Paris on two wheels

Last week, I discovered the joy of Vélib’, Paris’ public bicycle program.  Instead of taking the Métro or walking from arrondisement to arrondisement, I headed to one of the city’s 750 automated rental stations, popped in my credit card and voilà…pulled out a bicycle with which I could tool around town.  It was convenient (stations are scattered no more than 300 meters from one another), cheap (the first half hour is free) and eco-friendly.

And while bicycling through the city sometimes had its challenges, such as dodging buses in the dedicated dual bike/bus lanes, it was an overall exhilarating experience.  From careening down narrow medieval ruelles to soaking in the city’s most famous monuments along the Seine at night, the City of Lights is as romantic on two wheels as it is au pied.  Très chouette!

Velib - Paris' public bicycle system

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La France

France charmed me all over again, not that I’m surprised. A nation that takes 2-hour lunches and loves bread, wine and cheese would always have my heart, but she really outdid herself. Wandered medieval villages in Champagne, jogged through electric-green vineyards and soaked in magical Strasbourg. With its half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets and bridges, Strasbourg is Grimm’s fairy tale meets Paris chic with a splash of Amsterdam. I only wish I discovered the city sooner. The food intrigued me with its French, German and Alsatian influences, and there was that unmistakable French joie de vivre, best exemplified by last week’s Fete de la Musique, where the city (like all of France’s cities, towns and villages) shut down and celebrated

In the Petite France neighborhood of Strasbourg, France

the summer solstice with free music performances. A seriously rockin’ good time.

Ireland – Top 5

5) Guinness beer…tastes even better on chilly, overcast Irish days, of which there are many; 4) Exceedingly friendly locals, the stories they tell and their charming although at times incomprehensible accents; 3) Full Irish breakfasts; 2) Meat pies; and 1) Live traditional Irish music…makes me wish I had stuck with the violin back in 6th grade.

Medieval Times

I would never want to live in medieval Europe. No indoor plumbing and no central heating made for a dirty, smelly, drafty and infested existence. However, medieval castles are pretty darn cool. Visited Trim CastleTrim Castle in Ireland, the site where Braveheart was filmed. Got my fill of arrow slits and murder holes and learned random facts like most tower staircases run clockwise (to give the advantage to right-handed defenders) and that the worst job in history is the gongfarmer.

Eating in Ireland

I love meat pies. Few things make me happier than biting into the soft, gooey inside crust of a pie soaked in braised meat juices. Recently in Ireland, I ate chicken and mushroom pies, steak and Guinness pies and daily full Irish breakfastsIrish breakfast with immaculate egg, fried tomato, potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, sausage, black & white pudding and brown bread. If I lived there permanently, I’d be very fat…but very happy.

Documentary about the late U.S. Congresswoman Patsy Mink nominated for The White House Project award

PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY, a documentary about the late U.S. Representative Patsy Mink (D-HI), has been nominated for The White  House Project’s EPIC Emerging Artist Award.

The film is the first to explore the life of Congresswoman Mink, the first Asian American woman and woman of color in the U.S. Congress and co-author of Title IX, later renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, the legislation that opened up higher education and athletics for women.

The film is one of twelve nominees selected to compete for the award, which will be determined by an online vote.  Voting  is open now through March 31 at The White House Project‘s website.

The top three vote getters will be invited to EPIC gala on April 7 in New York and the winner revealed at The Secrets of Powerful Women EPIC 2010 After-Party sponsored by Lifetime Television and hosted by actor Kerry Washington. The White House Project is a national, nonpartisan non-profit organization that aims to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency.

Each year, it presents the EPIC Awards to celebrate those in the visual arts and media who have created powerful representations of women in their work. This year, it created the first-ever EPIC Emerging Artist Award to recognize artists who may not yet have great exposure and are emerging on the national scene.

Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority