return to the city and points west

well let’s see, i guess i have some wrapping up to do regarding my last day in paris. quitterie and william took me to the train station in dax and made sure i was safe in my seat – they even waited till the train left, the dears. so happy to see my good friend has come through the challenges of love since last i saw her and found herself in that sweet spot of being with someone who gets her – someone who knows quality when they see it.

the overnight train started off promisingly enough, though at lourdes the train suddenly was full of people yelling, jamming into our previously peaceful car. it was a tough night after that, my new neighbor being quite the accomplished snorer. to make it worse, there was no food at all on the train, which was too bad since i’d been counting on eating and drinking on board. we got to paris around 7 am and i made my way to our old hotel where i’d stashed a bag. the lovely man there let me stash my backpack there for the afternoon and i went out to breakfast. then i headed toward the seine, my banjo uke on my back. it was a brilliant morning and i crossed the river to the ile de la cite and walked toward notre dame. after making a round inside, i went to the river to play music till the archaeological museum under the church opened.  the music, the museum, the gorgeous blue sky. after the museum, i got a falafel and played more music before heading back toward the hotel.

   

        

though there were some potential issues getting to the airport, it was all accomplished and i found myself in the terminal drinking cognac and waiting for the plane. the ride was easy and we got to the airport and through security without an issue. the only issue happened when i got to the point where my moroccan traveling companion and i were splitting up and splitting a cab and i discovered i had left my journal on the plane and couldn’t locate my debit card.

ultimately, i found the card, though i guess the journal is lost for good. at least it was just a little one.

a couple of days in the city. some unexpected events, some perhaps i should have foreseen. and at last gone.

                 

first south the hillsborough nc and my best friend. then east to home.

a couple of days there, lakes, forests, packing, then north to minneapolis.*

*initially, this was all i wrote about being home. let me elaborate. i drove from hillsborough to branson mo – a project 16 hour trip. i seemed to be making good time to memphis, so was unconcerned, but didn’t count on the gps route being bizarro. ended up  cruising through winding mountain roads in missouri at night before popping out a little ways up the highway from the airport, my destination. by the time i got there it was 10 o’clock. it was all kosher, since dad was planning to meet me there and he wouldn’t close his shop till then. i had time to go through the rental car and make sure nothing important was hiding in any pockets. i listened to cd’s from my sister’s collection. i think it was nick drake. eventually i saw dad pull into the terminal and we transferred my things and deposited my keys and headed on our merry way through the ozarks in mom’s silver rav 4, which could probably navigate the turns on its own at this point, having driven that stretch of road so many times before. mom’s so called grief dog, spanky, was with us: a rambunctious over-sized puppy, black and white spotted and slobber jawed. at the house, things were in some state of disarray. my mother had left a week before and dad’s natural tendencies were taking over. the house is the same way. the forest has sprung up around it in areas dad used to keep clear. sumac and other scrub grows alongside tree saplings shooting up, especially in the dearth of trees created by the ice storm of a few years ago, which splintered mighty oaks left and right and left the forest looking sparse. meanwhile, the orchard of my childhood has become overgrown and partially reclaimed by mother nature. dad’s neat rows of walnut trees have met a similar fate and the blueberry bushes are slowly succumbing as well. a family of deer could be seen watering at the collection pond at the bottom of the driveway, which dad has taken to gating off, since it is often mistaken for a county road.

my sister’s car, also a rav 4, needed some work before i could take it on my trip, so i was stuck in town for a couple of days. dad and i made the requisite trip to walmart and got much of my food supplies. we tried to go to the dmv, to change my license for insurance purposes, but the line was too long and we postponed. the afternoon was warm and sunny. i played with the cats and the dog. i tried to rest. the next day i got my license and went to the lake. being home is funny. everyone is very nice. small talk happens more frequently. i drove up to eureka springs and beaver lake. the lake is formed by a dam on the white river. the water is cool and clear and the lake is limestone all on one side. typical summers, it is high enough for people to jump from the cliffs into the water, but on this day, few people are there and the water is low. not a lot of neighbors, then, as i swam and wrote and drank the beer i’d brought along. boats cruised the lake periodically, but it was a quiet day. i returned to green forest to pick up the supposedly fixed rav, only to find that the mechanics had somehow disconnected the spedometer and didn’t know how to reconnect it. a car with no working spedometer was no good, but luckily my mother agreed to let me take her car instead.

