My Escape to Hawaii on the Grand Princess Cruise

The warm rain pelted my face as I stood in my lavender bathing suit on the black sand beach in Hilo, Hawaii. Coarse sand squished up between my toes. Lightening and thunder clapped in a sky filled with black and grey clouds. A scant hint of blue peeked through.“Don’t go in the water to swim until they have both stopped,” the lifeguard called to me.
The cove was full of black volcanic rocks and pebbles too hard to step on without hurting my feet, so I sat and searched for the famous turtles that swam in these waters. I spotted two resting on a large black rock. I ate my local meal of steamed pork in green tea leaves, a purple sweet potato, and rice. Oh, this is so delicious, it just melts in my mouth. This was so fun hopping on and off the $20 bus, and seeing the Rainbow Falls.

Then a loud snap and rain just fell in buckets, as I ran for shelter. A few couples from the cruise sought shelter with me. “The bus is coming, come on, let’s run for it,” they said. Huge puddles covered my silver Birkenstocks and my pink dress was soaked. Driving into Hilo, I bought a purple muumuu to replace my soaking one. Then boom! I jumped at the loudest thunder I had ever heard. “Welcome to Hilo, the part of the island that always rains,” said the man laughing next to me.

This was the first stop on my 15 day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. Seeking rest and refreshment after an exhausting year, I booked the cruise last minute. It was conveniently leaving Pier 27 in San Francisco, and would be gone for two weeks. Destination, Hawaii. These were my criteria for going. I just stepped out in faith and paid the $2500 flash sale rate. No single supplement was available to me.

Looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge as we sailed underneath it, the loud horn blowing in my ears, I was excited to discover what adventure waited for me these next two weeks.

I loved many things about the Grand Princess. The impeccable international staff that did such a great job of caring for us: Joseph, the head waiter in the Bottecheli dining room, picked out my gluten free meals each evening, and Ricco, my personal waiter, served them; Christopher, Julio and Joseph at my favorite bar on the lobby fifth floor, making me delicious mock-tails, including the Dirty Banana; Nike, my cabin steward from India, made me laugh so much, especially telling me how the whales would swim alongside the ship in the evenings to get wifi, knowing when the ship passed by; Anastasia from near the Ukraine, at the front desk, my first helpful soul upon embarkation, always ready to listen to my escapades with a smile.

Each evening, I feel asleep on their luxurious bedding, rocked by the waves like a baby.

During the first few days of rough seas, I sought solace in the Heart and Soul Lotus Spa, run by manager Euniss and her lovely staff. There I received hot rock massages, a milk body wrap, a foot massage, and a facial. They welcomed me with a soft, long robe and bronze slippers. I recommend the biotech deep cleansing facial. An ultrasound wand is run over your skin that stimulates collagen production and cell renewal. After, my skin looked so clean and plump, with fine lines minimized. I was very happy. I thank Tabbi, a young South African girl, for giving me this special facial.

If you want an extra special dining experience try Sabatini’s, the Italian restaurant onboard for a $25 per person surcharge. Impeccable service and gourmet food met my hungry stomach the night I dined there. A six course meal including fresh prosciutto, fondue soup, pasta carbonara, and fresh snapper delighted me. All were made gluten free by the chef. The food was also excellent in the dining rooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I loved the delicious poolside Salty Dog Grill with hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, and cheesy bacon fries.

And the music; every type was offered in one of their many lounges, my favorite being the Hawaiian musicians who serenaded us while women danced the hula. Watching movies under the stars on the top deck, snuggled under a blanket with popcorn to munch on, sometimes light drizzle falling, was a magical experience. I enjoyed sitting on one of the blue, wooden deck chairs and watching the sea roll by. As I inhaled the beneficial sea air, all the stress and worry of my life lifted.

I met many wonderful people on board; Joe, Pat, Linda, Lucia, Lisa, Jim, Sharon and Duncan. I hoped to meet more singles, and learned from other passengers the cruises to the Caribbean are the ones to do so. I did attend the ship’s single and solo gathering in the evening, only to find no single men there. I was amazed by the couples who had cruised so many times with Princess, including one couple, Mary and John, who were celebrating their 85th cruise!

My inside cabin in the front of the ship on the 10th floor heard music from the Princess Theater three stories below. There is an ongoing soundproofing problem on the older ship. So try to avoid those cabins unless you like to be serenaded to sleep!

I also prefer to have everything included in my cruise price, but on Princess you pay extra money for certain things: milkshakes and specialty hamburgers; The Sanctuary, a private lounge area with pool for adults only, has a surcharge of $20 for a half day, and $40 for a full day; the soda package covered certain drinks in the bar, but not room service. These were surprises not clear on the website.

Now to the best part…Hawaii! As I stated earlier, we arrived first in Hilo, on the big Island, and docked in early morning. My goal was to sit on a warm beach and swim at each stop. But as you know, I got a big storm! I had to be back by 4:30 PM to sail to the next island, Oahu.

