Friday, April 18, 2003

well, campers. i think this is going to be my very last post. which is exciting and sad. i'm ready to go home, it's been a long trip and i'm looking forward to some of the comforts of home, a kitchen, a refrigerator, my own bed, a shower shared by less than 8 people, a couch, tv in english, the x-files, free internet, people who speak and understand english.... i'm looknig forward to many things. i'll miss cheap wine, sunshine (unless summer has arrived in NE in my absence.... i doubt it), and the excitement of seeing new things.

yesterday and today i've pretty much been kicking around sorrento, taking it easy, napping in the afternoon, and finishing my book. my big purchase for today was a pair of sandals, which i got to choose the heel, the style of the straps, the color and *then* (as if that wasn't enough) they were fitted to my foot. very cool. and i'm so pleased.

so a lazy afternoon today, maybe a nap, and tomorrow morning i start my trek home. i'll see you all soon.


Wednesday, April 16, 2003

oof. so the computers at my hostel are completely unreliable AND have very old, very buggy browsers that crash when i try to: 1.login to my e-mail and here. so needless to say it was a little frustrating to be paying for not being able to do anything. but here i am at a real computer that works and stuff. so exciting. who knew such fabulous things existed. anyway.

so i've been taking it super easy so far. lots of sitting around and spacing out, i'll give you the highlights of my last few days:

sunday: when of course everything is closed, and transportation is unreliable (doubly so, because there was another train strike this weekend) i had the perfect day planned. i walked out to the capo del sorrento, where there are some un-impressive roman ruins and i sat in the sun for a while, being careful not too burn on the first day and thought about going for a swim (the water was too cold, even for this northerner) and did lots of reflecting on my trip so far.

monday: took a bus to the town of positano, which is built into the side of some cliffs with a little beach. needless to say, i sunned. and then had a lovely meal (i like to take myself out every so often) and walked up and down endlessly, exploring the town and its' shops. sat up late chatting with a welsh girl and an australian girl from my hostel.

tuesday: went to capri. which should have been great. but capri's only redeeming quality is it's beautiful coastline. on the ferry ride over they were trying to sell us drinks, souvenirs and tours the whole time (this was a 25 minute ferry). when i got on the island the guy at the ticket booth ripped me off on my ticket for the funiculare to the top of the cliff. so that really pissed me off. there were far too many people and only expensive shops. so i took some hikes in the less touristed parts of the island which were beautiful, thoroughly tired myself out and then got the hell off that island. had a huge pizza for dinner.

wednesday: hump day. and i'm glad of it. am very tired today.... honestly quite ready to get home. so after today the week should fly by, i'm hoping. despite my laziness, i am in amalfi today, where it is lovely. will most likely lay on the beach for a little while. am too tired to do anything else.

sigh. so there it is. i'm not sure how long it will be before i find another computer on the entire coast that actually works, but i will try to post at least one more time before i come home on sunday.


Saturday, April 12, 2003

seems like forever since i've posted! and it might have been longer, they guy at the desk earlier told me the computers were broken, and the internet cafe is only open in the morning on saturday and not at all on sunday.

so after my initial, rainy, crappy day in naples things got a little better (because i left naples). thursday i went to pompei, despite the forecast of rain. when i first arrived it was quite windy and i thought it would be a miserable day. but soon after it stopped raining all together and the sun came out for a little bit (!). so it rained off and on and was actually sort of warm while i explored pompei. which i though was FANTASTIC, by the way. better than the ancient ruins in rome. maybe because it seems so much more personal, you can really see the roads and houses and shops. it was very, very cool. plus i kind of dug the petrified people... :P

friday i took a day trip to the island of ischia, which through my hostel i got a little deal. see the ferry costs 12 euro each way and i got a package through my hostel that i paid 28 euro for and it included roundtrip ferry and a full meal at one of 4 restaurants. only i didn't get to spend as much time on the island as i wanted to... there was some confusion about the ferries... the annoying man at the hostel (who kept giving me creepy-man-on-the-street looks) told me i could take this certain ferry and so i thought i would be able leave naples at 10:30 and stay on ischia until 6:40. but when i arrived at the port i learned that i was mis-informed and the next ferry wasn't until 12:30, and the last ferry back was at 5:10. so after getting to the island (it's an hour ride) and taking a local bus to the center where the restaurant was, actually *finding* the restaurant and eating, i had barely enough time to get back to the port and take a short walk. so a little dissapointing. but ischia was beautiful.

today i arrived in sorrento, which is a million times lovely-er than naples. though my room seems like it will be a little... cozy? it's pretty small, and i have to be on the top bunk - which i hate. oh well. so today i just explored a little bit and bought......


very exciting. so tonight i'm going to paint my toenails and tomorrow i'm take a walk to the point of sorrento and hopefully get some sun for a change!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

sigh. so i think i can say with certainty, despite having only been here for 24 hours and despite the cold weather and rain, that sadly i do not reccomend naples.

it's just kind of a dirty, crowded city with crazy drivers and not a whole lot to see or do. so i'm pretty disapointed, and looking forward to the day trips i've planned to take from here.

so i'm off to get some true neopolitan pizza, and i'll go back to the hostel to eat my ciocolatta con peporocino, chocolate with chilis, and cozy up in my bed to read for the afternoon. oh well.

Sunday, April 6, 2003

even having seen pictures of the colleseum and the roman ruins, i was not prepared for what i saw when i stepped out of the subway station - wow. much the same sort of wow i had stepping out of the train station in venice, you know what it's supposed to be like, but you have no idea...

so today i explored the ancient city of rome. i started at the roman forum, which is the site of many temples and ruins of old civic buildings and arches and such. after i went to the palantine hill, which is supposedly the hill on which romulus and remus were raised by the she-wolf and the site of the original city of rome. it became a very posh neighborhood in the early 100's and later was solely home to palaces of emporers, so now the ruins of those palaces are there. then the colleseum. which is cool, the biggest amphitheater i've seen, but i think the best part is the area that used to be under the main floor, where the animals were kept and stuff. then i went to see the fountain of truth, which was made famous by audrey hepburn in "roman holiday", so if you haven't seen that movie, you should.

so that was a lot of walking.... and i am quite tired. someone left a book near the tv, so i took it and left the books i've been trying to unload for a little while now. so i'm reading "jackdaws" by ken follet. could be interesting, at least it's long. it's sad when something i look for in a book to read is how long it'll last.... ;P

tomorrow is my final day in rome, and a pretty laid back day, i'll be doing some people watching and some shopping (it's really time for sandals now)

Saturday, April 5, 2003

my first full day in rome. i really like this city, and there's so much history to it, which is great. although there are also a lot of people on the streets trying to sell you the same old crap everyday all the time. some of the most common are - ball on a string, sunglasses, watches, knockoff designer handbags, and a bubble gun. although today i was approached by a man who was holding some string in his hand... i'm not sure i understand what he was trying to sell, and actually speaking to these people just encourages them, so i didn't find out.

i went to the vatican museums this morning (well, morning is a relative term, i was *forced* to go out to the pub last night with some people from the hostel....) which were kind of cool. it was rather amusing actually, because it's all very orchestrated, sort of like herding cattle, you just sort of follow the roped off path. and from the very beginning the signs say (top to bottom) this museum, that museum and always at the bottom is sistine chapel. so there are of course people who are just racing through to get to the chapel and not even looking at anything. but for what a ticket costs, i was going to check out the museum as well. what i found the most interesting was the "modern" religious art. i've been seeing so much classical, medieval, and renaissance religious art it was cool to see some really modern stuff, there was some stuff by salvador dali, picasso, and a lot of traditional subjects (the crusifiction, crowning of the virgin, etc.) in completely crazy and modern styles.

by the time i finally got to the sistine chapel (and that was really spectacular, it is just so intricate and beautiful) and moved along the path to the exit it was 1:30 so i took off to find the place i was planning on taking myself out to lunch at, which happened to be on the other side of the river, so i left st. peter's for later. had one of my all time favorite dishes for lunch, spaghetti alla carbonara... yum.

i checked out piazza navona, which is a place where in ancient times they would have horse races around it, or fill it with water and have mock naval battles, but now it just has three really cool fountains. and near there is the pantheon, which was a lot bigger than i had imagined, and has (i think) the largest half-dome on a building that isn't supported by any beams or arches. very cool. st. peter's is just humoungous - i think it's the biggest, or second biggest church in the world and wow, it is indeed big.

so tomorrow i'm planning on spending the day exploring the ancient city, which is luckily open on sunday(!) unlike just about everything else.

