November 17, 2012

Venice Under Water

I was shocked by photos of the recent flooding in Venice. They reminded me of how fragile some of the world's most famous and treasured sites really are.

When I was there two years ago, there was minor flooding of St. Mark's Square. Acqua alta - high water. My feet got wet and reflections of the lights from surrounding buildings added sparkle to the scene, but it was nothing serious. Flooding is a common occurrence and the locals are ready with wooden platforms to serve as elevated walkways when the need arises.

Caffe Quadri on Piazza San Marco

Tournus and the Mâconnais

Tournus, July 2012 - We awoke in Tournus this morning. The town dates from Roman times and became an important monastic center. The key site is the Romanesque Abbey of St. Philibert.

After breakfast we stepped off the ship and onto the quai to begin a walking tour of the town.

Avalon Scenery in Tournus

November 11, 2012

The Cure for November


It must be the worst month of the year. The landscape is cold, grey, bleak. Trees are bare, the sun fails to shine, and rainfall – or worse, snowfall – is frequent. For Canadians, there's not even a long weekend to break up the monotony. And winter still looms ahead.

The best thing I can say about the month is that it doesn't have thirty-one days.

Beaune, Wine Capital of Burgundy

Paris, July 2012 - Today we departed Paris and headed south by bus into Burgundy to board our river cruise with Avalon Waterways.

August 27, 2012

Paris and Montmartre

Paris, 2012 - Our second day in Paris got off to a great start with a delicious cup of café au lait and two pain au chocolat still warm from the oven. Breakfast is one of the little things that lured me back to France.

The included city sightseeing tour would take in many sights we had visited the last time we were in Paris, but we joined the tour as far as Place de la Concorde. From here we walked through the Tuileries Garden and onward along the River Seine to Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Paris - Tuileries Garden

August 19, 2012

France Revisited

Paris, July 2012 - I'm back in France and it's the day after Bastille Day. When our flight arrived mid-morning, the city was still recuperating from the previous night's festivities so our transfer from Charles De Gaulle Airport to the Pullman Montparnasse was unimpeded by heavy traffic.

The Champs-Elysées dressed up for Bastille Day 2012

August 08, 2012

Scenic France

PARIS: Luxembourg Gardens

I recently returned from my vacation in France – a river cruise down the Saone and Rhone Rivers  through Burgundy and Provence, followed by a sojourn on the Cote d'Azur. And we saw some amazingly beautiful scenery.

May 27, 2012

River Cruising

In a few more weeks I'm off to France.

Musée d'Orsay, Paris

May 14, 2012

Random Act of Kindness Blitz!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, offer assistance, and make our day a bit brighter. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they?

May 12, 2012

Finding the Book

Years ago I began a tradition, visiting my local Chapters outlet every June to stock up on books for my summer reading. And these weren't just any books. They had to be stories set in my favorite locations - France, Italy and the islands of Greece... I loved the whole process of trolling the bookshelves, with the scent of Starbucks coffee perfuming the air. But was there an easier way to pinpoint my search? I didn't want to miss a gem hidden on a lower shelf.

May 10, 2012

Witches and Writers

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." - Stephen King

Passersby may have questioned the black witches' hats circling the Dessert Bar in the hotel lobby. But then again, maybe not, for it was all part of the opening night festivities of a recent writer's conference held in Salem, Massachusetts.

Mention Salem and most people immediately think of the infamous witch trials of 1692. But this was the site of my first writer's conference, the 18th Annual Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference, April 27th & 28th, 2012.

Salem Witch Museum - Salem, MA

April 15, 2012

Cours Saleya Market, Nice

One sight you should not miss on a visit to the French Riviera is the Cours Saleya Market, in Vieux Nice. In existence since the Middle Ages, the market is a colorful display of produce, baked goods, spices and crafts, including regional specialities like dried lavender, Camargue sea salt and freshly caught seafood from the Mediterranean.

Cours Saleya Market, Nice

March 12, 2012

Van Gogh: Up Close

An exhibition of paintings by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh is open to North American audiences in 2012, currently showing in Philadelphia and then moving to Ottawa. The exhibit features 46 of his paintings focusing on his representations of nature, created as he moved from Paris to Arles, Saint-Rémy and Auvers.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the only U.S. venue, hosts the exhibition from February 1 to May 6, 2012. Then Van Gogh: Up Close moves to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the sole Canadian venue, from May 25 to September 3, 2012.

The National Gallery's web site includes Countdown to Van Gogh, featuring a different work of art each week leading up to the opening on May 25th.

Musée d'Orsay, Paris