Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Few Tips To Navigate Paris

Hey all,

I thought I'd take this blog to mention a few off the beaten path things I've noticed here in Paris.  Some are silly, some are scary and some are just plain weird.  So, in no particular order, here we go.

1. Driving in Paris.  In a word, don't.  I've been all over the world and can tell you sincerely it's one of the top ten scary places to be behind the wheel.  And let's not even talk about being in a cross walk.  You may have a little green man saying you have the right of way, but no one told the drivers.  They blast up to the line and sometimes stop...sometimes don't.  I think it just depends on their mood.  LOL

2.  So let's move on to the little green man.  He's not someone you can trust in Paris.  Honestly.  In every other country we've been in, the little green man across the cross walk means something.  Here, he's just there to lull you into a false sense of security.  You see, what happens is you'll have a red man and you'll wait as you should, but then he changes to green.  So you know, as you've been trained since childhood, it's safe to walk.

But that's not really true.  Yeah, you can walk for a little bit, but then, with no warning, your little green friend just up and disappears!  No warning, no little yellow man or flashing lights or sound to let you know you're running out of time. 

Suddenly you're in the middle of the street and there are dozen of cars flying around you.  And all because for some reason Parisians don't think it's necessary to give pedestrians a bloody warning.

3.  You have to admire a people who spend so much time relaxing over a cuppa.  There were times I'd walk by a cafe on my way to a museum and two hours later I'd walk back by and the same two people were still sitting there enjoying the coffee.  Add an eclair or quiche and they will literally sit there for hours. 

You don't see a lot of take away food or drinks here.  People would rather sit and take some time to enjoy their meal.  It's the hardest part of the culture for me.  Relaxing is not very easy to do when there is so much to see and do.

4.  And finally, now let's talk about something near and dear to my heart.  Toilets.  Or, should I say the lack of them. I swear, I've been to tiny hamlets in Thailand that had more facilities that the big huge city of Paris.

Now they tell you they have "Public Toilets", but it's a misleading phrase.  There are a few around the city but they are few and far between.  And the ones you can find are these little round booth like things on the big main streets.  It's kind of a scary thing to use one.  First off, it's all in French so it's hard to understand what to do if you've never used one before.  You can tell a newbie by the dance they do outside.  The door opens and someone leaves, so they go inside, but it's too early.  The machine has this cycle it has to perform before the next person can use it but if the next person goes in too early the whole thing stops.

You hear online about the machine suddenly opening before the person is finished.  They say you have twenty minutes to do your business, but I don't trust them.  When I use one--and that's only when I absolutely HAVE TO--I pee faster than I ever have before.  LOL

As you walk around Paris you learn where you can go pee.  I'm very aware of every McDonalds, Starbucks and mall.  They usually always have a bathroom you can use.  But I think the thing I found the most crazy was that you can always find a bathroom in a place I'd never have considered looking.

A graveyard.

That's right.  All the graveyards I visited had several toilets, all neatly kept and ready for use.  You can't find one easily under the Eiffel Tower or down the Champ Elysees, but you can go put flowers on your grandmother's grave and take care of business.  What's up with that?  Are they more aware of dead people than the living?    It's a conundrum.

Anyway, I've learned to go whenever I can.  Even if I've gone just an hour before.  After dancing down some of the streets searching desperately for anything I can find, I'm not picky anymore.  Give me a hole in the ground or a machine that talks French.  It's either that or a bush in a park.  And I hear they frown on that.

Now, if I could just get over going into a toilet and seeing a man using the urinal right next to my stall.  But I don't think that's going to happen any time soon!  

I'll be offline for a few days.  The holiday, Jonathon's birthday and the museum hopping I'll be doing will take up all my time.  But I'll be back for a quick museum round up sometime next week.  

Until then have a wonderful and safe New Years.

God Bless!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Side of Paris - A Museum to Make You Blush

Hey all,

So it’s the day after the day after the day after Christmas. Try saying that a few times fast. LOL 

I’ve been getting my house in order over here. Trying to finish getting over this head cold, starting back on an exercise regiment, doing a little writing, and then going sightseeing. It would be so easy to just go play every day, but I have to start as I mean to go and make sure I’m doing a little bit of everything as necessary.

I’ll have some writing news in the next couple weeks. As soon as I know the juicy details I’ll post it here on the blog. Until then I’m just doing the regular stuff—my blog, working on  the FREE READ, as well as any new stories I’m dreaming up.

It’s nice not having to have a big house to take care of. Easy to keep picked up and it gives me lots of time to do other things. I figure I’ll spend the mornings here at the hotel doing writing, then in the afternoon I’ll go see the sights.