Friday, April 4, 2003

yesterday was supposed to be my day in a charming tuscan, hilltop village - montalcino. and indeed, that's what i did yesterday, only it was raining. all day. so i got no photos of a place that is supposedly terribly picturesque. i actually i did take one photo, of myself, in the fog holding my umbrella. just to say i was there.

and i was there, and i had a really great lunch - gnocchi in truffle cream - which was oh-so-divine, i have never had anything with truffle before, and now i think i'm hooked. :) and my main course was tuscan sheeps cheese, baked in honey, which was terribly good and i slathered it all over some bread. though i think later i came to the conlusion that cheese as a main course was a mistake.... and of course i had a glass of brunello. it's the famous wine of the town, supposedly the best italian red wine. and it was good. and i had more! after my lunch i wen to an enoteche (wine bar) and did a little tasting with an amusing american couple from the northeast. i got to try three different brunellos, and one "super tuscan". all very good, and all VERY expensive, especially for me!!! but worth it. :)

today i had to get up very early in order to get to my hostel in rome by the check-in deadline. ugh. but obviously, i'm on vacation, i'm getting plenty of sleep. ;P so after a change in chiusi, where it was freezing, i arrived in the humoungous termini (this train station is more like an airport!!! it's huge!) and at my hotel where it is warm and lovely. so now i'm off to go sandal shopping!!! ciao!

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

so yesterday was a travel day. leisurely morning at the hostel in florence, eating my breakfast and watching italian soaps. long-ish train ride and then the confusion of figuring out buses and such in siena. i had to first take a bus to the center of town (the train station is 2km outside the city center, which i normally would've walked, but my map didn't show the actual roads to the station) and then i had to take a bus to the hostel (after sitting around in the sun for a while, another nice day yesterday).

i have to say, with absolute certainty - having to take a bus to get to/from the center/hostel sucks. so i got there, settled in a little bit. now my guidebook said there was dinner available at the hostel, so i asked and was told they only had pasta. so i read outside for a while until my butt hurt from the bench and then went in.

the "pasta" that they had was like a frozen type thing, which they heat up in the microwave. :) whatever, so had that and a beer and watched italian television in the common room for the evening.

today i'm exploring siena (did i mention that's where i am? anyway). it's a little bit chilly today, the sun hasn't been out much. so i sat around a little this morning, taking in tuscany in what sun i could find. made myself a lovely tomato-mozzerella-pesto sandwich for lunch and then hit the pinoteca nazionale (something like that, it's the local art musuem) which was kind of cool.

i'm a little distracted, they're playing a song i really like in this cafe.... and i keep singing which might make my sentences not make as much sense... just a sidenote...

this afternoon i'll check out the duomo and wander about on the streets a little. tomorrow i'm planning on a little field trip, to monalcino, if i can figure out which bus it is and where it leaves from...

Monday, March 31, 2003

today i went to pisa. and there is was. a tower. that leans. actually, i was really surprised with just *how* much it really leans. pictures always feel a little decieving because the camera can be angled a little this way or that way, but when you're standing right there next to it... whoa. and it sinks more every year. that's a little scary. some day it'll just fall down. in fact my guide book tells me that all of the buildings in the "feild of miracles" are a little uneven, guess it just wasn't the best place to build.

so seeing the tower didn't take very long. i sat in the sun for a while (in tank top! yeah!) to continue "priming" for my last week in italy, which will be a beach week on the amalfi coast. and i did a little shopping.

today was a sad day for my coat. actually, i brought it with me this morning when i left for pisa, because it felt a little cool. but by the time i reached the station i was ready to take it off. so after carrying it around all day, i decided something very important. today is the day. so tomorrow i will leave the santa monaca hostel and my coat will stay in the santa monaca church, where i hope it will be very happy. actually, it got a little birdie doo on it today, so it's not in as nice of condition as i had imagined. but anyway.

yesterday was quite lovely as well, went to the boboli gardens for most of the afternoon. it is humoungous. i thought i had walked around most of it, but the map i found on my way out showed that i had only been in this one small corner for the whole afternoon. those crazy medici's, always have to make things as big as possible. of to siena tomorrow for a few days and some sandal shopping. i think it's time. :)

Saturday, March 29, 2003

another day in florence today, and another beautiful day weather wise! i'm definitely leaving my coat here. only thing is i can't find one of those clothing donation dumpsters (i know they have them in italy, i've seen them) so my second thought was to maybe "forget" it in the pew of a church or something, they'll probably give it to charity. or i could just leave it hanging on the hook in my room that it's been on since i arrived, but it would probably sit there forever before someone realized that it didn't belong to someone in the room, and then they might just throw it out. anyway...

went to a lovely english bookstore that lets you trade in your old, used books for other ones. well, not exact trade, but a certain percentage of the value to shop or something. anyway, i got a new book for 2.50. books in general are very expensive in europe, especially english books. your average sorta novel will usually cost (new) about 10 or 11 euro. oy vay. some hostels will have a book exchage where you leave a book take a book sort of thing, but not all, and not this one and i was starting to get a pile.

so i did a lot of sitting about in the sun today, went to a small museum with paintings and drawings and models of the city of florence since.... well, since a long time ago. so it was kind of cool. then a little lunch, a little window shopping. i opted *not* to go to another museum this afternoon, it's the one with michaelangelo's "david" statue, and that was the only reason i was going, because it was famous. but in reality, i'm not that interested in sculpture and i have not personal interest in the statue (unlike the venus painting). so i opted to save myself 6.50 and just sit in the sun.

tomorrow i'll do laundry..... yeeeeeaaah...... fun. and then there's a modern art museum with a renaissance style garden out back. should be good, especially if this weather continues.

Friday, March 28, 2003

so today i went to the uffizi museum here in florence, which claims to have the most art per square inch, or something. and there was certainly a lot there. and best of all, there was my *favorite* painting boticelli's "the birth of venus". :) so i've now seen it, in the flesh. and bought myself a silly little souvenir pen from the gift shop. and of course, there was lots of other stuff, and other famous stuff, but when you've seen one "annunciation" or "madonna with child" you've seen them all, i think. i'm actually getting to the point where walking up to a painting of the martyrdom of a saint, i can almost guess who it is without reading the plaque - and i wasn't even raised catholic!

in the afternoon i visited the duomo, the main cathedral, of florence. it is the third largest in the world, after st. paul's in london and st. peter's in the vatican. so after this trip i'll have seen the three largest churches in the world (surely that will make my resume shine...)

the weather has been just fantastic lately, i don't think i've worn my coat since last weekend, so it may be time to give it a new home, and i think florence is as good a place as any.

more sights tomorrow....

