Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More about the October trip

Kew gardens

I hadn't traveled to Europe in seven years and felt as if I needed to do research about what I was going to see, air travel in general and especially anything about French culture. I did spend way too much time on the internet--no surprise there.

I do wish I had taken some kind of a small computer with me because accessing the computers in the hotel wasn't easy. I did go to an internet cafe in Paris and it was interesting to figure out the French keyboard. Maybe a better description would be extremely frustrating. Then disinfected my hands because the keyboard was filthy. But I was able to send off my very brief email and read some email. I took two "thumb drives" or whatever they're called. One for a Mac and one for a pc but didn't use them.

Even after much study and working out how to unlock my cell phone it was useless in both countries. I'll do something different next time. Actually, I didn't miss using it.

I learned so much about travel, France and myself on this trip. While I was part of a group I spent a fair amount of time on my own because some of the group sites I had seen before especially in London. For example, I spent the whole day at Kew Botanical gardens near Richmond. The weather was mild and a little sunshine. I took the trolley ride around since it's almost 400 acres. I climbed the 218 steps to the tree top feature because the elevator wasn't working. Great views and I saw many planes taking off from Gatwick airport.

I bought three different purses before the trip and had a great purse that was sort of like a messenger bag. I also bought three or four new pairs of shoes to try out before the trip. I walked four or five mornings a week well ahead of the trip and so glad I did because there were miles of stairs and miles and miles of walking.

The other thing I'm so glad I did ahead of time was taking a French language class. It was a short class but I learned what I needed in the way of polite phrases, asking and receiving directions and other tourist related words. I had no trouble with the language at all because so many people spoke some English. It's probably is different outside Paris.

We had wonderful weather the whole time with no rain. The last two days in Paris were colder and I wore my coat rather than carrying it over my arm.

I wish I had taken more photos of the people in the streets and stores, the store fronts and how they merchandize their wares. I took 200 photos. I was impressed with how the men and women dressed.

Two very large (multi-buildings) department stores were such fun to stroll around in one day. The food halls or gourmet areas especially were over flowing with abundance every place I looked. Here is a blog I read about France and especially watch the video at the bottom. When it finishes click on some of the other videos of their animated Christmas windows. Wow! I saw the decorations over the sidewalks but I wasn't there in the evenings.

Do I want to go back to Paris? You bet!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back from the trip to London and Paris

Here is a photo of the shoes I wore on my trip.
I'm back from my amazing trip and recovered (mainly) from the miserable cold I had when I returned. I didn't leave the house for eight days.

I've painted the last two days after at least two months of not painting and really enjoying it so much. I guess I didn't forget all I know about painting during the time off although I wondered once in a while.

I hadn't traveled for so long (14 nights) or so far in at least seven years so the preparation went on way too long. I learned a few things about what to take or not take, how to pack better and how to deal with airports. Flying is no problem, it's just the airports that are difficult.

I bought three or four new pairs of shoes before the trip and took three pairs with me. They all worked fine but one pair was a stand out and I'll never travel again without them. My feet were tired at the end of the day but never painful.

I'm not a big fan of Nike shoes and usually buy New Balance. Our local area has two shoe stores that have you stand on a foot pad and then a screen shows which areas of the foot take most of the weight and then they match you to a pair of insoles. I wasn't convinced this was really true and have to say I'm a believer now after many miles and many stairs on a daily basis.

One member of our group logged 58 miles on his pedometer with only about five or six days into the trip.

I'm glad to be home and painting again. I'll post some photos after I've worked on some of the paintings in progress.