Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Worlds Best Hot Chocolate" in Paris...

During our Segway tour a few days previous, our intrepid tour guide "Bubba" had said something whilst trundling through the Tuilleries which right there and then became etched into my brain... "Over to our left on the Rue de Rivoli you will find Angelina's,, which is reputed to serve THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD."..., well folks, I have to confess, for the rest of the tour it was hard for me to hear anything else he had to say.., my brain had heard the magic words,,, words about chocolate and some heavenly place named (most appropriately)" Angelina's," and from that point on, it was just a matter of time till Angelina's hot chocolate and I converged!

A few days later, dripping wet after getting caught in a considerable rain shower, we made our way along the Rue de Rivoli, and there I spied Angelina's... Once inside, I was disappointed to see a long snaking line, yikes, I didn't think we'd have such a wait for a simple cup of hot chocolate.... this stuff must really be amazing I thought..(my mind was conjuring up such things as "water's of life," or some such life giving liquids to warrant all these people waiting patiently for ages...)

Then I figured out that there was another much shorter queue, in front of a large display case, full of all kinds of pastries and amazing looking delicacies..., and young ladies, zipping up and down in front of the case putting yummy things in boxes for people... it was then that I noticed them going up to a large silver urn, pouring steaming cups of ....yep you guessed,,, Angelina's Best In The World Hot Chocolate..

I immediately jumped into the short line, and ordered some of their Macaroon's (the next "new" (actually old) thing, since cupcakes,) a couple of bars of Angelina's dark chocolate bars, AND 3 cups of their steaming Worlds Best Hot Chocolate....

We took ourselves outside onto the sidewalk, and had our first taste of our hot chocolate....
....I believe a considerable groan of ecstasy emitted from my lips at this point...

Friends..., I can honestly say, In my 48 years of chocolate consumption, I have NEVER tasted the likes of this hot drink... it was pure, liquid-chocolate-nectar... a taste of the very, very best chocolate kind that I have ever, ever, experienced.. and on that cold day, when I'd got rained on and soaked through, .... I did feel like I'd been given the water's of life!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Feminine Face of Paris

Architectural detail on an apartment building along the Rue de Rivoli...

Everywhere I turned in Paris, I saw sculpted images of the feminine..., Goddesses, Madonnas, Saints, Queens. I found them everywhere, on bridges, lamp posts, the outside of buildings holding up balconies (like the photo above), statues in parks... everywhere I went, there were beautiful images of women carved into stone, wood, plaster or molded into metal.

Are city's considered to be masculine or feminine?

If so, I would definitely consider Paris to be a feminine city...

I wish that I'd taken more photographs...

I have a dream to return to this gorgeous city one day, and spend several weeks there, photographing and understanding more about this aspect of Paris that I find so very
intriguing and appealing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Flea Market Shopping at Porte De Vanves

Our "finds" from the flea market...

The morning after our arrival, Isabella and I decided to head out on the Paris Metro to find the "Porte De Vanves" Flea market. We started out early as I'd read in "The Flea Markets of France" guide to flea markets by Sandy Price, that the best deals to be had took place first thing in the morning, and she also tipped the reader to the fact that many of the vendors start packing up around lunch time. So, armed with a metro guide, camera, umbrella and some cash, we took off, found the nearest Metro, managed to figure out how to use it (to newbies it can be a bit confusing, especially when one can't find ones reading glasses to see the minuscule print on the metro map.. - sighhh - I should just admit to myself I can't read worth a darn without them and permanently plaster them to my head!)

We arrived around 9:30, and I was immediately struck by how many vendors there were, (perhaps 200+.) Their stalls were on either side of a narrow walkway, so we decided to walk up one side and view all the booths on one side, then walk back down and check out the opposite side.

As we started to cruise up one side, I couldn't help but notice how expensive things seemed to be, (it took me a while to figure out that I'm used to garage sale prices back at home - and well, this was something completely different!) Most things didn't have a price sticker on them, so I had to ask "how much" in my very rusty high school french.... Isabella couldn't help but notice that being English/American might work against us when it came to getting a good price for something... Especially when we heard one vendor who saw me pick up one of her exquisite straw hats and speak English to Isabel, put the hat price up from 20 Euros to 25!!! Needless to say, I saved my money and didn't buy the hat.