Thursday, March 27, 2003

so i've eaten some good food in emilia-romagna (procuitto, parmegianno, tagliatelle alla bolognese...) and drank some good local wines (including the local sparkling red wine, lambrusco) and now i'm in florence for some culture.

i was able to find my hostel without *too* much difficulty (crossed the river via the wrong bridge, but managed to figure it out) and have put my bags down. i can't actually check in until 2pm, and the hostel is closed from 1-2, so i'm doing a little internet (which is fantastically right here inside the hostel) and then i'm off to find myself some lunch!

after some horrible confusion with my plans, i think i finally have everything straightened out, which relaxes me. it seems as though i have hardly any time left in italy, but at the same time feels like i've been here forever, it's strange, and hard to explain...

so more when there's more to tell...

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

have been having a lot of trouble with my plans, the trains and such, and so most of my internet time has been consumed by straightening these things out...

i am staying in modena now (of balsamic vinager fame) which is terribly boring, but i'm using it as a base to visit and eat in other cities in the emilia-romana region. also the weather has been lovely, and today i think i might even brave the park wearing only a t-shirt! which i desparately need to do, my hands are tan to the wrist, but my arms are pale, it's very odd looking. worse than a farmers tan for sure.

today i am heading to bologna for a big lunch and an afternoon in the park. tomorrow i leave for florence.

Friday, March 21, 2003

after a long day of travel (no strikes, but my train was delayed over a half an hour...) stepping out of the venice train station onto the canal was... breathtaking. venice is so un-like anywhere else i've been so far, and it's so beautiful.

had a little bit of trouble finding a place to stay last night (and trouble finding things in general... maps aren't much help in venice) but eventually found a place that had room for the evening, but after that they were full because of a group coming. so i dropped my stuff and went out to find an internet cafe to try and book the HI hostel (which was only *not* available on the first night i was going to be here - how perfect, huh?) for my next two nights.

so a good nights sleep - and a great free breakfast.... CEREAL!!! i haven't had cereal in forever! so it was only rice krispies and corn flakes, i was still really excited. then i took a water taxi over to the hostel to see if i could leave my stuff. the hostel is on an island and can only be reached by vaporetto, it's right on the water with an amazing view of the main part of venice.

so today i've been wandering around the city, not worrying so much when i didn't know where i was (the beauty of having to take a vaporetto to the hostel is as long as i can find a vaporetto stop, i can find my hostel, unlike my first night when i didn't venture farther than a couple hundred feet from the place so i wouldn't get lost!) and now my feet are pretty tired. i was only truly lost at one point where i ended up back in the very same spot two or three times before i found a vaporetto to somewhere else.

no sights today, or at least not the insides. this is just such an amazing city, i love it. :) and can you say.... shopping? i haven't bought anything yet, but i think i might. (obviously something not too big, since i have to carry it with me for another month)

i was sad to hear that we have actually escalated to a war, but i am not coming home and i am just as safe now as i was last week. i'm continuing to be careful and safe, so no worries. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

it was a beautiful day to explore bergamo today. and with all the hill walking - i didn't even have to wear my coat most of the day!

bergamo is divided into the "citta bassa" (the lower city) and the "citta alta". the prices of hotels and restaurants go up with the altitude, so obviously i'm staying in the citta bassa and shopping at the supermarket. some traditional bergamese dishes are horse and donkey with a side of polenta. so i got a little polenta from the grocery store - don't think i'm quite brave enough for the horse or donkey...

there isn't really a whole lot to do in bergamo, but it is beautiful and it was a great day for sitting around and people watching... a couple of things worth mentioning are these awful backpacks that are for some reason "cool". they are big and flourescent with giant buckles. and they are hideous. and everyone carries them. everyone. even adults. to me they just look like something someone in second grade would carry. and then there are the beautiful girls walking around with guys who are wearing these backpacks. call me shallow, but i would not date a man who carried a bag like this.

also a lot of the men who consider themselves "well dressed" look strikingly similar to the women. and that's a little frightening. of course not all italians are this weird, but there are enough of them to let me know that this is at least exceptable. i'm scared.

tomorrow i leave for venice, and hopefully the strike on the damn trains is over!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

how do you say "oy vay!" in italian? i wish i knew... very long morning today.

i got to sleep in a little this morning, leisurely breakfast, checked out and headed to the train station. the train i planned to take to bergamo was at 11:25, i looked up at the departures list and there it was, so i stood in line to buy my ticket. when i got to the front the woman at the desk told me that there was a strike on the trains, and she didn't know if the train would actually be going, so i should go check with information on the second floor.

so at "information" (imagine me making quotes with my fingers there) the womans says she doesn't know... there's supposed to be a train at 11:25 (i know) and the next one is supposed to be at 11:55, but there might not be any trains until after 5 because of the strike. so basically what i had to do was sit and wait to see if a track number showed up next to the train time on the schedule. 11:25, no. 11:55, no. so i decided i should maybe look for a bus instead of waiting until 5 o'clock to get a train.

well, according to my guidebook there are buses that leave right outside the train station and there's a schedule posted there. well i walked all around the station and i didn't see any bus schedules. so back to "information". she sends me to tourist information and they actually tell me where i need to go to get a bus to bergamo. (the same place i arrived in milan). so off i go, buy a ticket and i'm on my way. but this bus was packed! plus you'd think this was a city bus, there were so many people that some had to stand in the isle - you'd think it was a city bus or something. it was an hours ride.... glad i wasn't standing!

so i've finally arrived, i'm here. went to my first hotel choice and was able to get a room, though it was a little more than listed in my guidebook, i don't really care at this point. so hopefully by the time i leave for venice the strike will be over and there won't be as much confusion.

at first glance bergamo looks lovely. it's a nice day out and i'm going to explore a little bit and find a grocery store to stock up for some dinner.

Monday, March 17, 2003

tried to post yesterday... but there were some issues at the internet cafe i was at.... and then internet explorer ate my post and i didn't feel like re-writing it. mi diaspace.

so where to begin... the bus ride to milan was 13 hours long... and i was one of 2 people on the entire bus who did NOT have their own 2 seat row to stretch out it. some large, annoying boy decided he was going to sit with me. so ugh. needless to say got hardly any sleep, at least not for more than 30 minutes at a time... i arrived in milan around 8am and was able to manage the subway ride to my hotel (though i kept saying "merci" and "oui"... still mentally in france). and though reception was open at 9, i couldn't actually check in until 2 o'clock. though they did let me leave my bag, which was nice.

so i walked around the city a little bit, got a coffee at mcdonalds and sat there for nearly two hours writing in my journal and reading my guidebook. there was a big rally going on in the main piazza, which was for sure a peace rally - all the flags people were carrying said "pace", which means peace in italian, but what kind of peace i'm a little fuzzy on still.... see the flags were the rainbow gay pride sort, so i'm not sure what kind of peace exactly they were looking for. although, perhaps the flag doesn't have the same meaning in italy. who knows, i don't speak enough italian to ask any questions beyond "how much does it cost?".

needless to say i went to sleep rather early saturday. after checking in at two and the frustration of trying to figure out how to make a phone call i napped for the afternoon, then had a little dinner and went to sleep again.

sunday was a sunny, but cold day (as is today as well) and i walked around some and sat in the public garden for a while, looking in my guidebook and getting a little sun, despite the chill. though i suppose milan is sort of close to the alps and all that... i'll be moving south soon, though. :)

so tonight i'm going to make myself (there's a lovely, completely stocked kitchen in the hostel) an instant version of the local specialty - risotto alla milanese - which is risotto flavored with beef shank and saffron. and a bottle of cheap italian wine. should be good.

today is my last day of exploring milan, and frankly, that's fine with me. i'm not all that impressed with it here, it's just a city, with a coupla old things in it. tomorrow i move on to bergamo, which is a little smaller and, i think, a little cuter.

