Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: home again

home again


My apologies for being so silent for the past month, even now that we are at home after our three-and-a-half-week trip to the UK and Paris. My good intentions of blogging frequently did not happen and I often asked myself: why not? In a nutshell, I was overwhelmed by so many wondrous experiences that at the end of each day, I was physically and mentally too tired to sort the photos and search for the right words.

Naturally, leaving it all for when we got back home is not feeling any easier. I can never sleep in airplanes so our flights on Thursday from Paris to Montreal, and particularly Montreal to Vancouver were tests in endurance. We're so happy to be home again, the best place on earth for both of us, and what wonderful weather here too! Sleep deprivation and jetlag meant naps interspersed with catching up with the family, home and garden jobs (the grass was a foot tall, the washing machine ran all day!), bills, emails, some blogs (still more to read), even a joyful walk to our favourite forested seaside park. Husband has gone back to work today and hopefully I will become more focused as well before I forget too many details of our journey.

From over 1500 photos to sort through, here is one that I feel captures a lovely moment in Paris, the city of cafés at every corner. This café just around the corner from our apartment in the Le Marais district was a serendipitous find as it is noted for having the best buckwheat crêpes in the city. In the background you can barely see the Stravinsky Fountain with Niki de Saint Phalle's whimsical sculptures and the Pompidou Centre (more on these in another post). As we waited for our meal, we enjoyed the sight and sounds of children playing around the fountain and the warmth of the late afternoon sun as it came out of the clouds.

Marja-Leena | 25/05/2009 | 23 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Travel


Glad you are home safely. I know the Marais and the square, where you were sitting and listening to school children, and it is a pleasure to think of you and Fred enjoying the atmosphere.

welcome home

Welcome back, Marja-Leena! Lovely photo. Travel is glorious and utterly exhausting. Rest well. Your photos will probably remind you of much of your trip.

Joe, thank you. It's always great to read about a place you know, isn't it, and since we've met, to visualize each other in those settings?

Rosie, thanks!

Leslee, thanks to you too. Yes, travel is exhausting, more so as I've gotten older and creakier. Hopefully the photos will indeed refresh my overloaded memory.

Welcome home. Those trips are tough, but they sure are worth it.

It is great to go out to dance, but it is even better to return home, kick off one's shoes, and sit back to savour the memories!

Welcome home, and how lovely to see such a good photo of you!

I liked the Marais, though I must say my main memory of it is exhaustion and hitting that 4pm low we've learned to avoid on holiday now, but Paris just seemed too good to waste resting.

Don't worry a bit about taking your time over the photos and impressions; rest well, and let them settle, and we'll enjoy them as and when. Really I think that's a better way to blog about a trip than trying to get it all out as you go along.

Tervetuloa takaisin, Marja-Leena! Great light in the photo. The shadows thrown on the cobblestones are very French, somehow.

Great photo, and good to have you home. Rest well!

Hattie, thanks, I agree!

Olga, love your analogy!

Lucy, glad you like the photo, as do I (though I rarely like myself in photos). We found that late afternoon slump period was a good time to have a delicious coffee and some French pastry, either in a café or back in our apartment. This kind of rest was part of the culture for us but then we would have dinner late. And thanks for the advice, which I'm heeding as you can see.

Kiitos, rouchswalwe, for the Finnish greeting!! Late afternoon light is wonderful for picking out details like the cobblestones, isn't it? Cobblestones are everywhere in Paris and I was awed by how many young women navigated them in high heels.

Pica, thanks, it's great to be back.

So glad for my Keens. No one wears them over there, but they saved my feet. Actually, I seem remember lots of young women (and men, too) wearing jeans and what looked to me like bowling shoes!

Hattie, I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of people in jeans and comfortable shoes such as a bowling shoe style, all tourists maybe, but I felt like I fit in more than I expected. In the posher parts of Paris, you could see the $$ in the shoes, clothes and jewelry on both men and women. We ogled the shop windows.

There is nothing as wonderful as travel, except returning home from afar to a place that you love. Glad you're back, and I'm looking forward to all the ways the journey will inform your future postings and thoughts and ideas.

The Marais is the best bit of Paris because it's the least changed. Rickety doors/gates leading to cobbled courtyards presided over by moustachioed concierges. All the clichés but then that's what we want on a first visit.

Glad to know that Brits have now moved up in the World Rudeness League; never thought we'd ever out-elbow (bousculer) the Parisians. A crumb of comfort in a troubled world.

French businessman talking about the Pompidou Centre: "Its greatest feature is the view from the top. Because up there you can't see..." Fill in the dots.

Lainie, thanks. I too look forward to what comes out from this trip, not just the posts that I hope to write but perhaps how the experiences and images will emerge in future art works.

Barrett, our apartment was in one of those somewhat rickety side streets, colourful and quirky and cheaper for our budget but very central to many things. As for rudeness, I don't think either nation means it personally. It was just the way crowds behaved in places like the streets and the metro. Pushiness and not giving way seemed more prevalent and forceful in London metros and street corners but not to say it didn't exist in Paris. I think these are symptoms of too-busy and stressed and heavily populated cities. It was a bit of a shock for us comparatively small-town Vancouverites. Yes, the view was great from the top of the Pompidou, but not as far as from the top of the Eiffel. More on them later, I hope.

I recognise that place! One of my favourites in the loveliest city in the world, at least in my limited experience.
I was sorry that we didn't get to meet in Oxford, one day, oui?

Mouse, it is so amazing that we should have found this place that is one of your favourites! Yes, I'm sorry we did not meet. We may come again if our family continues to live in the UK so hopefully next time!

I too recognise the place in your lovely photo. You were lucky to be staying in Le Marais, one of the most interesting areas of Paris. Did you get to the Picasso Museum? Glad you're back and I look forward to more pictures etc.

Natalie, you must know all of Paris well! I'm glad you think Le Marais was a great choice. Sadly, no, I did not get to the Picasso Museum. It was #3 or 4 on my list of must-sees because I've seen so much of his work. I only made it to the Pompidou and the Louvre for each took a good part of a day and most of my energy! We walked around Paris sooo much that I did not leave enough time and energy for the museums, so I need to go back. I found the big museums in London and Paris really too immense for me.

I've been to Paris twice and never even attempted the Louvre. Too big! I adored the Musee d'Orsay, and thoroughly enjoyed the Picasso Museum also. Maybe on your next trip. Anyway, walking around Paris, especially in May, is better than anything.

Leslee, the Musee d'Orsay was in my plans that day I wimped out from exhaustion (see previous post). Three days in a row of art museums was not good planning, so that one became a miss, sadly.

1500 photographs! Oh my goodness.

I love traveling; love coming home, too. HATE airplanes -- and the need for them.

Your photograph is a lovely glimpse of you. It seem so authentic -- and not posed at all.

Bee, glad you like the photo. I find air travel more stressful than it used to be with all the long waits, security checks, tight seating and limited service. I prefer driving holidays, though we sure did not want to drive in the UK. Trains were good there.