Except for next week. I’m getting this special museum pass for six days so I’ll be spending every minute I can museum hopping. Get this!  I’ll get to spend as much time at the Louve as I want! It’s the one place here I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. I also get to see the crypts and climb the towers of Notre Dame, see the palace of Versailles, as well as a bunch of others.

I’ve been going to a bunch of free museums here in town, but the other day Jonathon and I went to one that I just have to write about. I was so tickled that he enjoyed it as much as I did. Ready for this?

Musee de l'Erotisme.

For you that can’t figure out what that means, it’s The Museum of Erotica. And it’s seven floors of all kinds of erotic music, films, statues, cartoons and objects d’ art. I gotta tell you I was pretty agog. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a porno film from the 1920s. And the surrealist art? You have to see it to believe it. 

Check out some of these pictures. A little of everything.


I have never seen so many variations of cocks, quims and ways to use them. I thought I was pretty well read until now.

This place is definitely not for the faint of heart. You’ll have to leave your inhibitions at the door for sure or else you won’t enjoy yourself. One lady did nothing but hummfph her way through the exhibits. Her hubby would point something out, she’d wrinkle her nose up and sniff, “hummfph”. Made me wonder why they put out the euros to visit if they were going to disapprove of everything they saw.

We, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And like good erotica, the exhibits did the job and Jonathon and I went home and got VERY snuggly. But then again, we don’t need to stare at a plastic T-Rex and girl boffing each other to do that.

So if you are in Paris and are bored of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, go on down to the “red light” district where the Moulin Rouge gals kick up their feet and the sex shops do a booming business. 

Find the window where the chair has a moving tongue (I think you can figure out what THAT’S about) and head on inside. I guarantee you will be awed, amused and maybe even a little aroused by the time you leave.

Now you know why they call it, “Gay Paree!”

See you next time!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone! God Bless You All!!!

Hey all,

I hope you all had a great Christmas. It’s such a special time of year, filled with fun and family. But this year was a little different for us. Since we were in Paris, things were very different indeed.

Last year in Macau we were able to Skype with our kids, but here in Paris our internet is SOOOO bad we can even use it. So the best we could do was send a note and a text on the blessed day. It’s the first time I’ve ever been completely incommunicado with my babies and it was pretty hard on me.

But Jonathon knew and set out to make the holiday special. We had a wonderful time just the two of us. While he had to work Christmas Eve day, he got off early enough that we could go do something special.  Something I was hoping we could do from the time I knew we were going to be in Paris.

We started off with a great meal at a sidewalk café. Even though it was cold outside, we sat under the heat lamps so we could people watch. We started out with a sweet aperitif and some of their delicious bread. Then we had a quiche and salad which were both some of the best I’ve tasted.

The main dish was next. We shared beef bourguignon over rice. (awesome) And then something we really wanted to try. Cheese fondue. Three different cheese and wine, eaten with bread and potatoes. I’ve got to tell you…that whole Velveeta thing I grew up with? After eating real fondue, I’ll NEVER do it the Velveeta way again. EVER!!!

Desert was equally good. Crème Brulee (naturally). And chocolate mousse. Wow. It was a delicious way to end the meal.

Of course we had wine. A perfect rose that we’d never tried before. A glass wasn’t enough. We shared a bottle and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

And then on to what I was truly looking forward to. Something to feed my heart and my spirit. Though I had to share it with about a gazillion others, it was worth it.

Christmas Midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral.

Now, please understand, I’m not Catholic. In fact I don’t have a specific organized religion. I’m just a believer. I’ve attended services at Westminster Abbey and been blessed by a Mayan holy man in Belize.  I’ve heard mass said at Saint Paul’s in London and listened to a Hindu Shiva (is that right?) being sung in Nepal. Each religion has it’s own message and I’ve learned a little something from each of them.

But I love Notre Dame. I’ve been to the church before—even sang there as a young girl—and it’s always been special to me. Even after three times in Paris I find myself going back again and again. The age, the architecture, the inspiration I get just walking around. I just adore it. So when the opportunity came for me to experience a midnight mass at Christmas time, I didn’t mind standing in line with the thousands of others who also wanted the experience.

And it wasn’t so bad. Everyone was in a good mood and they had a big screen out in the square for those who couldn’t get in. We queued up and were finally showed in after it had started. The music was beautiful and though I couldn’t understand the Cardinal who gave the sermon (it was in French) it didn’t really matter. My spirit was fed and that was what counted most.

The people standing around me murmured amen and sang along with the choir and I counted myself fortunate that I was able to be a part of such a moving ceremony.

It was a lovely Christmas Eve and a blessed way to start our Christmas day. It might not have been the family Christmas I was used to but in it’s own special way it was just as beautiful and lovely as any we’ve done in the past.

