The day we were left alone in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves.

If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves. Here’s how it happened. Continue reading “The day we were left alone in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles”

Regional words and fat Frenchmen

It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks.

It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks. Continue reading “Regional words and fat Frenchmen”

Montpellier: Arc de Triomphe

While the most famous Arc de Triomphe in France is undoubtedly the one at in the Etoile in Paris, the one in Montpellier impresses its visitors nonetheless. It is located on Rue Foch in a posh shopping area of Montpellier, in the historic center of the city, just a short walk from Place de la Comédie and the train station.

While the most famous Arc de Triomphe in France is undoubtedly the one at the Étoile in Paris, this one in Montpellier impresses its visitors nonetheless. Continue reading “Montpellier: Arc de Triomphe”

Maison Carrée in Nîmes

I took this picture of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, in 2004, during my late-summer European tour. As you can see, it was a beautiful, clear day when I visited Nîmes.

I took this picture of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, in 2004, during my late-summer European tour. As you can see, it was a beautiful, clear day when I visited Nîmes. Continue reading “Maison Carrée in Nîmes”

Afternoon in Sète

Sète is a coastal city in southern France, located a short drive from Montpellier, where I used to live. Sète has the vibe of a busy fishing village, making it a fun place to visit for an afternoon. I’d occasionally come for a seafood lunch at one of the tourist restaurants along the canals, then stroll to the harbor and along the shore.

Sète is a coastal city in southern France, located a short drive or train ride from Montpellier, where I used to live. Sète has the vibe of a busy fishing village, making it a fun place to visit for an afternoon. I’d occasionally come for a seafood lunch at one of the tourist restaurants along the canals, then stroll to the harbor and along the shore. Continue reading “Afternoon in Sète”

Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris

This photo, taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, was one of only a handful of couple photos Kathryn and I have from our travels in Europe in 2007. It was a mostly cloudy day in September, but the colors of the flowers seem to pop out.

This photo, taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, was one of only a handful of couple photos Kathryn and I have from our travels in Europe in 2007. Continue reading “Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris”

Notre Dame de Paris at night

After a long, romantic stroll along the Left Bank of the Seine late one evening in September 2007, Kathryn and I walked across Petit Pont to have a look at Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris. Kathryn snapped a few photos, including this one.

After a long, romantic stroll along the Left Bank of the Seine late one evening in September 2007, Kathryn and I walked across Petit Pont to have a look at Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris. Kathryn snapped a few photos, including this one. Continue reading “Notre Dame de Paris at night”

Cannes Film Festival

Back in the spring of 2003, I took a day trip to Cannes during its famous annual film festival. It was the last day of the festival, and most of the Hollywood celebrities had already come and gone. However, watching the European celebrities arrive for the final screening was no less glamorous.

Back in the spring of 2003, I took a day trip to Cannes during its famous annual film festival. It was the last day of the festival, and most of the Hollywood celebrities had already come and gone. However, watching the European celebrities arrive for the final screening was no less glamorous. Continue reading “Cannes Film Festival”

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard is an impressive, well preserved Roman aqueduct bridge. It was built in the first century A.D. to supply fresh water to nearby Nîmes. It continued to be used as a toll bridge for many centuries after the aqueduct fell into disrepair.

Between being rather busy at work this week — and also suffering a bout of writer’s block — I’m going to let another photo do the talking today. This one was taken in 2003 at Pont du Gard in the south of France. Continue reading “Pont du Gard”

Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf

Christian let me know that I had to order the right beer for the city I was in. In Düsseldorf, they brew Alt, so that’s what they drink. In Cologne, they brew and drink Kölsch. I would be frowned upon if I ordered a beer in the wrong city. Those fortunate enough to live in Monheim am Rhein could order either, when in Monheim, of course.

I arrived in Paris six days ago and spent a couple nights there. I didn’t do much in Paris that I haven’t done before. Mostly, I just enjoyed being there, sitting in cafes, walking through parks, and so forth. The only new thing I really saw was the museum of the police prefecture, which actually I didn’t find very interesting, aside from an exhibit of some of the firearms used during the Liberation.

I left Friday morning by train for Cologne, Germany, where I planned to visit a friend of mine, Christian, who lives near there. I had planned to spend the morning in Paris, but after speaking to Christian by phone, it seemed like it would work out better with his schedule if I arrived in the mid-afternoon. The rail line between in Paris and Cologne is a mostly high-speed line called Thalys, so the trip took less than four hours, with only a few intermediate stops. Continue reading “Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf”

Things you probably don’t know about me

Here’s a list of things you probably don’t know about me. It’s in no particular order.

Here’s a list of things you probably don’t know about me. It’s in no particular order. Continue reading “Things you probably don’t know about me”

Montpellier, France: Donating blood at the Place de la Comédie

I was walking across the Place de la Comédie, and I noticed a sign that there were blood collections going on. I hadn’t given blood since I was seventeen years old, and I hadn’t actually tried since September 11 last year, when I was turned away because of the crowds. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I figured I could kill an hour or so giving a pint.

On my way out to do the shopping this morning, I was walking across the Place de la Comédie, and I noticed a sign that there were blood collections going on. I hadn’t given blood since I was seventeen years old, and I hadn’t actually tried since September 11 last year, when I was turned away because of the crowds. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I figured I could kill an hour or so giving a pint. Continue reading “Montpellier, France: Donating blood at the Place de la Comédie”

Frequently asked questions about our road trip in Europe

We’ve only been home a few days, but Kathryn and I have already heard a lot of questions about our trip. For the benefit of everyone else, I’ve decided to repeat some of them here, along with their answers. Continue reading “Frequently asked questions about our road trip in Europe”

Long overdue post

There’s a certain irony to writing a blog. During those times when you have the most to write about, you have the least time to write it. The year 2007 has been, and continues to be, almost unbelievably good to me, and for several months I’ve been maintaining a hand-written list of all the things I want to write about.

There’s a certain irony to writing a blog. During those times when you have the most to write about, you have the least time to write it. The year 2007 has been, and continues to be, almost unbelievably good to me, and for several months I’ve been maintaining a hand-written list of all the things I want to write about. However, the blog format lends itself to telling stories in a chronological fashion, so as my list grows longer, I feel a certain pressure to write everything or nothing. More often than not, over the past few months, I’ve chosen nothing, but with a new travel adventure beginning in less than 48 hours, I’ve run out of time. Therefore I’ll dispense with the formalities and blurt out everything I recall in whatever order seems relevant. Perhaps it’ll all make sense at the end. Continue reading “Long overdue post”

Feedback from a correspondent about Odyssea in Montpellier

Many of you know I lived in Montpellier, France, for about a year. I loved being there, and I had a great experience studying there. From time to time, I’m asked to provide a reference to prospective students of the school where I studied, and I’m always happy to do so. Last summer, a young woman called me out of the blue, and we spent a half-hour or so on the phone talking about Montpellier.

Many of you know I lived in Montpellier, France, for about a year. I loved being there, and I had a great experience studying there. From time to time, I’m asked to provide a reference to prospective students of the school where I studied, and I’m always happy to do so. Last summer, a young woman called me out of the blue, and we spent a half-hour or so on the phone talking about Montpellier. Continue reading “Feedback from a correspondent about Odyssea in Montpellier”