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The Hearing Aids that Exploded

The Hearing Aides that exploded

 

 

 

My husband has these state of the art hearing aides.  He never wears them.   So, after 18 months of saying a LOT of stuff, that he was undoubtedly missing (either on purpose or from hearing loss) I whined long enough until he finally put them back in .

 

 

 

I asked him, ‘How did it go?” on his teaching assignment one late evening after he had worn them.  He replied, ‘Oh it was fine, no problem”

 

Français : descente du col de la Gineste vers ...

Français : descente du col de la Gineste vers Marseille, depuis Cassis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Then he told me how he drove up the Gineste – our beautiful ride back to our home in Cassis which is long and winding and incredibly steep.  He said, “Well I didn’t want to tell you this, but on the way home, it felt like a fireworks went off in my head and I almost lost control of the car.”   “What??” I say?  He says, “Yes, I forgot that when you have a change of altitude – or atmospheric pressure – you’re not suppose to wear them.  It was so loud, I almost lost control of the car”     “Oh dear!”  I exclaimed.  “ How awful?  Are you okay?”

 

 

 

“What was that?”  he asks…………….

 

 

 

True story.

 

 

 

But then, they’re ALL true.

 

International Symbol of Deafness / Hard of Hea...

International Symbol of Deafness / Hard of Hearing This symbol indicates individual(s) who is deaf, hard of hearing, or having some degrees of hearing loss. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

NO, I do NOT HAVE THREE HEADS and numerous arms……

Statue of a white Ganesha with several heads a...

Statue of a white Ganesha with several heads and arms, wearing a red and a yellow flower garland. From Mumbai, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This evening,  I had 3 heads and probably numerous arms…….

atleast from the looks of them looking at me, it seemed I might have had…….

But it was necessary to get away from Mr. Mold and the FIXIT man who was jack hammering his way into the solid concrete  black ceiling/wall  of our tiny apartment.

Mr Fix-it Man -for the mold

Mr Fix-it Man -for the mold

Driving me INSANE, it was.     He was trying to allow ventilation in that corner of the room  so that the mold would go away.  (or, atleast, should.  )

So,

I trekked up the hill  to the local  Camp ground to meet some new people and inquire about campers on wheels.   There is a special bar  and area  for playing their boules game.

The French are funny.  If you meet them on their own turf, say a shop, a restaurant,

walking along the street, anywhere, almost,  you are greeted with perfunctory kindness,

perhaps just a nod, a “bonjour”   and even carrying a heavy suitcase down the metro stairs, they won’t skip a beat to pick it up for you and take it to the bottom of the stairs.  It’s amazingly sweet.

BUT –  if you’re in a territory that is exclusive, and seem to be invading their turf that you are not a part of – you are looked upon   – as  – somewhat odd.

That territory for me was the campground at Les Cigales, in Cassis.

Basically this had been a “to do activity” in order  to talk to some campers about their Camping experience over a Pastis, perhaps,  and hopefully find someone with one of those discontinued  T5’s – or California T5,  made by Volkswagon.

Interior in a Volkswagen Westfalia Camper.

Interior in a Volkswagen Westfalia Camper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It didn’t go very well.

After watching a game of Boules – (actually PETANQUE) as it’s called down South  here –

I spoke to the bartender  as to what I was looking for in camper’s experiences and camping vehicles  and could he help?

Simple Information.  Yes?         No.

He was a very nice bartender and called the “head of the Petanque” guy over –

Français : Génolhac (Gard, Fr), l'esplanade un...

Français : Génolhac (Gard, Fr), l’esplanade un jour de concours de boules. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He had been out in the tiny gravel dirt “Boules area” taking in the last remaining sun of the day.  A very cool breeze was taking over.  When you watch the game of Petanque, the players love an audience.  In this case, I WAS the audience.

Everybody else was either heading for their campers or feeding babies, or not interested in the least.  I was  – however.  Seriously am planning to put my husband out there to play with these guys soon.

But the introduction to the “main player” was cooler than the breeze coming in……

Now,

David and I are not in the market for a T5 – a “CALIFORNIA T5” that is the updated version of the VOLKSWAGON CAMPER

because they are over 45,000 euros.

But renting one – is a possibility.  My asking this fellow about what I – we were interested in,  didn’t go over very well.  He spoke in half French, half English and for some unexplained reason felt threatened about my questioning ( of him)  or any of his camper friends.   Perhaps I should have said “ Oh my,  I’ve watched you for three-quarters of an hour now and you appear a master of this game!! “  —although I have no idea if that would have been true or not.    It appears simple but seems to become complicated with all the measuring after a while.  ANYWAY, he turned and left me and started back to his game of Petanque with the sun setting.   That was my cue to leave.

Suffice it to say, I left, with others looking at me with a vivid discussion of  “ – that was really rude how he treated you – “ and my saying to the bartender that I would be back – that we lived just down the hill and we would love to come back to his establishment at another time.-and ask people about their precious campers, regardless of whether they wanted to really tell us about them or not.

I’ll have to think of a new strategy.

What the DEVIL – am I doing in FRANCE?!?!?

 

 

English: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie village seen f...

English: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie village seen from Above. Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France). Français : Vue en contre-plongée de Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Just in case any or everyone reading my blog thinks we live a charmed life, I’m going to tell you what happened today.

 

Instead of using 250 euros to go out to the local and very colorful  marche (outdoor market) and  put into my closet the most loveliest of spring frocks, instead, –  I took that 250 euros and bought a de-humdifier.  Why you ask?  Oh, please, let me tell you why…….. let me count the ways.

