Saturday, November 29, 2003

What's in a Beverage?

There's nothing like a good cup of tea. That was one of the best parts of coming back to our little flat in Leeds. I hate to say it, but I think England turned me into a tea snob.

In France, they use steamed milk. If you've never had a cup of tea in France, it tastes like used bathwater with bubble bath that has gone stale.

In Spain they do the same thing. And they also look at you like you're from outerspace. I mean, who doesn't want coffee/expresso?

By the time we got to Portugal, I stopped trying. Also because I was not about to pay more for tea that tasted like warm vomit than a nice 'vino blancho'.

And so, it was always with great anticipation and excitement, we would arrive back to England and the first thing I would do was get myself a 'proper' cup of tea. I'd make a whole pot. Then, I'd relish in the taste for days on end - going on and on as D can attest to - about the glorious taste of a warm Earl Grey.

Always so smooth and intense. The flavour was never dull, like the token 'Yellow Label' brand they seem to have in every other country in Europe. And always plentiful. A variety of different flavours.

As usual, when we ventured out on our last trip, I was saying goodbye to English tea, this time for a longer period. I knew when I returned to Canada I would be staying with British people so access to good tea would not be an issue then. But perhaps it was also more the culture of tea in England.

It's not considered a 'girly' drink, as I seem to get the impression everywhere else - even on the North American side of the pond. It's the drink of choice. It's a hefty beverage. It's a cup-o-brew.

You can have it anytime. When you wake up. Before you go to bed. Wandering in a park. Driving in you car. When you get terrible news. When you get amazing news. No one will look at you funny if you even ask for it in a pub. Everyone understands the 'anytime' attitude about tea.

Who knew tea could pull a country together? I suppose us Canadians have our beer.

Friday, November 28, 2003

My horoscope told me there was something new on the horizon. I never really go for that kind of stuff but today, I feel the winds of change.

I like it.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Becoming Parisian

It's hard to believe that four days ago I was in Paris.

Our final day was meant to be quite a hectic one. Since our journey began last year, there were many places D and I had decided were 'must sees'. The DDay Beaches in Normandy was one of them.

Somehow, I always pictured the beaches to be 'just outside of Paris'. I suppose everyone can be ignorant about everything in France being 'just outside of Paris' - same as everything in England is 'just outside of London'--but I digress.

So, the distance ended up being two and a half hours by train, just to get to the city to start the bus tour. We were committed.

We got up at around 7 am, breakfast in the hotel and then onto the Metro to catch a 9:08 train. We were feeling a bit haggard - the night before was filled with magnificent French wine - but we really wanted to get there.

It took us a bit longer than expected on the sub par underground transportation system in Paris. There are no signs. There are no maps. Who says London's Tube is confusing and scary? They haven't been to Paris.

With 9 minutes to spare, we headed to the ticket machine to purchase return fares.

The cost blew us away. 50 Euros each return - yikes! That exceeds our daily budget - and we hadn't even reached the beaches.

And so, we made a split second decision. We would just have to come back to Normandy.

Disappointing as it was, how could it ruin our last day in Paris?

Well, we were sure nothing good would come of it. We had squeezed in all the sites over three days so we really didn't have anything else to see. The train station we were at had nothing around it. It was raining. We were tired. We were hungry. We were so close to being back home that we couldn't help but think about our Transantlantic flight that was two days away.

Leaving the train station, we got lost. We were cranky. We were not happy campers.

But you're in Paris, you say, the most amazing romantic city in the world!?

Yes, we were saying that in our heads too. Trust me, some things just don't help when you've reached the point of no return.

We sat for a quick bite to eat. It was expensive, a touristy place and really, not all that appetizing.

It was only 11 am.

We wandered around, heading in the direction of the Effiel Tower because really, can you ever spend too much time there?

Begrudgingly we walked on. How could this happen on our last day in Paris?

And then, it all changed. From rainy dark to sunny blue. It was like a little miracle.

A bench by the Tower, people watching and taking in the scene. The security guards with their 'whistles of power', blowing loudly if anyone ventured onto the grass. Children running up and down the gravel walkways, falling of bikes, picking up leaves as parents just narrowly stop them from eating the foliage.

After an hour, it was time to move on.

Jardins du Luxembourg - find a seat - make that two, one for your bum, one for your feet - and just bask in the day. The sun was shining and glimmering off the water of the maginficent fountain, which kids were playing with sticks and boats. Conversations, simply background noise when you can't understand them, but a gentle reminder that as comfortable as you are, you're not in Kansas anymore.

What a perfect Sunday. This was Paris.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Back in the saddle again. Wow, I have really missed this.

Being away from a computer with full time internet access has its benefits. For me, I feel most creative in front of a computer screen. My fingers tapping away. Writing in my journal, for some odd reason, doesn't seem to have the punch that brings out words in me.

I've spent so much time today catching up on email that I can't write much now but just wanted to get that first post up there to feel like I'm 'in it' again.

Being home is the best feeling.