I returned from spending about month traveling around
Europe. I fell in love with Northern Italy! Forget Switzerland,
Marano is the place to go! Someday when I have time, I will finish
writing about it.
I have been accepted into Lancaster University to
do my PhD. I am completing my dissertation this month and next month,
so I will try to add more to this site when that is done. Thanks
for checking in!
/ New Year's Eve French Style
The international Christmas party was a big success.
Well, I suppose my neighbors would disagree, but I did not get kicked
out of the complex the next day. I suspected that they might ask
me to leave after having over 50 people here until after 3 am.
Everyone brought a dish of food from their home
country. I made a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. Most
people had never had turkey before. They didn't understand the concept
of gravy either. Many people used the gravy as a dip. So I had to
demonstrate how to fix an American Christmas plate with everything
on it and gravy poured over it all.
It took Gareth and me three days to clean it up.
The plumbing got backed up the next day and that made it even more
difficult. I didn't know at the time, but I guess someone got sick
in the sink. When we used a can of compressed air to open the clog,
vomit backfired on us and plastered the entire bathroom. Gross!
I have sterilized the room 4 times and still I could smell it. Yuck!
I guess someone didn't like the spicy Asian food. But everything
is back to normal now.
We were not planning to go out for New Year's. We
got a bottle of champagne and planned to stay home, curling up on
the couch and watch a movie. But Suzanna called from Germany and
said she was ready to come back and wanted to go out for dinner.
Okay, so I made reservations for 3 at the place she suggested. It
is in Cannes, which I have not spent a lot of time in that town
so I thought it would be great.
Cannes is of course where the big annual film festival
is. That fact and the fact that they have no gas stations opened
after 8pm, is all I knew about the place. I have been meaning to
visit more often since it is less than 10 minutes away and has one
of the best views around. Aside from driving through one night,
looking for gas, I really had not been there before.
In addition to the famous cinema industry they are
known for their celebrity catering services. Just like my town has
everything you need to customize your super yacht, Cannes has a
variety of services that only a celebrity would think to need.
- Body double services. Not stunt people, but someone
to "stand in" for you anywhere in the world for any
- Anti-paparazzi services. I'm not 100% what they
do, but it seems to range from helping you draw them off to private
investigations about them so you can black mail the guy who won't
leave you alone.
- "Pay-off" broker services. These guys
will pay the paparazzi for the pictures they take and destroy
them. I'm not sure what else those guys do.
- Some type of ornament dating service. Not an
escort service. Instead they hook up two famous people, take pictures
of them playing in the sand and release them as a "couple."
The two people may not know each other and may never see each
other again. But the service creates an image of the couple dating
and plants stories and photos around. I guess the purpose is to
help people's careers. I'm not real clear on that either.
We got to the restaurant and were seated promptly,
despite the fact that there were tons of people waiting and hoping
that a reserved table would fail to show. They immediately bought
us champagne and a plate of odd looking, but enticing hors d'oeuvres.
I started to make a toast, but Suzanna said "Oh, no."
She realized that the restaurant had a pre-determined menu for the
night and summoned the waitress over to explain it. She was right.
The evening was a lump sum price for all the courses and, need less
to say, was beyond our means. We apologized and offered to pay for
the champagne, since I had already taken a sip. I paid 30 euros
for that sip and we left.
We walked around for a while trying to find a restaurant
that would let us order off the menu. But to no avail. We walked
along the beach, stopped for the above pictures and went back to
Instead we ate raw salmon from the grocery store
(not uncommon around here) and walked to the wall in Antibes for
the midnight fireworks. Gareth got separated from us and I didn't
see him again until he got home about 30 minutes after I did. It
seems we were walking on the wall from the port to the city, and
he was walking the opposite direction. All in all I have to admit
that I have had better New Year's Eve celebrations. But the night
ended well. When we got home I started calling people back in the
states. I figured that I'm never up that late so it would be a good
time to call.
Other events this holiday season:
On Christmas my cell phone was picked from my pocket and stolen.
(That makes twice I've been robbed. Guess I'm not a true French
person yet.) Replacing that was fun, but a story for another day.
The same week I "almost" made it to Italy. (Another long
story). My car plates and registration are still not done despite
the fact that I have had 3 additional appointments over the past
2 weeks. But I'm getting closer every time. Ironically, they will
probably give them to me with an expiration date based on the original
plates. Which means as soon as I get them I will need to start working
on my renewal. That's what happened with my residence card. Just
got it, but it expires one year after I arrived and therefore need
to apply for next year's permit now. The French have a fascination
with their red tape. I could write a book on that.
Hope everyone's holidays were great. Mine was certainly