Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

My Photo
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, May 31, 2008

France 2008, preamble

France 2008
I can't figure out how to start my travel story so I'm going to start with tips. Today's Citizen has three articles on Paris, if you can believe it. One starts "What is your image of the solo traveller in Europe?", the next, "My first encounter with the self-service rental bikes in Paris..." and the third, "How do you approach an iconic city..."

This trip was our first-ever trip to Europe together and it was supposed to be The Big One, for our 25th anniversary, which was last year, never mind. We spent a whole year (or more) wondering where to go and finally settled on Provence for several reasons. Peter had not been to Europe, so the whole thing was wide open for him. I had lived in Europe here and there but I had not been to some places including Provence and didn't want to go somewhere I'd already been. VanGogh painted some of his most famous paintings in Arles. We wanted to go in May to avoid the main tourist months and France was probably warmer in the south in May than some other places. We almost settled on Glasgow because there was a cheap flight there but came to our senses and booked our tickets for Paris instead.

We flew Air France to Paris, took the TGV down to Arles and spent 9 days there and then spent 3 days in Paris before the return flight. It turned out to be a good plan. Our idea was that we would be having a Holiday and therefore didn't need to SEE every darned thing there was to see, which you can't do anyway. We wanted to get a real feel for what Provence was like and Paris was just a bonus. And once you've seen one Roman ruin, you don't need to see them all to know what it's like. It was a great trip and we're already thinking about the next one.

Travel Tips
TRAVEL LIGHT. Everybody says this and you can't disagree. We decided this time to carry backpacks and not wheeled luggage. I knew there would be lots of stair climbing in the metro and other places and I thought backpacks would be easier than wheels and in many respects they were. Also, your hands are left free with backpacks. The fact that it's more of a strain on your shoulders is the main drawback. We also thought it would be faster at the airports if we only had carry-on bags but that turned out not to be entirely true. Once you get to the airport, you have to wait to go through Customs first and then claim your bags so it's only marginally faster.

Having large carry-on bags can be a pain because you have to hump them into the overhead compartments but mostly, it's a pain because of what you are not allowed to take on aircraft for security reasons. I cannot live without a nail file so I took my tiniest one and it got through security but I could see that they looked at the bag closely so I won't be trying that again. And you are limited in the shampoo and other liquids department for security so maybe a checked bag is best these days. Even if you do check bags however, travel light.

We did two laundries in 14 days. In Arles, we found an automatic (do-it-yourself) laundry and waited until our laundry bag was fairly full and then spent an hour doing laundry. I wore t-shirts which don't need ironing and Peter had shirts that didn't need ironing. I didn't wash my skirts and jackets and carried a Tide Pen for emergencies. So our backpacks weighed under 2 kilos each and stuffed with clothes they weighed about 7 kilos. A backpack with wheels weighs in at about 4 kilos empty. This is important because carry-on bags are limited to 12 kilos each. In any event, we were way under the weight limit even for carry-on but don't forget that you still have to carry it on your back.
France 2008
Here's what I looked like, carrying the big back-pack, now weighing 10 kilos with the fabric I bought, and my much smaller (although it looks big) "purse" backpack on my front that held my wallet, documents, maps, etc. It actually worked out pretty well.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Today is my mother's 77th birthday - happy birthday Mum! This morning when I went running, Peter came with me and walked in the opposite direction and took photographs of this and that.
in the park this morning
This is me running the upwind leg of the circuit. Not very high off the ground but good form! Arms at a good height, feet straight. I suppose the feet could be a little farther apart - not so single file - but it seems to work for me. As I have said before, I'll never win a race (too slow) but I happy that I'm just out there.
I'm wearing my pink Manolo says: Super Fantastic! t-shirt and have decided that the water bottle belt is a good idea.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 09, 2008


Today wasn't as difficult as yesterday - maybe it was the egg. This isn't becoming a running blog but it's where I'm putting things for now and it's what I have to write about. Today, I ran past an older Oriental man who was running even slower than I was. I may "enjoy" running and I may even keep at it but win a race, I will never do. I thought about how old he might be and figured he could be about 60. He didn't seem as old as 70. But he was out there, going around the circuit.

