22 September 2013

Paris in the Rain Part II - Sundays in My City

Seen at a market in the Latin Quarter...too cute not to share.  I'm in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia next week so there will be no SIMC post.

Unknown Mami

20 September 2013

Paris in the Rain

Is there a line from some old movie about loving Paris in rain?  Honestly, I don't watch old movies and there's a good chance I have that wrong. Regardless... I could have titled this post "2 Days in Paris" but it turns out that's the title of a movie I've never seen as well.

More to the point...last weekend I took the high-speed train to Paris for the weekend.  It takes just under 1.5 hours from my current location.  It rained the entire first day I was there but, as I've said many times, if you want to see Europe you'd better be prepared to see it in the rain.

I have a confession to make. I wanted to hate Paris.  I really did. When I went there 20-some years ago I didn't enjoy it at all. It was hot and dirty and smelly and the people were stereotypically rude.  So when I took my Grandmother there 2 years ago I was prepared to hate the city. I didn't hate it. In fact, I really liked it. I didn't want to, but I did. So much, in fact, that I took one of my last weekends here to go back. 

While I'm confessing...I have to come clean about my love of the Eiffel Tower. I don't want to love it. It's a tourist trap. It's the type of thing I would generally avoid. Some people swoon over a Manet or a Monet or a Picasso or a Garfunkel (points to those who get it), some people feel a Mozart or a Bach or a Chopin through their entire body.  Me?  Massive steel structures (bridges, towers...doesn't matter) take my breath away.  I literally found myself in the middle of the street with a bus coming straight at me (not slowing down a bit) staring up at Her Majesty completely oblivious to said bus.  At one point, I'm pretty sure I was drooling.  I feel honored to be in the presence of of the Tower and I stand there, rain or not, trying to absorb as much of her essence as I can. 



I love it so much, in fact, that I forced myself to go back at night (despite being completely exhausted) in the pouring rain just to see her lit up.


I saw more in my 2 days there but I really felt like the Tower deserved a post of her own.

Travel Your Way

Travel Your Way is a photography competition. The competition is based around modes of transport and how you travel, whether by road, air, rail or sea. 

Here are my entries...

 Air, Rail, Road
This picture of the Queensferry Bridge (which carries cars) and Fourth Bridge (which carries trains) was taken from the air...3 modes of transport in one picture!
 Road, Sea
This isn't a fabulous picture but it makes me laugh. The GPS unit thought we were still in Scotland when we were really back in Germany.

A storm rolling into the harbour in Hoorn, Netherlands
Early morning Malaga, just before sunrise

My favorite way to travel by road is on a bicycle.  These figures were being unloaded in preparation for a bicycle race in Gent, Belgium.
These bicycles were seen in Amsterdam

 Rail, Road
The Ponte Luis I Bridge in Porto, Portugal carries trains on the upper deck and cars on the lower.  The blue steel was amazingly beautiful.

I'm nominating
1. Angie at Angie Eats Peace
2. Jessica at The Tangerine
3. Oneika at Oneika the Traveller
4. Megan at Girl Meets Camera
5. Vidya at Going Amusing

15 September 2013

Tournai - Sundays in My City

I'm in Paris this weekend so for today's SIMC post I'm showing you the town of Tournai which is located close the southern border of Belgium. I hopped off the train there on my way back from Lille last weekend.  Why? Well, the train stopped there and the name sounded familiar (probably because I had seen it on the map when looking for places to visit but I thought maybe there was something there I was supposed to see) and it was a really nice day so I figured, why not? I walked around for an hour and then got on the next train.

Turns out that, along with Tongeren (which is close to the Dutch border and has a large anitque/flea-market on Sundays...I took Mom and Dad there last year), Tournai is the oldest city in Belgium. Two of the oldest private houses in Europe are located in Tournai as well as a really cool looking old bridge that I didn't know about. Since I didn't know about these until after I went there I didn't see them :(

The train station
Two little girls in pretty dresses were playing in some construction rubble. It made me very happy to see that!

The belfry, the oldest in Belgium, is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tournai

Not bad for basically getting off the train in a random town. I wish I had known a little about the town before I went there but at least I can say I saw it!

For other adventures, random, planned or otherwise, check out the rest of the SIMC posts over at Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

11 September 2013

10 Years Ago Today

September 11, 2001 was different for me.  I wasn't there. I didn't live through it. I was in a rural village in Ghana and no one there even knew what a multistory building was, let alone a sky scraper. I heard the news on the radio. I never saw the TV footage and still haven't. Although I knew what happened it really didn't impact my life there one iota. 

September 11, 2003, 10 years ago today, was the day I left Ghana after serving for 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I boarded a South African Airways flight to Johannesburg en route to Bangkok.  I didn't know if I'd ever see Ghana again.

I'll be going back to Ghana in about 6 weeks (I was there 5 years ago as well). One of my former students (and somewhat adopted son) has just completed his master's degree and will graduate. I will be there to see it.

09 September 2013

Sister Insanity - Tough Mudder Round 2 Recap

My sister and I did the Tough Mudder (first time for her, 2nd time for me) a few weeks ago in Scotland.  Our little brother served as team photographer, cheerleader and press agent (seriously, that kid ran his tail off, yelled and cheered louder than anyone and grabbed every official photographer he saw demanding that they take our picture!).  Here are some pictures of the event (for last year's see here, here, here, here and here).

Honestly, this year's course wasn't as good as last year's. Both were 12 miles but this course only had about 19 obstacles as opposed to last year's 28 and the obstacles this year were...somehow less grand.  Fewer obstacles might sound like it would be easier but the obstacles help break up the 12 miles of running and I could have used more breaks :)  Plus, for some reason there just weren't very many people at each obstacle so the whole camaraderie thing wasn't nearly as present this year.  Still, it was great to do it with my sister while our brother cheered us on!! 

At the entrance
Our numbers
Reath Sister Insanity
While any of us still had the energy to be silly

Giving my sister a boost over the start wall
The Tough Mudder Pledge
And we're off!
Kiss of Mud

Electric Eel...Those are live electrical wires!
A helping hand...that's what it's all about.
Apparently we still had some silly energy left

Almost to the end
More live electrical wires...the final obstacle before crossing the finish line
With our well-earned orange head bands
And our Finisher t-shirts

Look at that smile!

Shoes left behind get cleaned and donated to charity

I'm so damn proud of this girl!!!

My sister and I on the bus home