Posts Tagged ‘tourist’

Itinerary

July 5, 2019

I got on it today!

I mean.

I really did a lot of travel prep for my upcoming trip to Havana, Cuba.

I got my passport out.

I slowly, painstakingly, double, triple, quadruple checked how to fill out my Visa, then I filled it our correctly.

I got traveler’s health insurance.

You have to have proof of insurance for entry into Cuba, and though I am fairly certain my health insurance was ok, I didn’t want to risk being turned away for not having the proper insurance or paperwork.  So.  I just used the health insurance that Cuba Travel Services, who I used to procure my Visa, recommended

Frankly, $55 was worth not having to worry about anything.

Then.

I started booking things through Air BnB.

The Visa I am traveling under is in the category of “Support of Cuban People” which is not a traditional tourist Visa, nor was it one of the two categories the current administration squashed.

“People to People” got pulled and so did the Visa that folks use if they’re on a cruise ship.

But.

In “Support of Cuban People” is still legitimate.

Plus I did my research and what I found was that Visa’s granted before the current restrictions were put in place will be honored.

I got my Visa in the mail the day before the sanctions came down.

I am so grateful that I listened to the little voice inside which told me to take care of my Visa before I traveled.

So, so, so glad.

I will have some restrictions on what I can and can’t do with this Visa, and frankly, I’m not bothered by them at all.

I can’t shop at military run or government supported stores or businesses.

Or stay in hotels operated by the government.

No big deal.

I am staying at a private residence that is called a “casa particular” which is pretty much a family owned bed and breakfast.

I had looked up some on Air BnB, but found nothing that was quite the right fit, then I googled for places and stumbled upon a Forbes article that called the place I’m staying one of the best secrets in Old Havana and I checked it out and made a request.

And.

Yes!

They have a room for me.

For 40 Cuban Peso a night including a full breakfast.

I’m pretty sure I posted up about the place before, but I really excited that I landed in such a sweet spot.

Plus, it’s in Old Havana, which is pretty much where I want to spend most of my time anyway.

I’ll be staying in one of the Art Deco rooms in Hostal Chez Nous next to La Habana Vieja, the old square.

I will pay when I arrive.

They don’t accept American credit cards for reservations.  I literally printed off the confirmation e-mail and I present that and the money in Cuban peso for my 8 night stay.

320 Cuban Peso.

For 8 nights including a full Cuban breakfast.

Seriously good deal.

And since I will have to bring plenty of cash, first converting to Euro because the exchange rate is better for Euro than the American dollar, I decided I would preemptively book some activities.

I had never really delved into the Air BnB activities before, really only just used it to book rooms for myself when I have traveled.

New York.

D.C.

New Orleans.

Paris.

I tend to do pretty well finding what I want to see and do without having to deal with a tour guide or the like.

But a friend of mine had gone Havana within this last year and sent me a private message about places to go and things to do that he highly recommended and two of them were Air BnB experiences.

So.

I checked it out and I was pleasantly surprised.

One.

As I can pre-pay for them and thus not have to carry as much cash on my person.

And two, that all the activities I booked fall under my Visa category, “Support of Cuban People” which made me very happy.

Most of the sites I researched suggested that it would be very unlikely that I would be asked for an itinerary, but just in case, I can show one in which every day I am doing something to support the Cuban people.

My first day in I didn’t book anything.

I was going to, but I figured I’ll be jet lagged and tired and may just want to check into the casa and chill out.

Maybe wander around a little bit and take myself out to dinner in the neighborhood, but nothing serious.

The second day I am going to go to La Marca  Havana’s only legal tattoo shop, also it’s first tattoo shop.  It is also an art gallery and what appears to be a pretty hipster little scene.  I tried to book online with them but it bounced back.  So I’m just going to show up and ask for a walk in appointment.

It’s in Old Havana and maybe a ten minute walk from where I’m staying.

I also plan on going shopping at Clandestina, Havana’s first independent clothing company that happens to be run completely by women.

I’m so in.

Next, yes, yes, I did.

I booked a classic car ride to tour the seawall and cruise along the Malecon.

Ironically, I’ll need to take a taxi to get there, but I couldn’t help but want to do at least one cruise around Havana in a classic car, I mean, really, I had to.

Wednesday I left pretty open.

I figure museums and cafes and I booked a couple of hours with an art student from the university to take me on a photo tour.

This I’m looking forward to, I love street art, and off the beaten track and that’s what this seems to be.  This was also the activity my friend raved about, so two hours in the afternoon wandering around taking pictures with a local student.

Totally down.

Thursday I picked a big adventure, basically committed myself to twelve hours of tour.

I booked a historical tour to the Vinales Valley, tobacco farms, coffee farms, a tour through some of the famous caves and horseback riding in and out of the valley.

What really nailed it for me was that they host come and pick you up where you are staying and drop you back off.

There’s no Uber there.

No Lyft.

I don’t speak Spanish.

Not much really, a few tiny phrases, and something about haggling with a taxi cab driver or getting lost really doesn’t sound like fun for me, so having the pressure taken off by getting picked up and dropped back off really sold me.

Plus.

Ahem.

The ride there and back is in a classic 50s convertible.

Um.

Hehe.

Yes please.

Friday I’ll be doing a ferry trip over the bay to a little known spot in Havana called Regla.  There was something about the trip that appealed.  I don’t know the neighborhood, but I like that it’s a tour guided by a women who is an art history graduate who lives with her grandmother and shows off the markets in the neighborhood.

Plus.

Ferry boat ride.

I’m a sucker for a ferry boat.

Then Friday night I am going clubbing.

But not by myself.

I’m a pretty self-assured woman, but I didn’t want to hit the clubs solo, but there was one place I really wanted to go, FAC The Cuban Art Factory, a gallery space with art and music and djs and it looks like the place to go.

I connected with a couple of women on Air BnB who I will meet up at a cafe and head over to the club and hang out with and get the lowdown and have a safety net.  Really quite pleased with this.

Saturday I’m doing a farm to table lunch with a local chef and then.

And then.

And then.

Holy shit.

It happened.

I was able to book a night with the Buena Vista Social Club!

I am over the fucking moon.

The experience was sold out the last time I looked and it appears that more shows go added.