i loaded what i could that night and then organized the rest of my things before loading them up the next morning. the car was pretty full. i hit the road in the late morning and heading due north toward minneapolis. i went through branson and springfield and slowly waggled west to the highway north of kansas city. i got to minneapolis that night. i met my good friend erin through my ex, who happens to be her big brother. i have come to really appreciate those people in my life who stand by me, and erin has proven to be one of them. we’ve seen each other several times over the years since her brother and i stopped seeing each other and i love her like a sister in a way i appreciate more and more in my life. we went out for drinks and snacks and called it a night.

my good friend erin hosted me the first night. we spent the next day at thrift stores, in search of a burning man coat for me and any costumes we might find. unfortunately, i took off my new hat at some point and never recovered it, though it seemed like we were hot on its trail for a minute. the second night we spent at my friend neil’s house in the country. he had a house full of  people, but they found room for us, and he found time to have dinner with us (coconut milk curried veggies) on his new deck and harvest rhubarb for the dessert (rhubarb berry crumble). he gave us the full tour and even donated a couple of books on tape to my roadtrip. in the morning he finished a story and gave us some of the honey he had harvested the day before. good to be with those who know and love me.

          

and now onto mount rushmore and then slc!!!

love and miss,

kira

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last day in paris

quitterie and william and i spent a laid back day yesterday in seignosse. it was overcast and a little rainy all day. then we went to walk around cute capbretton a few towns over and watched the sunset over the cote d’argent.

they got me to the train station just in time to get on. little did i know that this was not the normal french sort of train with swanky food and wine – rather, it was devoid of anything at all. nothing but a coffee machine, which i was not eager to drink, as i wanted to sleep through the night as best i could. this semmed imminently possible, until our train got to lourdes (the place famous for a spring supposed to have the virgin mary’s healing powers). suddenly the peaceful train was full of noise. everyone stuffed in. i got to sit next to the snoriest of snorers and it was like borrowing someone’s husband for the night. had to keep elbowing him.

regardless, made it to paris for a day of visiting notre dame, playing my banjo uke by the seine, eating falafel, going to an archaeological museum, and generally strolling.

now time to fly. see you soon, nyc!!!

love and miss,

kira

seignosse and old friends

i had a flight back to marseilles, where i would stay at the airport to catch yet another flight to bordeaux. from there i needed to get a bus to the train station and get my ticket, which i had already reserved online. the head to dax, where a good friend of 10 years, a bearnaise girl named quitterie, would meet me at the station.

the flight was easy and i had a nice chat witth the felow beside me about our travels. a crummy lunch of pasta, but at least with a little bottle of rose to accompany it. then my next flight and some time in bordeaux before my train left.

bordeaux always reminds me of my sister erika. the first time i spent the summer in france she came to visit me in pau and after wanted to go to bordeaux, wine country. i was still in the midst of studies at the time and couldn’t go along. i thought of her as i had my red wine and salade chevre chaud. my solitude with the memory of her solitude at that time. she could always handle being alone, like me, but i know that she wanted more of me than i realized when i was that age. still stuck in teenage style selfishness. c’est la vie.

i hung out till time to get on the train. the station in bordeaux is old and grand looking, though there are modern lights and accents in the plaza surrounding it. there was a plaque inside remembering a time when nazi resisters were taken from there to dachau and half of them died en route, half of those who survied the trip died there.

sorry to start this one off on a bummer note. in fact, once i got on the train and went the easy distance of and hour and a half, i was greeted happily at the station by my friend quitterie and her boyfriend william. they are spending their holiday in a surfing town called seignosse, on the atlantic coast. i had never heard of it, but it is apparently the capital of european surfing. it was midnight when i arrived and we went to their little beach bungalow and retired for the evening. the house shuts up tight at night, southern france being known for it’s bright sun, all houses have a great system of shades that block out every last little sliver of light. that first morning (afternoon, it turned out) i had no idea if it was cloudy or bright out till we opened the blinds. “pleine soleil” said quitterie.

