Archive for May, 2014

Avenue d’Iéna

Posted in La France, Paris, Photography at 20:09

As the weather finally cleared up a bit today, I was able to go on a much-desired walk. I took the métro 1 to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile and crossed the street to Avenue d’Iéna, which I then strolled down to the quais of the Seine. Not before stopping at the wonderful Musée Guimet, however!

koi nobori
On the top floor, they had a colorful temporary exhibition of koi nobori, carp streamers for Children’s Day, celebrated on 5 May in Japan.

The museum is filled with beautiful pieces from Cambodia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Korea (before it was split), China, Tibet, Nepal, and Japan, but my breath was taken away by a tenth-century Indian sculpture of a woman with a tree, called salabhanjika.

Salabhanjika

Goddess figures and trees were a key part of my Masters thesis on the feminine in cosmogonies. Across the world, an original goddess and tree of life are paired, from ancient Indus to Sumerian to Norse to Native American world creation myths. Both symbolize creation and creativity/fecundity, wisdom; that which is and that which can become.

After Guimet, I finished my walk to see Eiffel again, this time from a different perspective than I’ve had before. It’s a relatively famous spot for taking photos: the incredible Art Déco Palais Chaillot.

Eiffel from Chaillot

I also returned to the Louvre yesterday, this time to take in Flemish paintings. As always, more photos can be found in my 500px (favorites) and Flickr (everything) photostreams. I’ve been enjoying 500px, which has an active community that gives immediate feedback. Flickr has gotten much quieter since Yahoo removed statistics.

Happy cats in Paris

Posted in Cats, La France, Travel at 19:07

Susu and Kanoko sharing a chair on the balcony

At home on my lunch break, I took what is quite possibly my favorite photo of the cats to date. They had never shared the chair on our Courbevoie balcony before, but today they did, and my camera caught Kanoko in another of his quintessentially feline “I am happy” expressions.

I’ve now taken the TGV often enough to earn Grand Voyageur status. My new card came in the mail today; Susu seemed quite interested in it.

Grand Voyageur card and curious Susu

There are two higher levels: Grand Voyageur Plus and Grand Voyageur Le Club. It’s nostalgic for me, because I’m just old enough to remember when airline mile clubs were all the rage, and business travel with one added up to a lot of perqs. Now that those have all but disappeared, I’ve nonetheless gained a… train card that comes with perqs! I’ll hit Plus status in a month, and likely Le Club not too long afterwards. You can exchange points for train tickets and/or gifts, get hotel reductions, use the special travel salons in stations, exchange train tickets much more easily, and for the highest Club level, if you miss your train for whatever reason, you can even get on the next one without exchanging your ticket. For free. All you have to do is notify the train controller.

No matter which card you have, the Voyageur programme is pretty nice. It’s free, and means you don’t have to print out your ticket, since it’s linked to your card’s QR code – those square barcodes you see everywhere nowadays. Controllers have QR code readers and simply flash your card. Bienvenue au futur !

Paris views

Posted in La France, Paris, Photography at 20:40

I’ve been back in Paris for a week now, enjoying the city as it moves from a cold and windy spring to a sunny, warm one. Paris also has something that the Riviera doesn’t: fog! One morning, my walk to work resembled a fairyland of steel skyscrapers coiffed in dainty white caps. Unfortunately, it was also the one day I left my phone at home, so I have no pictures to show for it.

This weekend, two friends (and former landlords, and readers of this blog!) invited another friend and I for a delicious dinner of Thai food, made from ingredients brought from Thailand, and cooked by a Thai friend of theirs. The views from their rooftop apartment were similarly authentic, for Paris.

Parisian rooftops

The weekend before, I visited the Louvre again, and met a long-time internet friend. I had my Nikon with me, for much nicer photos than on my last visit.

Le Louvre

Going forward in time to this evening, we had beautiful sun and blue skies. Paris au printemps, c’est beau !

La Defense le soir

Fraise niçoise

Posted in La France, Nice at 12:24

On May Day the cats and I took the TGV from Paris to Nice, for a week and a half of vacation. It was the first time in two months that the kitties returned home, but they hadn’t forgotten a thing. Not twenty minutes after they were freed from their carriers, Susu was swatting around her favorite toy, and Kanoko had reclaimed his habitual perch on the kitchen bar. Both of them asked to be let out onto the patio, as always, when I approached the door.

Wednesday April 30th was my birthday – which was another reason I had decided on a Louvre membership. On top of being in Paris and having spent a lovely weekend filled with some of my favorite sculptures, at work on Wednesday I earned another “gift”: more professional responsibilities! I’m now Test Lead on the GDF project, adding communication and coordination duties to the usual Test Analyst responsibilities, which include managing a test repository, supervising testers, and reporting on progress. While it is still early on, only two months into the project, it’s increasingly enjoyable and looks to have the potential to remain that way for a long time. I’m loving Paris, both personally and professionally.

Back in Nice, today I strolled to my favorite fruit & vegetable shop on Avenue Borriglione. They had fat yellow lemons from trees in the hills of Nice, strawberries from Carros, beefheart tomatoes and Pink Lady apples from Nice, and Mona Lisa potatoes from farms I’ve visited in Provence (the 04 département). Once home I rinsed the strawberries and ate one. “Oh my goodness,” I sighed luxuriously, “why buy sugary pastries when you can find fruit this delicious.”

You’ll need to understand French for this video, but it’s a nice interview of a strawberry farmer in Carros, which is on the other side of the Var river from Nice. When he talks about going to the MIN, he’s referring to a professional market center in Nice, the Marchés d’Intérêt National where farmers bring their produce, and others buy it for distribution at markets or stores.