Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Huge in France on Netflix

I've been boring my local friends by telling them they should watch Huge in France, so I thought I'd spread the word to you.
Maybe my views are not pure since I am an American living in France, but the show has made me laugh as a French comedian travels to LA to reunite with his teenage son. He keeps telling people that he's famous in France, he's the French Jerry Seinfeld, but no one seems to care because he is not famous in LA.
Some of the situations are so French that I just chuckle.
He's trying to convince his son to spend time with him, so he suggests a meal. Or even a coffee. Or even a coffee while they walk like all the Americans do.
That is so American. I got a coffee to go from the new coffee truck this morning. It has a lid and everything. As I walked down the street to my apartment, a Frenchman standing by his window commented on my coffee.
What can I say? "I'm just like an American, walking and drinking coffee," I said to him in French, even though, I am really an American, but the French can't really tell if my accent is British or Australian or American.

The guy who stars in the show is a French actor you will have seen in so many French movies, if you have watched French movies. His name is Gad Elmaleh. And in America, he introduces himself as "C'est Gad," which translates to "It's Gad." Okay, that also reminds me of the time Tucker was two and he came down the stairs at our house in Michigan and said, "Here's Tucker."
But Gad is used to being recognized. He gets no recognition in the States.
The movie I most remember the actor from is The Valet where he plays the role of a valet who pretends to have an affair with a model to save a French businessman from his wife's wrath. (Also a fun movie.)
Anyway, in one of the episodes of Huge in France, they return to Paris, and the scenery is beautiful. There's Notre Dame in its full glory, and I realized that movies will be recognized henceforth as pre and post-fire in Notre Dame. Unlike the Twin Towers, which are there and then gone. the remaining shell of Notre Dame will be quite obvious in films. That made me sad.
Only the first season of Huge in France is out, and the teenage son is a bit of a conceited monster and the wife is also unlikable, but I know Gad will prevail eventually. I watched to the end of the first season.
In one episode, Gad says to his son's friend, that he wishes he could hug him, but he didn't really know how to do it American-style. Again, in France he would have simply kissed the guy's cheeks. The young man tries to show him how to do an American hug, but one extra pat on the back "made it weird." Gad has a lot to learn about America.
Jerry Seinfeld makes some guest appearances. Maybe you'll learn a little something about life in France too.
Check it out and think of me, struggling to fit in on the opposite side of the ocean.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mourning the Loss of Notre Dame

As I prepare to go to bed tonight, flames are still shooting from the top of Notre Dame. The spire has collapsed and the roof of the nave has fallen in.
On Friday, as I walked from our hotel to the train station, I crossed a bridge and saw the beautiful cathedral. I took a picture. It was the last picture I took in Paris.

I can't believe that it will never be the same. 
While Earl and I were spending a few days in Paris, we found ourselves strolling around Notre Dame several times. 
I asked Earl if he had been inside and was surprised to find that he hadn't. I've even attended Mass at Notre Dame. 
We stopped to look at the bells displayed in a line outside. 
New ones were purchased to replace these in celebration of the 850th anniversary. 
850 years! I can't even fathom something that old. 
Our country won't be 800 years old until 2576.
Me trying to coyly pose along with crowds of other people in front of Notre Dame. 


My morning run took me past Notre Dame

You can see the scaffolding around the church where they were working on it. 
I hope that they find the fire was caused by a mistake in the work going on rather than an act of terrorism.
At the same time, I try to imagine a worker with a power tool in hand who started a fire that destroyed an iconic building. That just seems too mundane. 
Paris will never be the same. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