I also felt proprietary about the park as I was running around it. The construction was banging on beside the park - lots of new condos going in. And even though the workers won't be living there, it was good to see people about. There were people walking circuits in the park as usual. And a parks maintenance guy was out with a loader of some kind, spreading what might have been fertilizer on the playing fields. It was as I ran by him and nodded hello that I felt like I belonged there. Interesting.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 08, 2008


And again. Only today was tougher. I still ran 20 minutes but it seemed to be more of a struggle. I suppose it could have been the water I took with me for the first time. Since I'm outside for less than 30 minutes, I haven't been taking water. Yesterday, I resurrected the Running Room water bottle belt but to carry the camera. Today, I took a tiny 340 ml bottle of water. I cinched it pretty well so it didn't move around a lot but still, it was there. I drank 240 ml of it during the cool down walk which is good for me. I'm not a huge water drinker.

It could have been the stiff west wind that slowed me down on each leg of the circuit. The internet says it is gusting to 35 km/h and it was threatening to blow my hat off each time I ran west. However, I decided to have a boiled egg on toast when I got home, as I might need some protein too.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


And again this morning. But you should have seen me rationalizing why I didn't have to. I started with the fact that I'd fallen asleep last night in front of the tv at 8:30. Obviously I needed my rest. This morning, I let myself sleep in until 7:30 ( I have been getting up at 6am all semester and see no reason to stop even though I am not now teaching). So I thought, I won't go running - it's too late and I have other things to do. Then I thought, I could go get my hair cut this morning and that involves a bike ride (only about 15 minutes one way but still). And I have to shower off the hair when I'm done so that would mean too many showers. And on I went until I just got up and went running.

While I was running, I rationalised that I only needed to run two circuits because of the bike ride later. But I just kept going and then there I was, past the end of the third circuit and still running to the 20 minute mark. So I did it again! I even found the Running Room water bottle belt that has two zippered compartments on it and brought my camera to take pix of the beaver damage in the park. So, even though it is almost 10 am, I feel pretty virtuous and I still have time to go get my hair cut.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Ran again today! This time each circuit was about 5:45 - a little under 6 minutes. I ran until I went past the start of the circuit and since it was at 18 some minutes, I kept running until I got to 20 minutes. So I was out there about 3 minutes less than yesterday. Good stuff. No Body Flow class this morning so I did about 15 minutes of "my yoga" in the living room. I have never taken a "real yoga" class but I have learned a lot from Body Flow and from this book we got. I do four choreographed sun salutations, based on Body Flow. Then I do "hip openers" which is just a few pigeon poses interspersed with down dogs and quad stretches. Then I do a balance track - some floating half moons, the warrior on one foot whatever that one is, dancer poses. Then pilates for abs and back - core work. Each section has a song that I play so it gives a sense of timing to it all. Now for a shower and my second breakfast. Mmm.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 05, 2008


I started running outside (as opposed to on the treadmill) on Saturday. That day, I started with one minute of running, one of walking for 5 minutes and then I launched into just running. I ran for 14 minutes without stopping and then I walked for another 10 to cool down. I was pleased because I didn't remember ever having run for 14 minutes without walking. Sunday, we walked the park. A circuit walking takes about 10 minutes. Running a circuit takes between 6 and 7 minutes. I felt the running in my quads mostly, but also in the rest of the legs, the butt and my sternum, which had to move in and out more than usual to accommodate more rapid breathing.

Today, I decided I would run again. I started and went one circuit and then two and finally, I kept on going to make three full circuits. I stopped a little short of three because there were these two people walking ahead of me as I came in to the end of the third and I didn't want to sprint past them and then stop dead. Why I should care what two strangers think, I don't know but I do, so there it is. Anyway, I did my nearly three circuits in 18:30 minutes. When I stopped, this time I checked my pulse and it was at 140. 220 - 50 = 170 times 75% which is probably high for me as an intermediate = 127, so I was well over my target heart rate but not gonna die.

I continued on and walked a fourth circuit so I was outside for 30 minutes all together. In about 5 minutes, my pulse was down below 100 so I am happy about that recovery rate. Tomorrow, I am having lunch in Manotick which is about a 30 km round trip, so that will be my aerobic exercise tomorrow. Now, I am going to go to the gym and do a 60 minute class of yoga and pilates to get all my stretching in.

Labels: , , ,