 

Since our 8 months in the 33 square meter apartment , we have enjoyed freezing cold temperatures, even in the south of France,  where hot water bottles were necessary to make our bed something we wanted to crawl into –   even  from top to toe flannel covered  bodies because the sheets were so cold.

 

Deutsch: wärmflaschen, hot-water bottles, aus ...

Deutsch: wärmflaschen, hot-water bottles, aus Gummi Français : Bouillotte en caoutchouc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We also have to hang our pajamas, (mine are very sexy ofcourse)…over the heater so that when we put them on they are not freezing cold -damp.  That was WINTER.  Now it’s SPRING.  We still turn on the heater to warm up our PJ’s.  Since it’s spring – There is a lot of rain, but even without the rain, we are in what is comparable to a basement and our towels never dry, so we dry ourselves after each shower with WET towels.

 

Bathroom towels.

Bathroom towels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Each morning I go into my closet and find a pair of jeans and top and undergarments.  They are ALWAYS damp.  If I remember a head of time, while making coffee, I’ll turn on the heater again and dry them a bit before putting them on and my husband’s.

 

When we go to bed at night – my 1600 thread count sheets are still cold in the spring- and they are damp, yuk, ………it’s not a lovely feeling.

 

Because of all this dampness, we have incurred a special visitor in the “living room.”  It’s Mr. Mold and it’s very black and has become quite a work of art lately   not unlike the special exhibit we saw today of PICASSO

 

English: Mural of the painting "Guernica&...

English: Mural of the painting “Guernica” by Picasso made in tiles and full size.Location: gernika (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

as it spreads far and wide across the ceiling and now has become a groups of dots as it works its way down the wall towards the tile floor.

 

 

Oh yes, we have mentioned this to our propriotor, but things take a while here to get remedied.  So, we took the bull by the horns and went out to buy our own di-humdifier, which ofcourse we cannot bring back to the United States as it’s different plug, different current.

 

You know, it’s all so very interesting.  My propritor has many things on his mind at the moment, mainly 1 )  that he has a wife with Breast Cancer. He’s a little pre-occupied, so I do not wish to push the envelope, so to speak, because he has a lot to deal with every single day.

 

The other thing is – Oklahoma.  Here I digress – I whine, I say how HUMID my flat is when there are countless people in OK and elsewhere that do not even have a flat, a home, even a bedroom left.

 

Well, Mr. Di-humdifier is purring away as I write this and I’ll let you know if it’s an improvement.  It better be a 250 euro improvement in my estimation, because I really wanted those spring frocks – but am grateful everyday – sometimes through gritted teeth, for what I have.

 

Are you?

 

Walking to the Doctor..Flowers…..Husband stuck in JFK…..Day of Solitude

English: Martin Clunes filming Doc Martin in 2...

English: Martin Clunes filming Doc Martin in 2007 taken by Richard Hall. Cropped from :Image:Doc_martin_in_2007.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walking to the doctor,  Flowers in bloom, – husband stuck in JFK –   a day of solitude

Calanques Marseille Cassis 3

Calanques Marseille Cassis 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been sick since my last guest left.  Nothing serious, just your usual UTI which is a real pain.  I have been drinking cranberry crap powder in water for 2 weeks now.  So, it was time to see a doctor today.   I walked.  This is the second time I’ve been sick and have walked to a doctor.  Never in my life have I walked to a doctor in the United States.  I’ve been taken there, or I’ve driven there.  It’s a very odd sensation, but not a bad one, even though you’re hurting and you don’t really want to be walking, it’s what you do here.  Oh, I have a car, but it’s so convoluted to park in this tiny port town, it’s much easier to just walk it.   It’s all down hill towards his office anyway, it’s only coming back that it’s a cardiovascular workout.  Walking to the doctor is almost zen like .  You’re not walking to a store to get dinner for the night, you’re not walking to go shopping at some Marche where it’s stimulating, you’re not walking to go hiking, you’re not walking to do something fun, you’re walking to your doctor and it makes one sort of zone out. Maybe it was the fever.

Now my doc, is no DOC MARTIN, but I have to say, he is a trip.

His office plaque says “9:30AM – 12:00″  So I am there at 9:30.  I wait outside in the sun on a big fat curb.  I wait.  And I wait.   Many cars and cycles past me by.   Then at 10:30, I see a guy on a motercycle, goggles, helmet, looking at me, me looking at him.  He parks in the spot where my doctor usually parks his little fiat.  I’m thinking………”hmmmmm, could this be my doctor?”  I wait.  If it is, I’ll let him get in, and get settled before I barge in with all my complaints.  Upon entering, he greets me in the most effective french manner (he’s guilty about something) and I proceed with caution and tell him my problem.  He thinks…….then he apologizes for his late appearance ….that ….”I was……” and I cut him off, because I want to say, “yeah, yeah, I know, you were boinking your girlfriend” but I held back……..

Anyway, he explained what I needed to do and I thanked him,  shook his hand, noticed the cigarette lighter on his desk (he’s still smoking), and paid him ( 22 euros of which I get it back) and headed to the Lab.

Anyway So,  things are good………lab was next walk……..results on Wednesday.

Iris’ are blooming outside my french doors.  But “French doors” is  the wrong expression for these doors in France.  They’re just paned doors.  I’ll have to find the exact wording.

