Seeking Dreamers, Seeking Peace

Looking across Lake Superior as the moon rises, stars filling the sky, no sound but the wind in the trees, and deer rustling in the woods … it is difficult to imagine the world could be anything but at peace on evenings like this.

Moonrise on a Starry Night on Lake Superior

John Lennon’s song “Imagine” contains timeless words and hope for peace, which is why this video and story of the pianist playing it outside the Bataclan in Paris went viral.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

… You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

(lyrics excerpt from “Imagine” by John Lennon)

It is difficult to imagine ways everyday people like myself can contribute toward world peace in a meaningful way.  All the supportive Facebook posts, changed profile pictures, and tweets of solidarity do little to effect change halfway around the world.  I am not so idealistic to think that a single individual can turn the ugly tide of the extremist movement.

I do believe, though, that an individual can create a ripple of change, promote a glimmer of hope and understanding that touches another individual, or perhaps a few.  And that those few, in turn, can reach out to more, spreading tolerance and a curiosity of other cultures and peoples that drives a desire for learning how we are more alike than not.

Let words and prayers for peace turn into action.  Let the dreamers come together and turn dreams into reality.  Let us not forget the people touched by the tragedies in Beirut, in Baghdad, in Paris ….

~ Kat

La Jacobine: Latin Quarter Charm

During the summer of 2011, we enjoyed a whirlwind “highlights” tour of Paris, staying there for three nights on our way to Rome for the balance of our travels.  Food is always an essential part of our travel experience, and we tried sampling a variety of offerings in Paris during our limited stay.  One restaurant topped my entire family’s “favorites” list, though:  La Jacobine.

Our hotel was on the Left Bank, in the Latin Quarter area of the 6th arrondissement.  The neighborhood was a comfortable fit for us with a relaxed vibe.

Paris' Latin Quarter

Paris' Latin Quarter

Our boys have always enjoyed escargot, so of course, we had to have the classic French appetizer while in Paris.  La Jacobine served it up perfectly, and we enjoyed the company of a Scottish couple at the table next to us as we shared travel stories and adventures from home.

La Jacobine, Paris

The restaurant was tucked down a side alley, with a warm and inviting atmosphere that was not forced or pretentious.  The service was friendly, and we did not feel rushed as we enjoyed a dinner of simple but savory fare.   La Jacobine was the perfect spot to unwind after a busy day of sight-seeing.

Escargot at La Jacobine

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

The sidewalk café culture – one of the first five photos I took after stepping off the plane in Paris.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary includes as one of its definitions for “culture”:

the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture><southern culture>

The outdoor cafés and bars of Paris are a delightful expression of everyday existence, and this snapshot captured the casual, everyday nature of that culture – from the little dog looking expectantly at the scarf-adorned older woman walking by, to the gentleman at the table with a beer on a weekday afternoon.  Scenes like this always drew me in more than the crowded cafés filled with tourists along the popular routes.

Paris Cafe Culture

Aaron Joel Santos created this week’s photo challenge theme and challenged us to inspire curiosity with our photographic response.  Don’t these scenes just invite you to pull up a chair and enjoy a beverage, while soaking up the ambience of the activity and people around you?!  It is something I did not have enough time to do during our whirlwind trip of the city, but you can be assured that finding time to appreciate this timeless culture is something I will delight in whenever we are fortunate enough to return.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Culture” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme: Up

A person cannot help but look up when standing at the base of the classic icon of Paris – the Eiffel Tower!

eiffel night view

Join in Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack? with this week’s theme of “Up.” Details on how to participate and other responses to this week’s theme can be found here.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Vivaldi and La Sainte-Chapelle: A Transcendental Travel Experience

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is  music.” ~ Aldous Huxley

Music has always held a special place in my heart, filling me with emotion and triggering memories like nothing else can do.  Perhaps that is why one of my favorite experiences from our trip to Paris was attending a chamber music concert of the Eiffel Orchestra at  La Sainte-Chapelle.  The concert gave me the privilege of sitting in the stunning beauty of La Sainte-Chapelle’s surroundings, soaking in the incredible detail of her famed stained-glass windows while letting the music fill my soul (and the sanctuary) with pieces of Vivaldi, Bach and other classics heard innumerable times, but never sounding quite as lovely as they did in that setting.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”  ~ Plato

Eiffel Orchestra concert at Sainte-Chapelle, July 2011

I invite you to listen to an excerpt of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in the YouTube video below while viewing the gallery slideshow of photos I took before the evening’s performance began.  The La Sainte-Chapelle concert excerpt is from “alisabeaut” on YouTube.  The featured violinist, Karen Brunon, was one of the violin soloists playing with the Eiffel Orchestra the evening we saw them perform, as well:

La Sainte-Chapelle was Louis IX’s “Holy Chapel” constructed in the 1200’s.  The structure consists of a Lower Chapel and Upper Chapel.  We did not have a chance to tour the Lower Chapel during our visit.  Of the 15 stained glass windows in the Upper Chapel, where the concert took place, two-thirds are original to the structure.  The windows portray over 1,100 figures from the Bible.  During World War II, the extensive stained glass windows were all removed from the building in anticipation of the German invasion of Paris, and then reinstalled upon the conclusion of the war.

A lovely summer evening in Paris, as the sun filtered through magnificent works of art, and timeless music was performed . . . the experience was wonderfully overwhelming, and I could feel every one of my senses trying to absorb as much as possible to remember that hour of perfection for years to come.

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~ Berthold Auerbach

You can view the photos as a group or click on any of them individually to view as a slideshow.


Travel Tips:

  • If you have the opportunity to attend a concert, try to purchase tickets for a performance time when there is still sunlight, to fully enjoy the stained glass details.
  • Arrive early (recommend 30 minutes+), even if you have pre-purchased tickets, as the line moves slowly.
  • CD’s of the group performing that evening may be sold after the concert (the Eiffel Orchestra’s CD included most of the pieces they played during the performance we attended), so allow time for purchase and autographs by the artists, if you are interested.

Ciao! ~ Kat

References for historical facts noted above and ticket link for La Sainte-Chapelle concerts: