Thursday, May 31, 2007

Paris - Montmartre

I walked around Montmartre alone on a Sunday. The weather was overcast and I did buy a cheap umbrella along the way. Like many other places I've been as soon as the first rain cloud appears the racks of umbrellas are rolled out front. To escape the Abbesses metro station you have the choice of either walking up 105 steps or taking the elevator - I count taking those steep steps as a good workout! The Place des Abbesses is a beautiful little park with a children's carousel. A flea market with merchants selling all sorts of mostly second hand goods was going on as well - I browsed a bit but didn't see anything I really wanted.
Close by I easily found Au Grain du Folie - a vegetarian restaurant I had on my "must do" list. The restaurant was tiny (4 tables) and rather untidy and cluttered. If I hadn't read about it I would have probably walked by - thank goodness I didn't! The chef/waiter/owner? was running the show alone and I asked her to just make me whatever vegan dish she liked. I poured a bottle of fizzy water and listened to what I swore sounded like a French version of Sunday NPR programming playing in the background. After a leisurely wait, I was served a wonderful vegan lunch. Rice, white beans, shredded carrots, green and purple cabbage, grainy bread with a earthy eggplant spread and a shepherd's pie filled with coarsely mashed cauliflower and topped with lightly sauteed squash and onions were casually arranged on a huge plate. The cabbage was lightly seasoned with oil and vinegar - moderate seasoning of cumin and wonderfully sweet sauteed onions was present throughout. Finishing the meal with a slice of vegan cheesecake I was ready to take a walk - and all for 21 euros!
I headed out to see the Sacre Coeur and the highest point in Paris. I was not disappointed! Most incredibly were the apartments hanging from the hillside affording the residents a spectacular view of the city - I can't imagine what the rents must be. Place du Tertre was a tourist trap but fun to browse around. I wouldn't buy anything there with the idea I had a uniquely made in France item. The vineyard on Rue des Saules was amazing with the vines terraced along the hillside. The streets in this part of the city were narrow and steep and would prove to be a challenge to navigate except for the reasonably physically fit. I ended this walk at the metro station on the Boulevard de Clinchy in the Pigalle District which looked like any other "adult" district I've seen. I took few pictures this day because the clouds kept spitting rain.

Back on the home front...

After work last night, I meet my husband for a night of camping along Craig' Creek ~
45 minutes northeast of Roanoke. Earlier this year, we purchased a pop up camper and this was the first time we had the opportunity to use it. Now I know that some people may wonder how a woman who just spend a week in Paris could possibly enjoy camping and all I can say is that I enjoy both for the chance to veer off my usual routines and experience life from a different perspective be it on the streets of Paris speaking high school French or relaxing along a creek listening to the tree frogs. The sound of the water was a soothing accompaniment to a restful night of sleep.
Driving back this morning, I spotted these stone structures that were furnaces used in iron manufacturing in the 18th century. These are now preserved for their historic value. Closer home, I snapped a picture of this delightful barber shop
- it looks as if it should be on the set of the Andy Griffith show. BTW, reruns of the Andy Griffith show have been running on one of the local TV stations for years - anytime there is talk of changing the schedule there is so much local protest it remains - I admit to being one of the loyal fans!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paris Knitting

Well, of course I did some knitting while in Paris!
I completed this scarf for my husband - I used a wool/acrylic blend I purchased at Knitting with Nancy while vacationing at Marco Island, Florida earlier this year. I did a knit 4, purl 4 and reversing every 8th row to make a basket weave texture.

