October and the first (slight) frost. A perfect fall morning today: intense blue sky, leaves changing, especially the small shrubs, Euonymous scarlet.
We spent two weeks in France in September, the first week in Paris and the second in Honfleur. We stayed with our friend Nancy Pratt( read her blog and see her photos from around the world at https://nancyhereandthere.wordpress.com) in Paris. For a week we lived more like locals than tourists, shopping in the streets of the Jardin Des Plantes quarter and the market on Rue Mouffetard, walking, taking the bus, or the Batobus on the Seine. Our friends, Anne and Alan Simpson and Hazel Hamilton found a lovely apartment a twenty minutes walk away from Nancy’s and a block from the Seine at Notre Dame.
For the second week, we rented a car and drove to Honfleur, Normandy and stayed in The Stables at Le Fond de la Cour, a charming bed and breakfast with some self-catering apartments. All of historic Honfleur was within walking distance.
Many of the Impressionist artists and modern ones painted in Honfleur. Something about the quality of the light drew them to the little town, which is still very pretty, in spite of thousands of tourists who descend on it every day.
Le Fond de la Cour, Honfleur
We took day trips from Honfleur. Bayeux and its famous tapestry and Juno beach were the most memorable for me.
Now we’re back at home and I’m editing(still) my work-in-progress. I’m closing on the end, I think, or is it the end of the beginning!
If you’ve never been to this jewel of an island, you’re missing one of nature’s loveliest destinations. Walkers, divers, shoppers, beach lovers and birders can all find something wonderful here.
The Bermuda Railway trail http://www.bermudarailway.net/now/trail.html, is one of those wonders. Converted from the right-of-way of the little train that carried passengers for the 22 mile length of the islands, it now allows walkers an intimate view of Bermuda. Evocative names like Khyber Pass and Coney Island, identify various sections.
It’s a romantic walk, befitting Bermuda’s history as a destination for honeymooners, so romantic that I chose Khyber Pass as the setting for one of the characters in my recent novel No Motive For Murder propose to propose to his girl.
I found the perfect site for one of the murders in a pedestrian tunnel along a different stretch. When your rambles take you into Somerset, check out the nature reserves that thanks to concerned citizens and the National Trust, are saving wetland and habitat for birds and other creatures.
Put Bermuda on your must-see list, and not just for Elbow Beach, one of the world’s best.
Check out http://www.gotobermuda.com/default for information on visiting Bermuda
http://preview.tinyurl.com/camyphx for information of No Motive for Murder or click the link to the right.
We’ll be in Venice next Saturday, staying in an apartment in Castello, away in the eastern reaches of the city, on Via Garibaldi, close to the site of the Biennale. The pavilions and the park are going to be one of the locations in an upcoming book, so I’m looking forward to a little research in the area.
But mostly we’ll spend the week just living in Venice, dropping into churches and scuolas to see the amazing (and free) art, sitting in cafes and drinking an espresso or an ombra(small glass of wine), walking along the canals or eating ice cream on the Zattere.
The next week we’ll spend in the country. We’ve rented a small house, set in the walls of the Castello di Strassoldo di Sopra in village of the same name. It’s northeast of Venice, about 40km from Trieste. Roman ruins, mountains, beaches, nature resorts, a wine and ham route to follow, and the intriguing city of Trieste to visit: all less than a 2 hour drive from where we are staying, and most within 30 minutes.
Some of the best wine in Italy is produced in the region of the Colline Orientale, so I imagine we’ll drive to that area as well.
5 Days. I can’t wait.
I have been watching a lecture series on DVD, produced by The Teaching Company, taught by Professor Brooks Landon of the University of Iowa, entitled Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft. This is my first exposure to a university level course in writing, although I have taken other on-line practical writing courses and attended workshops, and read books on the subject, all practical, none with the in-depth discussion of the sentence as an art form, not considering just its function, but the way in which phrases and clauses, vowels and consonants play against and with each other. I’m enjoying this series, although some of the concepts are so new to me, that I will watch it a second time, take notes, do the exercises and explore at greater length some of the concepts, as well, I might add, as learning the new vocabulary, not included in the language I learned in medical school. It seems a practical course in many ways and it is great fun.
Sakineh: She’s still in that prison. I see that the Iranians have accepted five hundred thousand dollars as the price of an American woman accused of spying and released this week. Some people in Oman arranged it, so we are told. I wonder what it would cost to buy the freedom of Sakineh and the others.
Spain: I’ve spent the last few months trying to learn some Spanish, using the course supplied by RosettaStone, enough to be polite, and not assume that everyone that I meet speaks English. I did the same with Italian several years ago, finding that it took at least two years to gain enough language to communicate a little. It becomes more difficult as I get older, or so it seems. We’re leaving shortly, so this will be my last posting for a while, unless I have access to a computer somewhere along the way.
Our vacation in Spain is drawing closer. Our hotel in Madrid is on Plaza Santa Ana, ringed with cafes, bars and a highly-rated restaurant! The hotel itself is in a converted office building– high ceilings and large windows overlooking the plaza. We hope to visit the Reina Sofia museum of modern art to see Picasso’s Guernica on the first day, if we aren’t too tired after the plane.
So much else to do and see in Madrid that it would likely take three weeks rather than the three days we have there to begin to see it all.
We leave Madrid by the AVE, the fast train to Seville, arriving at yet another hotel in a converted building, this one in Barrio Santa Cruz. We haven’t an plan for Sevilla, although visiting the cathedral, the third largest medieval in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, is on the list. We are there for three nights, before meeting Anne and Alan in Ronda.
The trip to Ronda will be an adventure: a bus trip through the Serrano Mountains. The owner of the villa we are renting promised to meet us that day and drive us to her finca(country property). She is also making dinner for us that evening. Visiting Ronda, a fabled town renowned in the nineteenth century for bandits and bullfights, should take at least two days of the seven we will be staying there. After that, visiting the Pueblos Blancos, the white villages, beginning, I think, with Arcos de la Frontera, the furthest from Ronda, situated on the edge of the sherry district. All the villages with frontera in their names were on the frontier, built for defence, high on the hills, the front lines of the battles to retake Spain from the Moors.
I can hardly wait!
Now that the holidays are almost over, it’s time to plan a trip to Spain in the fall. This will be our first holiday after we retire, and our third to Europe, travelling with the same friends. I’ve started to study some Spanish, putting Italian on hold for the time being. Our tentative plan is to fly into Madrid, fly on to Granada, take the train to Seville and then meet our friends in Ronda. The flights will be easy to arrange. Air Transat flies open jaw into Madrid and out of Malaga. The train is another story.
Rick Steves has a very helpful brochure on trains in Europe which is available as a pdf download, but even with its help I remain confused about taking a train from Granada to Ronda or Seville. http://www.ricksteves.com/rail09/pdfs/09_RailGuide.pdf
I have just now found some helpful information about the white villages of Spain.