In September 2011, I had my first international flight. My company sent me to France for a meeting in Annecy, France(southern France). I had no idea what to expect on a 6 hour flight. My first thoughts: what will I do for all those hours? besides sleep. Typically, I can’t sleep on a plane but I was thinking based on the distance traveled I would have to rest a little. A novice international traveler I purchased a blanket and travel pillow(not needed). US Airways provides a travel pillow and blanket. I was lucky enough to sit with a lady from the MidWest who was traveling with a girlfriend(sitting in first class) on a girls trip throughout the French countryside. It was an evening flight so the airline served dinner and there were movies, tv series and other forms of entertainment during the flight. My seat mate and I covered everything from marriage, divorce, kids, grandkids, careers and travel. It was her first trip to France so she was pretty excited as well. When we arrived in Paris, it was early morning so we had a suprisingly delicious pastry. I have to admit there was a lot of anxiety with traveling such a long distance but a wonderful opportunity to discover another culture. In order to experience two cities in France, I elected to fly into Paris and take a train (4 hour train ride) to Annecy. I figured on my return trip I would be able to spend two nights in Paris which was a great idea.
When I arrived at the train station it was overwhelming with all the people, the languages in the background and felt like I had no clue. Unfortunately I wasted time looking for a terminal, which we call a kiosk to print my tickets so I missed the early train. I was forced to wait a few hours for the next train and hoped my taxi at the Annecy station would still be able to pick me up. Annecy at last is how I felt, next task was to find someone at the train station who spoke English so I was able to call the taxi driver since I arrived late. Whew, there was someone after a French passenger helped me find a railway employee who was able to call my driver.
The driver arrived with my company sign and I identified myself. Wow, was I in shock to learn that a French taxi is an S class Mercedes(my Carrie Bradshaw moment). I finally exhaled on my way over to my hotel, which was the Palace de Menthon. When I looked at the pictures online I was in awe with anticipation. The ride to the hotel took us around Lake Annecy which was the most beautiful body of water I ever witnessed. The drive up to the entrance of the hotel was like a scene from a movie. The hotel was amazingly something off the pages of a travel magazine. I perceded to take everything in with my Ipad. The only thing I wanted to do was crash however I was advised to stay up to beat the jetlag. Dinner was scheduled in town so when I arrived it was time to get ready for dinner.
For the first time ever I decided to open my palette to new culinary tastes and adventures. I tried duck breast and foie gras which is a feat in itself. The wine was definitely tops on my list. Best part of my dining experiences were the three course meals, breads and wine. Each night was a new food experience and I relished in the fact French culture is so centered on enjoying family, food and culture. My breakfast each morning in the hotel had to include a chocolate filled crossaint with nutella! Cafe au lait and yogurt. Fast forward to my favorite dishes and I would have to say it was the Tartiflette, which is an unbelieveable dish of potatoes, reblochon cheese and bacon. One dish that can forever stay on the menu and someone else’s plate is tartare. I spent 5 days in Annecy and took the train from Lyon, France to Paris. Friday and Saturday nights were spent in Paris.
Fast forward to Paris, I found a reasonably priced Holiday Inn Express in R16 of Paris. On the ride from the train station, the driver pointed out the sights Notre Dame, Seine River, it looked magical. When you hear about specific landmarks it is just a picture on a page but when you see it in real life you are breathless. Friday evening was my dinner out and I found a nice restaurant not too far from my hotel. I kept with my three course meal indulgence plus wine. On Saturday I mapped out a plan to take the local bus to the Eiffel Tower and I learned really quickly to never exit a Paris bus from the back door! The Eiffel Tower filled with tourist on my way over I took amazing pictures of the Siene River. There is no denying the Eiffel Tower is an archetecturial vision and it definitely gets its share of tourist. You can even go to the top unfortunately I was not brave to do this alone. After exhausting my pictures, I proceeded to view my map and start my trek to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs de Ellysses. I realized I need to sharpen my map reading skills but it allowed me to meet a wonderful vistor from Korea who attempted to put me on a train to the Arc de Triomphe. It was such a beautiful day I wanted to walk to soak in the weather and all the scenery on my way. The walk was a few miles but it did not matter because I captured so much on my way. I was already warned about attempting to cross the busy intersection to the Arc de Triomphe. There is a pedestrian tunnel to cross to the other side of the street. Again the architecture left me speechless and then I took a long walk along Champs de Ellysses, the best part 4 story Louis Vutton store with the line outside of anxious customers. I was so winded from walking I found a quaint and quiet restaurant to have lunch and rest for a while.
I walked back to the Eiffel Tower boarded a bus to the hotel. In the area around my hotel there were restaurants, patisseries so I did a little bit of shopping for goodies to take back home, chocolates, wine, madelines. I found a nice cafe with delicious sandwiches, crossaints and cafe au lait. My last night in Paris was bittersweet I walked within the neighborhood to find a restaurant. I was not adventureous enough to go to the Latin Quarter alone so that is a must do for an all girls trip to Paris.
Hopefully you enjoy the slideshow and capture the sights with your senses, I will definitely revisit Paris. My DD wants to go at some point so I suggested we go when she turns 10……
image credit: bing.com/images
Inquiring minds want to know, really what do we discuss behind the doors of hair salons? All I know is one Friday night at the hair salon I was never expecting my Friday night entertainment.
The first round of conversations started with our discussion of various lifestyles(sorry I cannot divulge beyond) but it did lead to us giving explanations on our admiration for the beauty we admire in other women. Who knew that we talk so freely about the anatomy of women we think are attractive without judgement. It surprised me because if you look at the reality shows featuring African American women, you would never believe there was anything positive discussed about one another behind closed doors.
Then I think we moved onto intimacy with our significant others. It was baffling to know that there are limits on the level of intimacy. Is it possible to share intimacy without kissing? I know my answer. Does anyone have an issue with kissing(type of kissing), sharing drinks, or I assume eating from the same spoon/fork as your partner? Who knew? This discussion blew me away! Another discussion was women’s health and the fact as we get older the inconvenient physical changes to our bodies. I find it alarming that each time I turn on the tv there is a new commercial for a new an incontinent product. Am I in denial or just wishing Depend and Poise would go away forever? Sometimes I wonder if talking to an ob/gyn hinders more than helps. It seems doctors are always ready to remedy everything with a quick procedure of some kind. I think the overall consensus in the salon was to do whatever makes you happy and who cares what your partner may think. One response was most partners are not concerned with the things were worry about. Most partners are only concerned with functionality and great hygiene of our girly parts. Enough said I guess the conclusion from this part of the conversation is Enjoy, Enjoy and stop stressing over the small stuff!
Next up was the topic of marriages and how adamant some women are about getting their share of what was built in the marriage. I guess I am partly on board with understanding the why. I guess when it is over I am more the type that would prefer to count my losses and walk away! However I guess the rationale is if you help build an empire no other woman will have an ounce of it. Hey, whatever works for your sanity!
I think as mothers the most important thing we hold tight to the heart is providing the best for our children. It is interesting when the topic of child support comes up. I think this sends blood pressures quite high and some women will do whatever they need to do by any means necessary.
Every third Friday is filled with an evening of comedy, drama, unadulterated fun and gut busting laughter. It is my end of the week of relief, the only thing missing is a glass of wine. I may suggest this going forward or suggest Friday night BYOB!
A song featuring one of my fave female artist, Christina Aguiliera