Because I was talking about it over on Twitter.

The second my last vacation is done is the moment I start planning the next one. I love travel, I love getting out of my day to day routine and being Somewhere Else, and I simply can’t help myself.

My big trip for 2010 is going to be two weeks in New York and New England, tentatively scheduled around my birthday in October. I’m figuring on a week in New York, a long weekend visiting and and then possibly taking the train up to Montreal before circling back around again. Amtrak has a line that runs from New York to Montreal that could happily be split in two with an evening in Albany–it apparently includes some kind of docent from the National Park Service talking about the Adirondaks. I also want to give Context Travel a try, as I didn’t get to go on one of their docent walking tours of Paris this year.

But that’s all the way in the fall, and while it gives me lots of time to plot food and similar, I’m not escaping enough in the meantime. So I’m looking at long weekends in San Francisco and Vancouver to tie in with their yearly restaurant events. I’d like to do Portland in there as well–I’m currently looking at maybe February for that, though is there some kind of Portland event like our “Dine Around Seattle”, Vancouver’s “Dine Out”, or San Francisco’s “Dine About Town” where local restaurants all do set menus for a couple of weeks?

Home again, home again.

It was a good weekend full of tasty food and much overdue catching up with Rachel. I need to write up a much longer post about what I ate, what I saw and my manifesto for happy airline experiences. But it’s been a long day, the cats are snuggly and I’m sure tomorrow at work is going to be awesome. So take a look at the pictures for now, more to come!

The places you’ll go.


Hug Beach
Originally uploaded by graphxgrrl.

My friend Kara was out from DC at the beginning of the month for a wedding in Portland. Looking to explore Oregon and Washington a bit, she invited me to join her on the coast for a few days of adventuring. We explored the area from Tillamook to Astoria while camping out at Nehalem Bay, before heading up to Mount Saint Helen’s for a day and then on to Seattle. I’m really happy with a lot of the pictures I was able to get with even my tiny point and shoot.

For those interested in abandoned buildings (in this case military installations), check out my pictures from Fort Stevens. Established after the Civil War to protect trade and similar heading up the Columbia, it was the only mainland military installation to face Japanese attack in World War II–though that was a bit of a non-event.

You can’t capture Paris in Seattle.

I spent a portion of the weekend uploading the remainder of my pictures from Paris, I’ll likely put the London, Brussels and Marillion pictures (plus bonus air hockey video!) up tonight.

But it made me think dreamily of creating a morning routine for myself that involved stopping at Le Panier in the morning on my way to work for tea and a pastry. I neglected to remember that service at Le Panier is mind-bogglingly slow and that they never have enough staff considering their location in tourist central.

That said, it was lovely to nibble on pain au chocolat while wandering through Pike Place Market this morning just as all the vendors were setting up for the day.

But there goes my dream of only ever eating at Le Panier or Le Pichet.

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar on tomorrow!


Musée Rodin — Call to Arms
Originally uploaded by graphxgrrl.

It’s meant to be mostly sunny the rest of the week, which means it’s time to get myself in gear–too much to see in too little time! Today is going to be macaron day, twelve chocolateries and patisseries all over the city are waiting to be explored (along with some cookware shops and baking supply shops).

Tomorrow or Friday I’ll need to do my day trip out of the city—still debating Chartre vs. Roen for a variety of reasons for each. Musée d’Orsay (which I didn’t make it to yesterday before closing) is open late on Thursdays, so that will likely be my day trip day. Leaving Friday for Versailles and a late night at the Louvre. Somewhere in there I need to do laundry and pack myself back up for moving on to London Saturday morning.

Yesterday it was rainy off and on, so I was pretty whiny, I ended up going grocery shopping in the morning (and finding a microwave meal from Joel Robuchon, which amused me enough to buy it) and learned that they don’t really teach you in high school french to say, “I’m sorry, I dropped this breakable item in your grocery store.” Lunch was at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon after sulking in my flat all morning, it was lovely and my photos are here.

The sun came out after lunch, so I made my way to the Musée Rodin for a few hours. I first studied Rodin when I was in AP French years ago and we were writing formal papers on painters and sculptors on a regular basis. I’ve loved his work ever since for its fantastic expressiveness.

Then it was home again for an evening of photo processing and reading. Due to Purim, I nearly got my toes singed by teenagers with firecrackers along rue due Rosiers. Such is the price for tasty baguette and tarte aux framboises?

Hope you’re all doing well, I miss my snuggly cats at night, but am having a lovely break from the real world nonetheless.

The first few days aren’t so exciting.


