littlereview: (get critical)
Recognitions )

Maddy left the house insanely early on Tuesday to go visit a friend, so I did not get enough sleep, and between that, allergies, and a sinus headache from the weather front coming in, I am woozy. I am also finally caught up with my photos, at least, and only moderately behind on correspondence. I'm not even close with laundry, though, since she left every towel in the house to be washed!

Because it was warm out and may snow by the weekend, Paul and I went to walk at Great Falls before the rain arrived. We stopped at Vie de France for bread on the way home and after dinner we caught up on Elementary and Billions around The Flash, which suffered by comparison -- no gorillas this week, but many puerile relationship decisions and too much exposition!

No Overlook )
littlereview: (get critical)
An Orchard At Avignon )

Happy Mardi Gras! Jetlag is belatedly kicking my arse. I got to spend a post-Oscars Monday with Cheryl, which included lunch at Zoe's Kitchen (red pepper hummus and baked feta) and a viewing of Lion (even better the second time I think). Before we went to that, since we knew we'd be seeing Nicole Kidman and David Wenham in it and since La La Land doesn't even come close as movie musicals go, we watched Moulin Rouge, which only improves with time and distance from the Cruise-Kidman marriage.

Niece had an interview and audition to transfer from the Berklee College of Music's online program to the campus in Boston, and came home happy with the interview though nervous about the singing. She went out with friends in the late afternoon while the rest of us watched Start the Revolution Without Me, a cracky French Revolution-era parody with Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland that cracked us up a lot. And now I'm caught up on Supergirl and The Flash! From the Papal Palace at Avignon:

Palais des Papes )
littlereview: (photos)
In the Water )

My house is emptying out, which is sad, but also means maybe there is some chance I will eventually catch up on my life from before I went to France. Today we took Maddy to an appointment and, while she was there, went to the very good lunch buffet at Bombay Bistro with Daniel, after which we retrieved Maddy and all drove to the airport to drop Daniel off for his flight to Seattle (which eventually took off an hour late due to high winds in Denver, though fortunately his connection ran just as late). Maddy is going to L.A. very early Tuesday, so we're going from three kids in the house to none.

I spent the afternoon trying to catch up on mail, photos, and various computer chores -- I didn't even get to the laundry, let alone the linens and towels. We had dinner with my parents, leftovers from Saturday, then we came home for Supergirl (Kara holding Lena plus the guest stars made up for all faults) and catch-up on Madam Secretary (pretty good) and Once Upon a Time (not enough Regina but the Swan Queen was nice). From the Musée National de la Marine in Toulon, a model of the bagne where prisoners worked during the era of Les Miserables (under conditions a lot less humane than depicted here):

In the Bagne )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Coming Close )

We spent Sunday in Hanover with Paul's parents and our kids, going out to lunch at the Hibachi Buffet Grill and spending the afternoon showing them our trip pictures and skyping with Jon and his family. We drove back in the late afternoon and took Adam to College Park, since we had forced him to neglect his homework for family all weekend, then we took Daniel to California Tortilla and came home for the end of the Maryland women's victory over Purdue for the Big Ten championship. Tonight we've been catching up on Jon Oliver and hearing Maddy's crazy weekend work stories! A few pics:

To Hanover and Home )
littlereview: (green little review)
Moon for Our Daughters )

After taking Maddy to work in the morning, we went to College Park with Daniel, picked up Adam, went to Blaze Pizza for lunch, came home to drop off his things, then went to my parents' house to celebrate my mother's milestone birthday that I'm sure she would rather I not cite by number. My sister Nicole's family was there, her eldest daughter having arrived from California in the morning and the other two with Nicole and her husband a few hours later. We eventually retrieved Maddy from work and spent a lovely afternoon catching up, watching old family movies featuring my grandparents and other relatives, and eating a lot, including three desserts, all of which were great. A few pics, including one we recreated from a milestone birthday in 2002:

Partying )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Ghazal: The Dark Times )

I had a fun, busy Friday that started with snow on the early-blooming flowers in the neighborhood! Maddy had to work early, though Alice had some things to drop off for her and arrived with Avery after Maddy had already left, while Daniel was at lunch with my father. So Alice, Avery, Paul, and I went to the mall to see Maddy, catch Pokemon, and pick up Cava, which we then ate at home so we could hang out with Daniel while he worked long distance. I did lots of work on my France photo book after Alice left. My parents came for dinner, after which we watched The Man from UNCLE movie with Daniel since he hadn't seen it.

