Officially I won't be back up and running with regular blog posts until Monday. I should have decompressed and acclimatized enough by then to talk about books again. But one can't take a trip abroad and not come back and make a few comments.
First, IcelandAir: Worst. Airline. Ever. No matter how many times their "convenient" mid-way layovers in Reykjavik come up as the cheapest way to European destinations, resist the urge at all costs. What's not to like? After being told of a two-hour weather-related flight delay we were promised our connecting flight would wait for us at the other end.
It did not.
In fact, it was leaving the ground as ours was taxiing to the gate. Other joys: clueless guest services (they didn't even know about their own customer's rights policy, despite a posted sign), uncomfortable planes (no, really, worse than normal), weird Icelandic food in flight (meatballs made of fish? salmon carrot salad?), disorganized boarding procedures (herded into holding areas, no controlled board procedures), and the only flight (of 5) that departed and landed on time was our re-routed flight from Sweden (!) on a different airline.
That said, Paris was as beautiful as always, despite my shaky nighttime-without-a-tripod photography.
For some odd reason my first shot was of a scooter.
My last shot was also, though it was in Amsterdam.
Versailles is opulent.
This was the summer home away from the palace? No wonder the people revolted. I wonder what would happen if the excesses of our government were as visibly tangible. Oh yes, the traditional garden shot from Versailles.
And the Louvre, where you can take pictures of people taking pictures of artwork they can buy postcards of in the museum store.
Including strange self portraits in a room full of ancient Assyrian carved-stone gates reflected in a giant arced mirror.
Trust me, despite my pictures the Louvre was as crowded as the evacuation of Beijing.
And there were doorways
And then a train to Amsterdam where arty nighttime shots were attempted (lack of focus deliberate)
And it was a big gay pride weekend, with parade flotillas along the canals
The commuter parking lots looked like this, explaining why European cities are so quiet. And require less road work.
Of course, with such quaint small streets...
They need smaller vehicles.
You can't ignore the flower market
(yes, 40 roses for about $10.25 USD)
But these are what the tulips look like right now
Unless you want fake wooden ones.
Naturally there was much that can't be properly photographed. The food, the cafe sits, the sudden insights while drifting off to sleep about the organic differences between American and European literature and how much those writers we consider literary follow that European model, browsing bookstores, coffeeshops, red light districts, art in museums where you cannot take pictures. Things like that.
Though I had hoped to make some kidlit discoveries abroad I was thwarted by such things as sightseeing and otherwise relaxing. I did manage to pick up a few books, with a couple of things noteworthy for future blog posts. But the most prominent picture book I saw in every bookstore in Paris and Amsterdam?
I guess they haven't gotten around to translating Flotsom yet. Library Lion was a close second for availability. And the two most available YA titles: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and John Green's An Abundance of Katherines.
All in all, a much-deserved and very relaxing time bridging a very intense time and a pending hectic time. I'm going to get some more sleep and work on my flickr account, get a littler more reading done and be back next week with some real content.