Basically this lovely older woman books a dinner table for you at the club, you meet her, she’s bought your ticket, you hang out with her and two or three other folks, eat dinner at the club and get to see the floor show and hear the band play.

Never in a million years did I imagine when I bought that compact disc so many moons ago in Madison that I would actually be going to Havana and getting to see a performance of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Fuck.

I feel so grateful.

Sunday morning I’m doing a cultural market and food tour with a lunch to follow with a lovely women who after I booked asked if I wanted to be included in a trip to the beach, Santa Maria beach.

Why yes.

Yes.

Yes I do.

So after the market and lunch I will go with her in a, yes, heh, classic convertible to the beach for a few hours of swimming and laying in the oh so white sand.

Pinch me.

Seriously.

Who’s life is this?

My last day in Havana I want to relax and chill out so I sent a query off to the Manzana Hotel to book a spa pass for their rooftop pool and spa facilities.

60 Cuban peso is not the cheapest, but the pool is so pretty.

I figure book a massage, lay out by the pool and just relax before I head back to the foggy fog.

I am so pleased.

And very excited.

So excited.

It feels really good to have this planned out.

And really.

I don’t think I could have done anything much better with my fourth of July holiday than work on the details for this trip.

Seriously.

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I Almost Called You

April 13, 2019

But, of course, I did not.

The sunlight was streaming through the windows at my studio, just flooding in, and the urge to call, just pick up my phone and call was so strong I gasped out loud with it.

I also yelled at you again today in the car, “sack up and be a fucking man.”

Ah, emotions.

Hello.

I miss you sugar, but I’m not calling.

You can reach out to me under certain circumstances and I’m sure you know what they are.

I don’t expect that you will.

Sometimes I think it might happen and I get hopeful, but I really don’t think you will.

But the light, at sunset, so majestic and golden, it reminded me of our early days together and the day/night/sunset that I fell in love with you.

And then I realized we’re in that time now.

It would have been just over two years ago this past week that I met you with your friend for an anniversary dinner at the Citrus Club in the Haight.

I had not planned on going and was surprised to get the phone call saying, come out and have dinner, it’s your anniversary.

But.

Having just recently found out that you had a crush on me, I decided to go.

I don’t think I changed so fast in my life, striped right out of those yoga clothes and dressed up and hopped on my scooter.

I got there so fast I was the first one there and waited nervously for you to show up.

You seemed nice, but noncommittal.

Of course, you told me later you’d basically given up on me and didn’t think there was anything going to happen between us.

But there was.

And not too soon thereafter.

May 3rd, 2017, our first kiss.

God.

It still makes my heart do all sorts of somersaults thinking about that and how quickly we found each other.

It wasn’t very long after that I fell in love with you, falling into your eyes as the sunlight beamed through the windows.

Oh lover.

So it was really hard to not call.

And there’s so damn much I want to tell you!

So much.

I’m going to Cuba!

Havana, specifically.

I just got my VISA ordered tonight before starting this blog.

There is so much to do before I go, so much homework, work work, therapy clients to see, studying to do, I have to take my Law and Ethics exam soon and I have just shelled out $295 to the Therapist Development Center for all the study materials to pass the test.

I have a lot to do before I go to Havana in July.

But, oh, Havana.

I’m so distracted by the trip that I find myself barely able to focus on the things that need to be addressed before I go.

I also really didn’t have the bandwidth at all to do homework the last couple of days as I’ve been up early and at work early both days, the kids are on Spring Break and the parents are working extra and the grandmother is coming for a visit.

I had to juggle  a lot of monkeys the last few days, no time for homework and no time after getting home from seeing clients to attend to it either.

But looking up Havana, Cuba on the net.

Oh, I’ve got time for that.

Yes, yes, I do.

I have done lots of research and nailed down some specific experiences that I want to have.

Mostly because I know that showing up with nothing planned is not a great idea for me as I will be a single, I assume, woman traveling to a Spanish-speaking country.  I’ve already been told I will get catcalls, etc. And since I don’t speak much Spanish I really want to be prepared.

Also that there’s intermittent to little WiFi.

That the ATM’s don’t take American credit cards or debit cards.

And that no American cards at all are accepted anywhere, basically everything is done in cash.

I’ll need to get CUC when I arrive at the airport.

You can’t get the currency outside of Cuba.

So it’s not like I can go to SFO and drop some money and get it, I have to bring a bunch of cash with me and then exchange it in Cuba when I get there.

The casa particular I’m staying at requires my payment up front in CUC when I check in.

That’s $320, for eight days including breakfast.

Hella good deal.

In fact.

I should be able to really do quite a lot of things on a fairly small budget.

And I think I will end up booking a bunch of Air BnB experiences.

I believe I can pre-pay these by card before I go and then I don’t have to haggle prices when I can barely speak Spanish.

There are a lot of super interesting things I want to do and I sort of gave myself an itinerary after doing some research on Air BnB and just Googling random things about Havana.

One day I plan on doing an “Authentic Cuban Food/Market Tour” where I will get a tour of a big market and a lunch at restaurant with a local chef.  I’m planning on doing this pretty much the second day I’m there, first day will be just getting settled in and chilling out.  That way I have an idea of how the markets work and what to buy and what things costs.

I want to do a street art and walking tour with some graduates of the University there, take photographs and get out of the heavy tourist areas.

I also want to do some shopping with a local fashion designer and artist.

I want to go to the museums of course and I also want to do an Art Deco tour.  This is with a professor at the University and I figure it’d be a great learning experience, I really like Art Deco and wandering around with a professor would be some great insight into the city.

I want to take a Salsa class, because, hello, dancing, Cuba, yes please.

I also want to do some rooftop sunsets and drive around in a vintage car.  I mean, come on, $65 for getting driven all around Havana and taken to rooftop pools?  Count me in.  I’ll be skipping the booze part, but there are non-alcoholic beverages provided, so I’m set.

And I do like the driving around in vintage cars a heap, so I’ll be doing that more than once.  I have to do the drive along the sea wall in West Havana.  Bring it.