we all went to the beach together and the water was refreshing and not too wavy, comparatively. we swam and sunbathed and then quitterie had to go in to rest before her tennis match that night. william and i joined her and watched the match, which was difficult, though she won in two sets (i know nothing about tennis and william was trying to explain it to me. i know a little more now, but still, for a simple game, very complicated scoring!). we returned to the house and made dinner of pizza and salad and drank jurancon wine, the sweet white wine of the pays bearn, where quitterie is from. i hadn’t tasted it since i was 22! william and i sat outside discussing sci fi and god and spirits and all sorts of things. his accent when he speaks english is very french indeed. quitterie’s is a bit better, but all in all we speak mostly french, which is the way i like it.

the next day was equally sunny and we slept equally late, which was heavenly after so many late nights and early morns. william and i went to the beach and quitterie stayed in. she had the finals of her tournament that night. in the end, she won and we celebrated by going out to dinner and exploring the neighboring town of hossegor, which was full of partiers and revelers and just plain drunk people.

and now today is my last day here. tonight i will take a train to paris, a sleeper, and arrive at 7am tomorrow. a little wondering and then a 7:30pm flight back to new york. hard to believe i will be there tomorrow night, but that is the truth! if i have time, i’ll send something from paris demain.

love and miss,

kira

essaouira and beyond

we arrived in essaouira around 7pm after a fast and furious bus ride from marrakech. the german girls and i were all seated in the back row, which seemed like a good thing till i realized those seats don’t recline and are the jounciest. but ca va, we got there and i only started feeling nauseous at the end. we descended from the bus and were of course instantly greeted by a bunch of helpful fellows who would be happy to take us to their guest house. we politely declined any assistance and decided to head first toward mt riad and ask there for help getting the german girls to theirs. the streets were smaller than marrakech – it is a much smaller place in general, and reminded me of a cross between varanasi and pushkar in india. i followed the map i had to get to my hostel, only to find it took me to another riad entirely. luckily the man there was very nice and helped us find our way. the german girls and i split ways with vague notions of meeting up again, which i knew intuitively neither party would follow through on. when traveling, you must not get too glommed onto other travelers or run the risk of violating an unspoken rule of freedom.

i found my riad easily, though the streets were small and dark and windy. instantly noticed a difference between marrakech and essaouira: everyone said hello – children, older gentlemen, everyone was helpful and open in a way i guess it is hard to be in marrakech with so many people. in my mind at least, it is analagous to new york and the way we all avert our eyes to give each other more personal space. essaouira is smaller, though, and can afford to be more friendly. it is also about 20 degrees cooler, on average, than fez and marrakech – because of the proximity to the sea.

on my arrival at the hostel, i was greeted by the proprietaire of the place, who calls himself magic man. a few brits sat at the bar smoking cigarettes. the music was classic rock. magic fed me dates and mint tea and some lovely vegetarian lentil soup. it was just what the doctor ordered for my stomach, upset a bit by the long and bumpy bus ride, and my latent tendency toward car sickness.

what the place lacked in graciousness compared to my last riad, it made up for in atmosphere and the sort of clientele that chooses a place like it. i was rooming this time 3 spanish girls, two sisters and a friend traveling together. the stairs to get to the third floor were tight and winding and the room was certainly not luxurious, but i don’t look for luxury when i travel by myself anyway.

the spanish girls were going out to do some shopping and i tagged along so as to get my bearings in the city, since it was night and i hadn’t seen much of it by day. we went to some shops, all open late at night as in marrakech. they bought some flip flops and we continued to a music store where you can listen to any of the cds on the loudspeaker before you decide what to buy. the man there seemed to take his job pretty seriously. then on to a tea and herb shop. they had met the man there before and he sat us down and made us some amazing tea. this was real berber tea. it contained around 12 different kinds of herbs: ginger, ginseng, rose petals, and i am not sure what else. it was delicious and calming. you could feel a wave of relaxation wash through you a few minutes after the the first glass. i wasn’t in buying mode, sadly- i wish i had been!

