Sunday, September 30, 2012

Arrival in Paris

Saint Germaine-en Laye, France
My flight to Paris was uneventful, though less comfortable than usual. I'm accustomed to a having a wide variety of movies to enjoy on transatlantic flights. Even though I was flying on Delta, the plane and crew were with Air France.  The plane was older and less comfortable, with only overhead screens and no choice of movies to watch. Three movies were shown during the seven hour flight, but only one of them interested me, so I spent most of my time reading.

I sat next to a young man who was headed to India to work on a movie, a political thriller that takes place in New York and India. He was chatty at times, but seemed most interested in teaching other passengers how to do a Rubic's cube.

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at 6 a.m., it was cold and rainy. The airport was empty at that hour, so we moved quickly through passport control and the retrieval of luggage. I followed the signs to find the RER train that would take me across town to Saint Germaine-en-Laye, the suburbs where my friends live. I had to change to another line once we were in Paris, and it was during rush hour, so I stood with my bags for most of the thirty minute ride from central Paris to St. Germaine, where my friend Monica picked me up.

I've explained before that I'm staying with Italian friends who moved to Paris two years ago from Rieti, Italy. Monica took me to their house to stash my luggage, then we went to pick up her 7 year-old son from school for his lunch break. We went to the center of St. Germaine for lunch, to a creperie, where I ate my first galette, which is a type of crepe made with dark flour and a variety of toppings, from sweet to savory. Mine came with lettuce, walnuts, golden raisins and chevre cheese. It was quite delicious!

La galette
I also had a popular beverage from Normandy called Il Cidro, which is a kind of apple beer. It tasted like a mild apple cider, very tasty. After lunch we walked Tommaso back to school and I went along with Monica to the Lycee International, which her two teenage daughters attend. Only children from countries outside of France can attend this school, and those from Europe have no tuition. But there are also students from the U.S., Britain, and other countries, who do pay tuition. Students have language and history courses in their native language, but all other classes are taught in French. It's a wonderful opportunity for the girls to increase their language skills, which include Italian, English, French. They are also starting to learn Spanish. There are some 300 Italian families with nearly 400 of their children at the school, and the Ruggeri family has found a great community of friends among them.

That evening, Monica made a wonderful meal of French onion soup, another staple of the French diet. As usual, the family made me feel quite welcome, and by that time I was ready to crash. All too soon, I'd be back on the metro for my first day in Paris.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Off to Paris

Tomorrow I leave for Paris and a week of seeing the sights in the famed City of Lights. Since I've been working long hours this month, I haven't had time to savor the anticipation of this trip. Instead, I've had to put things together in a harried fashion, which is not my style. But all the plans have finally been made, and once today is over, I'll truly be on vacation for the next three weeks. No students to deal with, no papers to grade, no demanding work projects! No heavy computers to cart around! I'm traveling light, for the first time in three years.

Instead, I'll be challenged by taking the metro into Paris each day, trying to communicate in French, walking around to see the sights, and hoping for good weather.  After Paris, I head to Torino, Firenze and Siena, which is more familiar ground. Even the thought of it is comforting: by now, Italy feels like another home.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

EVVIVA! Become More blog 2006-2010

At long last, my old blog has finally been retrieved, after two years in limbo, somewhere in cyberspace. My son was able to retrieve it this weekend, and now you'll have access to many more posts of my travels and photos: five trips to Italy and one to Japan, between 2006-2010.

However, when the posts were retrieved, they brought with them a few coding errors, which I'll be taking care of as time permits. But for now, the posts are still quite readable, and you can access the blog via this link (which is also listed on the blogroll on the right side of the page):

Become More blog 2006-2010

Divertitevi! (enjoy yourselves)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Panorama view of Paris

Just for fun: thanks to Gilles Vidal, you can be on top of the Eiffel Tower scanning a 360 degree view of Paris!  There's a link to his amazing video below. Don't forget to try all the buttons at the bottom of the video screen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Getting lost and found

street scene in Rome, 2007
"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; 
and we travel, next, to find ourselves.
We travel to open our hearts and eyes 
and learn more about the world…
And we travel, in essence, 
to become young fools again—
to slow time down and get taken in, 
and fall in love once more."
 - Pico Iyer

see the complete article at: