After more than four years of year-round public service on the Board of Education, I was finally able to take an extended holiday.
My ten-week adventure started closer to home with a week on the beach at Hanalei Bay with my fairy-goddaughter Harper and her family.
Next came three weeks in the Boston area taking a professional development course with leaders from around the world. I learned about America’s complex political history, improved my negotiation skills, and affirmed that being able “swing from the chandeliers” could be a useful leadership tool.
From there I went to New York City for a week to visit old friends and meet up with my two eldest nieces. We saw an incredible production/performance called “War Horse”.
Then the three of us flew to Barcelona for a week. I wanted to share with them why Barcelona is one of my favorite cities: the food, the people, the energy! After getting over the initial culture shock, my nieces were able to put into practice some of the Spanish they had learned in high school.
Just as we were getting acclimated to speaking Spanish, we were off to France for three weeks to rendezvous with friends from Hawaii. First Paris, then Marseilles, then back to Paris.
We loved the metro in Paris - so easy to use. Paris was packed with tourists, but we were still able to have many special moments: enjoying a café crème at our neighborhood café every morning, shopping in the Marais or the Latin Quarter, afternoon naps in the Tuileries and Luxemburg Gardens, enjoying our first cassoulet.
My nieces are avid photographers and they inspired me to take more photos. All I had was my new iphone 4; I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to capture some decent photos. (See slideshow on home page.)
We took the hi-speed train down to the southern port city of Marseille. We got there in time to enjoy the country’s Bastille Day festivities. We joined the locals for a beer dock-side and marveled at their five-barge fireworks display.
We did lots of walking, which offset all the eating and drinking.
And we rented a car so that we could drive along the coast, the French Riviera: St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice. We came upon a living medieval village in Nice; it was as if time stood still for all the interconnecting structures built into the steep hill top.
We also drove to a little village to the west of Marseille that was hosting a lavender festival. The village was nestled amidst lavender fields. When we opened the car doors the air was alive with the scent of lavender, which really did have a drowsing effect. We had a special lavender infused lunch that started with lavender spiced lamb shank and ended with lavender ice cream. It was double-rainbow lavender all the way!
On the drive back up to Paris we spent a day in Uzes, which turned out to be my favorite little medieval village. It was cute, with perfect stone alleyways, and little boutiques, and cafes. It could have been the inspiration for a medieval-themed out door shopping mall - complete with a fountain in the main plaza.
The French are very polite, even driving a rental car in Paris at rush hour in the rain, was a positive experience. (Except when I almost hit two people on a moped who were passing me on my left, technically in the oncoming lane, when I was turning left.)
Other French highlights: dining in the Palace of Versailles, being moved by a concert in the chapel at the Palace of Fountainebleau, stumbling upon the Tour de France, swimming in the cold turquoise waters of the Mediterranean in the deep recesses of the Calanques.
Amsterdam was our last European stop. We stayed with good friends from Los Angeles, hung out with their adorable daughter, toured the canals – a restful ending.