May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nice (France), and really Nice to see Matthew Putnam Fam

September 22
We were concerned that the hostel was so far from town, but as it turns out, they run a shuttle (that fills!) every 15 minutes to the tramline.  
It’s a gorgeous place that used to be a monastery, and that pays attention to service.   On the walls are tons of prints of various contemporary artists and little paragraphs about their background, giving the place a refined look.   

HUGE kitchen

breakfast cereals
Down the stairs is a big open space that serves breakfast; and for about 7Euro, dinner.  It has a balcony with a whole line of computers and some tables.  Under that is a bar with a big stained glass window, couches with plugs for electronics and even staff to help you plan your day!  On the advisement of one, we went to a beach off the beaten path after going to the Matisse museum and the Chagall museum. 


In the museums, I loved most of all seeing the “in progress” art.  The studies of a mermaid had about 7 versions; it was great to see the permutations before he delved into one.  Some other work Matisse had painted then covered up his lines with slightly translucent paper, or used a kind of whiteout.  I wondered what dissatisfied him about the first line and pondered over the correction.  Very nice.  Chagall’s work after Matisse’s was a bit overwhelming in that there were so many details, symbolic references and parts requiring me to ask questions.  I loved it: colors, scratches, gold fringy fabric, big swatches of paint and tiny little floating figures.  Things did seem to have no weight, which was a bit unsettling to me.  In the temporary installation section, we found a piece that was plastic cable stretched across the room that had been melted there with long black strands dripping down.  We were especially entertained by a piece that had 3 frames of black oil pouring down smoothly enough to see our reflections.  The middle one distorted our images, so we spent quite a bit of time taking our warped portraits.   
These guys were the toilet guards.  They collected money while watching a soccer game.

After the museums, we went out to St. Jean Cap Ferrat, which is a spit east and north of Nice port.  We spent an hour or two in the afternoon sun on a small beach across from the famous Rothchild Garden.  I didn’t see tourists; instead, local boys jumping off a ramp on their bike into the ocean with flips and turns.  We ended the lovely day with a salmon dinner at the hostel.  Tomorrow is a travel day to Lugano through Milano along the beautiful coastline.
The train toward Switzerland was FULL



The million dollar view is a little hazy

September 24
Oh, it’s great to see Todd and Sabrina and family in their new place!  Wow.  Their school (TASIS: The American School in Switzerland) is on a hillside and seems to be expanding in size and program. 

School Entrance

It’s geared for international students and has a big travel component.  I love that the students go on trips, service projects and special interest adventures abroad several times a year.  They all spend a week on the slopes together too!  Also, they have K-12 education.


Coveted Offic
Sabrina and Todd’s kids are finally in a routine that makes the adjustment easier.  Betsy is choreographing dances with the headmaster’s daughter, and Calvin is asking for “artist time” to collect things (little plant leaves today) for and draw in his book.  His school is literally out the window of their apartment, and Todd and Betsy commute through a beautiful forest with magnificent views every day to school.  I hope they’ll be fluent in Italian someday.  Other than catching up, one highlight was driving around in their new car through the narrow roads onto the peninsula of Lake Lugano.   

We found “the Magic Garden” where there were labeled plants, sculptures, themed exhibition rooms (Japanese, Arab, Roman, Indian and one with plaster animals) and little pools.  After that we went down to the lake, threw off our shoes and waded in WARM Lake Lugano.  It’s stunning, really.  Look up the photos of it on the web, as it was foggy when we were there, which made it seem mysterious and magical.   

Dining hall "Fresco"

We had really good meals in their dining hall, including a shot of espresso from the faculty room (instead of having offices) in the basement, dubbed “the bull pen.”  Their colleagues are mostly from American boarding schools, and they seem so nice.  The head of school is involved in all the parts of a faculty member’s experience there.  At the end of the day, we picked up our laundry (thanks T & S), took with us a fine bottle of beer and Sabrina’s swim suit (she’s letting me borrow—I never packed one!), and went back to the hostel for R & R.  Tomorrow we head to Rovereto… or Sabbionara; we’re not sure yet.

At our hostel in Lugano

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