I’m also going to do a day outside of Havana, the spendiest thing I’m planning on doing, but when you look at everything the trip is offering, its super worth it.  For $120 a full 12 hour day, you get picked up at your place in a vintage car with A/C and driven an hour to Vinales, for a cave exploration, a hike into a tobacco farm, lunch, and horseback riding.  And they drive you back and drop you off where you’re staying too. Um, totally worth the price.

It won’t be Cuba without going to the beach, in yes, another vintage car, so I’ll be heading to the beach for sure, I’m still sourcing out the right fit here, as there’s a couple of different offers and I want to explore which beach feels right.

There are two other things I want to do that have nothing to do with Air BnB experiences that I found on the web and I am really excited about doing.

One is going to this fancy hotel with apparently the best rooftop pool in Havana and getting a day pass to hang out there all day, it’s $60 for the day and I think a day of just lying around a pool and using the spa facilities is worth the money and maybe sneaking in a massage too. Hence a day trip to the Gran Hotel Manzana.

And this private restaurant: La Guardia.

It looks amazing and if it’s good enough for Sting and Barack Obama and Natalie Portman, I definitely think it’s worth investigating.

Doing this research really made me think about you too, how we’d have such fun laying poolside, walking Old Havana, finding all the delicious things to eat, Cuban coffee, the beach, just all of it.

And I didn’t call and  won’t, but man, I think about you a lot.

Not every moment of the day, but when it comes to traveling you are so on my mind it’s a challenge.

I wish you well where ever you are.

I haven’t a clue to your schedule anymore.

I wish you would reach out and I’m ok that you won’t.

I’m still not over you, don’t think I will ever be, but I might, just might, be starting to get through.

Ready to Fly

February 15, 2019

I’m at work.

The baby is sleeping.

The rain is falling.

The dad is home sick.

It’s Friday.

I have one client after work tonight then…

Three day weekend!

I’m so ready to be done.

I’m flying out tonight on a red-eye to D.C. to spend time with my best friend in Georgetown.

I do find it rather funny actually that I’m going to be there over President’s Day weekend.

Just sort of how it worked out.

Originally I was supposed to go before school started, but our schedules just did not sync up.

So.

Here I am officially into the month of February getting ready to jettison off for a much-needed mini-holiday.

And!

I’m done with my homework.

In fact, I am a touch a head of it.

I have been assiduously reading, writing, posting discussion posts, responding to discussion posts, et al.

I’ve actually finished the reader completely for one of my classes.

This is not to say that there isn’t work to do.

I’m in a fucking PhD program, there is always going to be work to do.

In fact, I’m sure my guilty student self-will arise any moment now and say something like, “you could pre-read for your other two classes too.”

But the fact is.

I need a break.

And sometimes that is just as important to acknowledge as it is to budget time to do the homework.

It’s been, well, stressful isn’t the right word exactly, but challenging at work this week.

The dad has been home sick every day.

EVERY DAY.

The whole family has gotten sick, and I as well, although not to the extent or severity of the baby or the papa.

For this I am so lucky.

Very happy.

Very grateful.

I caught it last week Thursday, tried to pretend I didn’t have it, had it land pretty solid Friday, spiked a fever while at my office seeing clients on Saturday.

Fortunate for me I had some clients cancel and no-show and I was able to chill out in my office after seeing two clients.

That actually helped me a lot in my advancement through my homework this week.

I wrote a paper and did a bunch of reading.

I wrote another paper on Sunday.

And then have read and posted discussions all week.

I’m just about past the point of feeling awkward with the dad around.

But, yes challenging.

I find I do as much work as I possibly can, but you know, I’m extremely efficient and Fridays the family traditionally orders in food, so I have no food prep or dinner planning to do.

The house is spotless.

I can’t access laundry since it’s next to the sleeping baby.

So I’ve done my homework and then realized, good lord, I still have another half hour or so of not having anything to do.

Somehow sitting on the couch trolling Instagram seems like a bad idea.

I figured if I was writing, it would at least look like I’m working on something.

Dad doesn’t need to know I’m writing my blog.

Plus.

Since I’m flying a red-eye tonight I am going to try to sleep on the plane rather than do homework.

Maybe, ooh, I could even watch a movie.

Ah.

That would be nice.

I do know that I will be happy to hit DC running, my friend will pick me up at the airport, drive me into town and then we’re going to do breakfast, coffee, and doing that infamous deal at a clubhouse near DuPont Circle.

After that I am checking into an Air BnB in Georgetown.

That I was happily given access to for early check in.

Super grateful for that.

Originally the check in was listed for 3p.m.

But I asked if it was possible to get in early and I got a sweet affirmative response last night.

So.

Napping.

And.

Napping in front of a working fireplace.

Yes.

I won’t nap too long, there’s only so much time I get with my friend.

I think we might do a fancy pants dinner out somewhere that evening and then Sunday really just hang out and walk around Georgetown, hit some cafes, grab lunch somewhere, maybe do some shopping.

You know, girl stuff.

And I fly back super early on Monday.

So early that I actually will have most of Monday available to me for life stuff that needs to be done.

I have to drop my car off for some maintenance and I’m hoping to get all my laundry done.

So.

Here’s to there only being two and a half hours left of my work day, one client, and a quick drive home to pick up my suitcase and travel bag.

I’m already packed.

All I have to do is remembered to bring my power cords for my computer and my phone.

God only knows l will likely check into my school work at least once.

Maybe twice.

I’m too paranoid about falling behind to not do that.

But really.

I do hope to take it easy and let myself gently off the hook.

I feel really good at where I am currently in this semester of work.

Sure.

That could change the next week.

But for now.

Well.

Here’s to a three-day weekend!

 

Where Do I Start?

July 25, 2018

First.

Bon soir!

I have not seen my computer for a few days.

My best French friend insisted that we were to travel very lightly to Marseilles and so, no computer.

Also.

No makeup.

What?

I know I felt naked, until I didn’t.

But apparently, ahem, I still look nice without it.

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I think vacation looks pretty good on me.

It didn’t hurt that I have a tan.

Boy.

Do I have a tan.

The above photo was taken early in the evening yesterday on the island of Frioul.  If you look closely in the background you can see the city of Marseilles.  My friend and I took an early evening ferry-boat to Frioul and strolled around it and took photos.

It was such a pretty place, and it would have been great for swimming had we known.