we continued on after with no agenda. one of the sisters, a beautiful pediatrician who attracted attention wherever we walked, mentioned that it would be her birthday at midnight and i suggested we try to find a place to have a drink somewhere. easier said than done. during ramadan, the late night cafes close early, and even those that stay open stop selling alcohol for the duration of the month-long fast.

we tried to go to cafe des arts, a place i had read about in my essaouira/marrakech guidebook (all in french since i hadn’t bought one before i left the states), but were told at the door that they didn’t have any alcohol. however, there were a couple of young men, musicians, at the door, who told us they knew a place we could get a beer.

we followed them to several places, all closed for the holiday and nearly gave up, but they finally found a really interesting and hidden spot – we coudn’t have found it ourselves. it had a club-like atmosphere and all the waiters wore white shirts with black bowties. we followed the boys into the back room where there were cushions and a few tables, blocked off from the rest of the restaurant. we ordered beers and i ordered a pizza, a full day of barely eating finally catching up to me. in fact, though i am not sure how much i weighed when i started this trip, i am very sure i have lost weight. a combination of feeling inclined toward veganism lately and moving around alot, plus skipping meals rather frequently has led me to get a little worried about my appetite, which seems to have decreased to the point that even when hungry, i can’t finish a plate, and after i feel both full and hungry at the same time. very bizarre.   

regardless, that night i managed to eat half my pizza and then one of the boys, named chakib, wanted to hear me sing. he said he could tell by my face i was a singer. he played stand by me and i sang along. both of them were rapturous about my voice and we found every song we knew in common and sang and improvised. he plays flamenco and jazz, touring around with bands in europe and morocco. the spanish girls were ready to leave and the boys and i stayed behind to play a little more music before they walked me back to the riad.

the next day i promised them i would try to keep ramadan (failed) and join them for dinner when they broke their fast. i had breakfast with the spanish girls and then they went to buy a bus ticket and i went to the beach. the beach at essaouira is lovely, though very windy at times. the city itself was once a portuguese port and there are vestiges of that period. the towers and walls around the port reminded me of cochin in the south of india, also once a portuguese outpost.

the beach was lovely and i read my book (anais nin’s journal in french, from the years between 1939 and 1944). i was approached by a woman who wanted to give me henna and eventually submitted, though it was a bit more than i wanted to pay. she was very nice, though, and we spoke in french about her life, her son, she invited me to join her for dinner the next night if i wanted to and gave me her phone number. her name was hafida. she gave me a present, i surmise because she oversharged for the henna, and decorated my feet also.

the wind in essaouira, while perfect for kite surfing and wind surfing, eventually becomes too much to bear on the beach, and i had to run away. i walked to the port where the fish market was in full swing, all the fishermen displaying their wares of rays, eels, octopi, spotted yellow fish, shiny silver ones, beautiful to see, except for the offal and heads strewn about. i ran into one of the boys walking through the market in search of a bit of fish for that night’s dinner. he guided me around the city a bit and then i headed back to the hostel to get ready to go to the hammam at 4.

magic man had recommended me a place to go and had one of the ladies who worked at the hostel lead me there. the hammams are the public baths and this one was very much a local affair – not a bit touristic. i got their and stripped down to bikini bottoms as perscribed, then followed a rather rotund lady, comfortably clad only in large black undies, into the bathing chamber. there she proceeded to coat me with some sort of substance that looked kind of like gelatin and smelled like a lovely perfum. then she had me sit there for 10 minutes, which gave me a chance to observe the women around me. they were all scrubbing themselves and going through the whole ritual – tubs of water, different temperatures, accompanied each bather. this is a weekly ritual, from childhood to old age. everyone’s skin, even that of the old women who hobbled in, looked somehow fresh and made me think that the hammam probably does help keep the skin fresh somehow.

my lady came back and commenced to scrub off my old skin with a mit, not unlike something you might use to clean tough grease off a pan it was cooked onto. it wasn’t unpleasant, though, and there was something satisfying about seeing that skin come off and wash away. somehow invigorating and renewing. she took me into another room and had me lay down and scrubbed every bit of me (just about) and then rinsed me and washed my hair with a fragrant soap that left my hair smelling lovely and clean for days after. then it was done, all with the efficacy of a mother changing a baby’s diaper.