Friday, March 14, 2003

today is my last day in paris... and in france as well. it's been beautiful here, but a little bit cool. i've seen a lot of stuff here, as well as taking some time to just absorb it all.

i've been thinking of maybe publishing a sort of superlatives list for france, like best/worst hotel, worst toilet, best beach, best meal... etc. but i thought i'd open up the catagories to the public, so if you can think of anything that you think would be funny or something you're genuinely curious about use the "comments/feedback" link at the top right of the page.

i was thrilled to be able to do my laundry in the hostel today, and also to be able to leave my bag here when i was done, so i didn't have to drag it around with me all day.

and it is a sunny, beautiful day. i've spent most of it sitting by st. martin's canal and reading. walked around my "home" area in paris for the last time (near the place de la republique) and wrote some postcards.

in a couple of hours i'll be on my way to italy on a long, and most likely uncomfortable, bus ride. then the real struggle comes in communicating. though my french is nowhere near fluent i at least know a lot of basics, numbers, i can pose simple questions "do you have?" "can i?" "i'd like" "where is?" so we'll see how much italian i can beat into my brain on the bus.

wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

have i mentioned that my current hostel has free breakfast? (well, included in the price of the room anyway) and while i love this, because it means i don't have to buy a coffee somewhere, i get a little something to tide me over so that i'm not hungry for lunch by 11 (most places don't serve lunch until noon), there is one part i hate - they always have it early in the morning! at least this place serves breakfast from 7-9, the place in arles was from 7:30-8:30. but they're also very strict on the one cup of coffee per person rule. there's a woman who stands up there and gets you a cup of coffee and a cup of juice. no seconds whatsoever. also i have still not managed to get a cup of black coffee.
a little aside about coffee in france. when you ask for a "cafe" (coffee) you will most likely get an espresso. i think if you say "cafe americain" you'll get a regular black coffee (though i tried this once and ended up getting exactly what i wanted, for the price 3.40 euro). your standard coffee is pretty much going to be a cafe au lait

so the first morning she said "cafe au lait?" and i said "no 'au lait'". and she gave me a cafe au lait. this morning she said "cafe au lait?" and i said "cafe noir" (that means black coffee). and i *still* got a cafe au lait. oh well. i guess it's like they say "when in rome, be like the romans" or something. i'll get over it.

went to another picasso museum this morning, and this one was way better and bigger than the one i went to in antibes. it also had lots more of the picasso stuff that i like. after i went to a medieval museum, which was pretty cool. lots of stained glass windows, sculptures and illuminated manuscripts.

had lunch in chinatown. at a japanese place. oh well. actually there was probably more vietnamese restaurants there than chinese. france has a lot of vietnamese people. and since then i've been cruising around saint germain des pres and the latin quarter. bought a couple of grocery type things for my dinner and am thinking about heading back to the hostel soon.

i had more planned for today, but after a pretty full day yesterday i decided to take a few things off the schedule and just chill a little bit. and that's been good. tomorrow i'll have another full day to explore.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

a fab first day in paris. and guess what?!?! i finally got all the way to the top of the eiffel tower!! can you believe it? was very exciting, and it really is so much higher up than the 2nd level, there are things you can't see from the 2nd that you can from the top. good times. but - i have a question for everyone: have you ever known someone who has gone to paris, more specifically the eiffel tower and after leaving they say "you know what? the one souvenir i *really* wanted to buy was a small metal eiffel tower/eiffel tower keychain - and i just couldn't find them anywhere!" i mean really! not only does every shop near the eiffel tower (hell, probably every shop in paris) have them, but in case you missed them in the shop, at least 50 men will approach you to offer them up for sale. i think if i really wanted a cheesy souvenir (but let's be honest, sometimes you do - but i don't) i think you would go out and find one in a shop, or up to some street vendor who had them - do you really need to be pestered every 5 feet???????

did a little museum hopping this afternoon. went to the musee rodin and the musee d'orsay. but alas, monsieur "le penseur" was not present at musee rodin. and musee d'orsay is HUGE, so now my little feet are pretty tired, i'm looking forward to getting some dinner and getting back to the hostel to put my feet up! then i do it all over again tomorrow. :)

thinking about having a falafel sandwich for dinner. yum. maybe with fries on the side!

Monday, March 10, 2003

so the cleaning woman definitely hated me in bordeaux. she only came the first morning i was there. the second morning she left a bag of towels on my door handle (my sink was quite leaky) and she didn't come at all any other day. i think my desire to sleep late mucked up her whole schedule, and so she decided i could manage on my own. which wouldn't be that big of a deal, i don't really need my bed made every day, but taking the trash would have been nice.... anyhow...

had the *best* sunday so far yesterday. i got up, had a coffee in a sunny cafe. first of all - the sun - i think for as long as i've been here sunday is always cloudy, cold and/or rainy... i took myself out to a great and cheap lunch at a chinese place. they had a menu for 8 euros that included a starter, an entree with white rice, a dessert, and a 1/4 picther of wine. very good. :) and then i walked for a little while in the sunny pedestrian zone and went to the fine arts museum. after the museum i sat in the garden out front - wearing only a t-shirt! - and read and people watched for like 2 hours. then i went home, had my take-away salad and soup for dinner, read some more, a little tube and then bed. just about a perfect day!

got up super-early today (8 am can you believe it!) and got myself down to the train station for my my very long, but very first TGV journey. and so now here i am, in paris. got myself a bed and a subway pass for the week and i'm ready to see some sights, sip some coffee and finally make it to the top of the eiffel tower!!!

so tomorrow i'll hopefully have something interesting to write about...

Saturday, March 8, 2003

super easy going day yesterday. i slept late, then walked around bordeaux a little bit. it's actually not that exciting. treated myself to a fashion magazine in english (it was ELLE) and went back to my room with some groceries. pretty much kicked back, did some travel planning, read my magazine, read my book and watched some tube. i haven't had a true "down day" like that since i got here, so it was nice.

was feeling pretty lazy again this morning, and around 10:30 the cleaning woman was knocking on my door. i didn't really understand her, but i tried to tell her that i wasn't ready for her to clean my room yet. and she went away. i'm sure i'm ruining this woman's whole schedule by sleeping late. but oh well. this is like my vacation from vacation, i'm taking it easy.

so good news though! got an e-mail today from Snapfish! (they're developing my film and putting it online) that my photos are ready, and i've had a little peak, but this computer and the internet connection here are both deathly slow, and so i'm going to wait until i am somewhere else to try to share the albums and put a few photos on the site. soon, though, soon. i also had about half a roll leftover from home, which consists of mostly my pets. :) they are soooo cute.

well, i've got to get some more bread to make a sandwich from my leftover fillings and then at 1:15 i'm meeting at the tourist office to leave for my chateaux tour. should be fun.