It’s lovely outside now.  Absolutely gorgeous. My 33 sq meters is much bigger with my “French “ doors open – and I can hear the traffic moving up the steep hill on their way back to Marseille and environs.  Everyone has had a good day in the sun today.  It was a little windy and sunny and lovely and about 73 degrees.    The Les Cigales campers (that’s a camp ground near the house we’re in) – traipse up to this steep hill to their road campers  or tents, or whatever and sometimes I go up the hill just to see how many actually go into that campground.  It’s hard to believe that all the people who walk past the high wall facing my doors are in Les Cigales.

I’m sure a good number of them are staying at (very expensive ) cottages, rooms, around here as well.   This must be a great investment opportunity for those that bought their houses here back in the 60’s or 70’s or even way before.   The property values are – well – un-real.  Let’s say, in the neighborhood of 2,750 euros per square meter.  That would make our “toilet room” about 10,000 euros (without the painted walls and spanish tile floor – or the plumbing fixtures.)   Eeeek.

I say all this because I appreciate my 33 sq meter apartment even though I almost had a heart attack when I saw it.   I thought I could NEVER do it.   Not that my place in Saint Louis is so large, it’s not, but it’s atleast it’s 6 times the size = not including the basement.   Now, that we’ve been in here for 8 months, it’s really not so bad.  You don’t bring a lot of stuff back in, and if you do, you take stuff out.    I like that.

My husband is stuck in JFK airport.

JFK Airport, Terminal 1

JFK Airport, Terminal 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For two days now.  He’s on a pass, (ofcourse) to get back to his work here, but everything was full not just going to Paris, but going anywhere in all of Europe.  At one point I thought I could get him to Helsinki Finland on FINNAIR, and from there to Paris and then the TGV home to Marseille.  But that turned out to be a false hope.  JFK airport workers said they hadn’t seen it so backed up in a long time.  True, the French are at the end of their (other) long spring vacance what with like 3 different holidays in France this month and basically they wait to the last minute to go home.  They have to work on Monday so they come home on Sunday.  I love it.    OBVIOUSLY not many are standby passengers.   So, David has now spent some time with our friends in New York, as they gave him a place to stay and took good care of him and told him how to get to Philadelphia on the train.   He will now try to get out of their sometime this week, hopefully,   He’ll be flying our own airline, instead of Air France, the one we had hoped would work since ours was totally full.    I have been glued to the computer so much trying to find flights for him and talking to my friend Rich who knows the system backwards, that the computer is smoking hot.   I mean really  – I see how it could start a fire.

I took a break today from all the searching and research and plopped myself on the plage (beach) reading a book, after my visit to my doctor and the lab.
Making it up the hill was a feat, but I did it.  And now, I am so looking forward to hearing from my husband – and hope something good will happen to get him home.  We’re looking at LISBON right now.  Isn’t that a HOOT?   Getting to Paris (then Marseille) through LISBON.  Wow.  I don’t even know what airlines fly from Lisbon to Paris, or Lisbon to Marseille.

More research.   Port town of Cassis -doctors to exist IMG_0247

 

Editor’s note: Husband made it back on Tuesday.   What an experience.   LIfe is good.

7 Day Itinerary – South of France – with a Friend from STL

Here it is, what you’ve been waiting for……how to do South of France (and even North) in 7 days…….you won’t want to miss it. I even can’t believe it when I read it. I am NOT young!!!

Letters from Marseille

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART –     Greeting Vicki

Itinerary for Vicki ‘s Visit – May 2 – May 9th  2013   – This isn’t for everyone – but I tried to do what she was interested in……….

I’ve never had a friend to visit who wanted to do what I do – sleep late, stroll the markets, come home for a nap,  stroll some more,  pick up dinner,  watch TV (even though you can’t understand it) ,   read a book, study French,  clean the apartment,  eat dinner, take a walk,  go to bed…… (Gee, why is that??)  So, because we’re in FRANCE, and they only have   7 days – WE HAVE the following and it’s sometimes a marvelous marvelous journey………..this was one…..

May 2 – Thursday – Day One Greet my good friend Vicki with fleurs (flowers) big hug and happiness that she arrived safe and sound to France!!

View original post 4,473 more words

7 Day Itinerary – South of France – with a Friend from STL

Français : Plaque commémorative, 16 square de ...

Français : Plaque commémorative, 16 square de l’Avenue-Foch, Paris 16 e . « Marcel Pagnol, de l’Académie française, auteur dramatique, cinéaste, habita cette maison de 1956 à 1974. » (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Français : la maison natale de marcel pagnol (...

Français : la maison natale de marcel pagnol (aubagne) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) was a French novelis...

Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART –     Greeting Vicki

Itinerary for Vicki ‘s Visit – May 2 – May 9th  2013   – This isn’t for everyone – but I tried to do what she was interested in……….

I’ve never had a friend to visit who wanted to do what I do – sleep late, stroll the markets, come home for a nap,  stroll some more,  pick up dinner,  watch TV (even though you can’t understand it) ,   read a book, study French,  clean the apartment,  eat dinner, take a walk,  go to bed…… (Gee, why is that??)  So, because we’re in FRANCE, and they only have   7 days – WE HAVE the following and it’s sometimes a marvelous marvelous journey………..this was one…..

May 2 – Thursday – Day One Greet my good friend Vicki with fleurs (flowers) big hug and happiness that she arrived safe and sound to France!!

Took the “Navette” (large tour like bus) from MARSEILLE AIRPORT  to the St Charles Gare (Train Station) to buy ticket to Cassis —- Train to Cassis (28 minutes)

David picks us up at the tiny CASSIS Train Station!  (He had to teach that day).