i left feeling like a new woman and went back to the hostel to get ready for dinner with the boys.

when i arrived, there was a young man there from seattle with a chameleon. he told me he had bought it for 30 dirhams – 3 dollars – and that he heard after that sometimes they are used in magic ceremonies and thrown into the fire. i got to play with the chameleon a bit and loved his calm presence, his cleft fingers and googly eyes.

there was also a cat in the hostel, named mimi, but she wasn’t too interested in the chameleon.

dinner that night was festive, communal dinner in the cafe one of the boys works in. many of the boys ar musicians of the traditional sort, playing an instrument kind of like a bass with 3 strings. someone else on the drums and another on something like castenets. i have videos which i will try to post – it was amazing!

eventuall chakib and i played some songs and he had aparently told all his friends about my voice, so i had instant fans. he was full of plans for me to come back and put together a band with him.

eventually we left and after a little shisha i went back to the hostel. there was another musician there playing, and i played some songs on the guitar in the hostel before going up to the terrasse for a bit. it was almost 4 when i got to bed.

the next day i needed to get my bus ticket to go back to marrakech, and to make my plans to get from marrakech to fez. the day was eaten up with such tasks. when i had done all i could do, i went in search of chakib, who wanted to show me some songs to learn. we ended up at cafe des arts that night, drinking tea and ultimately playing our repertoire to a very receptive audience. it was a pure pleasure and another tourist from france sat in on the drum. everyone full of praise and admiration. amazing how people open up to you when you tickle their eardrums, so to speak. another late night full of music and chakib’s talks of touring and coming back to essaouira. we wandered then ended back at cafe des arts where they mazde me food, as i had onceagain managed not to eat much that day. we played more songs, talked with the servers at the restaurant, and finally to bed.

the next day i took care of the last few things that needed taking care of in town and made my way to the bus station for my 3pm bus back to marrakech. the plan was to take a train from there to fez where i would arrive at 2 am and be picked up by a driver and taken to a riad for the night. i had a flight the next morning around 11 and knew, unfortunately, i wouldn’t have a chance to see fez.

the train trip was long and i felt somewhat ill, perhaps from the change in temperatures from essaouira to marrakech, where it was over 100 degrees. a nice man in my train cabin gave me tea and coke to drink, though we couldn’t communicate as he spoke neither english nor french, and my arabic is pretty non-existant.

at one point i followed his lead and descended to change trains. i hurried out to buy water and when i returned saw that no one else was waiting for another train. i asked at the counter and was told it was the next stop i needed. luckily, all was well and the next train even had ac, which was like heaven after the stifling air in the first decrepit train.

the rest of the journey passed easily and though we were about 30 minutes late, still the driver was there and he took me on a brief driving tour of fez. his name was ali and he was very nice. he said he would come and pick me up in the morning to take me to the airport.

i slept in the first ac of my trme in morocco, in the first single room, too. i managed to get a good night’s sleep before getting up the next morning to pack my things and prepare again for another stage in my journey. back to france! 

 

love and miss,

kira

marrakech

ok. i just erased an entire blog. damn it. starting again is very hard!!!!

ok. i arrived in marrakech after some difficul travels. i hadn’t been sure that i would go in the end, but the path opened up before me as if by magic. i found myself transported there so easily, it seemed silly that i had considered not going at all.

marrakech was the first stop and i got to my guest house – riad as they call them- grace of my driver, who walked me there. the streets were remarkably empty and i wondered if i had chosen a bad location for my riad – i had just booked it a couple of days before. i was received by a lovely young berber man named zaid, completing his first week of what they call a stage there. a kind of internship. he made me berber tea – basically mint with a large helping of sugar – and showed me the guesthouse: high ceilings, roof terrasse, and my room which i would be sharing with three german girls. berbers are not muslim, but nomadic people who live in the desert and have their own religion and culture.

when i descended, i found another berber man named kudus there, rolling a spliff of what he called happiness. he told me and another recent arrival, a mexican man named ozziel, to feel at home there. and we certainly did. that night ozziel and i went in search of the only vegetarian restaurant in marrakech: earth cafe. we got derailed but eventually found ourselves having the loveliest meal i had the entire time i was in morocco: a veggie tagine with wonderful spices and a moroccan salad to start. a couple of men were there in traditional dress playing traditional music on the oud and a hand drum. they were supberb. 