Friday, March 7, 2003

i am now settled in to my lovely little room in bordeaux. and it's great, i spent last night watching tv! it's been a very long time since i've done that. there are two channels in english, the BBC and Mtv, which is only partly in english (it's subtitled in french), but they only show videos (mostly american videos) and "making the video" (but only for videos that have been out a while in the US). i still watched it. :) my room also has it's *own* toilet, shower and sink, which is very exciting. a lot of single rooms will have only a sink or if you're lucky a sink and a shower, with the toilet down the hall. so this is real luxury. and for only 16 euros a night!

spent most of yesterday trying to find a grocery store to get a couple things and also get my bearings a little around my hotel. took forever to find the grocery store, but they have something that i could make in my room (with no kitchen equipment) - it's like "cup of noodle" kind of stuff, only they also have different things like a shepard's pie kind of one and pastas with sauce, as opposed to soup. and all i have to do is put hot tap water in, cover it up and set it on my heater for 5 minutes and voila! a non-sandwich meal!

today i'm going to explore some of the sights in bordeaux. tomorrow i'm going with a tour group from the tourist office to the chateaux in Medoc, which should be a good time. (wine tasting is always a good time) sunday i may take a trip out to St. Emilion, which is another chateaux, but also a cool little medieval city.

so i'm not really sure yet what i'm going to be seeing today (i was watching tv instead of planning my day last night) but i think i'll start with a coffee in a sunny cafe while i flick through my guidebook.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

my last day in toulouse today, and i'm treating myself pretty well. :)

there was an open air market in the main place this morning, so i wandered through. haven't picked up any souvenirs for myself yet, mostly because the things i want are all like clothes i don't need right now or want to carry with me or dishes, ceramic things and such that would get broken and be too heavy to carry for another month and a half. might mail some stuff home at some point, but i have a feeling it will be pretty expensive... so don't want to have too much stuff sent.

seen some sights today, and some museums. after i finish typing this i'm taking myself to a movie, in english, and then i'm taking myself out to the sushi restaurant near my hotel and possibly to another museum near the hotel that is open late on wednesday nights.

tomorrow i'll be off again, to bordeaux this time, to another single room! this one possibly with TV, so come sunday when everything shuts down i'll have something to do.

not much to say today, oh well.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

well, "ugh" again. it wasn't until i was on the train to albi that i noticed that the toulouse-lautrec museum isn't open on tuesday!!!!!!!!!! i'm quite upset, as i am a fan of the silly little man's posters. (if anyone ever saw my living room in cambridge...)

so i got there and walked around a bit and not even the tourist office was open during lunch, so without a map i parked it on some bench and ate my lunch. (brown bagging it for a few days after my expensive misunderstanding meal yesterday).

when things finally started to open a bit after 2 i realized the only other thing i wanted to see in albi was the cathedrale de st..... st somebody, can't remember. but it was absolutely magnificent (i'm not being facetius, i just can't remember the name of the saint) the stonework was so unbelievable, extremely delicate, it looked almost like silk in some places, and of course beaucoup de gargoyles, which i loved. the inside was pretty cool as well, there are some amazing paintings on the walls, the big one at the altar (no, that's no the right word.... is it? you know what i mean) depicted the last judgement, which was quite cool. talk about trying to scare people out of sinning... how catholic. ;P

so after that i really had nothing else to do in albi and caught the early train back here. but the sun is shining finally, which is great.

so time to pop into the grocery store for another loaf of bread and maybe some sort of vegetable (in an attempt to be healthy). tomorrow i'm planning a lovely day in toulouse, and possibly treating myself to a movie, in version originale, chicago! v. exciting.

Monday, March 3, 2003

what could have been a great day has not really been.

i'm spending the day in carcassonne today, which is this amazing walled castle - story book kind of city. it really is amazing. but it's also raining. and so exploring the city and soaking up the beauty of it all on a park bench are not what they could be. also my travel umbrella is of a low quality and so after too much time in the rain it starts to seep through to the underneath part and drip onto my head and shoulders. no fun. the parks in this city are so nice and filled with flowers and beautiful fountains and stuff, i would have loved to spend the afternoon there. but no, but no.

also i wanted to get cassoulet while i was here, it's the local speciality. basically it's a stew with white beans, sausage and duck. so i found a restaurant with an 11 euro menu which included a salad, the cassoulet, and a dessert. but there was some confusion about the dessert bit, i wanted fromage blanc (which i wrote about a few days ago) but somehow it wasn't an option or i was misunderstood and instead had a plate of different cheeses, more like a cheese tray, that put an extra 4 euros on my bloody bill. so was feeling a bit cheated. c'est la vie.

did have a pretty pleasant sunday for once, despite the rain (it is always bad weather on sunday, i don't understand). found a small family run kind of grocery store and was able to pick up some wine and cookies to go with my sandwich and spent a pleasant evening in a warm room (the whole hostel in arles was quite chilly) reading.

i think the rain is finally supposed to let up tomorrow, and i'll be going to albi for the day, which was the home of toulouse lautrec before he ran off to paris to poster the moulin rouge. should be good.

Sunday, March 2, 2003

seems like i've had a very long day traveling... and it's only 3pm! my train left arles at 10 and by 1:30 i was in toulouse. there was a breif period of sun while i was on the train, so i had hopes of heading into sunnier territory. but no. it's is raining here.

despite the rain, my first impression of toulouse is that i think i'll like it here. i was able to find my hotel without much trouble. though my room is pretty hilarious. it is a single room (not a dorm) so there's a little single bed, a sink, a table and chair, and a closet. with about 3 square feet of carpet in the middle. but i'm not complaining, it's only 17.50 *and* it has a window. (the window looks over the "hall" which seems that it was previously a courtyard which is now covered on the top). the hotel itself is quite neat, little hallways leading all around and lots of stairs leading every which way. and even more i'm thrilled to not have a lockout during the day! that is truly miserable when it rains and you have to stay out until 5pm.

so i've walked around some, found the internet at what i think is quite cheap prices. it is filled with pre-adolescents playing 1st person shooters, but at least they're not taking up the entire place like in nimes.

would love to find an open grocery store so i could get a few supplies (wine, bread, cheese, some sort of cookies...) but i'm pretty sure no grocery stores are open in france on sunday, so i'll have to settle for a sandwich from a street vendor. i'll live, though.

tomorrow my plan is to go to carcassonne, which is a city with a castle at it's center, surrounded by a fortress. should be fun. hope it doesn't rain!!!!

Friday, February 28, 2003

sur le pont d'avignon, l'on y danse, l'on y danse....

am in avignon today which is really great. it's completely walled in with little entrances all over the city. saw the famous bridge, though decided against going on it, which cost 3 euros. i just took some photos from the river bank. it actually doesn't go all the way across the river anymore, and they still charge you 3 euros! at least your $2 on the tobin lets you go all the way across!

also visited the palais de papes, which is where the papacy was run from for like a hundred years in the 14th century and they built a gigantic palace. quite an amazing place. there's also tons of little museums here.... but i'm not in a museum mood today, it's sunny out. and even now i'm sitting in a sunny window looking out onto a "place" filled with people.

and all this is a vast improvement over yesterday, when i visited nimes. it rained _all day_. and i was so miserable. i decided to treat myself to a *real* lunch at an actual restaurant with wine and dessert. i'm not normally a big dessert person, but they have this thing in like every restaurant in france which is called "fromage blanc" (means "white chees") which is essentially a cheese with the consistency of yogurt, and they put a fruit sauce on it (everytime i've had it, it's been raspberry) and it is so good.... like dannon (or whatever yogurt that is... maybe yoplait?) it is sooo goooood....

was unable to kill time during the day of rain in the internet cafe in nimes, because it was filled with teenage boys playing QUAKE!!!! i was so angry. stupid boys. ended up spending a lot of time at the train station waiting for my train....

today is a much nicer day, and i don't mind just sitting outside and people watching.

slow, boring day tomorrow, my last day in arles and it is also going to be laundry day. then sunday morning i'll head off to toulouse. so until sunday... :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

it was a very long day yesterday, killing time until 5pm. sat for a very long time in a cafe. first had a coffee and sat for a while (that in itself earns me the right to sit there all afternoon). but i was hungry and it was lunchtime so a little later i had a croque monsieur and salad (to counteract the croque monsieur - which for those who don't know is like a grilled ham & cheese, but with cheese also melted all over the outside - to be eaten with fork and knife. this one was especially cheezy, with an almost welsh rabbit-y sauce under the outer cheese.). then a little while later, another coffee.

