Hertz, fool me four times, I won’t get fooled again

To paraphrase the great philosopher-president George W. Bush: fool me once, shame on you; fool me four times, I won’t get fooled again. Take note, Hertz. January 2016: Hertz charged us an administrative fee for a supposed moving violation in South Africa. To this day we haven’t seen a citation from the local authorities. I … Continue reading Hertz, fool me four times, I won’t get fooled again

Bronze matador statue in front of the arena in Nîmes

I don’t generally follow the news over the weekend. When I scanned the headlines this morning, I discovered that Pamela Anderson had stirred up a bit of controversy late last week in France, at least enough to merit an article in a regional newspaper. She had posted a photo of herself on social media, posing … Continue reading Bronze matador statue in front of the arena in Nîmes

St. Joan of Arc, Domrémy-la-Pucelle

On the way to Luxembourg yesterday, we got off the autoroute for a while, enjoyed a spirited drive through bucolic French countryside, and visited the birthplace of St. Joan of Arc in Domrémy-la-Pucelle. Owing in part to the inclement weather and bad traffic we encountered earlier along the route, we arrived fifteen minutes too late … Continue reading St. Joan of Arc, Domrémy-la-Pucelle

Once in a lifetime, alone in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves.

Regional words and fat Frenchmen

It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks.

Afternoon in Sète

Sète is a coastal city in southern France, located a short drive from Montpellier, where I used to live. Sète has the vibe of a busy fishing village, making it a fun place to visit for an afternoon. I’d occasionally come for a seafood lunch at one of the tourist restaurants along the canals, then stroll to the harbor and along the shore.

Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf

Christian let me know that I had to order the right beer for the city I was in. In Düsseldorf, they brew Alt, so that’s what they drink. In Cologne, they brew and drink Kölsch. I would be frowned upon if I ordered a beer in the wrong city. Those fortunate enough to live in Monheim am Rhein could order either, when in Monheim, of course.

Montpellier, France: Donating blood at the Place de la Comédie

I was walking across the Place de la Comédie, and I noticed a sign that there were blood collections going on. I hadn’t given blood since I was seventeen years old, and I hadn’t actually tried since September 11 last year, when I was turned away because of the crowds. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I figured I could kill an hour or so giving a pint.

Frequently asked questions about our road trip in Europe

We’ve only been home a few days, but Kathryn and I have already heard a lot of questions about our trip. For the benefit of everyone else, I’ve decided to repeat some of them here, along with their answers.

Oktoberfest, BMW, Rothenburg, Baden-Baden, Eiffel Tower

Phew! It’s been about 72 hours since the last update, but we’ve managed to pack an awful lot in. We arrived safely in Munich on Saturday, about six hours later than anticipated, so the thought of doing Oktoberfest that evening was quickly dismissed. My friend in Munich met us at the airport and showed us … Continue reading Oktoberfest, BMW, Rothenburg, Baden-Baden, Eiffel Tower

Long overdue post

There’s a certain irony to writing a blog. During those times when you have the most to write about, you have the least time to write it. The year 2007 has been, and continues to be, almost unbelievably good to me, and for several months I’ve been maintaining a hand-written list of all the things I want to write about.

Feedback from a correspondent about Odyssea in Montpellier

Many of you know I lived in Montpellier, France, for about a year. I loved being there, and I had a great experience studying there. From time to time, I’m asked to provide a reference to prospective students of the school where I studied, and I’m always happy to do so. Last summer, a young woman called me out of the blue, and we spent a half-hour or so on the phone talking about Montpellier.

Three Graces, Place de la Comédie, Montpellier

The iconic statue of the Three Graces is a prominent focal point on Place de la Comédie in Montpellier, France. It’s often used as a recognizable meeting place for tourists, students, and locals. Busy cafes, restaurants, and shops line each side of the square, including a Monoprix grocery store and a surprisingly subdued McDonald’s.