when we left the restaurant, the streets were full of all the life that had been missing before. we surmised this to be from a combination of the heat during the day and the fact that it was ramadan, a time when muslims neither eat nor drink from 4 am to 7:30 pm. not even water, which seems quite dangerous in that heat! people stayed out all night, making noise, eating, celebrating.

the next day ozziel and i visited the old palace, mostly ruins now. it was a lot like the disney version of alladin and fun to imagine a chubby little sultan holding court there amid the flowers and pools.

the last day in marrakech i neeeded to take care of some travel plans and so didn’t leave the riad till it was time to head to the bus station with my german roommates, with whom i was taking the bus to essaouira. the day was very hot and we were excited about the thought of going to a beach town, where, by all accounts, the climate was much more bearable: 70s rather than 100s.

ok, i had thought to talk of essaouira here, but lost a bunch of time by erasing everything, so that will have to be the next installment!

love and miss,

kira

adventures in the cote d’azure

though our hotel was not in the best location, it was a nice walk to get to the promenade des anglais. we arrived in the early evening and there was a fete that night that we hadn’t known about. the promenade was closed to cars and everyone was in the street. we ate dinner at a mexican place for something different and it was surprisingly good. when we returned to the promenade, there were stages set up all along it, each with a different sort of group playing a different kind of music. there were people everywhere, dancing, listening, looking out at the mediterranean and the full moon that was rising over it (in france in the summer the sun stays pretty high until 10 at night or so).

the music was fun and the atmosphere was festive. we bought rose, the specialty of the provencale region, and walked back and forth on the promenade for a while. around midnight the music stopped and we headed back to our hotel.

we spent the first full day in nice, walking down to the old city and going to the main beach there. though the sea is pretty and refreshing, the beach there is rocky and not the easiest to navigate. it was full of people all the same because august is the month of vacation in france. we swam and sunbathed for several hours before returning to the picturesque old city for a late lunch.

that night we went to a place called le ghost where we met locals and danced and drank champagne. we left after a while and ended up in a cave-like boite de nuit, dancing till the early morning to fun remixes of familiar american songs, with some french ones mixed in.

the next day we went to rent a car. though we had already made a reservation, the process was terrible. the line was long and the man at the counter was flustered and had to re-make the contract several times. in the end, it took us over an hour and it turned out he charged my card multiple times, which i am still trying to straighten out 😦

we drove to st. tropez on the autoroute and got there in the early afternoon. it was a cute old city and port, but not much there beside yachts in the port and expensive boutiques everywhere. we had lunch and left, heading toward a beach outside the city. when it was time to continue, the traffic was terrible. it took us 30 minutes to get to the turn off where it finally opened up and i could drive more freely on the smaller winding road. we took the autoroute back toward cannes and were dismayed when we had to pay 14 euros in tolls – it had only been 2.50 on the way there!

we got off at cannes and went to the beach, though it was already 6pm. the sun was still up and hot and the beach still full of people. we swam a bit and then went off to explore the old city, perched on a hill, full of the winding little cobbled streets that characterize most old cities. i met interesting people in the shops and had some nice conversations in french with sellers of semiprecious stones.

we had a hard time finding someplace to eat but eventually had dinner and then went to a cafe to people watch. cannes was more picturesque and full of life than nice or st. tropez, and definitely had a higher quotient of ferraris.

we headed back to nice and all was well till we got to the city and all the exits toward the centre ville were closed! we drove around for a while and finally asked a man at a stoplight how to get to the train station, our touchstone point, as it was next to the hotel. he told us it was far and we should follow him. he lad us on an interesting and winding route, through tunnels which punctuate the city, leading us at long last to our destination. it was a relief to park the car and get into our little beds, exhausted but triumphant.

the next day we went to monaco. the ride was much faster than to st. tropez and in the other direction, into the maritime alps. the viezs were breathtaking and we wound down the mountains into the city, which looks like a disney sort of fantasy of pink and cream buildings colonizing the hills down to the port, full of enormous yachts. we lucked out to find parking before huge and very fancy looking wedding party arrived.