I was excited to see Honolulu again after attending summer school there in my college days. Warm, windy weather greeted me. I was shocked high-risers overshadowed the pink Royal Hawaiian and Waikiki beach. I rented a blue umbrella and chaise lounge for two hours for $25 in front of the Sheridan. I tiptoed through the sand into the light blue, warm water. I can’t believe I am swimming the waves here in Waikiki beach. This is so wonderful.
My next stop was to find the Tiki Village of The International Marketplace where Don Ho used to perform. It is now gone and a three story mall is in its place. I shopped to the sounds of Elvis singing Blue Hawaii. Grabbing a fruit, non-dairy Banan, similar to a frozen yogurt, I hopped aboard a bus to Diamond Head. The bus driver, Ron, told me stories of the island and left me at a local place to get authentic Hawaiian food. Tired now, I returned to the ship, happy at my day here after 38 years!

Back on the ship, we made Hawaiian leis out of purple orchid petals. At departure, we sailed slowly watching the island disappear as we headed out to sea to arrive in Kauai next. Here, I took my first excursion offered through Princess, to the Waimea Canyon, which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. This was on my bucket list.

When we arrived, wild chickens roamed around. I bought some fresh pineapple fritters before I took in the sites of this gorgeous canyon, lined with green vegetation, water falls, and rivers. Overall, I tried to plan my own trips and take local transportation: the public bus, Lyft, or hop-on-hop-off bus.

Our final stop was in Lahaina on the island of Maui. We jettied in from the ship. What can I saw about Lahaina? An old whaler village nicely preserved with shops and the Pioneer Inn built in 1824. In the downtown, I sampled a shave ice, with coconut ice cream and green tea, coconut and lychee flavors on top, much better than I remembered.

My goal was to find some pink pearls, and I went into each jewelry store on Front Street until I found the perfect ones. A long string of baroque, fresh water pearls. They were tied with a brown hemp-like string which reminded me of the stings of rope hanging down from the Banyan trees throughout the islands. I stopped at the small beach and body surfed. The air was warm and balmy with a nice breeze. I sighed happily. This was paradise. All the desires of my heart were met. I was sad as we sailed from Maui in the afternoon sun, and waved Aloha.

My fondest memory was in Hilo being drenched while watching God’s magnificent show of thunder, lightening, trees, and sea, all waving together. My perfect Hawaiian day was in Lahaina because of the weather, and it fulfilled my love of architecture and history.

As a single female traveler, I felt safe aboard the Grand Princess. Nike was in the hallway available to look after my needs at most hours. The stateroom had a comforting double lock and a small safe for valuables, but not my laptop.

If you want to decompress from the stress of living in San Francisco Silicon Valley, the Grand Princess to the Hawaiian Islands is a relaxing getaway in your backyard. No need to hassle with flying. Be sure you like spending many days at sea and are up for an adventure, because as Princess advertises…you will come back new…and I certainly did!


A French Recipe – French Yogurt Cake

Bonjour Mes Amis-

It has been awhile since I blogged. I have been going through many trials and illness, but found my way back to you today. I want to share a baking recipe that I love and is very French, in keeping with my blog theme! It is called French Yogurt Loaf, Gâteau au Yaourt, and is the definition of an “anytime cake”—not only because you’ll want to eat it anytime, but because you can make it anytime, too. Yogurt cake is one of the first desserts French children learn to bake, simple as it is. Following is the recipe to bake up on a lovely spring day, with the warm breeze blowing through your kitchen window. You probably have yogurt in your refrigerator. Welcome your guests with this delicious bread/cake and practice your French in the process.

French Yogurt Cake – Gâteau au yaourt.

INGREDIENTS

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

RECIPE PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat pan with vegetable oil spray. Dust with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, rub sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.

You can add a marmalade glaze with fresh fruit, or try nutella inside! Use your imagination!


My Winter Adventure in France – Part 6 – Final

Bon Jour and welcome to my final post on my trip to France last January 2018.
Here are my final days of my beautiful trip for one month that started on the Queen Mary.
Enjoy and I hope you find yourself here one day!
I continue my story in the South of France in Antibes, right on the sea.

January 24

Today it is another day in Paradise. I slept in and went to do laundry down the street. For breakfast I ate a piece of Le Tropizane, the famous pastry I mentioned earlier, from St. Tropez, and let me tell you there is nothing that a little creme and sugar can’t make better. It soothed my hurting heart. I met a nice young Frenchman named Nicolai who runs a scooter shop. He had visited SF and many cities in America and we had a fun conversation and he helped me figure out the machine and money. He folded his clothes so carefully, I remarked on it. “Yes, then I will iron them all.” “Really, in America we throw it in the wash and wear cycle and viola, they are done.” “We have a style here in France to live up too.” “Yes, you do, and you men look so nice in your tight jackets and scarves.” He smiled. He restored my faith in men after last night. What do you think, should I try the scooter or will I ride on the wrong side and end up mort? lol,

January 25
Rainy and cold today – went back to Hotel du Cap – Eden Roc to see what surprise the Lord would bring. First off, I was standing by the wrong gates of Villa Eden Roc, and noticed a sign saying Eden Roc pointing next door. Sure enough, there was the Hotel du Cap majestic in creme with green shutters. Lush gardens and a long driveway led to it. He whispered this would be my home away from home for now, to come for respites as a place by the sea for me. “Antibes is now your home, this is your new beginning I promised”, and until he brings a real home, which he has also promised me, this will be my next step, to come back in the Spring when it opens and to also see Paris lush with grass and flowers, and the Seine a beautiful green/blue.