Here are some photos from the Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer of Saint Sarah, patron of the Roma, in whose honor there is a festival each year in May to celebrate Romani and other nomadic peoples of the world. Saint Sarah, who is always portrayed as dark-skinned, is sometimes characterized as an Egyptian servant who accompanied Mary Magdalene and the other Marys to France or alternatively as a local woman from the Camargue who welcomed the Marys and converted after witnessing their miracles, though since she is also known as Sara-la-Kali, she may related to the Hindu Kali and have origins in India.

Patron of Exiles )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Sestina )

I had a nice family day, though Adam won't be home until Saturday. Alice came over and we went out to brunch with Paul, Daniel, and Maddy at the Original Pancake House, where I had eggs benedict and everyone else had pancakes with various forms of egg. We stopped to let Maddy do some shopping and I showed Alice photos. Both my parents stopped by to see Daniel briefly, since he was working.

I worked on a photo book in the afternoon while Daniel was finishing up for the day, and in the evening we met Kay and Chris for dinner at Tara Thai. Then we came home and watched Eye in the Sky since Daniel had never seen it and I hadn't seen it for months. Here are some photos from our hike up Montségur to the fortress constructed after the Cathar stronghold fell during the First Crusade:

Castle of the Holy Grail )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Spring )

Daniel is here! His flight arrived after dinner and we went to see Hidden Figures because he hadn't seen it yet (third time for me, and it's not like I could ever get tired of that movie).

My day was not exciting otherwise -- drove Maddy to work, put trip photos on Shutterfly, ate Welsh rarebit for St. David's Day, and took a walk before the thunderstorm arrived to see the neighborhood flowers:

First of March )
littlereview: (get critical)
Ash Wednesday )

I spent a ridiculous amount of Tuesday shopping, which I did not intend -- we were going to run Maddy to Hot Topic in Gaithersburg briefly after a stop at the organic market in Rockville, and then get cat food. But we wound up in a bunch of stores in the mall with her, and ate Indian food there, then we remembered things we needed at Target, and by the time we got to CVS and Giant, I was fried!

So pretty much nothing got worked on or cleaned up or organized, though at least I have hair stuff. Paul made gumbo for Mardi Gras and we watched The Flash (too much Gorilla City for me) and the beginning of the second season of Billions (still no really likeable characters, even The Young Pope is a nicer person). Since it's Ash Wednesday, some photos of Marseille's Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde:

High Above the Old Port )
littlereview: (get critical)
Cheryl is here and we are eating chocolate while watching the Academy Awards, which weren't as bad as they could have been (every time Hacksaw Ridge won something, I resented La La Land a little less, but oh, that did not make it easier to watch America's greatest actor, Denzel Washington, lose to stunning mediocrity with family connections). Kimmel was a pretty good host but I feel like most of his jokes must have been lost on people who don't watch his show, though the Matt Damon stuff had me howling.

I did appreciate Kimmel's swipes at Trump ("Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?") and at Hollywood ("Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz"). Meryl was awesome. So were Mahershala Ali and the Moonlight writers. And Katherine Johnson! But I feel like the disregard for Hidden Figures in the top categories shows how things need to improve, though that insane ending was also a thing of beauty. Earlier in the day we went to the Phillips Collection to see the Toulouse-Lautrec illustrations:

Mostly Toulouse-Lautrec )
littlereview: (photos)
A Roman Aqueduct )

I was slightly less jetlagged on Saturday, in part because February was lost all morning and it was nearly 80 degrees so we went for a walk in the park (where there were daffodils as well as the previous crocuses etc.)...then a cold front blew in with a big windy storm in the afternoon, so I spent that time uploading trip photos and trying to figure out which ones should be in a Shutterfly book. Maddy went to work in the afternoon and we had cats very confused about the temperature change and thunder.