I'll be back with more about...just stuff later this week!
Hugs to all,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas In Paris

Hey all,

I admit it.  When I first heard we would be spending Christmas in Paris, France, I did the happy dance.  What could be more romantic than sipping hot wine and snuggling together as we wander under the Eiffel Tower?

Well, I have to say, the reality was even better than the dream.  The first night we had off we rode the metro down to the Trocadero and visited a French Christmas market.  It was amazing.  Although I've been to many Christmas bazaars in my time, these were quite unique.  Little chalets and the best spreads of food I've ever seen.  And crafts of every kind.  We visited several markets, and it's like stepping into another world.

The food is beyond belief.  You name it, they have it.  Bakery goods, sausage and sandwiches, candies, dozens of cauldrons of hot wines and something you don't often see in the states... Foie Gras which is another name for goose liver.  And for a fraction of what you'd pay in the states.  I don't eat the stuff, but if your palate leans toward the rich and fancy, you can go crazy for less than 5 euros.

What I enjoyed the most were the displays of foods and crafts.  They make them so beautiful each booth was a work of art.  I took a few pics just to show you.  Check 'em out...

Candy.  Bullet type chocolates filled with creme.  Totally yummy and airy.  All for only a euro.

Bakery goods.  A little out of focus, but you can see the variety and display.  Beautiful.

Clothing.  You name it, they got it.  Right now they're doing great business with scarves, mittens and coats.  And the fur lined boots are selling like hotcakes.

 And of course Christmas items are huge right now.  I bought a stocking for myself.  We buy a stocking in every country we visit if it's Christmas.

And the food....seriously, you can get very fat...very fast.
Anyway, these are just a few of the things we saw.  It's a wonderful way to spend an evening with your sweet baboo.  Wandering the streets with your hot wine (or in my case hot OJ made with honey, lemon and cinnamon) in hand.  Christmas in Paris is an exciting start to our amazing traveling adventure.

We'll end our Christmas season with a midnight mass at Notre Dame cathedral and then spend the next day on a very special outing.  More on that next week.

I'll try to be back again before Christmas, but with things being so crazy and the internet so iffy here, I'm not sure as to when I'll be back on.  Until then, may all your days be filled with love, laughter and joy and I pray you and yours with have a very Merry Christmas!

God Bless!


Friday, December 16, 2011

We're Here in the City of Lights!

Hey all,
Well we're here!  In gay Paris!  Gay, cold, windy gloomy Paris, but Paris none-the-less.  It's been an interesting journey to say the least.

Saying goodbye to the kids was hard, but in a way it was a relief for us all.  I think we were all beginning to wonder if we’d EVER leave Orlando.  As Jessaca put it, “You can’t say ‘one last time’ anymore.  You’ve had so many ‘one last times’ we don’t believe you anymore.  LOLOL

Our flights both took off on time and we were on our way...

The overseas flight wasn’t too bad itself, US Airways is one of the better carriers we’ve been on.  Seats were comfortable and there was space for your feet.  Downside was the meal wasn’t great.  Airline food at it’s normal and they wanted to charge you to use headphones.    (I always bring our own—I’ve learned.)

The bad thing was there were two babies on board and they cried non-stop the whole way.  I understand about babies.  Took one on an overseas trip myself, but it was obvious these moms didn’t get why the babies were crying.  And they didn’t want to learn.  The attendant tried to explain about air pressure and it could be eased by them sucking, but neither mom apparently breastfed, used pacifiers or were willing to give a bottle to the child.  The pain those kids must have been in was frightening and even though the moms were embarrassed they wouldn’t do what was necessary to stop the crying.  Bad form.

Needless to say NO ONE got any sleep.  Baby Johnny would finally slow down and we’d all breathe a sigh of relief but then baby Janey would step up to fill the breach.  I finally gave up and watched a movie.

But we arrived in Paris an HOUR early.  Tailwinds the pilot said, but I think he wanted to get away from screaming babies, too!  ;-) 

Immigration was it’s usual crush.  Disney snake lines and we did the immigration line dance.  Shuffle, shuffle, elbow someone, apologize.  Shuffle, shuffle, curse your carry-on as it hits someone’s abused shins, apologize.  Slide in front of someone, grin in satisfaction and hug your success to yourself.

But once we got through all was good.  Our luggage came through with no problems (thank the Lord) and we jumped in a taxi to go to our hotel.  Which turned out to be surprisingly nice.  I’m not sure what I expected...we've stayed in MUCH worse! A hole in the wall or fighting for bed space with cockroaches, but the residence hotel was a pleasant surprise.  Basic, but we have a microwave, fridge and even a hob (hotplate) so I can cook for myself when Jon does show calls.

We dumped our stuff and then took a short walk to blow out the cobwebs.  We are only a twelve minute walk from the Cirque tent (it's white now) so we went and took a look at it.  Wow!  Can you say amazing.  It’s huge.  We found out later it takes 80+ trucks to move it and the rest of the gear around the country.