Drive into the Port of Cassis,  Park – Walk to the little beach area and take pictures  –  Take the “Little Cassis Train” around Cassis to see everything in the town and outskirts  –     have lunch at  Le Perroquet  around 4PM –  go to AMORINO – Speciality Italian Icecream – in Cassis

Go to Marti & David’s petit apartment – Vicki showers – get comfy – sit and eat a variety of cheeses/ crackers, fresh pastries,  -watch some American Police series in ENGLISH – which were actually good this time (for us) and  Vicki crashes on couch.  What a gal! First day arriving and she has not only STAYED AWAKE, but absorbs EVERYTHING with delight!

May 3 – Friday – Day Two      Wake around 9:30am  – Get up before Vicki to bring her croissants and get my cranberry medication( in the main village) for my urinary tract infection.   See that there is a beautiful market in Cassis that I cannot wait to tell her about.   Imbibe in lovely croissants for breakfast, coffee, tea, FRESH ORANGE JUICE squeezed by David, – (YES!  He does this for me every morning as the oranges here are incredibly sweet  – as he is) !  🙂  AND now we drive to a little French Provencal NON-TOURISTY TOWN called AUBAGNE, which is the home of 1) Marcel Pagnol (my fav fr. writer & film maker)  2) RAVEL – world famous POTTERY  3) our “Assurance Malade” or SOCIAL SECURITY office where we have had to  visit  MANY TIMES from day 1 in order for me to get my Social Security benefits in France  4) also home of the famous SANTONS that are carved by 200 artisans and each NOEL (Christmas) there are hundreds of little christmas booths set up with lovely wooden carved little figurines that have been depicting French Country Life since the time of the French Revolution (when tons of figures, religious, and other meaningful statues were destroyed SO the  artisans starting making these figurines from that time)     See http://www.marseille-provence.info/places/towns/255-aubagne.html   for more information about SANTONS, PAGNOL, and how AUBAGNE is the ESSENCE of PROVENCE

While Vicki was with us in the “FRENCH Social Security office “  PRAYING, we were able to clear up a “name confusion” on all of our translated documents and get the OKAY for the number, the CARTE VITALE green card that will enable me to get my health care free – just as David has his.  YEAH YEAH _ THANK YOU GOD!!!!!!   🙂  (Thanks Vicki for praying)

Then on this DAY 2 – we also continued over to the RAVEL POTTERY and toured that with the most beautiful creative pieces of Pottery ever, and ofcourse, we bought some!   🙂

We visited the “Petite MONDE de MARCEL PAGNOL” a little hut of ALL the figurines depicting his famous books turned into Cannes Film Festival Winners:  Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring, My Father’s Glory, My Mother’s Castle.  The entire trilogy of MARIUS, FANNY and CESAR – the first black and white talking films were also depicted in this little petit world of Marcel Pagnol.  They played the music from the movie while you walked around and gave a description of the figurines.  (In french ofcourse) Lovely.

Also on this day we continued on to THE BIGGEST GROCERY STORE EVER….it’s called AUCHUN in France and it’s similar to a COSTCO, only there are no LARGE SIZES of ANYTHING………it’s just full of groceries of all sorts, even an aisle for “Etrangers “- (Foreigner’s items )- like good ‘ole AMERICAN PEANUT BUTTER, ha ha and ofcouse all those Fiesta Taco packages.  There are displays of fresh fish and shell fish that you would not believe.  An entire back of the store for fresh pastries, breads, cakes, cream puffs, whole wheat, white, mixed grain, Croissants, – everything and anything made with flour.

Then there are rows and rows of wines, champagnes that range from a euro all the way up to hundreds of euros, but the cheap stuff is absolutely fine.

There are rows of soups and sauces, tapenades, and caviar.

The butter aisle is just fun to read.  The d’ISNEY Butter is from the same name in France.  It is where WALT DISNEY is from, but he changed his name.  His butter, (or the butter of his motherland,) is absolutely amazing.  It’s a couple euros.  At WHOLE FOODS, in the U.S. it’s quite pricey.  But it’s worth it.

Then there are rows and rows of toiletries, lotions, potions, then clothing, accessories, undergarments, then rows of books, cookbooks, children’s books, novels, you name it. Yes, all in French.  The SOUVENIR area is very nice too.  So is the glassware.  There is a small appliance area, where you can buy fans, air conditioners,to  crockpots.  You can buy washer and dryers  and refrigerators.
There is a GARDEN shop…..we didn’t even get to that.    It goes on forever.    I love AUCHUN. They also deliver your groceries.    After buying a few gifts at Auchun  we drove home to Cassis and had a little rest.   Then we had dinner at Le Perroquet at 9:45pm (they eat very late here in France – starting at 8PM – 7 if you’re lucky.

Came home to apartment.  Slept like a LOG.

This was DAY TWO.

May 4 – Saturday – Day Three 

David has to leave for Paris and Vicki thinks ‘Why not us?”  So we decide to go to PARIS with David.  This is a girl after my own heart.  Although I think I’m getting too old to do such spontaneous travel – but she is so like me and does things spur of the moment.  So, we are up early to check about the train tickets  from Cassis to Paris.  Wash sheets and take them to public place to dry them.  Come back and tell Vicki cost of train tkts to Paris (Last minute – about 70 euros – less than 100 dlrs).    David and I have a  “CARTE SENIOR” PASS for the year so our prices are 50% off – another benefit of being a SENIOR . We come back and tell her the price  and does she want to do this.  Ofcourse she does.  Get sheets out of dryer and try and find David.  (It’s a small port town, and on Saturday the traffic is horrendous, so he had to go around the town several times to come and pick me up.  You can’t just drive up to the laundromat and park.  You have to drop it off and go find parking, or find a parking place very far away – which is not easy.   When we get back to apartment, OUR parking place in front of the house – is GONE, it’s that busy today in Cassis.  But David has a secret place to park, because our proprietor told him about it. ….So –  it’s all good.  We then go back to train station to get our tickets to PARIS.  YEAH.  Come back to apartment and make lunch with fresh baguette we’ve just picked up.  Go to my proprietor’s home and give them the gift I had bought them,for the nice things they have done for me and David –  have an espresso with them and see the lovely view from their incredibly lovely and large maison (home).

