Monday, July 23, 2012

Words from Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri
 “You are still young.
 free.. do yourself a favor.
 before it's too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can.
 you will not regret it.
 one day it will be too late.”
― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Men at Work - Paris

Almost everywhere I travel some visual theme presents itself.  In Turkey it was carts.  In India it was the women in their saris, working in the fields, coming home from the store.  In Morocco it was portals.  All of these are documented on my blog.  In Paris I became fascinated by men at work.  Men doing all kinds of things.  Waiting tables, making music, doing construction, blowing bubbles.   I'm not sure how or when a theme presents itself to me.  In Morocco it didn't take long to fall in love with all the portals.  After all, Matisse did too!  In Turkey the carts fascinated me.  And in Paris, what can I say?  It was the men.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Travel Tip - Paris via Iceland

IcelandAir flies to Paris, and many other European destination, via Reykivik.  Our fare to Paris was half the normal fare.  Also for NO additional charge you can spend three days in Iceland, then get back on your connecting flight!  It's a great deal and, from the air at least, Iceland looked beautiful and rugged and the smoked salmon at the airport was very good.  The language has long, strange words and the people do remind me of Vikings.   

Also we learned that half the people in Iceland believe in elves.  I definitely want to visit a place like that. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Paris watercolors

For a number of years now whenever I travel, I pain in my journals.  My journals were, for decades, lined but I began to purchase unlined ones and began to travel with a small watercolor case and a set of waterproof pens and a few brushes.  This has brought me a lot of pleasure over many years.  I love to sit some place, stare into space, and, when the mood feel right do some small paintings.  I don't really try to make these bigger or try to paint them when I'm home.  For whatever reason the paper - blank watercolor paper - frightens me.  I don't really know what I'm doing.  That is, I know that I don't have any technique and don't ever intend to do more with them than keep them inside my journals.  I have begun digitalizing some of these journals, saving the images because these journals are delicate and with time do see to be falling apart.  (I did see in Paris a wonderful bookbinder and I'd love to have some of these rebound some day.  At any rate it is what I like to do.  I only do these when I'm on the road, but they bring me a lot of a pleasure. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Travel Tip - Visiting the Louvre

Now that the Writer and the Wanderer is back in swing, I'm going to include travel tips from time to time.  Here's one that came from some Parisian friends.  Never go to the Louvre during the day.  Tourists are everywhere.  It's impossible.  The best time is after 4pm when the tour buses leave or, better still, go during evening hours.  Very few tours if any and you'll have the place almost to yourselves.  This applies to all Paris museums which are often hideously overcrowded.  For good reasons, of course.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

To Rome With Love

I've been going to Rome almost once a year for decades now.  I love the city and in some ways feel it is my city.  I speak the language and know my way around.  I love the wild, carefree Italian spirit, the food, the wine, la dolce vita.  The whole thing.  But this year for various reasons I couldn't get to Rome.  So yesterday we did the next best thing.  Went to see the new Woody Allen film - To Rome With Love.  I've never really written about a film per se, but this one really touched me and it is about a city that I love as well.

I can't say that I'm a great armchair traveler.  On the other hand sometimes just getting out of the house is enough and we did that yesterday.  We headed on to the hot, mean New York streets.  Almost no one was out.  The shops were closed.  But somehow the minute we arrived at the bus stop a bus pulled up.  My husband jokes and says that I have some kind of weird public transportation karma (trains and buses arrive when I want them to).  But the truth is yesterday it felt like that moment in Midnight in Paris when the car, filled with F.Scott and Zelda pulls up.

Our bus, however, was filled with the usual plethora of tired New Yorkers, mostly in shorts, wearing ts and Yankee caps and once Hispanic woman, clutching a Carvel ice cream cake.  We got out at our stop.  We were early but I was nervous that the BAM Rose - the cinema nearest our house - wasn't open.  But it was.

We walked into the cool lobby and began debating which film to see.  A thriller by Wes Anderson or the Woody Allen.  Oh Woody.  I've been tired of him for a while.  Didn't like that Barcelona film though we loved Midnight in Paris (and it stands as my cousin's all-time favorite film).  We bought our tickets and waited in the lobby, then went outside to call our daughter.  But soon the spectators began streaming out and, within minutes, Larry and I recognized a couple of friends - two groups in fact.  We went up to say hi and all said they thought the Woody Allen so so.  Mixed reviews.

We debated.  We wanted to see something we'd like.  On the other hand we were going to see the Woody Allen sometime so why not today.  From the first shot of the policeman directing traffic in Piazza Italia I knew I was going to love this movie.  As Woody Allen begins to spin his outrageous yarns of love, betrayal, fame and humility, I immediately understood that this wasn't only Woody's love song to the Eternal City.  It was his tribute to Italian cinema.   His hat tipping to mainly Fellini.  Anyone who's walked the Via Venato and seen La Dolce Vita will understand that Allen is allowing his influence and appreciation to be right out there on the screen.                                    

But also I felt that there was a more personal.  Without giving anything away (no spoilers here) let's just say that I think Allen is also talking about the relationship between true art (where there are no judgments) and celebrity and the false sense of importance it gives to us.  Clearly Allen knows both in his life and he is trying to show us, and do, something here that is pure.  I think he succeeds.

It was the 4th of July and, as we streamed out of the theater, fireworks could be heard going off around the city.  Some of our favorite restaurants were closed so we took pot luck.  A place called Walters.  Dekalb and maybe S. Oxford?  Best fried chicken ever.  A nice cab driver took us home.