After a quick lunch, we headed home to get some rest before we went to meet Jon’s boss and see the show.  We were exhausted, but really looking forward to it.

Once we got to the back of the tent, we met Jon’s boss.  (Really nice!  So different from the asshole Gerard) and then we met the tour service’s gal, Stacie.  (Another great help to us and a sweetheart.)  Then I went and drank coffee while Jonathon did paperwork.  And then we saw the show.

In a couple of words, surreal and astonishing.  It’s a long show…close to three hours long with an intermission included.  I’m not sure what it was about—that is often the case with a Cirque show at first, but the talent involved is beyond astonishing.  Flyers, acrobats, clowns (not scary ones), musicians, singers…I could go on and on.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Even almost comatose with exhaustion we enjoyed it thoroughly.

But when we headed home we ran into a problem.  Our key wouldn’t work in our hotel room and the front desk had gone home for the night.  Apparently in France there are NO 24 hour desk help.  So we were pretty much stuck.  Then…enter our fellow Cirque family members.  And though they couldn’t wave a magic wand and get us in, they did the next best thing.

Johan, who speaks French made phone calls to see if he could find a way to get us inside.  Layla, offered us a room to stay in for the night, and Sherry took us upstairs and gave us a drink while we waited for word from the locksmith.

So getting locked out was serendipitous.  We met several Cirque people and I’ve got to tell you…I was so blessed by their openness to help us…someone they’d never even met.  If all our new show family as is gracious as these three, I know we will love our time here.

After an enjoyable visit, we finally went up to our borrowed room and hit the hay.  We’d had enough adventure for the day and we REALLY needed to get to sleep!  LOL

More later!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did You Miss Me? This time I'm Really Back!!!!

Hey all,

Sorry it’s been a while, but I wanted to make sure my news was 100% true before I let everyone in on it. I’m so excited, and that excitement has helped me heal and feel better more than anything else could.

What am I talking about? Well here’s the latest CJ gossip…

As you all know, Jonathon and I were working in Taipa, Macau, a small island west of Hong Kong, for almost a year. While he loved the show he worked, his manager Gerard was a real ass. He was one of those control freaks who cared more about how he looked than taking care of his men. He got people hurt, literally broke equipment and blamed others and lied to his bosses left and right. Jon stood it for as long as he could before finally giving up and giving notice. Life is too short to deal with idiots.

So we left the country of Macau after enjoying much of what the Asian life has to offer. (He did have another offer at another casino, and we thought about staying, but the paperwork to keep us there would have taken too long. We’d have had to leave and then come back and that was too much of a pain.)

Now he didn’t leave without employment. No sirree. Stupid my man isn’t. In this economy leaving one job before having another is just irresponsible. So he tossed his hat in the ring and was offered several other opportunities.

In just one week he was offered jobs in Abu Dhabi, Jakarta Indonesia, Japan or Europe.

Pretty cool, huh? So we went through them, did our pros and cons and finally decided.

Drum roll please.....

We are now the proud employees of Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo Show, which is now touring all over Europe!!!! 

That’s right. As you read this we are winging our way over the ocean to the city of lights…Paris. The show is there right now until the second week in January. Then it moves on to Barcelona Spain, Amsterdam The Netherlands and after that (we think) to Switzerland, Germany and many others.

How awesome is that???!!!! We will be able to do midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral AND celebrate the New Year watching the fireworks go off at the Eiffel Tower. Not too shabby for a couple of poor kids who grew up with itchy feet, huh?

He is the Electronic Maintenance Coordinator, which basically means he is in charge of anything electrical in the show. Jon is super excited over the opportunity and he can’t wait to get started.  If you want to see more about the show, check out these links...

And me? Well, hell. I don’t have any excuse NOT to write now. Romantic foreign lands, new things to see and do everyday, sexy French, Spanish or Danish men. If I didn’t have any ideas before (seriously, I’ve already got a backload—I didn’t need any more help!!!) I sure will now.

Plus, since my health is better, I’ll be able to get back in the track on all my blogging, writing and online activities. Travel is stimulating for me and I thrive on it. So look for more in the future. I plan on being back on track 100% by the new year. But I’ll be blogging again immediately at least twice a week. Once I get Jonathon’s schedule I’ll be more specific.

The first thing I’m going to do is bring back and continue my free read—Hustle into Love. I have it almost finished now and I KNOW my fans are waiting to see what happened to Mace and Chantal.

So keep me in your thoughts and prayers. We arrive in Paris on Wednesday the 14th and begin our new adventure. It’s so great to be back in gear again, and I hope you all check back to see what I think of Paris at Christmastime!!!!

Hugs to all,

CJ England