Leave for St Charles Gare (Train Station) from Cassis to PARIS.   (I can’t believe I’m doing this.  – and Vicki- REALLY can’t believe she’s going to PARIS!!! )   I tell Vicki how incredible this TGV really is- how fast it is –  how relaxing  – how soft  & comfortable the seats – how BEAUTIFUL the entire countryside is flashing before you at 200 km an hour  – and how many pictures she’ll want to take.   Yes.  It was indeed beautiful.   But Vicki SLEPT the ENTIRE way!!!  That’s okay.  I took the pictures for her.  I’m such a good tour guide.   The TGV is – let me tell you – like a CRADLE, so if you’re the least bit tired, or you are jet lagged – you WILL BE SLEEPING on that train.   It is a xanax, an evening cocktail, a  long ZEN moment, a cradle of perfection all rolled into one.    TRY IT.

We arrive at Gare de Lyon, that famous train station with Le Train Bleu.

http://www.le-train-bleu.com/uk/index.php   – check the link out on this fabulous belle époque historic restaurant!

We go into CDG airport to get our hotel.   It was only for David.  I told the clerk we had “une petit problem” – that there was not just ONE of us, there were 3 of us.  She did some “searching” on her computer.    It was only an extra 20 euros!!!  The room was 2 rooms in one, we had 2 full baths (BATH_TUBS) – we  never get that – and 2 toilets etc and 4 beds.   Pretty amazing, for last minute “surprise!” and 20 euros to boot!!

We go back by TAXI to the center of PARIS so we won’t miss the BATEAU MOUCHE (The River Cruise at night along the Seine. )   We made it.  It was a fabulous cruise, and I’ve done this already about 6 times.   You never tire of it, of the architecture, the river itself (it was really high) and the Pont Alexandre (bridge) – the other bridges, Notre Dame, the Statue of Liberty………Oh wait, come to think of it, she didn’t get to see NOTRE DAME because the river was too high……and the boat couldn’t go under that bridge – so we went further down the river instead.   The sparkling EIFFEL TOWER was magnificent as it always is – and it goes “sparkly” on the hour, every hour until midnight.

You’ve heard  of the Woody Allen movie – “MIDNIGHT IN PARIS”?  Well, that was us, because we were eating dinner at midnight in Chez Francis.   Ofcourse it was a bit of a bait and switch…..the menu outside was one thing and the menu INSIDE, with the TABLECLOTHS was another  (EXPENSVE),  – so when we told them we wanted the other menu – the outdoor one – they moved us to another table near the kitchen withOUT a tablecloth.   The food was great anyway, and this is what you can expect when you’re desperate to eat, and it’s midnight, and there are few choices, AND you’re near the Eiffel Tower.  (The Tablecloth area we were first in –  HAD a FABULOUS VIEW of the EIFFEL TOWER, so I suspect that the extra 3 -10 euros per person might have been worth it to some – as it was so lovely. )   They did not treat us differently in the “back” – and our food was very good, and they were NICE, and that’s always a plus.

At 1am we were heading back to our hotel in the aeroport area of CDG – and took a bath and went to sleep.    A fine sleep.

On the Seine!

On the Seine!

IMG_0098 2 IMG_0103

May 5- Sunday –   Day Four

David gets up super early to catch his fight to the United States.   The breakfast was free.

(This was the IBIS STYLE by CDG)   I got this hotel because of the great price online- plus my Accor loyalty card gives us good prices on-line.  BUT –  if you’re in a hurry – please find a hotel RIGHT at ROISSY STATION- where everyone must come into – and where all shuttles to the hotels (Hundreds in this area) take you for free.   The problem with the shuttles are that some take you around and around, stopping at Terminal 2 etc and it really adds a LOT OF TIME (over 30 minutes) to your already very busy schedule.   If I had known this, I would have book us at the IBIS or NOVOTEL  right at ROISSY STATION where NO shuttle is needed.   I got a great rate and a free breakfast – so that is why, plus it was originally just for David in order for him to get his flight next day.  -When we do this, we never go into Paris.  It’s 30 minutes into Paris and it’s a long RER train ride with a lot of requests for money, or atleast they entertain you, and it’s dirty.   But we’re used to it, – it is what it is.   The Taxi from the hotels in the CDG area are 50 euros to the city.  Not bad if there are a few of you to split the cost.

Then Vicki and I get up  and we go into PARIS again, because our train will leave from the center (Gare de Lyon is in the south eastern part of Paris).   We were let off at the OPEN BUS TOUR near OPERA and that was a bit confusing as you have to change buses for the different colored lines.  Because we did not have ALL day to tour on this bus, just a couple hours, we didn’t get our money’s worth because the bus we had on the “green line” kept stopping and waiting for passengers.  That was very annoying.  But this particular segment was not planned, so we were still ahead of the game, but this is important to know if you do things at last minute.  You need a full day for that PARIS OPEN BUS TOUR.  Believe me.  (Or get the 2 or 3 day pass).   It’s long, and it’s chock full of important historical information.

