Friday, September 20, 2013

5 Random Thoughts On Travel

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The whimsy of French windows

I’m a month away from hitting the road, or rather hitting the river since Brad and I will be boating it up the Seine north to Normandy in France (more about that when the time comes). But already my head is full of travel. “Travel” is one of my favorite words because it’s so expansive. Travel expands my mind, my connection to the world, and my circle of friends. I’m up for it whether it’s an overnighter just down the highway or another country. Whether city or country. It means I’m about to bring something new to my life.

Here are 5 random thoughts on travel. I hope they might spark random thoughts of your own that you’ll share.

1) Today my better half, Brad, leaves for a research trip and won’t be back until after Christmas.  First Germany. Then France. Then Tunisia. The transportation logistics have been a challenge. The packing for changes of weather over that extended time hasn’t been easy since he always does the “one suitcase plus a backpack” thing. There’s the “not speaking German” thing, of course. Mostly, though, I wish I could be with him for the entire trip.

Sometimes, though, there are things that tie me to home. And my furry girl, Skyler, is that. She is getting old and had a bad summer when I was gone. At this stage of her life I can’t abandon her. I couldn’t enjoy such a long trip from worrying about her. I’ll just join Brad for a short time.

A French dog, not Skyler
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2) I’ve become enthralled by several travel blogs since I myself started blogging. However, there are two I never miss. Kristin Espinasse’s blog French Word A Day convinced me that France wasn’t such a scary place. She introduced me to the day-to-day life of the country beyond Paris and taught me something about the personality of the place that made it seem manageable. She offered her American take on her adopted homeland with great good humor and enviable photographs, all of which you can see in her two books Blossoming in Provence and Words in a French Life.

The second blog that is a staple in my week is Southern Fried French by Lynn McBride. Most blogs about France focus on Paris or Provence. I was so glad to find Lynn’s because it was based in the Burgundy region, which is my home away from home. She chronicles all the little village festivals, tells us about people we’d love to have as neighbors, and like Kristin she teaches us a thing or two in her book about learning language as an adult. But most importantly, she ends most posts with a creative recipe that melds the culinary elements of her American Southern background with her new country’s love of food.
A marquise - I learned the word for this glass cover from Kristin Espinasse
after so many years of loving and photographing them.
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3) When I’m in France I’ve become addicted to watching the video channels. First, it’s because American pop culture is everywhere, so it gives me a chance to hear a familiar language. But I also love to see what other cultures are obsessed with. For the most part the French videos don’t do much for me. The females are waifs who sing in little girl voices and float around in something gauzy, longing for an impossible love (at least that’s what it seems like because I don’t understand all the words).

However, the French pop singer Zaz just blows them all away in my book. Her influences range from Edith Piaf to Ella Fitzgerald. She has a unique jazzy vibe that makes you want to stop what you’re doing and bop to her tune. I ask myself how Zaz can have over 17 million views on one video, yet her fame never spreads to this country. Whether you understand the language or not, her talent is universal. Get your weekend off to a good start by listening to her most popular song, “Je Veux” (I Want). This version is the original video. This version is live with English subtitles for the lyrics.

4) I’ve fallen in love with Henri, Le Chat Noir. This tuxedoed cat covers both the sublime and the ridiculous as the premier French cat philosopher on the internet and winner of the “Best Cat Video.” Can you say ennui? From his website you can access his videos, his Facebook page, and his tweets.
Paris graffito
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5) And finally, travel for me means photography. And I’m already trying to come up with a photo theme for my next trip to France. I’ve done dogs. And windows. And flowers. And doorways, And street art.

What have been your best photo themes when you travel? I’m taking all suggestions.

Share in the comments box what travel means to you. If you’re more of a homebody, I’d love to hear about that, too.

French doors and flowers in one photo
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Today's post is part of the Random 5 Friday theme. Click on over to the site to see other interesting takes on randomness.


Lynn at Southern Fried French said...

LOVE your random thoughts, many reflect my own. (I'm wild about Henri, for one). And THANK YOU for the lovely words about Southern Fried French! I'm blushing big time!
My latest travel obsession is to take short trips, 2 days/1 night, to see the area around our house in Burgundy. A short trip gets us to a whole new area, and new adventures, without the hassle of packing and flights. And my cat likes it better too!

Julie Farrar said...

Hey, maybe sometime we should do a house-swap kind of thing because I love to do short trips in France. Drive a few hours and it's a different world.

Kim Griffin said...

My dream is to travel to France! I've been trying to learn the language :)

Thanks for the blog links and enjoy your trip! I'm sure it will be amazing!

Ellen Gregory said...

I'm heading off for a trip n a few weeks and have fixated on travel plans for months now. I'm planning to travel very very light, so there's been a lot of gear planning. So looking forward to it!

Nancy said...

Love, love your photography Julie and your randoms -- so interesting to this farm girl from Nebraska. Thanks so much for joining in this week.

Melinda Farrar said...

Julie, you know I love the dog pictures, but maybe cats this time? Or parks and places people gather. Anything you photograph will be good!

Erin Z. said...

Lovely pictures! I've always wanted to go to France, but haven't been able to yet. I am currently trying to brush up on my French as a personal challenge. I took the equivalent of about 7 years of it in school, but I've forgotten most of it. it's been interesting and fun so far.

Patricia said...

Julie, we share three of your 5 randoms. I've been following Karen for years, found Zaz when I was researching my recent novel and fell in love with Henri about two years ago! I'm off to look at the other two sites and thank you for sharing them. Now I have one for you ~
I know it's not your 'hood, but I think you might enjoy the content. Hopefully one of these days we will be over here at the same time!

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone. Melinda, I do have cat photos, so I'll try to post them more. And I'll try to focus more on parks because they exist in every city. For all of you about to travel, I'll look forward to reading about it. For those trying to learn French, keep at it because it's fun to try even if you don't get good. That's my experience.

Muriel said...

I would love to travel, but I feel a bit stuck at home, in London, having to do school runs and the likes...I suppose that I will have to travel in my head and write...And it is much cheaper anyway!

Nadine Feldman said...

I'm thinking about your precious Skyler, hoping she is comfortable and happy. Sorry to hear she's had some struggles.

On the travel front, we're making a number of travel plans now that fall is coming and the garden is winding down. We're headed to New York in late October to visit Henry's daughter, and Hawaii in January. In the meantime, this week I'm playing tourist in the Olympic National Park, going hiking with a friend. I'm trying to do more of that -- to make sure I remember to explore the area where I live!

Julie Farrar said...

Ah, Nadine, I still need to get to Hawaii. I would love to visit paradise. And Muriel, most of my constant travel started after my kids were grown, so your time will come.

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