I wondered if another Francois would show up, but alas, no. Now I am back in my hotel room with some hot chocolate trying to warm up. So the Lord was faithful to me, there is an open door to return, a hint at a romance, and the mer to paint one day soon.

I am pondering going to Italy for the day by train to have pizza, to go to Juan Les Pins nearby and see the beaches, and still rent a bike if the weather cooperates in my three days left. I feel settled now, He has answered my prayers in ways I couldn’t even imagine. It is always different what he brings than what you expect, isn’t it? But always the best gifts, as He is the giver of good gifts.

January 26

Overcast, cold, day trip to Juan Les Pins, a coastal town on other side of cap du Antibes. I love how there are all these different markets selling things outside and today I stumbled on the lingerie market where I got three pairs of lacy, French underwear (not thongs!) for 5 euros. Oh, la la. Now I have bought some clothing. Then I dared myself to walk into a salon and get a French hair cut, which Isabelle, did, matching my hair to her style. It was only 25 euros for wash, cut and blow dry. The shampoo girl massages your head. Do I look tres chic now? lol. I hope the sunshine returns tomorrow so I can ride a bike. I miss riding mine. My heart is wanting to return home.

January 27

God smiled on me today. It was raining when I walked to English bookstore in Old Town to get a book for the plane, Ville American, a fictionalized novel about a famous villa all the notables stayed at between the wars and the romances they had there on the Riviera. When I exited, the sun came out and voila, there were bicycles to rent. I biked all along the rampart walls and mer to the plague. I picked up a falafel with eggplant and cauliflower with frites inside yum yum again. I think it is in the sauces, as I can’t imagine how to reproduce these recipes I have had once home. Oh, well. I will have to wait until I return next spring.

While admiring the view, I met a young South Korean girl here as a student and we compared stories and I warned her to be careful with the men here and not to be alone. She wanted to be Facebook friends and told her to read my stories She seemed interested in me being a Christian missionary and going to church here. We kissed on cheeks goodbye and she said “You are the first American I have kissed like that!” On the way out, I biked down narrow, cobblestone streets, narrowly missing cars, other bikes and baby strollers. A few French yelled at me, I think to say, “Get on the other side of the road.”

I rode the Ferris wheel 5 times around for gorgeous views and rooftops after I dropped off the bike. I am having my last capuchino dry (I taught the French this term ) with fresh beignets yum yum yum. How will I ever eat again at home? Lol.

January 28

Je suis triste (I am sad.). Tomorrow the taxi picks me up at 5a.m to take me to airport. Please pray he arrives on time and I make flight in Nice, and my connection in Paris. Delta ran my name together Teresalyn on my ticket; praying this is not a problem at the airport.

Today, I took Uber to Eglise Protestant Unie, the Protestant church and the poor Uber driver could not find it so around we went until we did! It was a small congregation of about 60 people, mostly elderly, but was greeted warmly. The service was all in French, but the music was universal and my soul sang along with the magestic choir music. French is so lovely sang.

They had a meet and greet and coffee afterward where I introduced my self in French and where I was from. The Pastor said “San Francisco, Caalliforrnia” making fun of how we say our state name. Quite a few women approached me and had conversation in Frenglish, what I call my half and half speech. One sweet lady said, “Are we on kissing terms”, meaning are we still strangers or can we kiss cheeks. I said, “We are all family in Jesus, so yes, we can.”
Communion was a little different. We joined in circle around the baguette and wine and took a piece, gave it to your neighbor and passed the chunk along. Then they passed the chalice of wine which everyone sipped without writing the edges off. Being taught as a missionary to do as the natives did, I did the same, thinking how in America we are such germaphobes and most of you would probably die doing this!

I am so glad I went, now I have a church family to come back to. This is where I felt Lord direct me.

I wandered to Charles de Gaule square and the water fountains there, then leisurely strolled down the Provencal market route, stopping to try my first chocolate at a shop, four pieces with crisps and pistachios. This is the best chocolate I have tasted,

I stopped at the Real Estate office and viewed the homes for sale with their prices in the window. I felt like Diane Lane in the movie Under the Tuscan sun, when she does the same and says, “I can’t go back to San Francisco,” when a local asks her if she is going to buy it! One day I will! You can get an apartment in the Old City for 85,000 euros, or a villa for 1.6 million euros or a villa on the cap for 6 million euros. What can you afford? It is actually cheaper to live here than Bay Area. Studio/one bedroom apartments go for 700 euros a month ($850). I could afford this!

After dreaming, I lined up for a chicken swarma with frites and ate it as I waked out of the Old City to my hotel for the last time. It was sunny and warm and a nice way to say goodbye to my new home, Antibes.

Merci beaucoup for traveling along on my journey and being such a fun and responsive audience! Au Revoir met Amis (Goodbye my friends)


My Winter Adventure in France – Part 5

Bon Jour Mes Amis!

My journey continues on my trip to France last January of 2018 to Paris and the South of France. I am now in Antibes, between Cannes and Nice on my second week of being there. Enjoy the journey!

