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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Coming home from France

Coming home this time of year is a delight! Blooming rhododendrons frame my house, the irises are in bloom and soon my front door will be framed in a blue cloud of clematis.

Nine hours is the same aircraft seat is not difficult at all in Continental's BusinessFirst. Window seat 3A was my home for most of Saturday — a disconcertingly long day that began with a 1 p.m. meal of veal and beef with spring vegetables, burgundy wine and a choice of desserts following the cheese cart. (at that time, 6 a.m. in Cleveland, I am usually at the gym!) But I prefer fats to sweets so chose the cheeses.

You saw cheese trolley pictures shot on my way to France from Cleveland in the first of these blogs from Loire. That blog was pretty short because I hadn't yet figured out wi-fi, which the French call wee-fee - and ran out of time. We had a different hotel every night on this press trip, each with a different system and charge for computer access. It was my first time on this new computer and was also my first time loading the photos I shot — a technological miracle considering I still cant work the VCR or DVD or whatever its called these days.

Wi-fi access ranged from 5 euros for a half hour (about $8) to free if you could figure out how by bringing your computer to a certain spot, taking a deep breath and facing east.. or something like that. Figuring it out myself was the key to learning how. Sometimes when folks are quick to help me out, I don't learn how for myself — even though most things computer are common sense and patience.

Sometimes I'm not strong in either, but trips like this give me confidence in my own ability to deal with other languages and cultures against the backdrop of train, planes and automobiles, unfamiliar plumbing and infrastructure. And I usually have a great time, despite the small stuff like crummy weather. I am, after all, a native Northeast Ohioan.

A jet lag protocol combining accupressure and self reinforcement I tried on both legs of the journey to France proved pretty effective. So I am really not as disoriented as usual after an international trip. I'll be writing about that for an upcoming Health story — a section that runs every Thursday in the News-Herald.

Blogs of the past few days, in fact, give readers a preview of what's coming up in the Sunday Travel section. I hope they'll serve as an adjunct to my notes. I can't say yet just when Loire stories will run, but if you intend to travel to France this summer I promise to give you some nice options to explore.

I do wish I'd see some Comments at the end of this blog. It's the only way I know it's being read and if it is worth my effort to continue with it. I have all sorts of good ideas for it, but I also have a lot of other commitments for my time. So if you're enjoying this, let me know and tell me what you'd like to see here.

And just figuring out how to put photo captions under the pictures here will take up my laundry time on this lovely Sunday. So I will tell you that I'm showing you pictures of a wine and cheese tasting in a wine cellar in Chartres, the medieval lower town of the same lovely city and the pastries in the case at a sandwich shop where we provisioned for a picnic lunch. The shop window signs shows the prices aren't nearly as outrageous in France as I'd been led to believe. If you want to be thrifty you can — it's all a matter of looking for choices.

The new Continental flight from Cleveland has had every seat filled both ways since it began in mid-May, so if you want to be on a flight before the end of September you need to plan it. Fill every seat and Continental may well consider making the flight year-round from Cleveland. That would be great news! Late fall and winter in France have their advantages — sometime this summer I'll tell you more about my visit last fall to France's Champagne region at the end of harvest.

My outbound and return flights had many business travelers who work regularly in France and this flight is a bonus. It's especially good for Northeast Ohioans doing business in France, but since Cleveland is such a vibrant hub for Continental, it also serves travelers from throughout the country.

After these flights end, France travelers will have to go to Detroit or Newark or another city first and wait around for a flight onward to Paris.


OpenID azurentegan said...

Were there a lot of public wi-fi spots during your france trip? Or were they difficult to locate? Just curious.

June 2, 2008 at 5:32 PM 
Blogger News-Herald Blogs said...

I was on a press trip which meant i didn't have free time to move around and check things out for myself. I was on walking tours and in a van with other writers most of the time. Each of the hotels had wi-fi in some form or another and I spotted internet cafes in passing.. Our itinerary was all in smallish towns (largest about 70,000) so Im sure larger cities are more wired. But all in all, France does not seem as wired as we are.

June 3, 2008 at 9:58 AM 
Blogger Toronto gal said...

I love your blog so, please continue writing it. Part of the problem I find with blogs is that everyone seems to want me to log in so, they get all my on line info. That bugs me. Having said that, I still want to read where you've been and what you've experienced. Loved your France stuff- we fe for wi fi. Fun!!

June 17, 2008 at 7:03 PM 

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