I've had a passion for vintage things since I was a child growing up in a small English village and the "Denby Ladies" would have their annual jumble sale. More often than not, I would come home (much to my mothers chagrin) with armloads of other peoples unwanted stuff. Even today, my idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday, is to get up early, and hit as many garage sales as possible, looking for books, good quality clothing, jewelry (I bought a vintage 70's rolex watch for $2.00 last summer,) and anything else that's a good deal at the time.

As you can see by the photo above, I did succumb and bought some reasonably priced treasures that I found too charming to walk away from, like the vintage photo's 5 for 10 Euros which seemed reasonable.. the little Madonna 5 euros (I'd just paid 25 the day before for something very similar,) and 20 euros for the sweet Provence style oil painting, which I really love and have it hanging on my kitchen wall to remind me of our lovely time in France.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Paris via Segway...

The Three of Us In Paris

This was us, freezing, but happy in front of the Eiffel Tower, triumphant that we had just completed our Segway tour of Paris. Despite the bone gnawing cold, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and got to see some of this great cities sights in such a FUN way.

I'd never ridden (driven?) a Segway before, and was a bit taken aback when after just a couple of minutes of hearing/learning about the rudimentaries of
Segway control our American guide to Paris "Bubba" asked us to step onto our gyroscoping wonders and drive them into some of the most "challenging" traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) on the planet! But ya know,,, I found myself loving it right from the get go, and realized how intuitive these two wheeling little oddities really are. After about five minutes I felt completely sure of my ride and was able to maneuver my way around all kinds of obstacles (children, scooters, flower stands, dogs, street sweepers, and tourists, lots of tourists, mostly just standing, gawking and pointing at the sight our strange posse seemed to make.)

Riding a Segway is rather like riding a motorcycle, you "lean into" and look towards the direction you wish to go..and at the same time chariot like, as you have to lean forwards to increase the speed..., and then trust that you wont fall forwards onto your face!!

Actually, I'd recommend sight seeing by Segway to most folks, it was one of the high points of our trip, and we got to cover more miles than we would if we'd gone by foot, and still had that out in the fresh air, stop when we want to, take photos of all the awesome sights kind of experience. In a word - Fabulous!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lighting a candle..

Prayer Candles, Notre Dam

We arrived home from our trip to France and England on Sunday, I'm still a little jet lagged. However, after having all the experiences we had, and frustration (some of the time) at not being able to write this blog, I feel the need to get back to writing and sharing.
Before we left on our journey, I had the thought I'd be able to blog my way throughout the trip..., well, as things turned out, that idea didn't pan out, and "life" interrupted my plans...

But I must confess, the benefits of writing "A Year Of Finding Love," helped me to enjoy this trip on a richer, deeper, level than I would have had without it... You see, I found myself looking, searching, for the love, the beauty, the good in the things that I saw, and that which I experienced.

Sometimes I laughed, and sometimes I cried, but more often than not, my heart was filled with a kind of special sweetness and joy. And for that I am grateful.

In Paris, I found a richness and depth of love and an ageless beauty which permeates so much of the life and culture there, it quite literally took my breath away. I became a witness to the love, and in the process fell in love with the life blood, history and culture that makes this great city so unique and glorious. (And yes, a resounding YES I want to go back!)

In England, I reconnected with my family, I hadn't seen them in over five years. We are all getting older, and five years is a long time to go without being together. After a few minutes of just filling our eyes with one another's faces and observing the changes that have taken place over missed time, everything relaxed and we all understood how to be together and knew that we could be ourselves, I felt safe. I was in the company of people who had known me all of my life, and it felt great, we were as we'd always been, like pieces of a varied and beautiful jigsaw puzzle, we just "fit" together, it felt right. I found myself asking, how can I let so many years go by without being with these people who are so dear and close to my heart?

I will continue to write about my trip, and will figure out a way to send more than one photograph at a time!

Before I do write again, I just want to "light a prayer candle" for the friends and family that have had challenging illnesses and events happen to them whilst we were gone. Below is a list of your names. Please know that you are in my thoughts, you are in my prayers, you are in my heart.

Roger Gillispie
Diane Gillipsie
Susie Hepworth
Bobbie Brunsen
Brian Gage
Michele's Auntie
Richard and Erin