Next time.

But.

Swimming was had!

I had my first dip, then my second, yesterday in the Mediterranean!

Here I am a touch blissed out:

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My hair is all wet, I am sandy, I went for two swims in the Calanque and it was extraordinary.

First, a slight aside, must get back to swimming, being in the water and swimming felt so damn good.  Screw yoga, I think it’s long past time I get back into the pool.

Second.

Wow.

It was so, so, so beautiful.

A calanque is, well, fuck, I’m not sure I can quite describe it, a sort of wild hill area with dry rocky terrain along the coast that stretches from Marseilles to Cassis, there are all these inlets and beaches and coves, it’s a national park in France and frankly I can see why, they are true treasures.

The clanque that we went to was the Calanque of Sormiou.

It was exquisite.

I mean.

So gorgeous.

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This is the view from the top of an hour-long climb through the hills.

I will not mince words.

It was hot.

I was sweaty.

And I was not exactly happy to be climbing so much.

But.

Fuck.

Once I got to the top.

Wow.

I don’t know how high the climb was, and yes, what goes up must come down, we had to climb back out, gratefully the way is paved and if you have a tiny car and balls of steel you can drive in, but we walked, or climbed.

According to my little app on my phone that counts my steps we climbed.

We walked 26,450 steps yesterday.

Which is 12.4 miles.

And.

We climbed 51 floors!

51!

Ooh la la!

My legs.

But again.

It was extraordinarily beautiful and I’m so glad we did it, even if for a second there my friend made me wear a damp towel on my head for a while, she thought I might be getting close to heat stroke.

I guess I was pretty red in the face.

I certainly sweated a lot.

I think I may have actually lost weight this trip, despite the cheese and charcuterie I have eaten here.

I seriously have walked miles and miles and miles each day.

And swam.

Here.

Enough of my prattle.

More pictures of the beauty:

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I mean.

Come on.

It was like being on a movie set.

Except.

Well.

It was totally real.

Stunning beyond words, even now, looking at these photos, I’m like, really, I was just there yesterday?

Swimming in the sea.

It was truly one of the most beautiful moments, that first cool plunge into the ocean, the taste of the salt, so salty, and then popping up from the water and seeing the mountains arising around me.

I was blown away.

I swam far out until I got a little spooked, and then headed back in to let my friend take her turn.

We didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended on the beach, it has a reputation for thievery.

While my friend swam I unfolded the towel filched from the hotel onto the sand, put on more sunblock and lay back enjoying the hot sun, the sound of the water, the people speaking Italian to my right, the couple canoodling in Catalan on my left, and closed my eyes.

It was glorious.

My friend returned with tales of being nibbled on by a fish, which didn’t exactly compel me to get back in the water, but get back in I did.

Only to be flirted with by some gentleman who tried to tell me that I should be concerned about the sharks.

Thanks man, here’s a pointer on flirting with a woman, don’t tell her there might be sharks in the water, all it does is make a lady want to get the fuck out of the water.

I swam off laughing and telling him he was horrible for telling me such a tale.

Another stint of laying on the beach and then my friend and I packed up our things and began the long, arduous walk back.

I won’t lie.

It was hard.

And it was hot.

Very, very, very hot.

But.

I also would be lying if I didn’t say that there was a part of me that was very proud of myself for doing the climb and having a true adventure with my friend.

We made it back to Marseilles alive, had a late lunch, then went to the hotel and freshened up.

That shower, let me tell you, damn good.

After taking some time to rest we headed out to the ferry-boat and our trip to the island of Frioul.

The first photo I posted was from Frioul.

Here are a couple more, it was truly lovely.

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I have to say, the South of France was very special to see.

And I haven’t even told you about Aix-en-Provence or really about Marseille itself, but you know, I have one last day in Paris tomorrow and it’s time I got ready for it.

Bon soir mes amis!

Bon soir!

20,650 Steps

June 27, 2018

That’s how much I walked today.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to write this blog.

I just got out of a bath at the Air BnB I’m staying at in Brooklyn and I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes and I could have stayed there all night.

I mean.

I think I was lying there for at least five minutes, maybe more.

I got up though to put on lotion.

My skin has been changing a little, getting a little dryer as I get older and I don’t like how it feels, so I got up, slathered on some lotion and figured I would at least make an attempt at writing something.

I really did walk that many steps.

I actually walked more than that, I didn’t carry my phone with me all day, so there were a couple of flights of steps not counted and some pattering around the house exploring, but mainly, I was on the move today.

From flying out last night to landing here this early afternoon to strolling all over Brooklyn, I had quite a day.

I am pretty damn beat.

I got about three hours of sleep on the plane.

Not my best showing.

But I am sure I will catch up on that tonight.

And since I’m not on a schedule I can sleep as long as I like.

I have two plans for tomorrow.

The first is the Brooklyn Museum to see the David Bowie Exhibition and the Judy Chicago show.

The second is to see an old friend from SF who moved here years ago and go do the deal tomorrow night at 7:30p.m.

He and his girlfriend started something up a little while back that apparently is like what recovery is in San Francisco.

I had to laugh, since I’m a regular attendee at a spot that models itself after recovery in New York.

It’s always better where you got the message first.

So I will get a little piece of San Francisco tomorrow night, which is sweet.

It’s nice to still be connected to friends 13 years later.

I don’t foresee as much walking tomorrow as I did today.

The walking was actually not really planned.

I decided to walk around the neighborhood a little after I had gotten settled in and had taken a nice shower to wash off the airplane travel.

One block lead to another and another and another.

I like the neighborhood.

Very residential, lots of row houses.

God, I love the brown stones in Brooklyn.

And I love the culture of sitting on the stoop or in the front part of the brownstone, what would be a yard, but is just a square of cement patio.

I loved seeing so many people sitting out on the stoops and watching the neighborhood go by.

I felt like I fit in.

I could see living in Brooklyn, this part of Brooklyn anyway, I’m not quite as much of a fan of Williamsburg, which is quaint, but doesn’t have the row house appeal of this part of Brooklyn.

Bed-Stuy, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill.

Gorgeous houses.

They get fancier and fancier the closer to the water you get.

