Monday, June 19, 2006

Fête de la Musique, Paris

Paris, summer 2006; the Longest Days

The longest summer days are among my favorite in Paris, especially the Fête de la Musique which is celebrated on June 21st each year. All of France and many countries in Europe celebrate the summer solstice with free concerts and other festivities. In looking at the schedule for Paris area there were over 500 free concerts and musicians playing. There are classical music concerts of chamber music in gothic churches, orchestras in concert halls, jazz bands in bars, and musicians along the streets with an amplifier plugged into a free outlet singing rock or French 'chansons'. Of course there are many ad hoc performers who sit on the curb, sing and play with their hat in front hoping for a few euros but all performances are supposed to be free.

The restaurants and cafes are packed, the streets are filled with people walking, the metros run completely full all night (with a special of 2.50 euros for all night) and the streets are impassable by the cars. The sun sets at 10pm but there is twilight for another hour and one cannot see the starts until much later. Last year I bragged that I stayed out until after dark ! Well, it was a work night but I did not return until near 1am.

Tomorrow evening is the Fête de la Musique and I plan to go down to the Latin Quarter. Hopefully the Metro will not be crowded but certainly the streets will be more and more crowded as the night goes on.

Certainly I will walk back the 20 minutes to my apartment or so since the Metros become very crowded later in the evening.

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The Island of Hvar, Croatia

It does not seem possible that I was on vacation one month ago. The French vacation company Nouvelles-Frontières has many trips and I chose to take with them, a two-week multi-sport tour of the islands of Croatia between Split and Dubrovnik. We landed in Split on the coast and the next day took a ferry to the island of Hvar. On Hvar we took bicycles along the streets of the small harbor village of Vrboska which has a little estuary. The stone bridge there is only wide enough for bicycles and pedestrians.

The group of five voyagers plus the French and English speaking Croatian guide stayed in a small hotel / guest house in Jelsa which overlooks the small harbor and village. The view of the town center and churches was excellent. The modern ferry runs several times per day with the last stop in Jelsa for the evening. By early morning, the boat has parted and the harbor is quiet.

The little town of Jelsa has many stone building, cobbled streets and many wonderful views.

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