Saturday, March 9, 2013


To all: I'm sorry I haven't been good about updating the ol' blog during this trip, but there have been some seriously amazing things going on and I just couldn't be bothered to spend time in front of the computer. Oh, wait! I'm not sorry at all.

Today I walked around Paris. Some may wonder if I rented a bike from the bike share program, and no, I did not. I guess I feel like going by bike would be moving too fast to see everything. Granted, I could see things over a greater area, but I'm surprisingly ok with just poking around the Latin Quarter and the surrounding area.

Last night I stayed at the Marriott Rive Gauche, using the Marriott points I accrued during my stay when I first moved to Danbury. So, on the upside, it was nearly free, but on the downside there was no continental breakfast (no breakfast!!) and they wanted 8.50 Euros (which I just kind of round up to $10) for ONE HOUR of internet. That's a bunch of noise.

With the cruel Marriott at my back, I set off. It was really easy to find from the train station last night, and this morning I woke up and took a few short Metro rides, aiming for the Seine. I saw a Notre Dame stop right around where I wanted to get off, so I hopped off, because the day was mine and Paris was at my disposal :)


I don't know this girl, but look how happy she is!


I walked around inside the cathedral but didn't do the tour through the upper stories. Then I stalked around the grounds and took about a million pictures. Here's a shot of me from the other side, with the 'love locks' on the bridge down in the corner of the frame.


As a tribute to my solo time in Paris, maybe I'll buy one and write ME on it, Ricky Bobby style.


By then I was getting hungry, so I grabbed something to eat and ate on some steps. I was planning on sitting down somewhere with internet to check in with friends and family, but there was this place on the street that had hot pressed hotdogs in a baguette with cheese. I mean, what would you do?


After that I found a pub with wifi, bought a glass of wine, and figured out my lodging for tonight. Young and Happy hostel, btw. I'll let you know if I wind up murdered, but at least it has free wifi. And if there are bed bugs, I'll be able to bitch about it on facebook in real time.

Then I walked around and spent too much money shopping, but there was a cashmere sweater with a rabbit with a cast on crutches on it. Again, what would you do? Money spent, I figured I ought to walk along the river some more and see the Musee d'Orsay and such. I wound up crossing the river to check out the Louvre, or at least the outside of it. I was planning on going back tomorrow to actually go in, but it looks like I won't have time before my flight. Alas, I'll just have to come back!


So tomorrow I think I'll walk around some more before working my way to the airport at 11:00am. I'll be honest, there's a part of me that's looking forward to sitting and doing nothing for 7 hours on the flight. It's been a long day of walking - my feet are telling me it's the most walking so far - and I'm sure I'll be fresher tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Few Pics

 Coworker Craig and I went to a museum in Lyon where there was a free exhibit on puppets. Some of them were really charming.


There was a chair with 'wig's to try on for fun. Believe it or not, this was a candid shot.



Red Bull Woah

I got this fresh from the pocket of Marco Fontana. For real, his coat pocket.

Photo on 2-27-13 at 12.15 PM

I wandered into the pro tent looking for a soda, and Marco noticed me looking around. He asked what I was looking for and I said, "A soda, or something with caffeine." Then he pulled a cold Red Bull Blue from his puffy jacket's (magical?) left hand pocket and presented it. He gave it to me. He told me to let him know what I thought of it.

It was delicious, darling.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Hotel in Lyon, France

It's all in the title. This was our hotel (white building) in Vieux Lyon, and it was pretty awesome. Granted, the drunks wandering outside at all hours of the night were noisy, but it was the place to be. We had some downtime this past weekend while there, so we got to explore these cobblestone streets - and then I went ahead and sprained my knee on one of them. Boo.


This was the view from my window.


Tonight we're in a regular ol' hotel about an hour and a half away. Sometimes you can't have it all.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Riding in Italy, Pt 1

Life hasn't been too bad this past week. I didn't really know what to expect from the team camp, but it's yielded lots of pasta, chatting and riding. The camp consists of the pro mountain bikers, key Cannondale employees, members of the (cycling world) press, and me. We stayed in a hotel right on the beach across from a restaurant that we took over for the week.

The restaurant was literally on the beach.


As was the demo truck.


Whenever we all gathered together getting to ride, people walking by (mostly older retired Italians) would watch and wonder what the heck was going on. I was (not so?) secretly very pleased and think it's entirely possible that I fooled one or two clueless oldsters into thinking I was a big deal.


The pro riders were interviewed and photographed to within an inch of death. This man, Marco Aurelio Fontana, and I are in love. He and his wife just aren't aware of it yet. Seriously though, such a great guy, and wonderful to talk to.


 So during my first day there, we woke up with a leisurely breakfast, then got kitted up for a ride. We rode as a group out of town and up a mountain, to where there was a short 3km loop waiting for us.





Once up there, we did one loop and had lunch. Delicious!



After lunch I snuck out for a second loop before the 'race' started and snagged some photos.



The set-up of the race was that the pros did one loop by themselves, then did a sort of relay with members of the press, for a total of 6 laps or so. Happily, I wound up on top of the climb with some other people, cheering the riders on.


Of course there was beer. My definition of 'pro' expanded to include 'someone who can chug an entire beer after riding quickly up a hill, then continue as if they don't want to throw it up'.


This guy.


It was during this commotion that I wondered if there were many things better than standing on a hilltop in Italy littered with Cannondale mountain bikes and surrounded by strangers from the bike industry while goofball riders who are having a great time stream past. I'm at a loss of what to say, other than 'I would hate me, too' and I'd like to assure you that I'm aware that I am undeserving scum who has gotten inexplicably lucky! Honestly, this is all quite ridiculous.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Top 10 Best Meal

I'm here in Lyon, France with my coworker Craig, and I just had an excellent dinner. We just arrived here and (background-) I remember a tiny bit of French from high school. It's very rusty, though, and I'm nervous to break it out. I hear that, especially in Paris, where I'll be in a few days or so, they find tourist-types annoying. I am most certainly a tourist-type and American for crying out loud, but gosh darnit, I like to be liked. What I'm getting at is that I want to practice French and try to be polite by speaking the language, but I'm afraid it will sound terrible and that they'll run me out of town with pitchforks when all I want is to be liked, or at least ignored in kind of a neutral way.

The guy at the front desk of our hotel gave us a map and some directions of places we'd want to go for dinner and overpriced tourist traps we'd want to avoid. When it came time to tackle dinner, I looked at the map and got us going in the right direction. We passed up a bunch of places before coming to a little hole in the wall place (of course, right?) that looked like it had a decent menu. I practiced asking for a table for two but we had to ask in English if they took American Express. Luckily they spoke English and also didn't mind me trying to hack away with requests mumbled in French.

I got a delicious warm goat cheese salad for starters and then Craig and I both had handmade sausage with potatoes. We asked for a glass of wine and the waiter asked if we wanted something lighter or heavier, en Francais. I didn't quite understand, but the couple next to us wanted to help and explained by gesturing what he was asking. It was nice of them! We wound up raising our glasses with the locals, like a gosh-darn movie where an unhappy, recently divorced woman goes to Paris and connects with the locals and figures out how to live life to the fullest.

The whole meal was great. People were helpful, I feel like I got a little better and certainly a little more confident with French (the first step in a journey of 1,000 miles and all), and the food itself was delicious. It was just different enough that it felt like we got some good local fare, but not so different that the miserable little picky eater in me was put off.

Tomorrow we have the whole day off, and I'm looking forward to sightseeing, shopping and just basically soaking it in.