By the time I had walked to the Brooklyn Heights promenade I was pretty in awe of the houses.

So pretty.

Of course, I’ve only been here when it’s warm, I don’t know that I could deal with the winters, I know they are vicious.

I had enough winters being in Wisconsin as long as I was.

It’s warm, the day was warm, not too hot, it will get warmer as I stay.

Today was about 80 degrees, by Saturday it’s supposed to be low 90s.

It’s going to be hot, hot, hot.

But I will enjoy that too, when the sun goes down and I’m still outside walking around in a light weight dress.

I wore my bibs out today and got lots of compliments on them.

I also got lots of compliments on my tattoos.

I was actually surprised to not see more folks with tattoos, could just be the part of the city I’m in, who knows.

I had a conversation outside a coffee shop on Lafayette Avenue with a youngish girl who wanted to pick my brain as she was planning her first tattoo.

We had quite the conversation.

I like that I can just fall into talking with people, it feels nice.

I did have a moment of feeling a tiny bit lonely tonight when I was back at the Air BnB having procured food from the Whole Foods three miles away.

That was the last stop on my walk, and I have to say, I was a bit out of it by that point.

But.

I did manage to wrangle up breakfast food, coffee, snacks, cold brewed coffee, bottled water, and fruit for the rest of the week.

I plan on eating breakfast at the house and then other meals out.

Although I only ate one meal out today, and it wasn’t with much fan fare, though I have to say, it was nice to eat it outside on the patio at the joint I went to in Fort Greene.

Dinner I didn’t have it in me to plan, cook, or go out for, I was too tired after getting back from the grocery store.

I made oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg.

I’m sure I will eat out plenty the rest of the week.

Anyway.

I’m happy to be here and excited for sleep and to see what the rest of the week shall bring.

Here.

Let me at least leave you with a few photos:

2018-06-26 17.11.47-2

2018-06-26 16.52.54-1

2018-06-26 16.50.11-2

2018-06-26 16.48.11-2

2018-06-26 15.03.36-2

And now.

Now.

It is time for the rest.

Seriously.

 

Almost There

October 6, 2017

Almost to the weekend.

So close I can taste it.

I am ready.

I am so ready.

It’s been a long week, not horrible, just long.

I’ve seen my therapist, had a huge aha moment with her, felt some things get inwardly re-arranged and they’re still settling.

I saw my supervisor and we had an amazing session.

I have seen six clients this week.

I have two more to see tomorrow.

I have worked full days at work.

I have one more to go.

One more.

Then.

Saturday.

OH.

How I have been dreaming about you.

It just can’t get to me fast enough.

And the week has gone by pretty quick, for which I am grateful.

Sometimes anticipation of an event can make the time getting there super painful.

Exquisite pain.

“It’s almost Christmas!” My little girl charge said twirling around in her ballet leotard and tutu.

I hate to break it to you kiddo, but it’s the first week in October, it’s going to be a minute.

Despite, yes, ugh, seeing the first Christmas decorations up at Nordstrom’s Rack last weekend when I went to do some clothing shopping.

I mean, sure, they had some Halloween stuff up too, but really the bulk of it was Christmas stuff.

I was a touch horrified.

Let me enjoy the autumn please.

Let me have my Halloween.

“What are you going to be for Halloween?” My oldest boy charge asked me.

He was not satisfied with my response of “a nanny.”

“Come on!” He demanded.

“Um, a grad student?” I smiled.

“No!” He said, literally stomping his foot.

“What about a psychotherapist?” I added, trying not to chuckle too much at his expense, he was so serious.

“That’s not a costume!” He opened his eyes really big and huffed out air from his cheeks.

I don’t have a costume, although I could pull off a pin-up girl really easily, I have a couple of dresses that are retro pin-up.

But pin-up might be, um, well, a tad sexy for my nanny day job.

I might wear of Day of the Dead skull print dress.

It’s also a touch on the pin-up side, but I can down play the make up and hair, and make it cute instead of sexy.

Child appropriate.

I won’t see my therapist that day, she’ll be out of town, but I will have clients, at least I think I will have one, I have to double-check, it feels like one of them recently cancelled for that day, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

So.

Whatever I do wear needs to translate to going in to my internship and seeing clients.

I get a head of myself.

It’s not Halloween yet.

Nor is it Christmas.

I am just anticipating my weekend.

And that’s enough.

I’m almost done with my antibiotics too.

Which is nice, they upset my tummy a bit.

I have one more day and then done with them.

I still have had intermittent tooth pain, but I’m dealing.

Just taking ibuprofen and trying to stay hydrated.

I feel like drinking more water is always helpful, no matter what.

I hope the pain passes.

I had it come on pretty bad yesterday at the end of the work day and it was distracting at my internship, then I woke up this morning and nothing.

A bit of pain in the late afternoon today, but end of day at work was doable.

It’s been not so hot over the past week.

I do hope it passes.

If it continues or gets worse I’m just going to suck it up and make another appointment and let my dentist poke around in there some more.

Not excited for that.

So.

Hey tooth fairy.

Cut this lady a little slack.

The dentist didn’t see any cavities, nothing showed up on the x-ray, so stop hounding me for a tooth, I ain’t got one to give.

Anyway.

Who cars about my teeth when the weekend is almost here.

I’m not excited, really, ha.

I have to also remember, in all the excitement to book my ticket for travel.

I need to book by October 15th.

Which means I should do it this weekend as next weekend, October 13th-15th, is a school weekend.

I am happy that I can still use the ticket and book flight.

It’s nice to look forward to travel.

Even if I won’t necessarily take it for a little while.

I will still get to take it and I won’t be throwing $435 down the drain.

I have wasted plenty of money on lesser things, but travel is sacred to me.

I love to get on a plane and go.

Oh.

I always want to come back home, but I do like to go somewhere new and explore it, sometimes I also want to go to somewhere I know.

I will always have a lech to travel to Paris, always.

It is familiar and still foreign enough and though I have been many times, there always is something new to see.

I almost found myself applying for a two month artist in residency for next year.

But then.

Haha.

I remember, um, you might be in school those two months.

Not going to happen.

It’s a prestigious fellowship.

It’s two months rent and $1,000 a month to support your time plus travel expenses.