we toured the port and made our way up to the old city, where the palace and the cathedral where princess grace and other monaco royals are laid to rest. the old city was adorable with little cafes and surrounded by a beautiful garden. the palace was disappointingly plain and new looking.

we decended again and went to a touristy restaurant, overpriced and sub-par, but with a good view of the port. then continued to the main plage to see how it compared to nice and cannes.

it was full of people and the water was perfect. we sunbathed and read and relawed a couple of hours before heading back to our car and back to nice.

the way back we took the basse corniche, the winding little road that is featued in hitchcock’s file to catch a thief, during the filming of which grace kelly met her husband to be. she may even have had her fatal wreck on that road, though i am not sure. the drive was fun and picturesque, little towns and lovely beaches, the mediterranean beatiful and brilliant below us.

on returning to nice, it was far easier to find our neighborhood, and we decided to cut our car rental short, since it had been such a pain and we had already seen the places we meant to.

we went to the beach again and brought with us a chilled bottle of rose which we drank while watching the sunset. after a great tunisien dinner, we went back to the hotel to get ready for a saturday night on the town. one club we tried wasn’t the right crowd and we ended up at the ghost again. some locals took us to another place, la coulisse, where it was spring break style craziness, though it calmed down and we were able to dance the night away.

the next day was our last in nice. skye was leaving the following morning very early and so we profited from the beach. it was windy and wavy and we weren’t able to swim. we got a yummy turkish vegetarian meal and went back to the hotel to pack our things. then we met some people out in the old city to have some wine and chat. i was speaking only in french and feeling very comfortable with it by now, which is always nice.

we went to play pool in a funny mashup of pool hall and club, but ended up leaving to watch the moon and enjoy the seabreeze.

it was a late night and we got about an hour of sleep before skye had to get her taxi and leave.

the next day i slept a bit later than i intended and almost couldn’t get my train to marseilles, where i needed to catch a plane to morocco. luckily, i got to marseilles in time to get an earlier connection to the airport and got there with time to spare.

the flight was a few hours, but with the time change i arrived by 6pm and there was a driver waiting to take me to my hostel. a big sigh of relief and glad that i stuck with my plan to leave france and have a different sort of adventure.

more to come: morocco!!!

 

love and miss,

kira

days and nights in paris

my sister and i arrived in paris on a friday and made our way to the hotel – a cute little place not far from the place de la repulique. not exactly central, but paris is easily navigated with the metro. i was glad to see that my memory of the city stayed somewhat in tact, though it had been several years since i was last there. since it was skye’s first time in paris, we had on our agenda all of the touristic things: the louvre, the musee d’orsay, the musee rodin, the eiffel tour (of course), bateaux mouches, the sacre coeur, versailles. it seemed like a lot to do in five short days – and no visit to paris is complete without sampling something of the nightlife as well. our first night, we went to the quartier latin – the central hive of paris, where tourists explore the tiny twisting streets of the left bank and restauranteurs are like carnival barkers inviting you to step right up and taste their wares. we ended up meeting some locals and drinking wine on the street – pas de probleme in paris: it is easy to see that they are not so regimented as in the states and not so inclined to enforce the rules there are.

the next day, a grand walking tour: the place de la concorde where a giant obelisk from egypt is encircled by a crazy mess of traffic that somehow manages not to result in carnage. the champs elysee was stuffed with people shopping and gawping at the grand palais and walking toward the giant arch de triomphe in the distance. paris in the summer is like new york: the tourists come, the locals depart for nice or marocco, the atlantic coast, bretagne. it was surprisingly chilly at times, as paris can be cloudy, but that isn’t a bad thing when you are walking everywhere. we crossed the seine and made our way to the eiffel tower. for me, it is impossible to be there without remembering the first time i was there, with my other sister, erika, who was our frequent topic of conversation, especially because of the approaching anniversary of her death last year at burning man. we walked the length of the park and found a cafe to sit at and talk, enjoying a traditional parisian pastime: drinking kir royales and eating some light snacks, chatting about life.