We're trying to decide which TV is worth catching up. I'm spoiled for Nashville and therefore done with that show. We watched the finale of The Young Pope, which was pretty great, and last week's Supergirl, which was pretty hilarious, plus the Timeless finale, which is hopefully just for the season and not the series. Not sure I'll bother with The Flash, definitely not bothering with Agents of SHIELD. Blindspot? Anyway, here are some pics from Pont du Gard's Roman aqueduct and museum:

What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us? )
littlereview: (photos)
From Tanka Diary )

Home. Jetlagged. Cats so happy to see us they walked on us all night. About 3/4 unpacked. Two laundries washed, not yet folded. Photos only 1/3 uploaded to Flickr. Cat food and French bread acquired at food store. 80 degrees out, despite it being February. Crocuses and apricot blossoms in Cabin John Park. Dinner with parents. Now distracted by Hugh Jackman on The Tonight Show. More when awake. Pics of ancient Roman sites in Arles, including the amphitheater, Alyscamps necropolis, Thermes de Constantin, and 1st century theater:

Rome In Arles )
littlereview: (green little review)
We spent nearly all of Thursday traveling, though I did get plenty of exercise racing through Munich's massive airport after we took off thirty minutes late from Toulouse due to some sort of medical emergency with someone on our plane and had to go running to make our connecting flight to Dulles. Fortunately the snack Lufthansa fed us on the flight to Munich was big enough to count for lunch, and they fed us dinner and breakfast on the flight to DC even though it wasn't an overnight flight! We are very tired now and have lots of laundry and unpacking to do. Our one sightseeing activity for the day after leaving our hotel breakfast and before returning the rental car was a visit to Toulouse's Roman amphitheater ruins, surrounded by a quiet neighborhood and big contemporary church:

Romans Were Here )
littlereview: (jewitch)
This is our last night in France, which makes me sad, though I also miss my cats and people at home so I will be glad to see them! Today I am exhausted not from staying up sightseeing but from hiking up to the Château de Montségur, where the Cathars made their last stand. It's a long, steep hike up at elevation, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, and completely worth it. Earlier in the day we visited another Cathar castle, the Château de Puivert, which has several restored rooms among its ruined towers including one that celebrates the troubadours from the region who gathered there. It's an easy walk up the hill from the parking lot to Puivert, though there's no running water anywhere in the area so the only bathroom is three trees to the left of the trail.

We brought cheese sandwiches for lunch from our hotel because we weren't sure we'd be able to find an open cafe in the remote areas in which we were traveling, so we had a picnic beneath Montségur, then continued on to Toulouse. After so many days in gorgeous, spiritually important small towns, I wasn't sure whether the city would be disappointing, but the historic areas are right next to the university here and it's like a big, happy college town with dozens of cafes and hundreds of people sitting by the Garonne River enjoying a spectacular sunset. We're going to try to see Toulouse's Roman amphitheatre before we head to the airport in the morning!

Castles and Churches )
littlereview: (photos)
We spent Tuesday in the land of the Cathars, beginning at the Cité de Carcassonne which was a center of the religion that was the target of the Albigensian Crusades. We toured the incredible restored walled city, which maintains some of the earliest Roman features in its largely medieval fortress, and visited the Museum of the Inquisition before having lunch in one of the cafés that now occupy the old stone buildings. Then we drove to Rennes-les-Bains, a town founded over the hot springs along the river Sals, which feeds into the Aude. This town and Rennes-le-Chateau are connected with legends concerning Mary Magdalene and the Templar treasure, and we visited the latter as well, though the Bérenger Saunière museum with its links to the Merovingians, the Cathars, the Priory of Sion, the Holy Grail, and Mary Magdalene was not open, though we got to see several Cathar ruins in the nearby mountains. Now we're in Campagne-sur-Aude so that in the morning we can visit Montsegur, where the Cathars made their last stand.

