5 Star Problems but a **** ain’t one

I have a problem.

A Tripadvisor problem.

It happens every year.

At about this time, my mind and body starts craving/dreaming/needing a vacation. Somewhere different. Preferably to a place where trains are called metros and where you can stay in a flat instead of an apartment. Or maybe a tropical turquoise retreat where I can drink from a coconut and lay on beach.

A place where I can be Vacation Mom and Vacation Wife. The one that doesn’t worry and nag and yell and order. The one that lets you buy obscenely pricey gum from the gift shop and stay up until you feel like falling asleep. The one that doesn’t care if anyone has brushed their teeth or combed their hair. She’s awesome. I miss her.

But in order to transform into this groovy, go-with-the-flow chick we need to get the hell out of dodge first.

And in order to do that we need to find a place to go.

And every time we find a place I am compelled to that damn website to check out the reviews.

It never ends well for me.

Everyone has an opinion, and I read every last one.

MaryS from Wichita thinks the rooms at a certain resort in Puerto Rico aren’t clean enough.

George from New Jersey didn’t like any of the restaurants but loved the pool at his hotel in Hawaii.

clevergirl8 from Texas loved Peru but had a horrible time with customs at the airport.

I try to focus on just the positive. You can’t make everyone happy, I say to myself.

But then I toss and turn and doubt. And doubt.

Are people just really really picky?

I realize that I could never have been one of those people backpacking through Europe or Asia or Idaho. I need research. Data. Background. I need to know that others have gone before me and had a good time. Or not.

So we’ll make our plans for vacation and it’ll be very exciting, but deep down I’ll be thinking about MikeP from Albany, who thought Dublin was beautiful except for the hotel concierge who was a bit grumpy the whole time.

I give Tripadvisor.com 3 out of 5 stars. Lots of consumer information which usually results in the firm knowledge that no matter where you are going or what you are doing – it could have been better somewhere else.

Paris to Brussels to Paris

You thought I was done talking about the trip? Silly.

We took a day trip to Belgium. ‘Cause that’s how we roll in Europe. Wanna go to England for tea, should we drive to Italy for the week end? Just normal Parisian stuff you think about when having your double espresso and chocolate crepe. Actually if you’re a real Parisian you have your espresso with a cigarette.

So we hopped a Metro, and then hopped a train, and got another stamp on our passport.  It’s what you do on a Wednesday. Sorry, got carried away.

We realized a few things quickly when we got to Brussels.

1st – everyone that lives there looks like they stepped out of a young, hip music video

2nd – all those Belgium left on the first train to Paris, no worries, plenty of Japanese tourists around to show us the way

3rd – it only takes 11.6 minutes to run smack into the Manneken Pis and grab a waffle

4th – even in its home country, I don’t like Belgium beer. zo en zo

Here’s a few more pics from our adventure. Tomorrow I’ll start talking about normal shit again. Maybe.

 

 

 

Back to life….back to reality

Back to work.

Back to errands.

Back to dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, homework, picking-up/dropping-off, conference calls, deadlines, bills.

Back to being behind on sending out birthday cards, birthday gifts, calling my mom, touching base with friends, making the kids practice piano, eating right, calling my mom, cleaning out my closet.

Back to fake butter, fake cream, the opposite of a flaky croissant, coffee without espresso, no crepes in sight.

I’m going to bed.

Here’s some pictures of my happy place.

parlez-vous anglais?

No. Most of the Parisians we ran into did not speak English. But who needs the international language of business and entertainment when you have this…

That is not a postcard – that is photo taken on my prehistoric iPhone.  Notre Dame. I swear to you that it was cloudy and rainy that day when we left our hotel. By the time we hoofed it to the cathedral the clouds opened up and the sun came out. On cue. That happened a lot there. Even the cloudy days seemed staged and moody.

We had heard all the cranky Parisian legends – “they hate Americans, they are completely unfriendly, etc.”