after that it was a little harder to kill time with my giant bag. didn't want to go in any shops (too bulky) and it was a little chilly out.... so sitting outside was not as nice as it could have been. eventually took a walk to see where exactly the hostel was, and then time how long it took me to walk to the train station from there (about 25 minutes with a full pack).

it was eventually time and i could put down my bag. sigh of relief. wandered off feeling 50 lbs. lighter (well, let's be honest - at start the bag was 13 lbs, can't have put too much more in there.... some papers, one new sweater - that's all). got myself a sandwich and went back to the hostel to tuck in for the night.

today i had my very first FREE breakfast (it's included in the price of this hostel) which was fantastic. my first breakfast to include something besides coffee in weeks. :) plus, not only a coffee, but a big cup which i could refill. the bottomless cup of coffee is unheard of in france.

have been seeing the sights in arles today, it has quite a lot of roman ruins and some museums, also the hospital that van gogh was put in after he cut off his ear (like mental hospital).

tomorrow i'll make a day trip to nimes, which also has some roman ruins. i might get roman ruin-ed out by the time i really get to rome, eh? well, probably not. i imagine the colleseum will blow away what is left over in france.

till tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

a sad end to my sad sunday (when i last posted). i wanted so badly to get some chinese take-away to soothe my crappy afternoon, which i have been able to find in every city so far. but not in marseille. instead i ate at MCDONALDS and had "le chicken mcnuggets" and "frites". was comforting at any rate.

yesterday spent the day in aix-en-provence, which restored my hopes for provence in general. it was charming and quaint and clean (well, apart from the obvious dog doo and cigarettes that are everywhere, but no real trash like marseille) and i was able to get chinese take-away before i went back to marseille. mmmm..... made me quite happy.

and i finally sent my film in! though i think i must have air-mailed it or something... was a little more expensive than i imagined. so soon (depending on when it arrives in the US) i'll have some pictures to share.

was up very early this morning to catch a 8:48 train to arles. so i am here now. but i'll have to lug my big bag all over this city with me today, as the hostel i plan to stay at is closed from 10-5. blah, i hate lock-outs! but it's nearly lunch time now, and it's sunny out and not too cold, so i'll have some lunch and maybe find a place to park myself near the river and read for a little bit. i picked up a new book in aix yesterday "angle of repose" by wallace stegner, something i meant to read ages ago when i was thinking of being part of an online reading group but didn't.

alas, i don't know how much this is costing me here, but hopefully not too much. i'll be 4 nights here in arles, which is home to some of the best preserverd roman ruins in france.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

j'ai arrivee en marseille hier.

and apart from being quite expensive to stay here (25 euros a night) i do have my own room, which is an exciting change. even my own shower (which was cold this morning) and sink. toilet is down the hall. still it's kind of nice to be lazy and just kind of lounging around with no one to bother me....

oh, don't think i wrote about the crazy inconsiderate girls in cannes - was finally asleep the first night of my wretched cold when at about 12:30 these two girls came into the room and clambered up into their beds and continued to chit chat as if they were still at the pub, and their mobile phones buzzing with text messages..... and the same in the morning, at 7:30 when they got up, no thought for the three other people who didn't want or need to be awake at that time. oy vay. actually talked to them on my last night in cannes, they were sort of crashing the 3GSM World Congress and trying to sell their business idea.

spent the afternoon yesterday cruising around the port in marseille and enjoying the sunshine. am thinking of trying out my wedding band here, there seem to be a lot of guys who think if a girl is sitting/walking/standing alone that she wants to be picked up. it's a little annoying. was sitting on a bench yesterday when some guy started to chat with me, so i made an attempt, he didn't really speak english, i was trying to speak some french. then he said i had a nice smile, and could he see my eyes? he wanted to see the color... (danto: a bit like those crazy egyptians) which i declined.

today saw a couple of the sights (the ones that interested me) and then was going to walk around in "le panier" which is a section of marseille that's supposed to be quaint and cute streets and shops and such... not so much. i've seen cute and quaint. this was just a little grungy. and marseille on the whole is sort of a dirty place. but the port is nice.

anyhoo- tomorrow i'll go to aix-en-provence for the day, which is a small town, and hopefully a little cleaner than marseille.

have finished enough film to send in to the developer, but haven't been able to find an envelope to mail it in (and "la poste" is closed today). but soon, hopefully, i'll have some pictures!

Friday, February 21, 2003

bonjour tout le monde!

yes, i haven't written for a while... cannes has been a little wierd and hectic - PLUS i've come down with a miserable cold.

first of all, wasn't able to find any cyber cafes with english keyboards (on french keyboards, the letters and punctuation are mostly in different places) and it was very, very frustrating, but today someone showed me that i can change the language of the keyboard - which of course only works if you can type without actually looking at the keys - so i'd like to thank my crazy high school typing teacher....

second - SICK. yuck. nose was running out of control and i was sneezy and miserable. luckily had befriended a german girl in my hostel, who was working in france and could speak french very well, so she could explain to the pharmacy chic what i needed. of course what i really *wanted* was dayquil, that stuff is the best ever, but you can't just peruse the shelves in france, you have to ask for the hard stuff (like cold medicine). but anyway, am starting to feel better.

not really enjoying cannes as much as the other cities i've been to so far, but the hostel has a kitchen, so i can like heat up some soup to go with my sandwich and open a bottle of wine with the hostel corkscrew. so had a lovely dinner last night.

went to grasse yesterday, the perfume capital of the world, which was nice (though not as nice as it could have been if my nose wasn't running the whole time). i bought myself a fancy-shmancy french "parfum". :) which the woman told me would last for 3 months "if i use it every day, as i should" don't think i'll do that. but also, they put the stuff in aluminum bottles, which along with being safer and lighter for me to travel with, actually keeps the perfume potent for 7 years, unlike glass bottles which only keep it fresh for like a year.

today i'm catching up on bunches of e-mail and posting here for the first time in days. then i'll wander around cannes for a bit and take the ferry to ile st. marguerite, which is where the "man in the iron mask" was imprisoned. it's also supposed to be a lovely place to walk around.

tomorrow i leave the cote d'azur for provence, my first stop is marseille.

Monday, February 17, 2003

my last day in antibes... and not a very interesting day.

went in search of a laundrymat, it's been two weeks now, it's time. the one listed in my guide book was closed, so i wandered around and eventually found another one. quite boring.

had a lovely sandwich for lunch, goat chees with tomato, lettuce and olive oil. yum... sandwich... tonight is 1 euro curry night, which i'm very excited about.

sat in the courtyard for a while today to try to soak up some sun while avoiding the wind, not easy to do and i wasn't very successful. i've finished reading "the celestine prophecy" which i thought was amazing and i highly reccomend. i've traded in my copy at the hotels book exchange for something called "sushi for beginners", a sort of comedic novel, i gather. been reading a lot in antibes, which is strange. not something i usually have a whole lot of time for.

a lot of chit-chat today with various residents here, which i quite enjoy. it is still a little early for most of them to have secured work yet, so there's a lot of people hanging around. i feel that i might be getting a little comfortable here, it's time to move on.

tomorrow morning i leave for cannes.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

quite a late night at the pub on friday night.... got home around 4 am. people here are content to go from place to place as things close down until the morning - don't think i'm quite that dedicated...

slept in a bit on saturday and decided to take a walk around cap d'antibes, the bit of antibes that sort of juts into the mediterranean. it was absolutely stunning, there's a railing set up along a path right on the cliffs. eventually the path was increasingly difficult to find.... and did a bit of rock climbing in my 3 inch heels. was quite tired when i finally got back to antibes and decided to pick up some potato salad from the super market for dinner. it was "pomme de terre aux harengs" i didn't know what 'hareng' was, but it looked ok. not until i got back to the room and opened it did i realize it was herring. hareng = herring. yuck. so went out to get a sandwich instead.

today slept even later than usual - didn't get up until 11:30!!! it's freezing today. went out and got some fried rice and chicken satay from a little asian place - my first non-sandwich meal in a while - which was yummy. then took a walk to juan-les-pins, which is about a 20 minute walk from here. not very exciting, it's mainly a beach place, so obviously there's not a lot of people there now.

i think another slow night tonight, one girl in my room has a laptop and i think we're going to rent a dvd to watch. and probably sandwiches from the shop around the corner. ;P i don't mind, the bread and cheese here is fantastic.

hopefully tomorrow will be a little sunnier, my last full day in antibes, and i think - laundry day.