Languedoc )
littlereview: (green little review)
Monday was a nearly perfect though extremely tiring day, starting with breakfast in Arles and visits to the Van Gogh and Roman sites we hadn't seen the day before, then lunch and a visit to the church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, then a wonderful visit to the nearby Parc Ornithologique de Pont-de-Gau with its incredible waterfowl, and finally dinner in Carcassonne with a longtime online friend and her family who drove all the way from Barcelona to see us when we couldn't meet them in Perpignan! A few photos:

Across the South )
littlereview: (green little review)
Sunday was a day of antiques -- walled cities, ancient structures, castles, churches, art. We started after breakfast by parking within the walls of old Avignon, where we toured the papal palace, which is pretty amazing; parts are in major disrepair after the buildings were used as barracks during the early part of the last century, but the size of the place and the magnificence of the still-decorated and restored rooms is hard to miss. We left the French popes to visit Pont du Gard, site of part of an ancient Roman aqueduct and a museum on Roman ruins in the region. We had crepes for lunch there and walked across the river along the Nîmes aqueduct.

Then we drove to Tarascon to visit the Église Sainte-Marthe, named for another woman who knew Jesus personally, came to France after his death, and is famous for taming a local monster with holy water. We also saw the imposing Chateau de Tarascon with its moat and representation of the monster! We finished the day in Arles, where to our disappointment Van Gogh's Cafe de Nuit was closed since it's the off season for tourists, but we got to see some spots where Van Gogh painted as well as some of the Roman ruins, plus we found a little cafe that stayed open late to serve us wine plus excellent bread and cheese concoctions!

Sinners and Saints, Ancient Romans, Artists )
littlereview: (jewitch)
After waking up to watch the sun rise over the Mediterranean Sea, eating a huge breakfast surrounded by men in town for the Delko Marseille-Provence bicycle race, and peeking at Sainte-Maxime's botanical gardens, we drove into the hills to the visitor center at the Hotellerie de la Sainte-Baume, from which we walked up a very steep couple of kilometers to the stunning Sainte-Baume grotto where Mary Magdalene reputedly lived and died after fleeing the Holy Land. We had a picnic in the park below the grotto before driving to the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, which claims Mary's bones. When we walked a bit around the town, we were surprised to find a New Age spiritual store with items devoted not only to the Catholic saints celebrated in the basilica but many other world religious traditions from Judaism to Buddhism, run by people who commiserated about the terrible US election and told us how worried they are about Marine Le Pen and the right-wing lunatics in France. From there, we drove to Cavaillon, which has a Jewish museum housed in the onetime synagogue that dates back centuries. Now we are in Avignon, where we have had excellent Italian-French food!

From the Sea to Avignon )
littlereview: (photos)
Another quickie because I can't keep my eyes open! We had a long, lovely day starting with breakfast in Marseille (excellent bread, cheese, chocolate croissants) followed by a visit to the Calanque de Sormiou, but the fog was so thick that we could barely see either the tops of the hills or the water below. So we headed toward Toulon, first visiting Fort Balaguier's naval museum, then Toulon's own maritime museum. We brought cheese and bread to make sandwiches which we ate in one of the squares. From there we headed to Le Cannet, where one of my personal heroines is buried. Now we're right next to Saint-Tropez enjoying the beach, though it's a bit chilly to swim, since lots of flowers are in bloom and there's a lemon tree covered with fruit right outside our window, plus lots of just-released Johto Pokemon!

Toulon, Le Cannet, Sainte Maxime )
littlereview: (jewitch)
...where Paul and I arrived mid-morning after and overnight flight and connection through Frankfurt (which was quite turbulent for a while and then we were flying with a perfectly clear view of the Irish coast, Cardiff, Bristol, London, and parts of Belgium and Germany, so we got almost no sleep). So this will be a short-on-comments picture post, whereas other days in Provence it may be hard to post photos so it will be all talky! In general we had stunning sunny weather, were well fed on both flights, and were able either to make ourselves understood in bad French or to find people who speak English, so it's all been great!

Vieux Port )


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