I finished one sock using a self striping Opal yarn. I love the bright yellow!
I purchased some Anny Blatt Onyx yarn in a beautiful rose glace color at Pelote - a small,tidy knit shop in Le Marais. I'm making another shawl with that yarn and will be posting a picture when I complete it. Now back to more travel log!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Paris Holiday - Latin Quarter

I've been to Paris once before - a quick day trip via train from Amsterdam so I was already a little familiar with the public transit system. During that brief visit, I walked along the Seine River and saw the Louvre and the surrounding gardens. This time around I planned to explore the various neighborhoods on foot and by subway....and I did. I found the Great Paris Walkpack a wonderful guide in my walks and I did all five during the seven days I was there. One of my favorite areas was the Latin Quarter with the markets along Rue Mouffetard ...the breads and pastries were beautiful and delicious..
the fruits and vegetables were abundant - I also saw mounds of white asparagus at markets all over the city but somehow neglected to take any pictures...
wines were inexpensive and often available in smaller bottles that are hard to find here in the U.S.
This plaque marks a building where Ernest Hemingway lived with his wife in the early 1920s. Close by I saw a vegetarian restaurant - I snapped a picture but did not try this one..
The Church of St.-Etienne-du-Mont

and the Place du Pantheon

are also in this area and both are absolutely worth the time exploring. Eventually, we ended up on the Quai de Montebello which is a busy street that runs alongside the left bank of the Seine . Merchants set up stalls along the wall selling all sorts of books, posters, and memorabilia that appears to be marketed to the tourists. Side walk cafe sitting seems to be mandatory and we did our share here overlooking the Seine watching the traffic and people going by. I appreciated the Parisian habit of unhurried service and the total lack of any sort of feeling that you need to vacant the table for someone else. In fact, it is considered rude to ask for the check until you are absolutely finished and ready to go! So much different that our mentality that quick service = good service. Being the bookworm I am, I was happy to spot the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and did make a second trip back to browse the shelves and pick up several books from the second hand bins out front.
The streets became much narrower and reminded me of the Amsterdam streets -

Fishing Cat Street is the narrowest street in Paris (more like an alley) and has a restaurant opening out onto it...
I ate a tasty Maoz falafel in this area - Maoz is always a sure thing for a fresh,inexpensive falafel!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Paris, France

Was more beautiful than I imagined. I'll sort through my pictures and journal and be back soon with a full report..oh, and I walked at least 3 miles every day and always took the stairs to our third floor room....when I go back I will pack running clothes and run along the Seine...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Last 10 Years (Superman)

The last 10 years have certainly been eventful for me...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

There's more than one way...

to store knitting needles! Several years ago, I bought a beautiful hand knitted sweater at a local craft fair - the more I wore the sweater the larger it stretched. I tried blocking it with no success so I felted it instead. The ever growing sweater felted into a shrug that was just too heavy and anyway I am not a shrug kind of girls (busty girls wearing shrugs just look too obvious.) Meanwhile I've been thinking about how to organize my knitting needle collection ....viola! the felted sweater is now a wonderful knitting needle case...the felting is loose enough that I can fit needles into it and snug enough that they'll stay.

I did 60 minutes of cardio circuit training at the gym today - 15 minutes on four different pieces of cardio equipment. The stair climber was the most challenging perhaps in part because I saved it until last. I'm planning a run in the neighborhood tomorrow afternoon, working the next three days (where I always walk at least 10,000 steps) and then Paris! I received a collection of Paris walking maps I intend to use - each are 3 or so miles long and appear to have clear, chatty directions along with beautiful pictures.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Quick Note

Ran 3 miles in the neighborhood today and finished a cozy shawl in an easy care acrylic/wool blend to take on the plane to Paris next week...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pondering Household Chemicals

I dropped off several gallons of household paint at the Hazardous Material Collection Day scheduled several times yearly in Roanoke. The presence of the fire engine, Haz-Mat team and the workers all dressed in protective overalls forced me to consider the number of harmful chemicals I regularly use in my home. I've given it lip service - now it's time to's some recipes to get me started...oh, I ran 3 miles along the Roanoke River yesterday!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


what a beautiful day! I ran 3 miles along the Roanoke River Greenway, shopped for garden plants and produce at the market and had a delightful afternoon exploring the camping areas close by.....oh, and it's 82 degrees at 9:45pm !