Saveurs de Pains
Originally uploaded by graphxgrrl.

You really spend your first few days trying to work your way out of jetlag. And I break all the rules for doing that sensibly by taking naps in the afternoons if I feel so inclined.

My flight here was mildly amusing–I ended up on a plane with a group of graduate students in architecture from Washington State University, who wanted to interrogate me about Mithun once they found out where I worked. The guy sitting next to me, in particular, was keen to ask me about our Novelty Hill Januik winery project, which I really only know the “marketing” talk about. I did promise to get him in touch with the designer who could help him more though. We’ll see if he follows through.

Saturday was spent getting settled into the flat and doing some minor wandering around in the Marais, I took a nap in the afternoon so that I would be able to stay up for the Sisters of Mercy / iLiKETRAiNS gig that nigh–but I only made it through part of it and completely forgot my camera.

Sunday morning I wandered around the Marais a bit more (and ran into the Paris Semi-Marathon) before meeting up with a lovely woman named Jacqueline, an architect I’d been paired up with by the people a Paris Greeters group I’d read about in the New York Times a few months ago. She walked us all over Montparnasse and we got along well enough that she invited me out with some friends this Saturday–though I’ll be in London by then. It was really an entire day of walking that my feet (even in my comfy Josef Siebels) are still recovering from.

Yesterday I had intended to spend the afternoon at the Louvre, but spent so much of the morning walking around that by the time I was done with lunch there wouldn’t be enough time really. It had also started raining at that point, so I spent the afternoon in a cafe near my flat with a book. Not such a bad way to spend time.

I’m not sure what I’m doing today (beyond lunch at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon), I’d considered Versailles this afternoon, but it’s meant to rain all day. And wouldn’t you know it, it feels like all the museums are closed on Tuesdays.

My spreadsheets, let me show you them.

I know it amuses the people who get to experience the edges of my vacations to see how much time and planning I often put into the entire process. For the six months leading up to my vacations, I’ll pour over travel blogs, books, food websites, art websites, gathering all the information I could possibly need for my trip. Putting things into spreadsheets than rank them by cost or activity type.

But I rarely decide what each day’s plan is until that day arrives. Waking up each morning and asking myself, is today a day for art? A train trip into the countryside? What kind of day is today? And because I’m such a nerd for planning, getting out there once I’ve answer that question of, “What do I want to do today?” is extraordinarily simple.

I often wish I had a travel writing partner to flit around the world with, making my living with nerdy research, foreign food, and staring at the colors of a painting I’d only seen in books the day before.

Should I feel reassured?

Over the last six months as I’ve been lining up the details of my upcoming trip I’ve bought airline tickets and train tickets, made hostel and hotel reservations, and flung money at various international websites for theatre and music tickets.

But what triggers a fraud response and a phone call today from HSBC? Trying to buy tickets to the Byzantine art exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art.

Seriously? Are most people trying to defraud credit card companies spending £13.50 to see a collection of gilt encrusted paintings and objects? I think not.

When the world is just beginning it’s day.

I think one of the best times of day to take a walk is in the fairly early morning. The last time I was in London, due to jetlag screwing up my sleep schedule I found myself wandering along Portobello Road just as everyone was setting up for the day, parents (and nannies) were walking children to school in their tidy uniforms, household help was letting themselves into some of those grand Victorian townhomes for their workday.

I thought of this all today as I was experiencing my own little version of it, being out on a walk to the library and post office–having just let my house cleaners into the apartment for the brief hour and a half it takes someone else to do what I can linger over for days of fits and starts with a mop. Restaurants along broadway were just opening up for breakfast and brunch, trucks were still making their morning deliveries, and everyone you meet has that quality of sleepy cheerfulness.

I’m terribly ready for my upcoming vacation, the flat I’m renting in Paris is directly above a small boulangerie, unlike most people I’m probably more excited than I should be about being woken up in the morning by the clatter of a bakery.

I like to plan.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time can tell you. I’m often happy to go along with spontaneous activities (and more so these days than I might have once), but I love serious planning. Having a plan in place means something to look forward to, lining up all the large details gives me room to imagine the in between times.

And so, I find myself amused that as yet, I only have three firm things bought and paid for in March. My plane ticket, Marillion weekend, and my tickets for Waiting for Godot.

Soon I will also book my flat in Paris, make hostel reservations in London and Brussels, train tickets on the Eurostar for various bits in between, dinner reservations for those hard to get into places in Paris…

…and in those busy times at work, when the stress never seems to end, I can pick out a moment in time four months or so from now, and draw the picture of the moment in my mind.