Athens – Temple of Apollo
ATHENS – The three of us pile our assortment of bulging bags into the trunk of his 70’s era Mercedes and squeeze into the back seat together. His taxi is impeccably spotless, the soft dark leather seats recently massaged with scented oil. You can tell he smokes in here while he’s waiting in line at the airport taxi-stand. Sometimes he waits for hours to make a few euros for his family.
“Since the crisis,” he began. So many sentences begin this way in Greece “I am luck to have a job. Normally I am teacher, but driving cab is good for now. I am luck.” His dark hair was well groomed and his shirt neatly pressed. He held his head high. He was proud of his car. Normally we would take the metro or bus to save money but we decided to take a cab as it was dark when we arrived in Athens and we only had a vague idea how to find our apartment. “We are luck too!” I told him “Luck to have you help us find our way.” Continue Reading →
There are very few down sides to long term travel. One is lack of decent peanut butter and the other is that our daughter Lyla misses her friends more than Monica Lewinsky misses her privacy. Being eleven and hanging out with your parents, and only your parents, every waking and sleeping moment for seven months straight is awesome, right? My husband and I think of this journey as a rich interlude between the busy working chapters of our lives. A great big recess. She seems to think of it, occasionally, as way too long. There have been hundreds of conversations that begin with ‘When we get home…” So, to say we were all very excited when our dear friends “Family G” decided to travel the great distance to Italy for their Spring Break holiday would be an enormous understatement. We considered this a super-human effort on their part. Continue Reading →
One of many volcanic mountains
The African country of Mauritius deals up a wonderful recipe of cultures and landscapes. Like a complicated dish, it’s hard to put your finger exactly on the specific ingredient that makes it so special. Call it alchemy. The result is delicious. Because of several changes in (let’s call it) ’ownership’ and some fairly huge cultural shifts, like the abolition of slavery for example, this gorgeous island has a bad case of multiple personality disorder. In a very good way. You can see and feel the colourful mingling of French, Dutch (who brought sugar and killed the Dodo), African, Creole and Indian influences in the people along with their Hinduism, Christianity and Muslim faiths. The remarkable thing is that everyone seems to get along peacefully like it’s no big deal. Take note world! This ethnic margarita makes for some very interesting food, history and people. The varied terrain makes for some outstanding outdoor exploration. After the storm we were itching to get out and have a look around this ruggedly beautiful tropical island.
*note: Speaking of itching, mosquitos chase us inside each evening at dusk in a cloud of bug spray but the itchiness never lasts longer than an hour or so. For this reason, I like Mauritian mosquitos way better than Canadian ones. Continue Reading →
Some of our French dining experiences have been, frankly, a little disappointing, which was a big surprise. Overpriced tough grisly steak, bland runny sauces, wilted veggies. What? We had expected every meal in France to be a joyful cascade of amazing flavours and singing angels but that has not been the case. Surprisingly, the French, some of them at least, seem to have a strange fondness for McDonald’s. I know, it’s weird. So we’ve found that asking for personal recommendations is the best way to find a really good restaurant. Also, it’s best not to frequent dining spots with pictures of the food taped to the front window. Dead giveaway.
Le Blé Noir, Carcassonne
One morning I was sitting in French class concentrating very hard on the lesson (ok, daydreaming about duck confit) when our teacher asked if I had any questions. “Yes, I do” I stammered in my awkward française. “Can you recommend a good restaurant close by for lunch?” She seemed confused. This wasn’t a question about the futur proche or the passé composé. She quickly suggested the chinese place around the corner and tried to get me back on track, just like the teachers in high school. ‘Non, a French restaurant, if you please”. This was not part of the lesson plan. Continue Reading →