January 18

Pampering day in Antibes. Took my first Uber to nail salon, all in pink, so knew Lord directed me there. Cute girl Marielle did my mani pedi for 52 euros. Yikes. They don’t do color, that is extra. Very simple pedi done in a foot bath not big chairs. Wandered to main square to perfume shop and treated myself to a lemon toilette spray (86 euros on sale!). But I must smell good for Francois!

Followed the way to la mer and the music of accordion. I sat admiring the view. “Lord, I could live here very happily. The sea and palm trees remind me of home”. My stomach rumbling, I returned to my friend Vincenzi’s restaurant and was warmly greeted by all, he even introduced me to his uncle who kissed my hand! I ordered the special of steak, frites, salat, white wine and chocolate mouse, all for $15 euros, my deal for the day. Vincenzi threw a fit when I asked for leftovers to go. He is Italian. Need I say more?! Lord it is so decadent to drink wine in middle of day. But it is so French!

I have decided to stay the two weeks planned and concentrate on Antibes and Nice. It is just too much to travel to new cities like Cannes or Monaco and not know the layout. I want to take the train to Italy one day as it is so close. Bon appetite!

January 19

What do you do when the Lord asks you to do something strange? Do you obey him? Today, I did. It was not the first time, but I took a leap of faith and told Vincenzi why I was here, to meet my husband Francois and come live in Antibes. He did not know of him, but took my card with name of hotel in case a man comes looking for le femme American, Miriam. He did not think it was crazy, as he is an talian AND Frenchman, and they believe in love in crazy ways. He kidded with me and said. “Are you asking me to come to your hotel tonight?” “Non, I am a good Christian woman.” We both laughed. He did the French trick of asking me if he smelt nice and I leaned in to smell his aftershave and he turned and kissed me on the lips! “Do the women fall for this every time?” “Oui.” He is not married nor wants to be, so I know he is not Francois. I hope Jesus is not jealous with his teasing!

It feels good to have a friend and be known and welcomed at a place here. The girls at the front desk, Celine and Aurelia are so helpful and like me to check in with them every day to see if I got lost and hear about my adventures. They are even going to let me do a load of laundry here. God is good. I had a nice, relaxing day and slept into 11 am. Tomorrow is Nice. Aurelia has drawn me maps!

Januany 20

Nice

I just ate the best pizza in Old Town of Nice in a heart shape with eggplant, olives, mushrooms and arugula. I travelled by train, then took tram to Promenade du Anglese, the street that runs along le mer and where the tragedy of car ramming happened. The have cafes right on the beach and free blue chairs to sit in. The water is a baby blue with gray toned rocks pebbling the beach expanse. I am making my way to Marc Chagall Musee if I can find it! I walked arm in arm with Jesus along the promenade. I am so much more in love with him on this trip, he has taken such good care of me, which I know is from your prayers. Merci mon amis.

Part two of Nice: Took a ride in the bicycle with Armand, who didn’t know if he could make it up the hill to the Musee Chagall, but said he would try! Well, he did it, pulling fat me up the hills! I was overwhelmed with tears again to see my favorite Jewish artist, Marc Chagall’s works. He built the museum when he was in his early 80s to feel like a home, with olive trees and mediteranean plants.

His canvases are so big, and such detail, I had to sit and find the biblical details and meanings in each one. I especially loved his Song of Songs series in pinks and purples to express the love of King David and Basheba, whom the Jews believe the Songs were written about. He has Christ crucified in many painting, to supposedly represent the tortured Jew, but I think something else was going on in his heart. I couldn’t take it all in, so stopped, as I was very tired from walking all day on the promenade.

I spoke with an artist displaying his art about the tragedy, and he feels someone in France was in on the terroism, as the security stopped bicycles from going into the crowds that day, but allowed the truck onto the road. Today, they have large white posts to block any car coming unto the promenade.

Now a local, I picked up my baguette after I returned to Antibes by train, to have with my tapenade and cheese dinner. I love it here!

January 21

Guess where I went for a matinee today? The French theater here in Antibes. A group of actors were staying at my hotel the last two days, and I met one in the elevator, John Baptiste, and so I thought I would go. While inquiring at the desk, a quiet, redheaded gentleman heard me and being the production head, he offered me a free ticket! His name is Francois, wasn’t he kind? It was exciting going, I met a nice Italian woman, Laura, who has lived here for 20 years, while having a coke before the show. It was titled Un Air du Famile about a normal, dysfunctional family that meets in a cafe every Friday night for dinner. I understood some of it, but ACT 2 was very funny, with crying and dancing and just universal themes that were expressed through drama. Isn’t the Lord good to let me see live theater here? He is full of surprises.

January 22

Today was a simple, outdoor day taking the bus to Eden Roc Villa, famous hotel where F. Scott Fitgerald, Rita Hayworth and The Kennedy Family would stay. It is closed but I got a peek through the fence. I then walked on the sentinel path along the Cap d’Antibes, stone steps along a narrow path falling to the sea. I sat and watched the waves crash on the stones, many looking volcanic in nature. Roc means rock in French.

On the way back in town, I finally found a cheap, good salad for 4.9 euros, which I have been craving veggies. I am al breaded out! I discovered a famous pastry at a bakery, which Napolean ate and to which Marie Antoniette said, ‘Let them eat cake.” Here is a pic of them and the sea walk. Enjoy.

Check back in July for the final week in Antibes before heading home after my month long trip across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary and three weeks in France.