Nothing to sneeze at.

I applied for it once, I think that’s why I got the notice in my e-mail today.

But I had to laugh after I took a minute to realize, of course I can’t go for two months to Paris in 2018 since I’m in school and have other really important obligations, but I laughed at the photo the fellowship was using as an enticement.

It was two people romantic and laughing in the sun on a bridge near Pont Neuf.

Which is a gorgeous and magical.

But the fellowship is for February and March.

Which are not sunny months at all.

AT ALL.

They are dark and cold and dreary and wet and rainy.

That photo definetly taken in summer or late spring.

Not way it was FEBRUARY.

Also it’s why, I bet, they do the fellowship at that time because it’s probably the least traveled time to go to Paris, thus cheaper, than any other time, maybe August, which is when the city basically shuts down in the heat and everybody leaves to go on vacation.

It was a lovely fantasy, though, to indulge in for a minute.

But really.

My time needs to be focused here.

Here is where it’s at.

All the things.

And Friday.

Hello weekend.

I have waited so long for you.

I can taste your nearness and it is maddening.

Seriously.

 

No Rest For The Wicked

May 22, 2017

But.

I am going to try.

I am zonked.

It’s been a long day.

It started at 5 a.m. today, yesterday?  I don’t even know, what day is it?

Yes.

Sunday.

And yes.

I already have my alarm set for the morning.

I have to get up early and go meet with my supervisor.

My internship starts this week.

I’ve the meeting tomorrow and then training starts on Thursday.

And.

You know.

Work.

And um.

Hello.

Jet lag.

Current Paris time is 4:53 a.m.

That means, 24 hours ago I was just about to get up and finish my packing.

And it was a great big last day of a last day.

One last morning of having coffee on the houseboat and then off to Clingancourt.

Which I almost bailed on.

Crowds cause me some anxiety.

My friend I went with pretty much noticed that ASAP.

“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to,” I was told, and I knew that, but I also wanted to make the effort.

I’d never made it in to Clingancourt before, I had only gone one other time and it was closed.

I wandered around and took street art photography.

The thing about the market is that it’s in not the prettiest neighborhood, lots of low-income housing tenements, it’s just at the Periphery of the city, so it can get quite a bit sketchy, it’s a haven for pick pockets, and there’s a lot of dingy, trashiness to it, plus there was a lot of construction going on.

However, once you make it into the actual market, it’s great.

It’s just getting through shark infested waters.

I’m bad with pushy tourist scam artists and crowds and what feels very edgy and compromised.

I also recognize that I am sensitive and it takes a lot of work for me to shut out that kind of lifestyle and edge.

I used to do it pretty damn well, but truth be told I haven’t had walls up that high in a bit and it felt exhausting and I was a little ashamed that I wasn’t able to keep it better together, apologizing to my friend too much for how I was dealing and it just left an uneasy taste in my mouth.

But.

I did have fun in the market itself, I saw some beautiful things and actually bartered a little bit with a vendor and got 10 Euro knocked off a pair of vintage earrings.

Scoring them for 20 Euro instead of the 30 Euro listed.

Great deal.

Especially considering that the other pair of earrings I had seen that I was very drawn to were 1750 Euro!

Of course they were, but my god, so gorgeous.

I also had a sweet chat with the woman running the stall and it felt nice to be able to at least tell her that I was so grateful for her time showing me her beautiful jewelry and I felt pretty damn good about remembering the word for earrings in French.

The longer I was there the more came back, although when I got tired, which was often, I don’t think I actually ever got a big full eight hours of sleep, I would lapse in the quality of my French.

Still.

Overall.

I think I did pretty good.

And though Clingancourt was a challenge for me, I can say, I did it, and I also got a very cool poster, a 1955 Scandal sheet, that I was able to score for 10 Euro.

Felt fun to do that.

Although I ended up missing seeing a few people I had hoped to catch up with, after I got back from the market I was too zonked out to try to do anything else.

I sat on the prow of the houseboat and I wrote awhile in my journal and just enjoyed the hell out of the sun.

Super grateful that my last day in Paris was sunny.

Not as warm as I might have liked, but really nice.

And.

After I got packed and sorted a friend and I went out to grab a bite to eat and I decided to get dressed up a little for my last night in Paris and wear my earrings and put my hair up and if only for that I am super glad I went to Clingancourt, my earrings were such fun to wear.

It was lovely to take one last walk along the Seine, to see all the folks lined up at the Musee D’Orsay, to window shop a little, and oh God, yes, get one last little souvenir for stuffing into my suitcase.

Or, as the case may be, for wearing around my shoulders.

I picked up a gorgeous black cashmere (my first cashmere) wrap from this beautiful little shop.

I met the owner and chatted and she called me out as being an artist and then showed me the book her little sister had just gotten published and then told me about Nice and Picasso and Miro and art and al the artists that used to come through their home–the photograph of the book her sister wrote is the woman as a young girl with Pablo Picasso making faces at her.

It was super sweet and she asked me for my information so she could follow my blog.

Which frankly was an interesting moment, when she asked if I was an artist and I am, I’m a writer, a poet, a dreamer, an arranger of colors and sounds and atmospheres in myself, but when someone asks me if I am an artist I always seem to have a moment where I pause and think, no, no, not me.

I’m not really an artist.

But.

I am.

I write poetry and once in a while it is good.

And once in a while I will write a blog that makes me think, yes, I got it, that was art, that was beauty.

But do I paint or draw, no, not so much, do I make music, nope, although I do aspire to be lyrical in my writings.

Nevertheless I gave her my blog address and for a moment I was again a woman artist in Paris, talking art with another artist in a beautiful shop full of soft, delicious things to touch and wrap around me.

It was a comfort on the plane to have the cashmere wrap and I don’t doubt that I will wear it often.

Sensual and soft, warm and engulfing.

All the lovely things.

And now.

My darlings, my dears.

It is time for rest.

I must be up early and I have been going for 24 hours.

Good night my dears.

From a very.

Very.

Grateful.

And.

Lucky girl.

Ooh La La

May 19, 2017

Je suis fatigue.

I am tired.

I was up at 6 a.m.

I couldn’t sleep.

Oh.

I tried.

But gave up the goose around 6:20 a.m.