We didn’t get that. This may be because I’ve lived in NYC and my husband was raised there. People are busy. They live in a city overrun by tourists. Everyday they have to go to work, make a living, have a life, while we wander around the city with our cameras out asking for directions to the Louvre. Are  waiters super nice and helpful? No. So what. Once you realize that it’s not directed at you – it’s directed at everybody – you’re fine.

I’ve told you before that my husband isn’t exactly a social butterfly, so he felt right at home with the frowning faces. No one running over to you in a store, no one trying to make small talk with you in the hotel lobby – it was like his dream country. Leave them alone. They leave you alone.

Don’t get me wrong, we met plenty of friendly people, most of them traveling to Paris like us.

But who needs chit chat when you live in a place this beautiful?

Notre Dame, circa 9/23/12, it turns 850 years old next year. Doesn’t look a day over 721.

Shots from outside and around the Louvre – and we didn’t ask one single Parisian for directions.

The Mona Lisa madness I wrote about earlier…Sacré bleu! J’en ai marre!

Merci Paris

That was a fun 6 days. I’m sorry about the blog silence – but I was distracted.

It’s hard not to churn out clichés and cheesy narrative when you talk about Paris.  Every little street is picture worthy – every cafe looks like you’ve seen it in a movie.  We stayed at a small boutique hotel in the 6th district and took the Metro everywhere.  Sometimes having a husband who grew up with the New York City transit system really helps.  We did all the usual touristy things – went to all the museums, all the monuments (although every building looks like a monument) – we ate all the decadent food and drank some amazing wine.  I would kill for one of the corner shops that liters the city in my neighborhood – one that looks like a Bodega but sells fresh bread and cheap (but good) wine.

And the people. Oh the people. Everyone looks chic and sophisticated – even the kids. The people watching is well worth the transatlantic trip – and to my husband’s credit – he let me go crazy.

I can’t go through the whole trip in one post – so I’ll take a few days to let it all out.

Here’s some of the 780 (yikes) photos we took! Can you say “un touriste”.  Apologies for the A typical photos of the Eiffel Tower and the Arch – but in person, standing underneath them - it was a surreal, dream-like experience.

This was our district – our arrondissement – in St. Germain-des-Pres

On the Batobus (boat on the Seine) – hopping on and off to see the sites

Below needs no explanation – although it did need 300 pictures.  I’ll only share one with you. You’re welcome.

In the Metro (the 4) – pretending to be a Parisian (except for the constant photo taking)

Arch de Triumph at 7pm. We also have 7:15pm, 7:19pm, 7:22pm, etc.

To be continued….

Vacation all I ever wanted

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This blog ran away to Paris.
This blog is trying not to smile like a lunatic as she walks around the arrondissements.
This blog has eaten croissants and crepes 24/7 since she landed.
This blog will weigh 300 pounds by the end of the week .
Maybe 400.
This blog is taking the metro and pretending she’s not lost.
This blog is sleeping in and having dinner at 10pm.
This blog is happy.

Pop Culture Vulture

That’s me.  Celebrity gossip. Reality shows. Anderson Cooper. These things make me happy. People.com, Us Weekly, Dlisted.com – daily reading for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am a full-on news junkie – but pop culture has a special place in my heart, right next to chocolate and wine.

Pop Culture Vulture will be a reoccurring post – advance apologies to anyone out there rolling their eyes.

So!  This be my thinking to some current gossip headlines:

Steven Tyler Will Not Return to American Idol

(People Magazine)

Although I stopped watching Idol when Simon and his tight white tee left – I did see a couple of episodes of the show with Tyler and I didn’t get it.  He seemed like a weirdo uncle flirting with all the young contestants (male and female).  In all honesty I can’t really comment on him judging because I spent the majority of my time staring at Jennifer Lopez.  Does her glowy, sparkly skin fascinate you too? No? If only I could have 5 minutes with her make-up bag….

K.Kardashian’s Photos Of Baby Penelope Are A Hard Sell

(Huffington Post)

The Kardashian’s. I have one thing to say to you all – Bruce included.  Turn off the cameras and take a good, long, hot shower. Yuck. 