A Bientôt – Miriam


My Winter Adventure in France – Part 4

Bon Soir!

I write this late at night looking out at the star filled sky with the bright moon winking at me! I love to write at night and am a night owl, but today I would like to share my continued adventure in France this past January 2018. I traveled to experience my writers and artist dream; to see the master’s artwork and write where the famous authors like Hemingway and F.Scott Fitgerald wrote. This was a trip of a lifetime for me and one I waited five years to take.

In my journey Part 4, I am in Antibes, South of France, right on the Mediterranean Sea. I begin my first two days there on a wrong bus and a trip to the Picasso Musee. (Catch up on my story on my previous blogs.)

January 16
“J’suis perdu.” (I am lost.) I told myself as I sat on the deserted plage (beach) on the cap du Antibes. I had gotten on the #2 bus at the bus station, a 10 minute walk from my hotel, and told the driver as the receptionist taught me:”I want to go to square Albert 1 and the beach.”

“En Antibes?”

“Oui”.

Well, I rode for awhile getting nervous and he finally dropped me at this little hotel and said “le mer is tout droit.” (straight that way.) So I begin walking through these huge homes with gates, and the fear starts to come.”Lord, I do not know where I am.” Some workers point me further down and voila, there is the plage Keller. I encounter a closed snack bar being renovated and the man there gives me some more water, to which I am grateful. I have two pieces of fruit in my bag, a kiwi and tangerine, so I know I am ok for awhile, as I am a diabetic.

I start to walk along the path of the sea and find a nice place to admire my fist look at the snow covered Alps, and a sea filled with azure and turquoise waters.I start to relax knowing I am not lost, Jesus is with me and I put my head on his shoulder.”Alright, Lord, send Francois to rescue me!”

People walk by on their hike and when every man passed by I asked the Lord, “Est ce lui?” (Is this him?) Finally, the sea having done its magic and refreshed me, I say, “Lord, I just want to enjoy the sea and have fun. I am not going to look for Francois or worry about him anymore.” Let me know how long I should stay in Antibes and when to book my return ticket.”

As I am waling back up the hill, I come to a fork, not knowing which way.”Lord, help me.” I look up and see a police car.The officer stops. “Escuzi moi Monsuier, je sues pedru.” (I am lost) He directs me up to the street to catch the bus and when I arrive it is there, so I hop on. I enjoy the view as we drive along the cap back to Antibes. I had wanted to walk along the cap to the Eden Roc Hotel but it is too far and closed. Most hotels and restaurants are closed up here for winter until mid April.

On the walk back to hotel, I stop at the bakery and get a slice of pizza for 2.45 euros and at the grocery for lemonade, Diet Coke, chips, yogurt, cambert cheese and Little Boy chocolate cookies, which are better in France. I am surprised how cheap the food is here in Antibes, compared to Paris.I paid 1.15 euros for a large container of yogurt, .89 cents for limonaid, 1.50 for a large round of cambert. My hotel does not come with breakfast here, so I will save money filling my small refrigerator with food.

It is windy, with 60 degree weather and sunshine all the way to Monaco. Tomorrow I am going to the Picasso museum in the castle he lived here in Antibes.For now a nap. Enjoy the pictures!

January 17

Hello from Antibes,it’s 54 degrees and sunshine on this beautiful winter day. I journeyed into the Old City today to see Picasso’s museum in an old castle overlooking the city walls.I walked without getting lost, as Aurelie, the night receptionist here at the Best Western Inn, drew me a hand map.Picasso worked here between 1946- 1948 after the war and created ceramics, and linocuts, new mediums for him.

The man who owned the ceramic factory in nearby Vallerius taught him. I met his nieces, two French/British ladies the other night outside the gelato shop and they told me their story. One lady, Lynette, shared she held one of Picasso’s sketchbooks wearing white gloves.The family sold the factory and she just bought a home in the new development.This pricked my interest as I believe the Lord has a home for me here too, and one day I will be a home owner.

It was another ‘ahah moment’ as I walked on the squeaky wood floors of his studio, with the little shuttered rectangular windows letting light into his studio. He had started to engrave a mural into the walls of this large studio, but stopped suddenly.You can still see the engravings.I felt his presence so strongly here. His unseen works exhibited here feature things special to his heart here in the Cote d’ Azur: sea urchins, octopus, owls, bulls fighting, to name a few. He also liked doing fauns and of course, nudes. I wasn’t really a Picasso fan until today. If you want to read book about his life here in Antibes, I recommend the book Cooking for Picasso, a fictionalized story of the young girl who cooked and fed him every day while he was here, and came to have his baby.

After the museum, I wandered down the narrow cobbled stone lanes of the Old City and came upon the Holy Spirit church and went inside.They were playing operatic music, which I found strange, but I was able to sit awhile and hear from the Lord more about his plans for my time here. This was good for me, as I was feeling so depleted, spiritually and physically, from all the travel. I came upon the marchee, or daily market, and bought some goodies: baby eggplant tapenade, some truffle cheese (at 12 euros enough to last all week from a pushy marketer), some dried figs and a baguette for.89 cents. I love how the French ensure their people have bread and keep the price so low.

