Friday, April 10, 2020

This Time Last Year...

Right now, the temps are in the 60's, the sun is shining and there is very little wind, the perfect day to grab my camera and breeze over to the Morton Arboretum or drive up to the Chicago Botanic Garden, but oh wait, they're closed.

So today, I have to rely on pictures from last year. Sweet memories, I was in France on a riverboat cruise with girlfriends in April, with an extended 5 day stay in Paris. I know you will remember this time last year, we arrived in Paris the day after Notre Dame caught on fire. How devastating that was for Parisians and for the world. Thank goodness I had been to Paris 3 years prior and had toured the church, but it was still such a disappointment and loss. Several blocks around the cathedral were blocked off and even the river boat cruises could not sail past the site. Just googled progress on the restoration and the building is still covered in scaffolding with no end date. It's hard to believe Notre Dame was built in the 1200's and this past Christmas is the first time in history that they have not celebrated Christmas Mass. I'm not going to do the math, but the number must be staggering.

The side of Notre Dame in 1995

Paris has to be one of my favorite cities in the world. I've been twice and could go again without hesitation. The architecture is so magnificent, their neighborhoods are exquisite, their parks are gorgeous, their museums are supurb. If you haven't been go, well not right now, but you know, when things return to normal. And who knows when that will be, there is no such thing as planning ahead these days. One day at a time.

City of Lyon


Our riverboat cruise was in the south of France, from Lyon to Avignon. We drank a lot of wine and visited quite a few wineries and even a truffle farm. Truffles are grown underground and history tells us pigs would dig them up, but today the truffle farms now have dogs that do the digging, instead of oink oink, we have barks. Rather fascinating to watch a dog sniff them out. Damn expensive little morsels. The Perigord Black truffle grow from spores that live underground in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of several tree species in particular hazel and oaks. The fungus helps the tree extract nutrients from the ground and the tree provides the truffle fungus with carbohydrates to grow. Those last two sentences were copied directly from the internet. It's rather a complex system to grow and harvest those "diamonds in the kitchen" . A term used by a French lover of food. 

 Scene from the first night on board our river boat

Along with wine and truffles we also toured cathedrals, bakeries, museums, walked through small villages, visited the markets, and even saw the bull running thru the streets of Arles prior to the bull fight, which we did not stick around for. Easter weekend Arles has an massive outdoor market where you could easily drop quite a few euros, street bands and ofcourse the bull fight. Quite a fun day.

The neighborhoods of France

We spent Easter Sunday traveling by train from Avignon to Paris, checking into our Paris hotel late in the afternoon. Literally dropping our bags in our room, we headed outside. The famous Tuileries Garden was a block away so off we headed to drink in the beauty. We ate our first meal in an outdoor corner bistro across from the garden. What fond memories. 

And to end this rather lengthy blog post, I am sharing a post from a facebook friend whose 16 year old daughter, Anya said this...

“I don’t understand the concept of “needing” friends. Sure it’s nice to have friends & other people around & I enjoy being with my friends and family when I can. But the idea of being unhappy when you can’t see them or the idea of NEEDING to be with them for happiness doesn’t make sense to me. You should learn to be happy within yourself, be happy with just your own company, in your own skin & not find happiness IN others. If you rely on others or being with others for your happiness, you will always be disappointed because people can let you down. Find happiness within & then share it with your friends when you are together.”

Finding that happiness from within, having faith that we will return to being with our friends and family, is the real message here. We can't rely on others for our needs or our happiness right now, we have to rely on our own strengths and faith, realizing our true blessings. God bless you during this Christian Holy Week and Jewish Passover.   

Until next time, stay safe, stay well, stay calm....


  1. Thank you for sharing your trip memories! Your photos are exquisite. We did the Paris to Normandy Viking cruise last September, pre-cruise in Paris and it was perfect! Like you, I love Paris, as well as France, and would go back in a heartbeat. Let's go, shall we? At some date to be determined in the future. We're booked with Viking for Amsterdam-Antwerp next April but . . . who knows.

    Perhaps we'll talk about Notre Dame when we meet today. I had an interesting discussion with a tour guide about the fire. And we were able to walk right up to the construction site. So very sad.


  2. I love seeing your pictures and think that the comment you shared on finding happiness within is right on the mark. So glad that you are back!

  3. Your photos are lovely and so good to see them. For sure our faith and inner peace is a gift without price especially in a time like this. Not sure how folks without that get through something like this. Love to you. Yes that was totally tragic to have something like that happen to Notre Dame. Irreplaceable


Thank you so much for leaving a comment, I read and cherish them all. I will do my best to return the favor.