Friday, May 27, 2011

Fleas and Roses

Flea markets, fascinating to me as little "cultural museums" displaying what humans have made, valued for some period of time and discarded, are generally some of my favorite places to visit and, when in Paris, Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, commonly known as Les Puces, or, The Fleas, is a must, must, must-see. In general, I like buying antiques or old stuff. I like the idea that we are reusing things that have been cherished, we're not cutting down more of the rainforest, adding plastics or toxins to the environment, nor are we adding so much to the global energy consumption. And it's always interesting to see what kinds of unusual things different cultures have made and used in their homes.

One of my favorite sights on this visit to The Fleas was this delicate climbing rose in shades of pink, white and yellow in the sunlight against a pinkish brick wall.

Although this nearby tapestry of pink roses is beautiful and perhaps inspired by similar roses of long ago, I'm motivated by the real flowers to plant pink climbing roses at the first opportunity. Now to find a pink wall in the sunlight....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paris's Polite Pickpockets

Prague's pickpockets could learn a lesson from Paris's. My experience in Prague was that a group of people surround you in a subway car, and grab your wallet as they get off at the next station. Bye-bye. Something similar happened to my husband a week ago in Paris but he decided to get off the train with the thieves. As he exited the train, a man turned to him saying, "Sir, here's your wallet." We were back on the train checking the wallet contents and, as the train left the station, we realized that the guy who handed it back was probably one of the thieves (I know, we are gringos). Too late to take his photo. The money was gone and it was an unpleasant ending to the day but at least we had his cards and IDs back and for that we are grateful.

The station attendant says he gets complaints that pickpockets have stolen someone's money several times a day and there is nothing he or the station or the city can do about it. Hmmmm. Sounds like a job opportunity for a bunch of people.

At any rate, here are a few of the more pleasant aspects of the Paris Metropolitan System. The Jules Joffrin entrance with brown tiles and green wrought iron:

Advertisements with interesting art lines a tunnel:

Subway tiles sparkle in a stairway but persons with heavy luggage or baby carriages would surely have enjoyed the convenience of an escalator.

Different construction eras are apparent at various stations:

I don't know if this is a legal way to make money on the Paris Metro but it's certainly much better than the route the pickpockets have chosen. Forgive my awful, amateurish video skills but enjoy a moment of Metro music:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Life Ball Trumps Apocalypse Tonight

While there's someone in the States saying today is the end of the world, there's a large crowd in Vienna tonight celebrating life. Vienna's Life Ball, thought to be Europe's largest charity event, supports AIDS charities and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the HIV virus. Attendees were asked to dress in creative, stylish outfits in keeping with this year's theme, "Spread the Wings of Tolerance."

Guests walked, danced and did acrobatics down the pink carpet between the Rathaus and the Berg Theater.

Flocks of pink flamingo balloons were for sale and many could be seen floating in the skies above Vienna about an hour after this photo was taken.

White hair, wings, rhinestones and feathers seemed to be the order of the evening:

...along with spacey costumes...

...a few smooches...

...some pink skin...

...beehive hairdos... headdresses...

...and mysterious masks.

Show girls pause to give an interview:

Ruffled ball dresses made of bubble wrap:

The theme was interpreted at least twice as pilots:

and flight attendants:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Garden of Music

Because I'm having major computer problems lately I'm going to run this photo taken a couple of years ago. Always different and always delightful, Vienna's City Gardens Department designs and constructs marvelous gardens outside their building for our inspiration, pleasure and amusement. How fitting is this garden vignette for Vienna, a city known for its music!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fish Story

You may have noticed my last post was from Barcelona, Spain. While I was seeing the sights in that lovely city, my David was fishing for a week on the Segre River in Mequininza, Spain. To hear him tell it: "I only caught two catfish; the little one was 114 lbs and the other was 167 lbs." He was with a group of four other funny, easy-going fishermen and a great guide from CatMaster Tours (all from Great Britain). The first two nights, each caught fish weighing more than 150 lbs so all were happy including—presumably—the fish, which were all returned to the river.

The story is that the Wels Catfish was introduced to Spain's rivers by German anglers in 1974. This one weighed 167 lbs.

The "small" one:

Needless to say, I did not take these photos. Thanks to the fishing colleagues who provided the evidence.