Friday, February 14, 2003

slept late this morning, till about 9:30 at which point one my current roomates, helen, says "there's free coffee for guests downstairs before 10". so needless to say i inquired about this while i was paying for my next night's bill, but i was told no, it was before 9. *sigh* perhaps a way to convince myself to get out of bed a little earlier. we'll see.

this morning had helen show me around the city a little while she did a few errands. then we went to the picasso museum, which was nice. much smaller than i imagined and not containing quite as many of the types of work i recognize, a lot of ceramic plates with child-like drawings of faces on them.

after being terribly warm all morning and carrying my coat around, i decided i would go sit on the beach a little after lunch and read. well, when i got to the beach i had about 10 minutes of wonderful warm sunshine before the sun slipped behind a massively huge cloud, where it never came out from, and me without my coat got very cold. so i walked into the english bookstore and looked around a bit (i've just finished my current book "island" by aldous huxley). needless to say it was not a whole lot warmer in the shop. in fact in the basement where the used books were, there was a small machine blowing out cold air! blah. but have chosen my next book: "the celestine prophecy" by somebody-or-other.

tomorrow i'm planning on a walk to juan-les-pins, which is essentially the same town as antibes, but they have separate train stations, post offices and tourist offices. supposedly it's a little bit younger, a little bit hipper.

did not go out to the pub last night, instead walked with my other current roomate, selina, to get a pizza, which we brought back to the room and ate while i read a found copy of october 2002 british marie claire. lovely evening. though helen was astonished that i didn't go out on my first night in antibes, i think we'll be going out tonight.

and it's terribly cold!!! i'll definitely be wearing my coat!

Thursday, February 13, 2003

today i moved camp to antibes.

was able to easily find and get a room at my first choice hotel, the crew house, which also has and internet cafe connected! how convenient. there are lots of people here looking for work on yachts, and there are lots of yachts, but i've read that there's just too many people looking for that sort of thing... at any rate, i'm not strapped for cash... yet.

walked around the city a bit today, which is a little more condensed than nice and a little less touristy. it's nice. (but then again nice is nice as well, didn't i say). tomorrow i'll go to the picasso museum, apparently he stayed here (in antibes) for a few months and they were very productive months, and so now there's a lovely museum.

walked down to the water and the wind was so brutal that i thought i would die of cold. bought a new, cheap sweater today (10 euros) to keep me warm. am going to break out the mittens again. hopefully it gets a little bit warmer.

there seemed to be some talk about "the pub" so i may be doing that tonight.


Wednesday, February 12, 2003

have been contemplating all the dog doo on the sidewalks.

what do they feed these animals? it seems that 2 out of 3 piles of dog doo are diarhea. must be all the foie gras. or something, it must be something....

a little cool out today, and it looks to be like that for a while. i guess i'll live, at least it's not snowing. took my last day trip from nice today to menton. it was just okay, that secret riviera stuff is a bunch of crap. (says me). menton is home to the (a?) jean cocteau museum, which was pretty interesting. his art is sort of crazy picasso line-ish stuff in strange colors. i liked it.

had a difficult time finding a good place for lunch. i walked around the pedestrian zone for a while, peeking in shops and checking out where other people were eating (usually a good indicator). so i decided on a place and i sat down at an outdoor table (in general, you just sit wherever you want and a waiter comes up and asks you what you want, no "hostess") and started to look at a menu that was on the table next to mine. and i waited. i decided to get a pizza (menton is very close to italy) and a glass of wine. and i continued to wait. and wait. the people who were there started leaving. so i left. i walked around and tried to find somewhere similar, but couldn't. finally just picked a place with people and when i looked at the menu all they had was drinks and ice cream and a couple of snacky type things. so i settled for "croque-monsieur" (essentially grilled ham and cheese with cheese on the outside of the bread as well) and a beer.

walked around the city some after lunch and decided to walk the "chemin du rosaire" which is this path that leads up to this hillside church that some princess of monaco built when some saint cured her leopracy (or something). supposedly it was decorated with like some human bones or something. well, if it was, i didn't see them. and it was a very long, uphill walk to this place. great view of the city though.

now i've picked up some groceries for my dinner and a french vogue and i'm ready to go back to my hotel and put up my feet. :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

i once read somewhere: "a day without wine is like a day without sunshine". how true!

this morning i got up early and was out and about by 9 am (hey - that's early - i'm on vacation here!) had a coffee and did some people watching at a cafe and then went to find the museum i couldn't find the other day. well, i found it this time. a small museum, but interesting, had some cool paintings by some Dufy guy, who is from nice or something. also had "le baiser" (the kiss), the sculpture by rodin.

took a walk to the outdoor market and found a sunny little cafe to have lunch at. i kind of like having my big meal at lunchtime. i can sit alone and people watch while working on my tan and not have to count on someone wanting to go to dinner from the hotel in the evening. and it's an excuse to drink wine, which along with the sunshine makes for a wonderful afternoon. had some prawns or shrimps or something that not only had their shells still on (which i dislike, though i know it's a somewhat posh thing for restaurants to do - i just think it's lazy) but they also had their heads still on. with their big black eyes staring at me. yuck. and since i was given a little hand wipey i assumed that i didn't have to eat in a civilized manner. and it was so messy. and despite all the work (and they eyes) it was tasty. sat on the beach for a little while before heading back to the hotel for a little laundry. i'm starting to look a little sun-kissed on the cheeks and nose, which is very exciting.

did a little shopping, grocery shopping too, which was an experience. i had bought some bread, goat cheese and apples yesterday to have a couple of cheap meals. well today i decided to pick up a tomato to throw into the sandwich, which i didn't realize i was supposed to weigh before i went up to the cashier. so i had to run back to the vegetable section and weigh it, get my little sticker and run back to the cashier. just another lesson learned i suppose (like you need your london subway ticket to get out of the station as well as in).

tomorrow i'm planning a day trip to menton, "the secret riviera" (according to my guidebook). we'll see about that. :)

Monday, February 10, 2003

hooray!! no rain today, as forecasted - in fact it was a beautiful day.

took a trip to monaco today, and walked around the entire country (it's not that big). lots and lots of walking..... i'm very tired and very much looking forward to a)laying on my bed with my feet up and b)taking it easy tomorrow. hopefully it will be nice enough to sit on the beach.

saw prince rainiers palace and the place where princess grace is buried (along with dozens of other dead monacan royalty). there was a desert garden on a hillside (waaaay up the hill) that i almost died trying to reach. i almost considered forgetting about being economical and take a bus or something. then went to the casino in monte-carlo, didn't actually gamble or anything, mostly sat by the water trying to recover from my walk. then there was a lovely japanese garden.... it was all very lovely, including the million dollar yachts in the harbor - wow.

so yeah, ready for some rest....