George Clooney & Stacy Keibler Scoot Through Switzerland

(Us Weekly)

I hate it when these magazines take a photo and make a story out of it.  Although I’m hugely into what George does when he’s over in Lake Cuomo and on holiday in Europe.  If I ever make it to Italy I may have to make a pilgrimage to see where the Clooney scoots around.  I also imagine secret parties with Brad Pitt and Angelina sans kids – or maybe George and Obama solving world hunger while Michelle helps Stacy build an organic garden in the back (after explaining to Stacy what “organic” means). 

The Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise divorce: Accepting the silence … sort of

(Washington Post -yes, it has a gossip page!)

I know I’ve already written about this but it’s everywhere – Brian William just did an hour-long report on them last night, although it was cleverly hidden by calling the piece, Scientology Facts and Myths.   It should have been called, How to do a gossip piece and call it the news.  So it’s 8 days after the first news report broke and the papers are signed, everyone’s moved out, and Tom is being re-engineered as we speak.  Personally I liked Tom best when he was fighting with Brook Shields and calling Matt Lauer glib.  Good times.

Sunny with a Chance of Weirdo

You know what I talk about 10 times a day?

Weather.

“Can you believe how hot it is?” “Did you see the storm last night?” “How’s the weather where you are?”

When did this happen?

And I’m not talking about filler conversation – or things I say when I don’t have other things to say.  I want to talk about the weather.

I’m into it man.

I have a weather app on my phone that I check more than my emails.

I also like looking at worldwide weather and thinking about what it would be like to live in other weather.

You know I’m a freak – I’m just giving you another reason.

This post could have also been called “Weather Voyeur” – but I thought that sounded too fancy.

Ok – here are my top weather stalking and then pretending I live there cities…..you’re welcome.

 

 

I won’t tell you that I’m also obsessed with random US cities (Duluth, Austin, Bangor) but I thought the global cities would make me look cooler.

Anglophilia

Guest Post by RD! Also – I agree with every word she says. Enjoy.

 

No, that’s not an un-released Def Leppard song.  It means, literally, “a strong admiration or enthusiasm for England, its people, and things English.”

I know it all too well, because — I suffer from Anglophilia. Don’t worry, it’s not catching.

You see, ever since I was a little girl in rural Pennsylvania (cue banjo/fiddle music) I have had a fascination with all things British–the culture, the history, the castles, the gardens, the literature, the <sigh> accents.

I loved The Little Princess and thought it was the height of sophistication to go to a school where they would let you ride horses.  What? Sign me up! I dreamed of having my own Secret Garden walled-up on a lush, rolling estate, where little birds would follow me around and sing to me.  Clearly, I was an only child with a big imagination and a lot of time on my hands.

My Dad’s side of the family originally came from England/Wales, but had left so long ago (before 1700) that no one knew for sure the circumstances of their immigration.  A little light research on various genealogy websites suggested they were “Quakers” and came over with William Penn, but I have yet to  corroborate that fact.  They left England voluntarily?  Who does that?

In college, I even MAJORED in English (talk about dedication), where I developed a deeper love of English writers, from John Donne to Jane Austen.

But my favorite “Anglo” thing to “phile” — British men.  With their tweeds and “cardies” and pasty, translucent, ne’er see-the-sun skin. Their stiff-upper-lip aloofness-turned-fiery passion (see Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’ Diary and Pride and Prejudice) or off-hand, stammering charm (see Hugh Grant in Notting Hill). Ah, dreamy.  Did I mention the accents?

I know what you’re thinking–if you love England (and English men) so much, why don’t you move there?

The sad truth is – I’ve never been to England.  And I’ve only met a handful of real-live Englishmen.

So, my “love” of said country is all based on literature, TV (WHEN IS DOWNTON ABBEY COMING BACK ON?!?!) travel books and movies.  I sometimes wonder if, when I finally get to England, as I plan on doing before my 40th birthday, it will measure up to my wildly over-the-top fantasies about it.

That’s a lot of pressure for a country the size of Alabama….

I’m not too worried, though.  I mean, any place that can produce Jane Austen, High Tea, Stonehenge AND Colin Firth must be pretty awesome.  Until I get there to see for myself, I’ll “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

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