Tuesday, 23 September 2014


A few of you have emailed asking where my usual daily travel blog is.  I am honoured; thank you. I sincerely apologize for its absence to those of you who amazingly care. Jim and I arise early in the morning, set out on foot, and because we don't have the luxury of a five week trip this time, try to squeeze in as much as we can during a day, grab a bite to eat occasionally - oh! and a glass of wine, of course - go again in the evening and then arrive back at our hotel only to crash! During those moments when I awake during the night blog ideas invade my thoughts. I just can't seem to find the time.  I have been putting some pictures up on Facebook. Hopefully if the wifi on the river cruise is strong enough, I may find some time.  
Pour l'instant, merci et au revoir!

Friday, 19 September 2014


Forget the illegal drugs, ecstasy, heroine, and marijuana, to name a few.  You can even nix the legal drugs, nicotine and alcohol.  To get high, I simply need to sit in an airport lounge.  I freely admit to my addictive love of airports.  Too bad I can't mainline that bubbling anticipation year round.

Okay, I can hear your puzzled cry, But what of the impersonal, degrading security lines, the crowded moving sidewalks, the dreary waits, the crush of humanity.  What a colossal pain!  Sorry, but your complaints fall on deaf ears; you will never change my mind no matter how negative your comments, no matter how dire your horror stories.  You see, I savour every minute spent in an airport from limo drop off to airplane take off.  Each moment brings me one step closer to the adventure of travel.  International flights require that passengers arrive at least three hours in advance of departure.  This junkie shows up three hours in advance for even the shortest domestic flight.  Air Canada RapidAir to Montreal departing at 1030 hrs will see me stepping into Pearson at 730 hrs.  True!  Just confirm with Jim, Christopher or Matthew.  I can see their rolling, long-suffering, ah-really-Mom eyes, already.  Any flight, domestic or international, provides me with just the excuse I need to spend time in an airport.

I love the energy and bustle of people on the go.  For an inveterate people watcher, any airport provides prime people watching fodder.  At my leisure, I can study the crowds, a veritable melting pot of different age groups, nationalities and accents.  Such diversity!  I wonder, What business is he in?  Where is that family going?  Who is behind those giant sunglasses?  Are they grandparents flying out to meet their first grandchild?  In my imagination, each passenger is assigned an individual story.

And then there is that magical Departures Board with its ever-changing list of exciting destinations, each holding the promise of adventure, learning and future possibility.  Where to next time? I already ponder.

The high pitched whine of engines warming up, the powerful roar of jets preparing for takeoff and the rumbling vibration of these giants of the sky as they career down a runway gathering speed for take off, make my skin tingle with excitement.  Flight, to me, will always be a miracle.  Imagine, in seven or more hours, those passengers can be transported to Rome, Paris, Istanbul.......  Whomever it was who referred to airports as giant hubs of possibility, had it right.  So deep is my addiction that the mere sight of a jet at the gate lifts my mood.  The giant majestic bird seems to stare me in the eye and say, Soon, Daphne, soon!

Best of all, of course, is the airline PA announcement, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the preliminary boarding call for Air Canada Flight 880 with service to Charles de Gualle Airport, Paris.  ( Feel free to insert your own dream destination here. )  All passengers should have documents ready and be prepared to board.  Would anyone requiring assistance and........ Dear god, I love those words.

And so here we sit, in the lounge, people watching, getting revved on the sights and sounds of such addictive travel promise, and eagerly awaiting our call.  Pour l'instant, au revoir!

Sunday, 7 September 2014


After two aborted attempts which instead resulted in trips to Scotland and Switzerland, we are at long last, truly, pinch-myself-because-I-can't-believe-it, travelling to France.  I am eager to wrap myself in as much as I can of what she has to offer.  Audrey Hepburn once said, Paris is always a good idea. Taking her advice to heart, we will spend our first eight days in the City of Light.  I want to wander Paris at night, to be awed by the shimmering Eiffel Tower and glowing pyramid of the Louvre, to be inspired by the illuminated beauty of Notre-Dame, to cross the Seine and to see the lights of Paris reflected in her dark waters.

I want to walk the twisting, turning, huddled 'rues de Marais', to explore the tangle of narrow winding streets criss-crossing Montmartre, to navigate the confusing pathways of Pere Lachaise and to stroll the Champs Élysées.

I want to gorge myself on art, art, and more art.  From the Renaissance smile of Mona Lisa to the spontaneous bright broad strokes of the Impressionists to the epic scale of Rodin's sculpture, I want to soak up the beauty of the plethora of world class art that France has to offer. I want to sit in the Orangeries Museum and enjoy the play of light in Monet's giant Water Lilies. While in Provence, I want to stand in Arles where Van Gogh painted his Cafe at Night and Starry Night Over The Rhone and say a silent thank you to that brilliant, tortured artist, one of my favourites.

Who can resist famous French sites? The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Saint Chappelle, the Moulin Rouge, Sacre-Coeur, the Beaujolais wine region, Ponts du Gard and Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, plus, plus, plus dominate my to-see list.  While in Paris, we will even tour Victor Hugo's sewers. I am sure you have already correctly surmised that this is Jim's "want". Don't let me forget to pack a perfumed handkerchief. Pyew!

And ou la, la!  I want to eat.....the quintessential French baguette, pates, quiches, croissants, foie gras, confit de canard, crepes, escargot, boeuf tartare....... Charles de Gualle once said of France, How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese? To that I say, bring them on! Hmm? Perhaps I should contact Air Canada re our return trip and book a double seat to fit my new body.  How, I wonder, do the French manage to remain so trim?

Mon Dieu, I am in double trouble, because I also want to drink, to taste as many French wines as possible, to learn the regions, the grapes and each wine's terroir.  I want to sip on pastis in Provence and enjoy Calvados in Arras.  Small wonder that gout was dubbed "the disease of French kings"!

And I want to relax at outdoor cafes, absorbing the ambience and watching the parade of French citizens and tourists alike.

"Lest we forget" that not all French history is as peaceful as their countryside, I want to visit the Conciergie where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned on their way to the guillotine.  At the Memorial de la Deportation, I want to pay my respects to the 200,000 Jewish French victims who died in Nazi Concentration Camps and to remind myself why Israel's struggle and survival today are so very critical. Our friends, Cathy and David, will join us in Paris four days after our arrival.  Two days later we four will make a special journey out of Paris to our Canadian National Vimy Memorial near Arras. On this the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War 1, I want to express my deepest gratitude to our Canadian troops who so valiantly gave of their lives for our freedom.

So much to see. So much to experience.  So little time.  We won't even scratch the surface of all that glorious France has to offer.  I already know what else I will want to do......I will want to return.

My suitcase is out; my French phrase book and trusty walking shoes are ready. To say I am excited is an understatement. Je ne peux pas attendre. We are going to France.....finally!