I ate my picnic lunch outside the city entrance overlooking all the big yachts on Millionaire Row.This is the largest and wealthiest harbor in all of Europe. Perhaps Francois owns one, you can all come for a free boat ride! I walked the ramparts out to the giant sculpture of a man made out of letters, overlooking the harbor.

I almost bought the new John Grisham book at an English bookstore but it was 34 euros.($40) It would be nice to have something to read as all the television is in French.

Enjoy the master’s work! (Both God and Picasso)

Stay tuned next month for my continued journeys in Antibes and Nice in part 5 of my winter adventure in France.

A Bientôt (See you soon!)

Miriam


My Winter Adventure in France – Part 3

Bon Jour!

It is now spring and my hope rises to return to Paris to see the flowers and swim in the sea in the South of France. It may still be a little cold, but we shall see!

Continuing on with my adventures this past winter in France, I have included two of my Facebook posts to friends as I traveled to the Riviera. May you enjoy the journey along with me!

January 15 Fifth Day in Paris

My last day in Paris, I visited the neighborhood of Montmartre in the rain, on the famous martyrs hill where St Denis, first bishop of Paris, was decapitated. Legend is he picked up his head and walked down the hill, then up this small hill and died! The church of Sacre Couer is here (sacred heart of Jesus) with domed mural and sacrament of Eucharist on display. Prayed and had some time with Jesus. View from steps is famous to come to see sunrise or set over Paris. My first ariel view since I did not make it up Eiffel.

I wandered to the town square where artists paint, and where famous artists of 1920’s and 30s, like Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, and Chagal, exhibited on this same square and had their studios nearby.

A painter, Miro, offered a portrait of me in a new medium of Japanese markers. I laughed and giggled as we stood in the square in the cold and he painted me as he saw me. He gave me an artist 50% discount and I was pleased! This was the souvenir I was looking for, original art et moi!

Wandering around, a tall good-looking artist, Jonas, approached me and said he wanted to sketch my eyes, they were so beautiful and full of light. For free. I agreed and I told him the light was from Jesus which opened door to talk about our faith and how he says racism and anitsemitism in France is not like media portrays. He does not care that I was Jewish or American, people are people. He admired my all purple outfit. “I am an artist and I dress in color.” Everyone wears black in Paris. He asked to see my art, and I showed him my glass sculptures, which he admired.

Next thing I know, he draws my full face, I felt he got my eyes, nose and mouth, but my face was too wide. I offered him $10 euros which he kindly took and kissed me, a warm, long kiss on my cheek. “You are the first Frenchman to kiss me…but not three times.” “In Paris we kiss four times” so kisses 2, 3 and 4 followed, By now I was swooning. “Miriam, you are a princess”. I thought, perhaps this is my Francois? But alas,no,he is in South of France. We took a picture and I walked away with a big smile.

Around the corner, I ran into Miro again and showed him the portrait by Jonas. “He made my face too wide”. “That is because he does not have my eye and he did not know that you were not fat!” “The light in my eyes, Milo, comes from Jesus.” “Ah, Jesus.” Another artist, Vasco, with wild long hair and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, starts cutting a silhouette of me. “I have no more money. I need to get some lunch.” He too wanted a picture and got my last 5 euro.

I will remember this day forever, hanging with the warm Parisian artists in the square of such history. God is so good to me, and has planned such surprises. Tomorrow I head to Nice on the train. Please say a quick prayer no one takes my luggage from the communal luggage area. People steal things here in France. Ask for an angel to sit on it for me!

January 15 First night in South of France.

Je suis en Antibes, Sud du France! My luggage and I arrived safely. Thanks for praying. It is like home here, blue skies with fluffy clouds, wind blowing the palm trees, turquoise blue sea, red tiled roofs wth pale light colored houses in coral, pink and beige. So refreshing after dark, gloomy Paris. My room is even decorated in a beach theme! Lord knows how to pick them.
The scenery down was wonderful to see. Castle’s nestled on top of hills, small villages along the river, naked vineyards in burgundy, grey and black. Marie-Claire was a beautiful, older Parisian woman who sat next to me on the train and translated the announcements. I am off to dinner downtown for my first seafood meal and to see millionaires row, all the yachts in the harbor Antibes is famous for.

My first official dinner in France with owner Vincenzi at his French Italian restaurant in Old Town in Antibes. I had the Red Snapper drizzled in oil with veggies and garlic puréed potatoes and fresh rolls. It tasted so French. He and his staff laughed when I asked to take leftovers home for tmw night. I guess the French don’t take leftovers so he presented it wrapped in foil! He threw kisses to me and I caught them and threw them back. What is it with French men? A girl has to economize! Feeling full but happy! Bon Nuit!

Stay tuned for Picasso, the blue sea, and a wrong bus stop that lead to a fun adventure in my next stories.

Ciao and A Bientot!

Miriam


My Winter Adventures in France – Part 2

Bon jour mes amis – (Hello my friends!)

My adventures in Paris continue in today’s blog post of my winter trip to France this past January 2018. It was my dream trip of a month abroad, starting with a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 from New York to England, complete with a hurricane! As an artist and writer, I wanted to see all the famous spots artists and writers of past generations had lived and worked. (Read up on it on my previous post on this blog site.)