L'Atelier des Lumières - Van Gogh

Last year, as I reviewed some of the best things we had done in France, I included two visits to Carrières de Lumières and L'Atelier des Lumières, huge art installations that projected artwork onto walls and played music to go along with art. One was near Nimes in the South of France and the other in Paris. You can read my blog posts about them here and here.
When I learned that the exhibit this year would be Van Gogh, I had to go. Since Earl was flying out of Paris, we made a mini-vacation out of it with two nights in Paris.
I bought the tickets for the art show ahead of time, which was a wise choice because the tickets were sold out when we arrived in line. We went for the earliest show at 10 a.m. People seemed anxious about getting in, but there really was no rush because you can stay as long as you want, and there are plenty of places to watch the show.
We got in quite early and I had told Earl that I had been there before and didn't like the view from the balcony. As we perched on a round wooden seat, a guard came by and told us the best view was from the balcony, and there were comfortable seats. We decided to move to the balcony, but I should have listened to my own advice.
We could get some panoramic pictures from up high, but watching from the balcony was kind of removed from being down on the floor in the midst of the color, feeling the images move around me and getting a bit dizzy, as if the colors really were washing over me.
A panoramic view from the balcony

A photo I took on the floor when we stayed for the second airing of the Van Gogh exhibit
More irises

A shot of Starry Night from the balcony

The sun over the bare trees
One of the special things about the exhibit is that the creators find motion in the pictures and add that to the artwork.
I tried to record a few short videos that show the motion.
After the Van Gogh, there was a Japanese Dream exhibit. I captured part of that from the floor, which is where I recommend you plant yourself if you make it to the exhibit.

These look 3D, don't they?
Earl enjoyed the show, but admitted he preferred the giant limestone cave where the exhibit takes place in the South of France. Perhaps we'll get a chance to see it there again if we have any visitors this year.
Well worth the cost of 14.90 Euros for the ticket. Go if you can.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Dodging A Bullet

We've all read news stories about a business going under and wondered what happened to the people who had tickets for the cruise or the flight, but Earl and I had never faced that ourselves -- until this week.
Earl was scheduled to fly back to the States next month on Wow Air. That's the cheap airline that lands in Iceland, and they went belly-up on Thursday, leaving him holding useless tickets.
We hadn't heard about Wow Air until our friend Najah flew over last year. She drove from Columbus to Pittsburgh and flew Pittsburgh to Reykjavik to Paris.
Iceland looks a bit bleak

When Earl needed to go home quickly last August (the height of airfare costs from Europe to the States) he flew Wow. Then when I rushed home in February, going one way, the cost was cheapest again on Wow.
I returned on Norwegian, another low cost airfare.
Our experiences were fine, although, at one point when they announced, is there a doctor on board, I thought, "Really, would a doctor fly Wow Air?"
Unlike most airlines, Wow did not have in-seat entertainment. Maybe it seems spoiled to want to have movie and TV choices on an 8 or 9-hour flight, but it sure does make the flights go faster.
When we learned on Thursday about the death of Wow Air, we wondered if we should have been more aware. I had seen an article with the headline like "Why It's Safe to Fly on Wow Air" and I tried to click on it but I was blocked because I didn't have a subscription to The Guardian. That just made me think, huh, I wonder if we shouldn't be flying on Wow.
There was some muttering about financing, but other articles assured that the funding always comes through at the end through Iceland.
So we obliviously scheduled a flight on Wow.
When we saw through our online news that the company had gone under, we regretted not buying the flight insurance. Then we hopped on and rearranged another flight for Earl. We figured that everyone would be looking for replacement flights.
On Travelocity, we found a flight that was even cheaper than the Wow Air flight. So we booked it (he will have to pay for checked luggage since he's taking his backpack home for a hiking trip) but we felt fortunate to be able to schedule so last minute for $631 (561 euros).
Then we had to worry about how to get our money back. CNN told us we were basically screwed. We could file with the company but we would become one of many creditors asking for our money back. Another article suggested that credit card companies might have been keep track of the shaky finances of the airline and have held back money instead of paying upfront.
Earl contacted our credit card company the next day and they said the money would be refunded within 7 days! What a relief, and a reminder that using the right credit card company is important.
So no more WOW, but I'm convinced that we'll be better off choosing a specific airline and flying with them every time to earn points.
And will we be using that credit card again? Yep, whenever we book travel, count on us using our Sapphire card.

The Opposite of Sun Worship

 It gets hot in the south of France. Summer days can soar into the 90s or even 100 Fahrenheit; that's in the 30s Celsius.  And like most...