We get to our Gare de Lyon train station and step into Le Train Bleu and had  the most fabulous 5 course lunch, champagne and caviar and chocolate mouse for dessert.

Okay, maybe not.   But we did take pictures of the outside  of LE TRAIN BLEU.    🙂

Le Train Bleu Restaurant in Gare de Lyon

Le Train Bleu Restaurant in Gare de Lyon

We’re now getting on the TGV heading back to Marseille.  Ofcourse Vicki sleeps the entire way (again), but there’s always MOI, taking pictures.   I got some knitting done too.  It was rainy coming back into Marseille.   Good sleeping, reading, knitting, zoning out train weather.  

We get back to our little apartment and I make a little chicken crêpe with Beurre and Citron sauce, soup and little tarts for dessert.  It’s what I give EVERYBODY that comes here.  So I hope you like chicken!   Hey!  I’ve got just 2 hotplates!    We hit the sack and boy do we sleep well, once again.

May 6 – Monday –  Day Five

This is “shot in the knee day”  – which means I must keep my appointment with my Rheumotologist for the priceless cortisone shot to the knee.   Vicki got to see the French Socialized medicine in the works.   She also said that everyone in the waiting room was talking about my horrible French.  But then, Vicki doesn’t KNOW any french, so maybe they were saying how great I was doing, but I doubt it.   Ha ha ha.  I have to laugh. Ofcourse it’s horrible, but atleast I get my point across and get what I need.

We are now heading from the doctor’s office to Marseille – via my little car – to park and walk over to the port area and get the OPEN BUS TOUR for our tour of Marseille.

Well, it was a complete DUD.    The bus tour driver took our money, but his audio system was kaput.  Therefore, the OPEN BUS TOUR went all around Marseille for an HOUR without anyone hearing ANYTHING of the sights we were seeing.  Yep! No cool south of France music, no audio, no explanation, no dialog,  NADA.  I thought it would improve, but while it was mute, I expounded to everyone up top just a few of the landmarks.   But I wasn’t doing the tour justice.  AND  I was furious.   I went downstairs and talked to the driver.  Yes, he KNEW it was “broken” –  he said it was a computer problem.  I stayed downstairs with one other person and talked to him.  I told him he needed to pull the bus over and explain to all 75 persons that he was sorry – but the audio was out and that they could get their money back.   He did nothing.   He didn’t answer me.  I said, “So where should I go to get my money back?”  He said nothing.  I said “The Tourist Office?”  He shook his head.   So, when the tour was over, several of us traipsed to the Tourist office (far away) and were told we could get our money back, but we had to meet the owner of the tour company back where we had originally started. This is another long walk back.   On the way, my receipt that I was holding on to for dear life, blew away in a sudden “MISTRAL” (great wind) and I am thinking…….”OH FOR GOODNESS SAKES, I’m leading this protest, and I’m going to be the ONLY person that doesn’t get her money back!!!!’  Well, I needn’t have worried.  The others came to my aid, vouched for me, and yes, I did get my money back.   As the other passengers were leaving, they turned and thanked me and I was really touched, and then I said, ‘Oh it’s nothing, it’s what I would have done if you had lost your bag or something at the airline I used to work for…….”    All in a day’s work.  Almost made me miss my old job.

After this – we strolled again by the famous Vieux Port of Marseille, crossed the street and went down the famous shopping street Rue Saint Ferrol.  There are many reasonable shops here and the best shoe selection I’ve ever seen as there are many shoe boutiques.

We then went back to our car on the opposite side of the port, and headed back to Cassis with the sun setting on the famous CAP CANAILLE (the highest cliff overlooking the sea – in all of Europe).   It’s incredibly beautiful, but then, if you read this blog, you’ve already seen these pictures.

We went to Le Perroquet restaurant (again) as it was late, and we unfortunately had to wait very very long (2 hours) because the kitchen closed down for a portion as it was just TOO busy.  They know me here and were extremely apologetic, but again, it is what it is.  We got our food finally, when we threatened to leave.   There are many places to eat in Cassis and some quite pricey, but Le Perroquet is not, thus, it caters to people on a budget I suppose and it’s very busy.  Next time I am going to spend more money for my dinner because we need to venture out a bit more.   I’m sorry we didn’t go to ANGELINA, which is  THE best restaurant in Cassis, but – it’s like 30-40 euros per person (without wine).     We’ve been to it once – on Valentine’s Day.   It’s amazing.  You need to make reservations.

We came home and packed for our trip to MONACO – which was to be on the TGV out of Cassis tomorrow morning.    We collapsed once again.

May 7th – Tuesday – Day Six

Our train to Nice and Monaco left at 6:35am, thus we were up at 5.  Drive half asleep to the train station in Cassis.  We heard the “coqs” do their cock a doodle do-ing it was so early.  The COQ, btw, is THE symbol of France.  Anyway,   It was a quick change of trains at TOULON.   We got on the fast TGV and had a lovely first class area, but it was strange, as there was no dining car, so we had no coffee for a long time .    When we arrived at the train station in Nice we walked to our hotel (another IBIS) and got coffee right away.  It was only 9 in the morning and we had a full day ahead of us.  Our room was all ready, even that early.  (They know me by now)

So, we drop our things in the room and head back to the station and go to Monaco.

