Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May Holidays

It is so cool to feel that the weather is getting better in Paris. In France we can't complain about having too little public holidays. 

The month of May is the winner, having the most long weekends. Many locals take long vacations and enjoy the weather which at this stage at this point is not too hot like summer and not too cold like early spring. Many opt to fly to new destinations like I've done when I went to Asia a few years ago.

 Because of all those weekends, many people do what is known here as < FAIRE LE PONT > It means “to make the bridge” maening prolonging a weekend. For example if the public holiday is on a Thursday, then you “make the bridge”. That is what is happening this week for me. I am off of work Thursday and Friday so Wednesday night we are headed to La Baule in Loire Atlantique (North West of France) to enjoy some time out of the city and take in some fresh air and relaxation.

Here is a list of May holidays:

May1st  :Fête du Travail / Labor Day aka Fête du Muguet  (lily of the valley)
The flowers are picked and people give them to their loved ones. They smell so like spring but only last a day or two before they dry up. 

May 8th  :La Fête de la Victoire /  Victory Day
Conmemoration of the end of World War II.The French President always makes a ceremony watched by many on TV. Very emotive.

May 14th :Ascension
Catholic Holiday.

May 25th :Lundi de Pentecôte /Pentecost Monday
Catholic holiday. This holiday was eliminated and once again reinstated after France had a big heatwave where many elders died.

I have been working hard on so many projects including selling and buying a car, finishing off at work before a big pause I'll take, moving to a newly constructed apartment and working on all it's planning and logistics, dealing with new family plans, etc. I am looking forward to this long weekend and <faire le pont>.

Happy end of May everyone!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why food tastes different while flying

When we fly, we must refuel. Hydrating and eating are important, specially on long haul flights. That little pleasure makes the trip a bit more fun. May it be a warm panini or a bag of chips with a glass of wine all goes.

I've had my share of bad airplane food but when they surprise you with something, it is quite a highlight for me. I still remember that flight to Singapore and they served the best sandwich I've had so far while flying.
Food is an experience for all our senses specially a treat for our tastebuds when we are 35,000 feet on the air. Anything we take a bite into will take a little bit more of effort in onrder to taste it and smell it. The spicy, the salty, the sweet and the bitter take a different role.This is in fact because our senses are affected by the altitude and the cabin pressure on the air.
Foods are selected more strong, more intense because our tastes buds get affected while flying and need to be pushed a bit further in order to taste correctly.

 Mix altitude with a lack of humidity, and your senses are all a bit messed up!

Now I know why my Baily's on the rocks didn't taste like the usual!

As a result of the altitude and the dry air, our taste buds start reacting in almost the same way they do when we may be getting a cold. While we can still sense sour, bitter and spicy, Hurray for strong bloody mary's! Our ability to detect sweet and salty flavors descends by almost 30 percent !
Who knew why those crispy little pretzels were so good when I eat them on the plane! So salty!
So even if you are not a fan of very salty chips and you crave them on the plane, now you know why.

Safe travels and cheers!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Coming and Going

I was reading the daily newspaper of Puerto Rico, EL Nuevo Dia and I found this article written by Cecilia Velazquez. She wrote about traveling to Paris and London and it she describes it in an engaging way. She also tells us her thoughts on the last moments and their value. It was a nice read.
 If you understand spanish and want to read it, here it is. Enjoy!

Es curiosa la capacidad que uno tiene para acostumbrarse y desacostumbrarse a cosas y lugares. Cuando llego a un nuevo destino, me toma varios días caer en tiempo y sintonía. El salto siempre es grande. Al principio todo me parece extraño. Desde la marca de la leche hasta la politesse  o cordialidad con que tanto franceses como ingleses se desenvuelven socialmente. Del dólar al euro y a la libra; del ron al cider o al vino Bordeaux; del subway al métro o al tube; del flan al crème brûlée; del pastelón de papa al kidney pie… En fin, del espacio propio al ajeno.
Así, la ciudad de Nueva York se fue desvaneciendo en el recuerdo durante los tres meses que rodé por casas y cuartos alquilados en París y Londres, sin más pertenencias que una maleta llena de ropa para el invierno y tabletas Tums. Me fui desplazando por calles y callejones cuyos cafés, panaderías y bares se tornaron familiares. Y así, de forma inesperada, me desacostumbré de mi rutina pasada y me acostumbré a otra cotidianidad.
En el camino, tuve que renunciar a la idea convencional de estabilidad y asumir la incertidumbre que provee moverse en lugares extranjeros. Claro que, de vez en cuando, me comunicaba con mi familia y amigos vía Skype o FaceTime. 
He descubierto que al viajar uno se torna más consciente de las despedidas. Se comienza a apreciar las últimas veces. El último café, la última cena, el último postre y la última mirada al último atardecer. Una sensación de nostalgia me sobrecoge al pensar que también será la última vez que seré en este lugar. Es decir, aunque regrese en el futuro, no será lo mismo.
Poco a poco me despido de la gente que brevemente conocí, de los espacios y los paisajes. También me despido de las inquietudes, ansiedades y risas que sentí.
Me espera un viaje transatlántico que por suerte ya no dura cuatro meses en barco como en antaño, sino ocho horas por avión. Aquí me encuentro en la cabina, rodeada de caras desconocidas e individuos que permanecerán anónimos en mi recuerdo. Me tocó uno de los asientos del medio. Me incomodan los brazos de los dos señores que acaparan los descansa brazos que tengo a mi derecha e izquierda. Por suerte ya mismo vendrá la azafata con el carrito de la comida, una de las cosas que más disfruto en estas circunstancias.
Entonces comienzo a imaginar cómo habrán sido las despedidas de las personas que conmigo viajan en este avión. Qué será aquello que se les habrá hecho más difícil dejar atrás, cuál será el recuerdo más tangible en sus cabezas y a qué tendrán que desacostumbrarse y acostumbrarse.