Sunday, February 9, 2003

thought i would get up a little earlier today, before 9 instead of before 10 (i'm still on vacation, before 9 is early) so i started to walk around and noticed that not many things were open yet, so i'm thinking "this place is exactly my speed, no need to get up too early". but it wasn't until much later when i was going to write in my journal that it occurred to me that it was sunday. and in the end only about half of the cafes and none of the shops opened. *sigh*

today was also a rather yucky day. very cloudy and very windy, which made it quite cold. i sat on the beach for about an hour (maybe less) it was all i could stand. looks like rain tomorrow which is no fun for walking around in (i do have an umbrella). my plan tomorrow is to take the train to monaco, but we'll see how much i really do there if it's raining.

have been feeling very tired today, even after a mid-afternoon siesta (i think that's more a spanish tradition than a french one, but oh well) but i guess i've had a busy week, i'm entitled to feeling a little tuckered out. it's not even 5 o'clock and i'm thinking of picking up a sandwich for later and heading back to the hotel. such a lazy day.

Saturday, February 8, 2003

have just arrived back from a day in Villefranche-sur-mer, which was stunning. everywhere i go seems to be more beautiful. OH! and i'm at my original cheaper internet cafe. found it again, apparently i didn't look very hard yesterday, or i was just too tired from walking around all day.

today was a very relaxing day, i slept till about 9:30 and then got a coffee near the train station and after standing around staring at the list of departures for a while i figured out which train i was supposed to take. villefranche is a beautiful little town that surrounds a bay and it is all on the cliffside, so the very narrow streets weave back and forth, some with barely enough room for one car, and there are stairs running straight up the hillside. i wandered through the streets for a while and eventually figured out how to get the the town center where they had maps. and then did some planned wandering, down some very old streets and through some hillside gardens.

for lunch i ate at a little cafe right by the bay, my very first solo restaurant meal. it was good, i had the plat du jour, "lapin a la nicoise" that is rabbit in the style of nice, sort of a tomato-y sauce with garlic and i think some black olives. i also ordered some rose wine, but with no size request. well, despite the fact that i was dining alone, the waiter brought out a half liter carafe - i didn't drink it all (i mean, it was only lunchtime) but i did have like 4 glasses. and it was super cheap - the half liter was about $5.

for the rest of the afternoon i sat on the beach and soaked up some sun - IN MY TANK TOP!! very excited, it was quite warm in the sun, though sitting in the shadows at the train station i had to put my coat back on. was doubly pleased to notice this morning in the mirror that i already have a little color on my face (except where my sunglasses were, the only way i could tell, i'm still not "tan") so perhaps i will come home with a lovely riviera bronze after all!

tomorrow i plan to spend the day in nice again, which will most definitely mean more time on the beach. :) now have 2 rolls of finished film, which i'll mail off to snapfish once i have two more - so i'll have some pictures online - everything is soooo beautiful here. i feel very in my element.

talked to my mom today, and she said it snowed all day yesterday - so i am thinking of you all as i sit on the beach!

until tomorrow!

Friday, February 7, 2003

bonsoir everyone! it's quarter to six now, and i've settled for using this more expensive internet cafe, as i couldn't find the one i was at yesterday......

another lovely day in nice, though no beach today. sat on the beach almost all afternoon yesterday (in my winter coat, alas) which was nice. went out to a small brasserie around the corner from the hotel with a couple of boys from my room, one dutch and one british. was a very local kind of place, which was fun. and there was just too much food - i couldn't finish (could've been the big sandwich i had at 3pm....) i'll have to learn how to say "i'm full" or something. i think the waiter thought i didn't like it. i felt rude...

today walked through the old part of town "vieux nice" and went to the fruit and vegetable market where i bought half a loaf of bread and an apple. (it was all i could manage) then i walked up about a million stairs (felt like) to "le chateau" the site of some old chateau and there was a battle.... anyways, beautiful views. i feel like every picture i take could be a postcard, it is so beautiful here.

everywhere i look there are little dogs, i love it! except for the pooping on the sidewalk part. i've only stepped in dog doo once so far, and after that i started watching the ground a little more. ooh, but they are sooo cute. and so well behaved, half of them aren't on leashes, they just follow behind there masters through busy sidewalks and across streets.... didn't think dogs were like that.

today managed to figure out the bus system and went to the Matisse museum and a museum of a 13th century fransiscan monastary, which had some beautiful gardens. although i think i was supposed to validate the ticket on the bus or something.... after i paid the driver.... so confusing. perhaps am not as deft at bus-use as i thought...

anyway. tomorrow i'm going to take a little day trip villefranche-sur-mer, which is supposed to be stunning and coastal and such.

time to head back to the hotel and rest my feet a little before dinner. alas, it is not carnivale as i thought (and i'm sure i read it somewhere) but they are setting up for carnivale, which will be nearer to the end of the month. oh well. am enjoying myself anyways. nice is very much my speed, very casual, sitting on the beach, people watching, getting a coffee at a cafe, sun, etc.

a demain!

Thursday, February 6, 2003

arrived in nice this afternoon. it is sunny and almost too warm for my coat! :)

the play last night was wonderful, gillian is the fifth famous person i've ever been that close to (after all the members of U2) - i was in the second row. my plan to walk around yesterday instead of the tube was a bad idea. all i ended up doing was getting lost and making my feet hurt. after i found a tube station again i bought a day pass so i wouldn't have to worry.

thought i might be late for my flight, but i managed to get there in enough time (just enough) even though i missed the gatwick express train i thought i should take (luckily the next one left 15 minutes later, instead of 30 minutes later like i thought). at security i was thoroughly felt up and down and then they took my corkscrew, even though it had no blade on it. they were convinced that it had some sort of knife thing within the body of the corkscrew, so i had to let it go. ah bon. i'm sure they have corkscrews in france, and i won't be flying again until the end of my trip when i can just get rid of it.

my flight to nice was short (so short! compared to my flight to england) and as i usually order the vegetarian meal, because it's usually safer, i missed out on bacon sandwiches... :( instead i had a plate of fruit, some of it not very good. and i napped a little on the plane and then chit-chatted with a little old english woman.

and i managed to not only find my first choice hotel, but i was able to get a bed for 18 euro a night (about $19.50). that was actually my biggest fear, not being able to find somewhere to stay! and now that i've accomplished that and i've done some e-mail i think it's time to get some sun on my pasty self.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

well here i am - in london in a small cafe around the corner from my hostel sipping a coffee and trying to pretend like it's morning, though it feels like about 4am.

i've got some nerves again. i had been feeling alternately nervous and fine about every thing for a couple of weeks before, and then the day of my flight (yesterday) i was really nervous sitting around the house waiting for it to be time, then at the airport i felt fine about everything (though i thought i would cry when i hugged my mom goodbye) and on the plane, and in heathrow and taking the tube to the hostel. but then checking in, all the nerves came back.

it's strange to think this is only the beginning... at home 2 1/2 months seemed like nothing...

tonight i see "what the night is for" starring gillian anderson. the radio blaring into the cafe is saying there's a couple of tube stations shutdown because of overcrowding, so perhaps i'll get a map and try to walk to piccadilly circus.

tomorrow i fly to nice and then the real challange begins - SPEAKING FRENCH!

Monday, January 13, 2003

coming soon to this space....

i will be posting here as a journal for those who want to follow me in my travels. i leave on the evening of february 4 from Boston and arrive in London the next morning. hopefully i'll be able to post on a somewhat regular basis, so be sure to check often.