I popped up and decided to head out to a spot over by the Arc de Triomphe to see some fellows this morning at 8 a.m.

I arrived with plenty of time and was able to grab a quick cafe creme at Comptoir de L’Arc, a little cafe I got turned on to by a friend when I lived here four and a half years ago.

And!

I got a message from that friend today, she’s going to be in town for a quick visit and we are going to meet up at a spot tomorrow with a few other fellows, hang out, do the deal, and go to some French fellowship after.

I am super excited.

I may be super exhausted, but I’m going to sleep when I’m dead.

Or.

Perhaps after I write my blog.

I really did make a big run on the day.

Up so early I felt like I got a scandalous amount of things done today.

One of which has been on my list of things to do in Paris that I never quite got to the last few times I was here.

I went to Marche Aux Enfants Rouge this morning after doing the deal.

I bought cherries and Belle Pomme de Boskop!

My favorite apples in Paris, I believe that they come from Belgium, but they are the apples I used to buy at the market at Square D’Anvers when I lived next to it.

I took my booty to the park nearby, Parc du Temple, sat on a bench and watched the children play in the playground and the ducks paddle about in the pond.

It was spectacular.

Quiet.

Serene.

I had a moment, a Paris moment, and I almost laughed out loud, this, this sitting still on a park bench in a quiet park, off the beaten tourist track, in a sweet neighborhood in the 3rd Arrondisement, may have been one of the highlights of my trip.

It was so serene.

Sometimes a girl has to fly around the world to sit still.

I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to sit still, although perhaps not tomorrow, as a friend and I are heading to Clingancourt early, but I will give it a shot.

Speaking of friends.

There is nothing, and I mean, nothing quite like bumping into a friend at random in the Marais.

It was amazingly serendipitous.

We walked all over the Marais, chatted, caught up, window shopped.

And.

Ha!

I got my Paris sweatshirt!

Except.

Heh.

It’s not exactly a sweatshirt.

It’s so much better.

And.

It’s so damn me.

It’s a pink satin bomber jacket that I got to have custom patches put on it.

There’s one on the right arm that says Rue Cambon, 1st Arr.

Rue Cambon is where all the fashion house are.

And.

The patch on the back.

Rue de Mauvais Garçon, 3rd Arr.

Literal translation:

Street of the Bad Boys.

Yeah.

I will run with that.

I haven’t had an impulse buy like that in some time and with that I am pretty tapped to with my spending.

I have gotten all my booty and then some.

In fact.

I am a shopped out, museum’ed out, and just about walked out.

My ankle is holding up and I am super glad I go the walking shoes, and I have been careful to not push too hard.

I can easily go too hard too fast.

Which is why I am very happy that I took time today to sit down and watch ducks for a while.

And despite being tired, which frankly makes it harder for me to speak French when my brain isn’t running on a full nights sleep, I got wonderful compliments about my French several times today, and many times over the course of my time here.

I was told by one person that my French was so pretty and where was I from.

He was shocked when I told him that I was from the states.

“But you have no American accent!”

Thank God.

Not that I’m not happy I’m where I’m from, but it does help tremendously to not have the American accent, there is much that is disparaged here about America and sometimes, well, it’s just nice to slide under the radar.

Not that I slide very far under the radar.

I am still quite noticeable in Paris.

I have tattoos you know.

But.

It’s also nice to be recognized.

I had dinner again at a little place by the Musee D’Orsay on Rue de Bac called Cocorico.

The waiter waved me to the table I had last night, the owner came over and chatted with me and we talked about where I was from, again, surprised that I was from America, with my lack of accent, about me being on vacation, that today I was tired, but happy to be eating in her lovely restaurant.

She asked me what I had been doing and I told her, walking and museums and then I told her about the show at the Orangerie and the amazing installation there and she got excited and said she was going to go.

It was a super treat to be chatted with in such a manner, I’m not a local, but I wasn’t treated like a tourist.

She bought my cafe creme for me and when I went to leave she asked my name, “Carmen,” I said, “comme l’Opera.”

Carmen, like the opera.

“Enchante,” she replied, ” je m’appelle Odette.”

I told her it was such a pleasure to meet her and that I was so happy to enjoy her delicious food and I wished her a good night and a good weekend.

I floated out the door.

It’s the little things.

I felt very special.

Thank you Paris for dressing me up in pink satin jackets and making me feel noticed and loved.

It means the world.

It really does.

Sunshine & Rain

May 17, 2017

I got both today.

Loads of sun this morning and early afternoon.

Perfect for sitting on the deck of the houseboat and writing and drinking cafe au lait, watching the boats go by, flirting with the boat cats–there are three brown tabbies that nestle on the houseboat that is docked next to this one, soaking up the sun.

The rain was forecasted for tonight and the rain will last, according to the weather, but I am hoping there will be small reprieves when the sun comes out again, until I leave on Sunday morning.  There is a chance for sun again on Saturday and I do hope that happens as a friend and I are going to go hit the Clingancourt brocante and vintage market.

I expect that the rain will push me into the Louvre tomorrow to see the Vermeer show and drift about.

I don’t ever have a plan when I go to the Louvre, go in, get out, drop some postcards at La Bureau de Posts–nothing quite like getting the Louvre postal stamp on your postcard.

Slight aside.

I got an amazing congratulations baby card today in my travels about, one that says congrats on twins in French!  Super happy I found it, I will be dropping that off for sure from the Louvre.

Today I did the Pompidou as my museum.

And there was no need to do another.

It filled me up with art.

I saw a Vassily Kandinsky I had never seen before that I quite liked, I love his early works quite a bit, and this fell into that category.

I also saw some beautiful photographs and I took loads of photographs from the top deck of the Pompidou.

I got some great shots of Sacre Couer and also of the Eiffel Tower, the Eiffel Tower ones I am quite enamored with as the storm clouds were coming in dark and fierce.

The down pour that followed was insane.

I had met a friend at the museum and we ran through the streets, well, ok, I didn’t run, not so much, the ankle is getting better, but it is not racing through the wet streets of Paris better, between awnings and eventually we ducked into a Japanese restaurant.

Some hot tea and a little sushi later, semi-dry, and walking back to the houseboat on the Seine in the rain.

