Sunday, February 27, 2011

Travel Plans: A Tale of Three Cities . . .

Right now, there are four or five centimetres of fresh snow on the railings of our apartment balcony, and freezing rain making a mess of the sidewalk -- and the only boots here are unlined rainboots with a 2-inch heel and dubious traction. I wanted peace, quiet, and much slowing down, and I'm getting what I asked for!

Last night, on my own (Pater had to go back to the island for the weekend), I watched Bruno Nuytten's 1989 Oscar-winning film, Camille Claudel featuring Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu -- stirring and sad, and of course the real sadness was only gestured toward by the note at the film's end reminding us that Claudel spent the last thirty years of her life in an asylum, consigned there by her family. I watched the film in French, with the French subtitles, a great way to amp up my oral comprehension and keep up the momentum of our French lessons. And yes, as some of you have guessed, these lessons will prepare Pater and I to more fully participate in Parisian life when we head to our favourite city in a few weeks -- We'll be renting an apartment (thanks Duchesse for the information about Parisaddress) not too far from the Rodin Museum, and I'll be sure to stop by and check out Claudel's work.

Both before and after Paris, we'll have some time in London, once again staying at the friendly, clean, well-situated, and very reasonable (i.e. cheap, budget) Alhambra Hotel which means we'll go for pleasant walks along St. Martin's Canal. Of course, the weather will not be as warm and sunny as in these photos from last summer -- we've never been to Paris/London in March/April before, never been away from home for six consecutive weeks, and in our last six spring visits to Paris (since 2005), we've never not stayed at our beloved Hotel Résidence les Gobelins. But with Pater's retirement and my leave combined with last year's eventual impatience with continual eating-out, we decided to stay in Paris for a month, using a flat there as a base to do some exploring by train. And by going earlier than usual, we avoid many of the tourists and we get to be back at our island home to take advantage of the best beach weather here.

Meanwhile, though, I have to pack, keeping in mind a considerably different weather scenario than May/June. In fact, I'm thinking that the bag I packed for San Francisco last month might do me fairly well for London and Paris in early spring. I'm thinking I'll wear my leather jacket, although I may try to squeeze my Burberry trench over it for the plane ride -- six weeks with one coat might get monotonous! As in the photo below, I found I was quite happy in SF wearing jersey dresses with tights and either boots or brogues, and I might just adapt this formula. But I'll save for another post all my talk about packing and shopping and why/how I'm going to live out of a carry-on for six weeks!

Mater in Yerba Buena Gardens with SF MOMA in the background.

Now back to reality, staring out the window at winter, the dream of hot, sunny Luxembourg Gardens quickly fading . . .