January 13 – Third day in Paris

Today my dream came true to visit the Cafe Deux Magot (two chinamen) in German de Pres where Hemingway wrote his early books over a cognac, and write some of my next book. I could not bring my laptop for security reasons so my iPhone had to suffice. I ordered a capuchino (yes, they are better here) from a quirky waiter with sunken cheeks and a twitch, or was it a wink?! who grunted at me. How appropriate for Paris. I had wanted to write Becoming Miriam in Paris, and in a way, I have! You wait and wait on the Lord, then voila, the day arrives. Feeling happy today.

Later that day:

Shabbath Peace! Today on Shabbat I went to the Jewish part of the Marais and had the best falafel ever, with shnitzel (pounded fried chicken) and eggplant. The place, with a star of David over the door, was loud, crowded, with a swarma (lamb) spit, and played Israeli music in Hebrew, which made me cry again, to be celebrating my Jewishness openly in anti-semitic France. I met an Israeli, Allan, who lives in Paris and got to speak some Hebrew. There are only two blocks left of the Jewish quarter, most Jews have made aliyah (immigration) to Israel. There was a Yiddish/Russian place, a deli, a social service place, and a store that sold Menorahs and such. Alas, they were closed because foolish me forgot it was Saturday!

I then stopped at a bakery and tried my first macaroons, one caramel, one pistachio, divine! I also visited Luxembourg Gardens with the naked trees all lined up in precision and the large pond children sail toy boats in.

I had a long and rough day in the Metro getting around, you really go into the bowels of the earth to find your right platform. You must know the color, number and name of the end of the line you are on, and the lines all mix crazily.

I booked my train ticket to Nice today, I leave on Tuesday for a 6 hour trip there, then on to Antibes. You have to print your ticket at the station, all this is so new to me, which adds stress because what if it doesn’t print and I spent 92euros? lol Travel days are hard too. Tomorrow I must do laundry at the Lavaganic five minutes walk away. And yes, my shower is working again! Enjoy the pics!

January 14 – Fourth day in Paris

Sunday. A day of rest. Sunshine for first time! I did laundry for 5 euros a wash (!) which was computerized and a nice Parisian helped me. A Saudi Arabian man spoke with me as we waited on our laundry, which you must watch or it is stolen. He told me their new King Mohammad du Suleman is liberating the country: women don’t have to cover or wear burqas, they can now drive, have equality. They now have movie theaters and can steam Netflix. This is good news to hear. But gays are abandoned and thrown out of country. Some things do not change in a Muslim country.

I stumbled upon Sunday Market and boy what a feast. You have to que up to buy. Fish, escargot, chickens with their heads on, free samples of duck pate, nougut with pistachios and figs (yum, I bought), belts, clothes, computer gadgets, and my favorite brie with truffles slathered in middle for 49 euros a pound. I kept asking the man to repeat the price because I wanted some and finally had to say I could not afford that. They laughed when I asked for samples of cheese. A faux pas!

A nice Madame helped me do the ATM machine to get euros for Nice. I keep them locked in my room safe. Now or a nap, these old bones are tired!
I am so grateful to the Lord for this time here as I love traveling internationally and can’t wait to live abroad, him willing. And I love sharing with you, it gives me a chance to write and keep a journal of my trip. A Beintot!

Stay tuned for the next section, with me traveling to the South of France and the Riviera!


40 Cloves of Garlic and a Chicken? French Recipe You’ll Love

Yes, you heard right. 40 cloves of garlic and a chicken. A traditional French recipe, I stumbled upon in my “a little taste of France” cookbook. What? Really? What do you need 40 cloves for? But knowing the French are experts at cooking, and trying to increase my repertoire of French dishes, I tried it. And loved it.

First of all, I love baked garlic cloves with bread and this recipe allows you to soap up all the juices of chicken and garlic with the bread. So if you are feeling adventuresome, give it a try! Serves 4 people.

Ingredients
2 Celery Stalks, including leaves
2 springs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
4 springs of flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 x 1.6 kg (3lb 8 oz) chicken
40 garlic cloves unpeeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 small onion cut into 4 wedges
250 ml (1 cup) white wine
1 baguette, cut into slices
small springs of herbs

Preheat the oven to 200c or 400 degrees. Put a chopped celery stalk and two sprigs each of the rosemary, thyme and parsley into the chicken cavity. Add 6 cloves of garlic. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under.

Brush the chicken liberally with some of the oil and season well. Scatter about 10 more cloves of garlic over the base of the large casserole dish. Put the remaining sprigs of herbs, chopped celery, carrot and onion in the casserole.

Put the chicken in the dish. Scatter the remaining garlic cloves around the chicken and add the remaining oil and wine. Cover and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer.

To serve, carefully lift the chicken out of the casserole dish. Strain off the juices into a small saucepan. Use tongs to pick out the garlic cloves from the strained mixture. Spoon off the fat from the juices and boil for 2-3 minutes to reduce and thicken a little.

Cut the chicken into serving portions, pour over a little of the juices and scatter with the garlic. Toast the baguette slices. Garnish the chicken with sprigs of herbs and serve with the bread to be spread with the soft flesh squeezed from the garlic.

Bon Appétit!


