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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gay Pride 2009 in San Francisco (part 1 of 2)

The Gay Pride Parade took place today in San Francisco. It's a big production, with a large number of contingents and an even larger number of attendees.

This year, the parade was fairly conservative, with a strong political message, due to the passage of Prop. 8 last November, repealing the rights for same sex people to marry.

I'm sure the local bloggers have taken tons of pictures (guys, please feel free to link your pictures sets in the commenting section and I'll incorporate them to this post, if you want.)

In the meantime, here is a small selection of my photographs. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guess who's coming to town?

(click on photographs to enlarge)

O. Sirens blaring, the motorcycles get the traffic to disappear on Kearny St., downtown San Francisco.

B. Somebody's coming. I counted close to 20 or 30 motorcycles. Must be someone really important. Now, who could that be?!?

A. Oh, I remember now. Didn't say they say in the paper that a certain First Lady is in town?

M. I make a lousy paparazzi.

Not only I didn't *see* who was in the back of the car (I was way too busy looking at the hot Secret Service guys in front), but my camera didn't either!!

Did I even get the right car? ;)

As I was snapping away, I heard a woman right behind me say a couple of times somewhat histerically "OMG, OMG, OMG, it's Michelle Obama and she's waiving at us, OMG, OMG, OMG!" and then ...
"Did you get it, did you get it, did you get it?!!"

A. Before I could answer one way or the other, the Motorcade had turned left on Pine St., and was heading towards the top of Nob Hill, probably towards the Fairmont Hotel, where San Francisco usually keeps the dignitaries. The whole thing lasted less than a couple of minutes.

I said, "OMG, OMG, yeah, I got something, I think, OMG, I don't know, let's have a look, OMG."

We looked at the pictures on my camera, feeling a little bit like teenagers having spotted Justin Timberlake or Britney.

I'll admit, it was all pretty exciting and uplifting and the sighting of the Motorcade kind of made my day for some reason.

Star-struck Tomate Farcie.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Metro in Paris

Metro Le Louvre, Photographed June, 2009, in Paris.

I thought this picture of Paris Metro station photographed during an overcast day in Paris would be perfect for an overcast Monday in San Francisco ;)

When I lived in Paris, I used to have a love/hate relationship with the Metro.
I still do, but now with time passed, it's mostly love or is it nostalgia?

Love, because ...

The Metro takes you within walking distance of absolutely everything in Paris for a very small price, and fast. There is a train every few minutes, so just hop on and go. It takes on average 2 minutes to go from one metro station to another. In my opinion, the Metro is the fastest, most efficient transportation within Paris.

When I was younger and lived in Paris, I used to get on the Metro (subway) and get off some place I didn't know just because the name of the station looked pretty good and just walk around for a while, following the Metro line from above, until I was too tired to walk anymore, at which time I'd hop back on the subway and got home... Paris was much safer back then. Don't know if I would still do it today, but back then it was cheap fun and great exercise.

Eeach street, avenue or court has a name in Paris (as opposed to a number or a letter like in the States), and it's impossible to remember them all. Also, the little streets in Paris tend to wind around every which way for the most part (as opposed to the grid architecture seen in the States), so they're not always all that easy to find. So, when someone gives you directions, they will say "at [such or such] Metro station" because everybody can find a metro station.

Hate, because ...

The trip, during peak hours, when people are literally packed like sardines in the cars, is almost unbearable. Because the cars don't always show up when they're supposed to (the line is being worked on, there is a strike, whatever). Because to change line (correspondence) requires you to walk the longest tunnels (several hundred yards) and climb almost that many stairs (clearly the system was never designed for the elderly or the disabled). Because from time to time, you'll see rats cross the rails (ewww!). And finally, let's just say it, the underground *really, really* smells pretty bad.

Still, I can't imagine Paris without the Metro. It would be like a hamburger without a bun. A baseball player without a bat. A car without gas. Or a White House without a President.

The Metro was built in 1900 in Paris, just a few years after the New York subway. While some stations were renovated more recently and look a bit different, there are still many, many Art Nouveau stations like the one on the photograph above, in Paris.

I will update this post with more pictures of the Metro later on.

More information about the Metro at Wikipedia

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm baaaaaaaaaack!

Champs Elysées, Paris (June 2009)

Coming back from vacation is a always a little bit hard, but especially so when I come back from Europe.

There is a culture shock effect when I get there and the same thing all over again when I get back to the States.

Vacations are always too short, and after only a couple of days back at work, you start wondering if you really went anywhere because it feels like you never left!

Still, it was worth it.

What you see on the photograph is a piece of the Arc de Triomphe, seen from the top of the Avenue des Champs Elysees.

That day, I had met with my brother and we had a hot chocolate at the Pub Renault now called Atelier Renault on the Champs Elysées, at the exact same location where we used to go eat BLT's and banana splits with little umbrellas stuck in them, when we were much, much younger.

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