Friday, December 02, 2016

Carcassonne Castle, France

The mega castle of reconstructed old ruins is a short drive from Toulouse.  Carcassonne has it all, towers, a wall you can walk for great views, and rooms to explore. After all that you can shop and eat in within the city walls. Typical history, a fortress, various families ruled, attacked in the crusades, fell to and from hands, and finally to disuse, ruin and now perfect for tourism!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Albi, France

Short version - Abli and church area date back to the 10th and 11th centuries. The people of Albi went out on the crusades in the 13th century against Cathars. What are Cathars? I never heard of them before. Simply people who rejected the Roman Catholic Church but still considered themselves Christian. Holy war commence, a lot of people died. Roman Catholic Church won and decided that this was a good way to get rid of a problem.  What remains is a now UNESCO World Heritige site to wander around.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ch√Ęteau de Foix castle, Foix, France

Foix was about the mid-point on our drive between Toulouse and Andorra and with a castle like this, we had to make the stop to climb around. Basic history, founded a long time ago, well fortified and defended in various wars and the area absorbed into the greater kingdom.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Greetings from Andorra

Tucked in-between France and Spain, Andorra is one of those tiny principalities in Europe that is really hard to reach except by car or bus. The country is in the Pyrenees and the landscape is stark but might look better in the spring than right at the first snowfall.
 The local pizzeria greeted us with Sangria.
 The scenery becomes rocky and steep as you approach the Pyrenees.
 On the French side, the towns are smaller with glimpses of snow on the ski runs.
 The town looks like a parking lot for the ski resort. The visible slope was accessible from the street.

I've never gone hungry on Thanksgiving. Most of them have either been spent with family or on the road for work. While it's a time to be thankful for what we have, it's also the moment to remember that many people don't have enough food on a daily basis, let alone enough money to have a stuff your face meal.
I'm not one to give money to people on the streets. That money may buy them a beer but that's about it. I'd rather give money to groups that do the work to help the people who want help, not a free ride.

Before I left on this trip, I did a quick Sprouts run. On that day they were doing a drive to buy meals for people who would have nothing on Thanksgiving. For a person who rarely ever gives money to people on the street, I'm quite the free ride when in a store. So much so that when I see people outside a store selling something, I turn around and leave rather than deal with it.

But on this election cycle when so many people are in for a rough four years, I bought the bag. And since the food was all going local, it made me feel better about my local Sprouts.

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving. If you can share a bit in some way that is right for you then go for it. A small gesture can brighten someone else's day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Perfect Coffee

A table facing the ocean, more coffee than I can drink, and roasted coffee bean perfection, made waking up in Cannes easy. This setting is the way to induce a lingering at the table, taking your time instead of rushing through and getting on with life. In fact my 45 minutes was short compared to the people who were there before I arrived and planning to stay much longer after I left. Now that I'm gone I miss the view and miss the coffee.  Cannes in November is nearly perfect.  Affordable hotels and no crowds at all!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Nothing like a trip to the south of France for post-election blues! Cannes is the place to do nothing, but do it in style. Walking, eating, drinking, sitting, and then repeating. This is a place to relax and move slowly and be okay with it. Even the coffee tastes better here. I should have taken a picture of it this morning but the crowd in the restaurant didn't seem like the approving sort of food & drink photos. Tomorrow I will be braver. (maybe)
 A short steep walk up a hill takes you to the lookout point and up close and personal with the Cannes sign. The view across the water is worth the hill.
 Behind Cannes
 On my balcony at the hotel. Why are the best upgrades on the shortest stays? And does my jet lag show, but oh well, it's been a good day.
Once the clouds lifted a bit, I also had this view. Now that I know I like it, Monaco and Saint-Tropez are on a future visit list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Post Election Blues

I think anyone who knows me well, realizes that the election annoyed me. There was too much wrong with almost every aspect, in every corner. I have friends who have experience post election racism in their face. Anyone who has a friend who is other than white and male, know that those friends are subject to subtle or obvious harassment or racism. Not just people of color but women are impacted too. That 72 cents to the $1? I know it well. Watching male peers who have less experience and skills than you get promoted while unqualified? I know that well too.

What I don't know is why these plastic ants were the artistic direction at an outdoor mall where I was working in Mexico City.  They're up on the glass looking down at all the shoppers. Maybe they're annoyed and tired of people stepping on their insect cousins.
Maybe the march of two by two has to start with us. One person can't keep a movement going. They have to have a second join in, who the gets others to join. So that a march can begin. Change will continue to happen. 
Until we're too big to ignore.