it was saturday night and we decided we’d go to the sacre coeur after sunset to see the lights of paris, another happy memory of something my sister erika and i did together the first time we were there together. at night the grand stairs in front of the church atop montmartre are full of people drinking, smoking, playing music, talking. it is a great way to soak up the atmosphere of the city and i had luckily remembered there was a market at the bottom of the hill where we bought beers and admired the lights of the city far below. i remembered the magic of the first time i was there with erika, how it had felt like i was standing at the edge of the world, looking out into a sea of blackness full of stars. we ate a quick meal before continuing on to a club we’d heard about called silencio. david lynch designed it and apparently before 11 there are performances there, but we got there around midnight. the music was good and the crowd was interesting. before we knew it, it was almost 3 and we were lucky to have met some people who drove us back to our hotel in two blinks.

sunday was our day for the musee rodin – my favorite museum in paris, because of its small size and the fact that rodin both lived and worked in the house that now houses his work as well as the work of some of his contemporaries, notably, his lover and apprentice camille claudel.

from there we continued to the musee d’orsay, a former train station that was saved and converted into a beatuiful museum, full of french art, primarily.

that night we met some friends at the deux magots, the famous cafe where artists and writers like de beauvoir, sartre, and anais nin used to have a petit cafe and talk of philosophy and politics, their work, their lives. it is still a vibrant place and the people there on a sunday night are regulars, of course mixed with the requisite tourists, like ourselves. my french was coming back quickly and we talked there for hours before going to a club called barron, a dark boite de nuit with red decor where the music was varied and fun to dance to.

the next day, we planned to see the louvre, but our late night led to a late start. we walked through the area of les halles, where there is shopping and the centre pompidou. we bought a lock to place on the pont des artistes for erika. like the brooklyn bridge, it is a custom to place a lock there for wishes or in memory of someone.

we went to the louvre and it was already 4 pm. the line was long to the main entrance, but we found a side entrance with no line at all and managed to see everything that interested us in two hours, though it was crazy there with tourists – tis the season.

the next day was set aside for versailles – we found lebanese food to take with us and after a guided tour (once again, because the regular line was hours long) we took our picnic to the gardens and bought little bottles of cold rose at the concession. there were wild cats there and we fed one our only meaty item, thinking of erika, who used to bring cat food with her on vacation for just such occasions.

our last night in paris – bittersweet and not as magical as the others, somehow, but it is always nice to be out, speaking french, meeting people, dancing.

the next day our train was after noon. we were shaken up by an accident that happened in front of our eyes: and older man on a sort of motor bike was hit by a car. though he didn’t have evident injuries, he seemed to be very hurt – the hit he took threw him onto the window of the car and the ambulence came in minutes.

the hotel let my leave a bag there so i could lighten my load for my planned trip to morocco after the next stage of our journey to nice. i bought a cheap backpack and made the switch, and we went to the gare du lyon to get our train to nice. skye was sorry we hadn’t planned to stay longer in paris, but our plans were already made, so on we went.

we lunched on pasta and risotto – train food there is pretty classy – and arrived in nice around 6pm.

the hotel was not in a great location, close to the train station, but it was easy to get to at least.

next installment, the cote d’azure 🙂

 

love and miss,

kira

In the beginning

It seems a long time ago that I was rushing from my apartment around 9 pm, finishing the last things I could to leave the place I have lived for two years. I didn’t have time to eat or finish the bottle of vinho verde I bought to try and make this all somehow more enjoyable. I was exhilerated by the thought of my adventures to come, but overzhelmed entirely by the enormity of the change I was making. It seemed my whole life was passing by, taking one train while I took another, leaving everything I have come to care about.

I got my things down the stairs to the waiting taxi after hastily scribbling a note to the new occupant of my former abode. Once inside, I finally began to breathe, and at last, to eat. A picnic of cornichons and leftover cheese and crackers from the last dinner party I gave in my apartment. The wine was good and I slugged it from the bottle in lieu of any other option. The airport, when I arrived, was full of people waiting on their flights – there had been a delay due to weather, but my flight was only a little late. Eventually, we boarded and I passed out – weeks of burning the candle at both ends caught up to me.

Too much too tell about Paris now – it will have to wait for cheaper internet access 🙂

Love and miss,

Kira