Tour de France Final, Part I

Well, today was the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France. It had been on my Bucket List for some time (that list is not in any order), but I had always seemed to be away from Paris in the last weeks of July, so I was thrilled when my schedule had me wide open for attendance of this exciting event last year.

That day started out as a typical Parisian Sunday for me… a morning walk down near Bastille (where I encountered a Dutch cyclist who asked for directions to Place de la Concorde), reading, relaxing, and enjoying the sunshine. I thought myself a clever spectator by arriving around 40 minutes before the stage, but boy, was I wrong! When I came up from the métro – and not even the nearest one, since Charles de Gaulle Étoile was closed for safety reasons – I was shocked how many people were already ready and waiting. Oops. On top of the massive crowd that I hadn’t anticipated, it was so hot that the pavement was melting beneath our feet and sticking to our shoes. But few seemed to notice as we looked around for a sign that the riders were on their way up the Champs Elysées. The organizers had done quite a good job with setup, providing giant screens as well as speakers blasting the play-by-play of the commentators down at Place de la Concorde. On the screens, we could see what TV viewers could see – them starting at Versailles and making their way through the streets of Paris to rue de Rivoli, past Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysées, and around Place de l’Étoile only to do it all again. When they finally made it, it was just as thrilling as I had imagined it would be, and it was also incredibly fast (no kidding, right?)!

That’s all I will share for now. Look for Part II in the next couple of days.

The photos I’m posting today are from last year, as I’m away from Paris again this year and I never posted these in 2013. Last year’s winner was Chris Froome.

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Vintage Postcards

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Part of the pleasure of wandering the streets of small-town France is spotting little gems like these racks full of postcards of those famous vintage French posters from back in the day. Maybe one day when I actually settle down and have a home somewhere, I will have one of these beautiful posters in actual size upon my wall. But then, how to choose…?

Paris Balconies

I have a friend in Paris who invites me over often. She used to live in the 15th arrondissement until a couple of years ago when her growing family needed more space and they ended up in a lovely apartment near the Hippodrome d’Auteuil. She is literally on the border of Paris, but in a way the neighborhood couldn’t feel more quintessentially Paris. There is this fabulous neighborhoody feeling that I remember her area in the 15th had as well. As she passes by the boulangerie and the wine seller, she waves to both, as they have almost-weekly encounters, if not more frequent. Sure, she is particularly charismatic, but she also seems to have excellent taste in quartiers. Seeing her interact in her neighborhoods has made me appreciate them more. One evening as I was going to visit her, I hopped off the metro several stops before hers because I wanted to take in the 16th in the late summer light. I have noticed the beautiful ironwork around Paris and other French cities before, of course, but I was truly taken aback by the beauty of building after building with these beautiful ironwork balconies and infinite other details modern-day architects seem to leave out. Here’s the first in a series of what I enjoyed…

Passy Métro View

Paris Passy metro

We have all seen those now-typical shots of the Passy métro station tracks. It is indeed a great spot, because it’s one of the rare stations you literally stand over métro tracks, plus it’s outdoors. In this shot, you can see the tracks in the distance, but this time it was less the tracks that caught my eye and more this beautiful roundabout covered in vibrant flowers + clock that I thought served as a beautiful focal point for the shot. If you are familiar with this part of town or angle, there is plenty more in the shot to appreciate. Notice how light it is at nearly 8pm; it’s something I mention often, but I just love the light in Paris throughout the year.

Happy Bastille Day!

Les Amis,

Today I wish you a wonderful Bastille Day, un Joyeux Fête Nationale du 14 Juillet!

I pay tribute often to my first adopted home, so I’ll just say one more time how much I love France, its culture, its beauty, and how welcome I have always felt there. The connection I have with it feels almost other-worldly; it’s inexplicable and delicate. I feel at home when I am there.

Vive la France!

Drapeau français sur la Seine

Drapeau français sur la Seine

General Bucket List

I believe strongly in making lists and planning life. That doesn’t mean I don’t encourage flexibility or that I deny it’s a necessary part of life. With a GPS system you must enter the destination. It’s not fair to get mad at it if you never make it to that vague place that you said you maybe wanted to go… someday. Life works identically. I see people all the time say they want to do X, Y, or Z, but don’t know yet if they’ll be able to because of A, B, or C reason. Rather than making the choice in advance to do it and working energetically to aligning to where it happens almost as if automatically, people fret about how to force it to happen.
I could talk for ages about this and the Law of Attraction. Perhaps on my other blog… but for now let’s list out a few things that I just can’t wait to do.

Most of these are travel related, not surprisingly. (Photos from Google.)

1. Own my own business
2. Me détendre in Oia, Santorini, Greece in summer
3. Speak at least three languages fluently (getting there!)
4. Date a foreigner
5. Cross the Atlantic on the QEII
6. Gondola ride in Venice
7. Attend a TED talk
8. Attend the Olympic Games (preferably summer)
9. Visit Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia
10. See Aurora Borealis at least once
11. Frolic in the lavender fields of Provence
12. Take a hot air balloon ride in Capadoccia, Turkey
13. Raw food retreat in Costa Rica
14. Cycle the tulip fields in Holland
15. Live in at least two foreign countries for more than 6 months
16. Trek Machu Picchu
17. Visit the Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives
18. Visit the Grand Canyon
19. Sip mint tea in Marrakech, Morocco
20. Enjoy high tea in London (done many times :) )
21. Cycle around Bali and take in the culture
22. Visit Cenotes of Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico
23. Visit Petra, Jordan
24. Explore Jerusalem, Israel
25. Take a yoga class (or a dozen) in India
26. See Vatican City
27. See wine country in South Africa
28. Spend a Christmas day at peace somewhere quiet with no gifts, excessive consumption, or electronics
29. Countryside tour of England with a loved one
30. Countryside tour of Ireland with a loved one
31. Cinque Terre. Need I say more?
32. Amalfi Coast. See #31
33. Camp around Bretagne, France
34. Visit Mont St. Michel
35. Kiss on the Charles Bridge in Praque, Czech Republic
36. Road trip Monument Valley, USA
37. Photograph Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
38. Attend a USA Presidential Inauguration (2009, Barack Obama)
39. Attend last stage of Tour de France in Paris (2013)

It’s a choice, my friends. Book those holidays now! A long lifetime is not guaranteed.

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Most of these stem from travel research over the years, but I was also inspired by these articles.

My Netherlands Bucket List in Pictures

You know I like to keep lists to remind myself of all the lovely places I’ve noted to visit, so I decided to share my most updated list for the Netherlands. Feel free to share any ideas of yours. I’m sure I’ve missed something.

1. Maastricht
1.a. Maastricht bookstore
2. Delft
3. Enkhuizen
4. Groningen
5. Den Haag
6. Amersfoort
7. Geithoorn
8. Sneek Waterpoort

Hover over the images to see what location it is.