This may come as a surprise to many of my tens of dear readers, but: I am alive and well and although I haven’t posted on here for over a year (SORRY MOM) I have been working super hard, which has kept me in pasta and wine, so it’s all good.
But my big news is that for the first time since September 11, 2001 I am going on vacation.
“Mr. Bourne, your luggage is waiting for you in Baggage Claim.”
Last December, WikiLeaks did one of its notorious document dumps and revealed some information that frankly thrilled me. The WikiLeaks document release included two reports from the CIA whose titles sound like pitches for summer blockbusters: “CIA Assessment on Surviving Secondary Screening at Airports While Maintaining Cover” (dated September 2011) and, even more up my alley, “CIA Advice for Operatives Infiltrating Schengen” (dated January 2012).
YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR
Did you know that I went to Berlin two years ago? I did. I spent a little over two weeks there, on the cusp of winter. It was unbearably cold, and dark; it looked like 9:30am all day until night fell in mid-afternoon.
I arrived in darkness after an 11-hour train ride, during which I tried and failed miserably to commit to memory the incomprehensible combination of letters that is basic German vocabulary. From the magnificent wall of windows of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof I saw the lit dome of the Reichstag, and for the first of many times throughout my stay I said under my breath, “Holy shit, Berlin.”
Ed. note: I’m reposting this after a wave of recent homesickness, but it was originally posted on June 28, 2011.
There are these weeds in Rome – I’m sure they’re in other places too, but I’ve only ever seen them in Rome – that have long stems that look furry, but they’re prickly. If you grab them without thick gloves it feels like your hand was dipped in acid for about two minutes, which is a long time when your hand feels like it’s been dipped in acid. During those two minutes you’re running to wash your hands and then you’re washing your hands and you can’t think of anything else except the blinding pain. And then the pain subsides and it’s hard to remember how badly it hurt.
This is what homesickness feels like, except the blinding pain is inside you so there’s no washing it out; you’ve got to ride it out until it subsides. Continue reading
Note: I’m reposting this because my friends could use more visitors to their Canal du Midi vacation barge, so if anyone you know is looking for a truly unique French vacation experience, GET ON IT!
Mel and I bade our sad goodbyes to Hotel d’Europe in Avignon, and armed with pastries and coffee from our guardian angel Fernando, we set out for our next adventure. But first – a pit stop in my adopted hometown, Montpellier!
Mel met Ladybird, who gave her some much-needed snuggles; and Cal, who proudly showed off the city he’s called home for more than 10 years. We walked through the Place de la Comedie and the Esplanade, and then took her on a tour of one of the oldest toy stores in France. Mel was thoroughly enchanted, and after a tasty lunch we were off again – this time to Colombiers, a small hamlet on the famous Canal du Midi in the Languedoc region.
After some helpful directions from an impossibly filthy mechanic on a forgotten street outside of town, we were greeted by my old friends Domi and Gwennie, and welcomed into – or rather, aboard – their home, Peniche Oz.
The summer before my freshman year in college, I had a job in a shop on the boardwalk selling sun cream and novelty t-shirts and goofy hats. Continue reading
As longtime gentle readers know all too well, I travel frequently between Rome and Montpellier, France. It is a journey of just over 600 miles, a distance that according to Google Maps would take a hair over 10 hours by car.