Monaco train station is under a mountain and it’s pretty amazing.  We took a bus to the area where the OPEN BUS TOUR was and this one in Monaco is a beautiful bus, open top, but no high steps to climb up, which was really good for my knee, and Vicki’s aching feet.

So, the tour begins, we see a lot, mainly tons of bleachers up as they are getting ready for the huge GRAND PRIX.   We get off at Cafe de Paris by the Casino and have a drink – again, like Ali, Vicki had the freshly squeezed orange juice.  They bring little crispy things and ofcourse olives.    It’s pricey here for drinks,  but you get to people watch as long as you want, and see the luxurious and pricey automobiles drive past with who knows who inside.  It’s very fun to people watch here.   Then we went into the Casino and played a few slots.  It’s amazingly secretive inside.  No photos ofcourse, and they want your entire identification before you go in.  You’re give a special “ticket”.   Well, Vicki won, and I actually won, if you count 15 euros for her and 11 euros for me.  But better than losing.

The Bar in Monte Carlo Casino

The CRYSTAL BARin Monte Carlo Casino

What you see while you sit at Cafe de Paris (a lot)

What you see while you sit at Cafe de Paris (a lot)

Seriously, I don’t see how anyone wins here, unless it’s poker maybe.   We then were starving and went down the street to a little restaurant known as “Tip Top” and it was very good & reasonable.  It’s only a block away from the famous “Cafe de Paris”  .   We met a poker player that was there for the tournament.  He had already lost 10,000 euros.  I can’t even fathom 10,000 euros, let alone LOSING 10,000 euros, but this is what he does for a living.  We wished him luck, and headed back to the OPEN BUS TOUR.    We don’t have a lot of luck with the OPEN BUS TOURS.   This time we are getting ready to get on and the bus leaves us.  Turns out it’s already past 5:30pm and it stops at that time.  Oh for goodness sake!!! We haven’t even seen the palace yet.  SO…….we all hop in a taxi and he takes us up to the palace, and then to the gare where we get our train back to Cassis.   Vicki was not impressed with the palace.  It is not very impressive from the outside, and the tour is very nice inside and not expensive ( 5 or 7 euros) but no one was excited to see inside.  It’s very much like a museum.  They don’t live there  – the Royal Family.

We get back to Nice, do a little shopping, – it’s already late and then head back to the hotel.

May 8th – Wednesday – Day Seven

Nice is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.   Once you get that walk down to the sea (Or if not wanting to walk, there is a tram not far from the train station and/ or the IBIS hotel) you will see the most beautiful part of the Riviera in Nice.   We walked the promenade and just gazed at the incredible turquoise sea.   People are walking, jogging and biking all along this promenade.  It has been strolled by women in their long dresses and parasols and men in their top hats for a couple hundred years – maybe longer.   But I do know that when people used to go swimming in the sea here,  they had these little houses that they would go into and then with 2 long wooden poles a guy would pull –  get carted out into the sea and dumped in.  So this was the way not to let anyone see you in your swimming costume, which was already down to your knees!    Then when you were ready to stop swimming, you’d wave and they would come back out with your little private “outhouse” looking enclosure and pick you up .
Today we saw a lot of topless bathing on that long beach in Nice.  So  much for covering up, eh?

We then went to the old part of Nice and strolled the countless tiny streets, shopped, had lunch, shopped some more, and then slowly wound our way back to hotel to pick up bags and walk back to train station.

(I think this will be the last time I do this kind of excursion.  It’s pretty exhausting – although it is very very beautiful.)

May 9th – Thursday – Day Eight  – “If it’s Thursday, it must be Marseille to Saint Louis”

Yes.  Sad day.   The last day.   The day of the return.  Well, everyone has to go home sometime.   I almost got on the plane with Vicki cause I miss my kids so much……alas,

it will happen soon.

We drove into the airport, yesterday, day 7 – late at night, after coming back from Nice as we needed to stay in the airport hotel (Ibis again) so Vicki could get her early flight out to Munich and then Munich to Saint Louis.   I know, I know, there is no flight from Munich to Saint Louis….she had to stop in CLT.  They did the “pat down” because Vicki has a new knee and sets off the alarms.   She carries a note with her.   The security is easy and

painless in France and really all over compared to our high anxiety TSA security in the states.  The price we have to pay to be secure.   I suppose.

So, that was our week, that was our glorious week   –  Vicki was a wonderful guest and I was happy to show her my beloved France.   She was the most amazed and awe-struck plus the most picture taking guest that I have ever had.   (Except on the TGV), ha ha ha

I’m now back at home.  And I think I’m going to sleep for a week!!

Atleast I didn’t do what I do when I’m tired  – and the time David’s Uncle was here. He  was so tired from walking he fell into the Oriental Carpet display, and I tripped and fell into a vat of olives at the market.    Yep.  Need one of those NAPS!!!

Cheers

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE KING WAS CROWNED

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE KING WAS CROWNED????         IMG_9963 si-300-dutch-royal-spectators

Never go anywhere without research.  This has always been my motto, but it’s also my motto to “live a little” – “travel by the seat of your pants” -” be spontaneous,” because too much planning can really get in the way of fun.

 

In this case. Not.   Because we are airline people, traveling on standby with my benefits as a retiree with USAirways……sometimes, we have to make plans very quickly, and most of the time, everything works out.

But yesterday – the day of the abdication of the QUEEN, and the CORONATION of her son –  this event met us QUITE by  surprise.  We thought we would just see pretty flowers, and we did, but since we had to make a trip into town – you know the CENTER of AMSTERDAM, we got involved in what was THE biggest party of the century -atleast for Holland . IMG_9960

What I’m about to write, I wish I were reading it from someone else.  But – I’ m not. It’s from  me and in the first person unlike some of my “2nd person stories” .