Sometimes when it rains in Paris it is fucking desperate and awful.

I remember when I moved to Paris in the winter of 2012 how bad it was, so cold, so dreary, but tonight it was neither, after the deluge, the rains were misty and softer and the streets got that glow from slick water on pavement and the streetlights, green, gold, crimson reflected on the pavement.

So gorgeous.

I got back wet and I had to take a lot of pains to get on the house boat without breaking my ankle, but I did, and I’m dry now and all sorted out.

I took some time to go through my photographs and post those up to my social media and I also took the things I bought today out of their packaging so that I would have more room to smash them all in my carry on.

I am about shopped out.

I spent just about all the money on shopping that I have earmarked for myself.

Um.

Because.

Heh.

I finally let myself buy some French lingerie.

I had to.

I have always wanted to and so.

Well.

I did.

I got two of the prettiest bra and panty sets ever and a body suit.

I couldn’t help myself.

It was trop cher, ma cherie, but I had it in my budget and so I let myself do it.

It felt pretty glorious and truth be told it was really letting myself have a treat.

A treat that I continued to let myself have by also getting a few more Claire Fontaine notebooks and some makeup from Sephora.

Yes.

There is Sephora in San Francisco, but I wanted to buy some here, I try to get a thing or two from the Paris Sephora since it was in Paris in 2002 that I first discovered the makeup store.

I bought a lipstick and some Urban Decay eye shadows.

Sure.

I paid a few Euro more than what I might have at home, but every time I use it, I will think of Paris and that is well worth the cost.

And.

Yes.

I got my tattoo!

C’est très superb!

I got the French word for non-conformist on my left forearm.

“Anticonformiste.”

In script.

It is super pretty and fits well with my other tattoos.

I had fun talking to the artist, Manish, who is visiting from Nepal.

I also got to have some cute conversations with a few gentlemen who walked into the store to get tattoos, one older man who was quite excited by my dragons and then proceeded to show me the one on his arm, beautiful work, and we chit chatted in French about tattoos for a while and where I got mine and how much fun they are.

All the fun stuff.

I have had such a lovely time.

And I still have a few days left for some more.

The rain speaks to me of sleeping in and a slow serene day at the Louvre tomorrow.

A demain, mes amies.

Et.

A bientot!

Museums A GoGo

May 16, 2017

Today I hit the Jeu de Paume and the Musee D’Orsay.

I am not museum’ed out.

Yet.

But I will be pacing myself.

The crowds were pretty thick at the Musee D’Orsay, and thank God for the Paris Museum Pass, so nice to just pop to the front of the line and not have to be herded through the main gate.

They had a beautiful exhibition with “Etoiles” as the thematic, “stars” lots of Van Gough, Monet, even Georgia O’Keefe, there were artists I had never seen and pieces that resonated so deeply with me, my breath caught in my throat and tears welled in my eyes.

Or every hair stood on end.

One of the Van Gough’s so blew me away, deep and visceral in my body, I caught my breath.

It was deeply surrounded by viewers and I got as close as I could withstand the crowds and breathed in the beauty of it.

I tried to look for postcards later in the museum shops that were of the same piece and I was disappointed, the flatness of the card did the painting no justice and I could not bring myself to buy one.

I did, however, get my museum shop on.

I do love a good museum shop.

I bought a book for one of my charges and postcards and a cloth sack for myself and a magnet of a Klimt piece that I saw in the Etoile ensemble that did translate from the painting to the magnet.

I took lots of photographs and I stopped and sat and periodically rested.

I went all the way to the top of the museum and caught the perspective from the interior, and from the exterior.

I got some pretty pictures.

I am quite happy.

I am a bit of a shutterbug.

I am not sure if I am going to post them up to my other blog or not, I’m thinking, as I continue further with my schooling and career goals that I do have to change-up some things with my blog.

I still haven’t quite figured it out and while I’m in Paris I’m not going to worry about it.

I really just want to enjoy my leisure time here, I am slowed down quite a bit, even with my ankle feeling better.

Tomorrow I will return to the Marais, I have a tattoo appointment at 3:30 p.m. and I will hit the Pompidou either before or after the tattoo.

I also may pop around the shops and do a little more window shopping.

It’s awful fun to do.

I am doing well with my finances and there’s a few things I still haven’t gotten to get, but then again, I have really done so well with what I wanted to get that I am alright if I don’t score a bunch of souvenirs.

I have to be careful, I only have so much room in my luggage.

I bought a poster today that I’m not real sure how the hell I’m going to get back.

But.

I had to get it.

When I was at the Jeu de Paume they were having a sale in the library and one of the prints that was on sale was from the Marilyn Monroe, Phillip Hausmann exhibition that I went to Christmas of 2015.

I had to buy it.

When I had seen the original print it was 25 Euro.

Today it was 2 Euro.

Um.

Yeah.

I’ll risk transporting that.

Especially since the bag that I had gotten with the same image was destroyed soon after I got back from the trip with pink hair dye.

Oops.

I have a magnet of the same image, Monroe barefoot in a black cocktail dress leaping up in front of a cerulean blue backdrop.

Her face and the bare feet really got me.

The blue background is brilliantly done as well too, it highlights the blonde blond of her hair and the cream of her skin and the bare feet, something so tender and vulnerable and real.

I love the photograph.

I’ll see if I can scare up a cardboard poster shipping container.

I’m sure I can pick one up at the post office.

But what with the numerous notebooks, the gifts for the children I work for and the new dress I don’t have much space left for stuff in my carry on.

I put back a Diane Arbus book that I was sorely tempted to get and resolved that I would get something else.

I have always loved getting earrings, so I’ll grab a pair and I do want to get a hat.

Hats from Paris are the bees knees.

Just saying.

I also will be bringing home a tan.

I have been out in the sunshine all day and it was glorious.

A bit hot, but so good.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be 83 degrees, today was the same.

Then rain is forecast for the rest of the time that I am here and the temperature is going to drastically drop.

So.

Tomorrow.

Sundress time.

Lots of pictures while the light is good and a new tattoo, a visit to one of my favorite museums and of course.

Cafe creme.

I mean.

When in Paris.

Do what the Parisians do.

Right?


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