the tourist office gives you a nice little map of town that includes all the Roman ruins as well as the Van Gogh sites that looks like this:


The inset map is located right below it:


I cropped some things out but it is very clear that the bottom map is a blowup of one of the main areas of the bigger map. So we arelooking for #38, Van Gogh’s bridge. Should be in the North right? Let’s drive on N570 towards Avignon just like the map tells us. Lets drive around, and around and around until someone tells us….no Van Gogh’s Bridge is in the south. Excuse moi Monseiur, this map clearly shows it is located in the North. “Oh no, can’t you see, they didn’t have room for #38 and #39 on the big map, so rather than placing them geographically where they belong, they decided to pretend like that section of the little map was still part of the big map and just overlay it like it was still in the south of the big map even though it now really appears to be in the north of the little map. That little pink arrow obviously indicates that those sites are meant to be in the map above. Makes sense, no?” You have to be kidding me.

We spent the next half hour discussing the logic behind the decision to make the map this way, convinced that we couldn’t be the first people to see the absurdity in it until we finally found the bridge. Not another soul in sight. I guess they were all up North driving around, and around, and around.

France is really old.

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Everywhere you look in Provence there is cool stuff to see. All within a few hours drive there are Roman ampitheaters and aqueducts…

Roman ampitheatre in Arles Pont du Gard Aquaduct was originally 31 miles when built in 19 B.C.

Hilltop forts and abbayes from the Middle Ages…

View of Fort St. Andre in Villeneuve-les-Avignon sacristy in the Abbey Montmajor

And former palaces of the French Popes.

Palais des Papes in Avignon


Sunday, August 19th, 2007

The language hasn’t really been an issue so far. In Spain you need to know that “vale” means is okay, and “si, si, si” means yes, yes, yes. Both of which are the most commonly used words in Spain. In addition, my Spanish vocabulary is fairly strong; it’s just stringing the words together to form a sentence that is the problem. But for the most part when speaking with someone, I can work out what is being said.

In France, more people seem to speak English than in Spain, so the only thing NOT to say is, ” qu’est-ce que c’est?” in French (which means, what is that?), or you’re likely to get an earful back in French, none of which you understand.

And in Morocco, it was odd, because their national language is Arabic and French, but the word I heard most while I was in Morocco was “ko-nee-chi-wa” which is hello in Japanese??

You know what they call a Quarter Pounder in France?

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

mmm... so international

Chateau D’If – Doh!

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

view of chateau d'if in Marseille Windy Marseille

In what seems to be becoming a theme, today we were shut out of yet another fortress. This time it was Chateau D’If in Marseille, France, the setting for the “Count of Monte Cristo.” Apparently it was too windy to sail there. Not sure I agree with them.