So then!  Would you like to attend the Party of all Parties?  Do you know where it is? Do you know how often it occurs?  Well, I’ll tell you. It’s in Holland, and it’s about every 30 something  years.  What happens here is sort of a phenomenon.  The Queen of Holland,  Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard has been Queen since 1980.  Before her, it was her mother Queen Juliana.  Her mother abdicated TO HER – and on April 30,1980,  now she, 33 years later has abdicated to her son.  In another 33 years, he may abdicate for his daughter, but then, we don’t know that.   So, the last party here – this big- was 33 years ago.  We arrived on the day of the BIGGEST PARTY.   The King of Holland’s CORONATION. IMG_9956

Because of the HOUSE OF ORANGE – everything and everyone is in ORANGE.  There are Orange suits, orange ties, orange hair, orange tights, orange shoes, orange designer bags, orange faces, orange to the puking point.   Actually there were some of those. There are drunk people (most of them) in the street and every  block there is a huge dancing party with extremely loud rock music,  and I think only my son and his step brother and maybe Cate, my English teacher friend from Paris – would be so on it.   They would love it all.
When we arrived at the station inside the airport (where there are actually lockers for your luggage)  the ticket seller said, “You’ve already been to the tulip festival, and now you’re going to downtown Amsterdam?”  We said “YES” very cheerfully, and he said, ‘Well, you’re braver than me, I wouldn’t do it” and we never quite understood that statement until , 20 minutes later we arrived at the center station and saw HUNDRED OF THOUSANDS of merry makers heading TOWARDS us………I thought….even if we turn around now, and head back to the train,  – we wouldn’t even get ON the train.  So, we kept walking to Leidesplein, where we needed to be.

I have never seen anything in my entire life as lively or more trash laden then this party was in the streets.   I have never walked over so much broken glass in my life.

I ‘ve never seen so many men pee in a radius of one mile in my life. (And I walked 8 miles of this  (activity) in full range view.    They are partially covered by the makeshift “pee stations” but – it’s – for me – eye averting.

I wondered how the streets of Amsterdam would ever be beautiful again, or how the trams would run at 5 in the morning with all that crap, paper, confetti, broken glass, liquor bottles whole, cups, thrown out fast food all over the trams lines.

The amazing thing was, that by 2am – the entire city was clean.  Totally and beautifully cleaned and washed as though there had never been a party.

Amsterdam - bike lane - fietspad

Amsterdam – bike lane – fietspad (Photo credit: daniduc)

 

We saw a lot of happy people during this controlled mayhem.   Unfortunately I was not one of them.  I am too old to get this drunk, or party this hard, or be out this late.  I was a whiner and a photographer at the same time.  My admiration goes to my husband who, among the longest walk we have taken since we climbed the GARLABAN in Aubagne France (711 meters), in March, –  never complained once.  I thought to myself………what the heck is wrong with this man, that he does not complain???   I am an ocean of complaint……my head, my KNEES, my legs, my back, my FEET, – and he said nothing.  (Except, when I got too near the canal to take pictures of the merry makers drunk beyond drunk traveling the canals by boat and singing at the top of their lungs).

The evening was topped off beautifully by a scam taxi driver, who, when having to pay an EXORBIANT amount to get back to the train station -………told us there was a train accident and no trains out until after midnight.  We believed him and said, “Okay, take us (knowing it would be a fortune) to the airport where our bag was in the locker and where we could get the FREE shuttle to our hotel.  The taxi driver decided to screw us further at our final destination,   by switching my 50 euro note for a 5…….and confusing the entire situation with double talk so that I couldn’t remember if I had actually taken a 50 out in the dark cab, or not.  David knew I had taken a 50 out, and then out of the corner of his eye (because he’s known as the “finder of the world” – ) saw the 50 euro note on the drivers door thrown in a hurry when he went to make the switch with a 5 euro note.  I was so non-plussed and David stuck to his guns and quizzed this taxi driver and then told him exactly what he had done.   I don’t think this taxi driver had anyone ever quite like David before because he was unable to form an audible explanation , he just sort of babbled from that moment on.  David got out of the cab like he wasn’t going to pay him at all, and everyone on this huge tour bus next to us – was looking at this altercation and so were others and I just wanted to pay him the 85 euros , even though he had tried to cheat us out of 50+ euros – and get AWAY from him.  David finally paid him – and we got out of there, but it left me in sort of shock – and I was very very grateful that he hadn’t gotten away with it…..and that it wasn’t worse than it had been.   David knew this trick from a taxi driver who did the same thing to us (or tried to)  in Instanbul.

Oh my lord.

 

We hit the hotel on the verge of collapse.   The clerk there was the kindest soul and when he asked  why it wasn’t such a great day for us –  and I told him, he said the most wonderful things that made me feel so much better. He said,  “unfortunately, there are many unscrupulus drivers who will do this, and he was sorry,  and that had we not been expecting what we encountered today -that Amsterdam parties are a bit of a shock.  He hoped that we would have a decent night’s sleep.  He was so kind to us.   At times like these, you just want someone to acknowledge your no good horrible day.   And he did.

We went to the bar and had a nice glass of red wine in a beautiful glass – as a nightcap – and were grateful grateful to be at this hotel , peaceful, and could collapse……..what a day- what a CORONATION –

what incredible TULIPS !!!!

(Always look on the bright side! )                IMG_9881

 

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