My Alaskan Adventure – Meeting God in the Wilderness

I just returned from a five day spiritual retreat in Juneau, Alaska, which was the 50th state I have visited in America, and my first time here. This was on my bucket list and I am happy the Lord gave me the vision and resources to go.

Prior to leaving, I had been in such a dry, dead place spiritually, following a year of grieving my father’s death and a car settlement case with an attorney that had been so difficult. I so longed for some time away with Jesus, and to experience the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.

I chose Juneau as it had a retreat center and Shrine to St. Therese of the little flower Jesus, whom I had been named after, my given name being Teresa. It is an old gold mining town with the Mendenhall Glacier and tram up to Mt. Roberts, in the middle of a rainforest. I picked to stay at Grandma’s Featherbed Inn, in anticipation of the comfortable bed, which turned out to be like sleeping on a cloud, and the whirlpool bath. The owner, Mel, was so helpful, packing me a free lunch each day as I trouped out with my Lyft driver to the unknown.

I was first stunned how the clouds dance up and down over the huge wooded mountains and a layer of fog and mist rests upon the gray-blue water of the channel that Juneau resides upon. The St.Therese Shrine had a long walkway out to a wooded island. There I was alone in the chapel, where the Lord began to do a new work in my heart: Repentance, healing and deliverance all supernaturally occurred as I walked the beautiful gardens and sat before the sea, hoping for a whale to surface, or a bear to come lumbering along. I heard his voice so clearly in the silence as I munched on my delicious sandwich, with hardly a person in sight. I saw His majesty, His power, His love in the nature around me and in His tender healing of my heart. He gave me a new heart of flesh, from my heart of stone (Ezekial 36:26) and filled me with His love for others.

On a walk the next day to the glacier and Nugget Falls, along a path where a bear had been the day before, I stood under the pounding, loud waterfall and felt Him deliver me from many bondages in my life. Primarily to a bondage to self, which was keeping me from loving people. He pressed upon my heart to live a new life in holiness, like St. Therese, to follow her ways of simplicity and showing love in simple ways to others, and to sacrifice and do everything in love for Him.

Returning from the falls, and singing at the top of my voice to scare away said bear, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flurry of golden brown fur go by in the bushes off the path. I quickened my step but kept singing Yankee Doodle Dandy. You’d be surprised what comes out of your mouth when stumbling upon one. I became more brave while in the wilderness with Jesus, as I realized if I could trust him to protect me from bears, certainly he could protect me from all my fears and problems waiting back home.

One afternoon I spend the day wandering throughout the old storefronts of Juneau, marveling at the talent of the local artists, learning the story of the native people’s heritage through a museum mask display and old-time Indian trading post that carried pink suede moccasins lined in white fur, ivory carved polar bears, and fur pelts for any decor. I stopped for a nonalcoholic drink at the Red Dog Saloon, where I chatted with cruise ship tourists in dock for the day, in this famous 1840 drinking establishment serving gold miners on the last stop on the gold highway.

God restored my heart for sharing the gospel when he gave me many divine appointments, where I was able to share my faith and speak hope and love into people’s lives, especially the Mormon’s who ran and worked at Grandma’s Inn, and who showed me such love and kindness. I was able to tell them about my book, Becoming Miriam: A Life Transformed by God and give them my card to find it on Amazon.com. I hope they will read it and find the truth of who Jesus is and the free gift of grace and salvation He gives to us. Alaska is in my heart and I am so grateful to the Lord for gifting me this wonderful experience of seeing Him in all His glory both personally and in the beauty of nature.

I highly recommend a trip to Juneau and feel free to message me with any questions!


Parlez Vous Francais? Simple Online Language Lessons by Mango

Bonjour! (Good day, hello)

Today I would like to share my journey into re-familiarizing myself with the French language as I prepare to visit France. I took French for one semester 35 years ago while at U.C. Berkeley and for the past year, I have been watching movies with French subtitles, but needed more.

My local librarian introduced me to Mango, an online resource free through the library system that teaches online language lessons, including French. It is available also for a fee through the mobile app and at mangolanguages.com

I am thrilled to say I have been able to bring back the language through these simple, easy to understand and speak, interactive lessons. You will find them under Online Resources on your library website.

I am sitting here at Peets Coffee, smelling the freshly ground coffee, on this hot 96 degree summer day, probably annoying my fellow Peetniks by repeating the French phrases outloud!

Do you want to learn some easy French? Here is a sampling:

Bon Soir! (Good evening)
Ca Va? (How are you?)
Bon, ca va très bien, merci (Well, I am very well, thank you.)
Vous parlez anglais? (Do you speak English?)
Moi? Oui, je parle un peu anglais. (Yes, I speak English a little.)
Bien. Je ne comprends pas le français beaucoup (Good, I do not understand French very much.)
Bon, A tout a l’heure. (Well, see you later.)
Au Revoir, and Ciao. (Goodbye and Ciao)

See, I learned all this in the first five lessons, and I trust I will be able to get around Paris and the South of France. After all, the French appreciation it if you try to speak the language first, especially waiters, and then don’t think we are horrible Americans!

Please come back to my blog and learn more about France and my upcoming trip!

Salut and Ciao (goodbye and Ciao)

Read my spiritual journey and my path to moving to France in my new book Becoming Miriam: A Life Transformed by God
available in paperback or ebook at amazon.com