#27- Alligator at Cannes Film Festival 2014

AlligatorAvatar2 Hey Everybody! So here I am at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival!!!!  That’s me in front of the 2014 festival poster- a classic photo of Marcello Mastroianni from Federico Fellini‘s  movie 8 1/2, presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963.


Photo of Cannes, during one of the festival days…


Guess what? I saw my movie poster around town!



In case you missed seeing my movie posters- here’s link to last blog post with full poster images!


I took Cat and Baby around Cannes too!


Lots of people in cafes….



People going to events…


Look! Squid and I have been added to the famous Cinéma-Cannes mural!


One of the hotels as night falls…


reporters around, waiting for interviews…


But now it’s time to go in and see my movie!!!


Here I am, inside on the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival 2014 for the opening of my movie, Giant Squid! (Just so you know- they named it after Squid just to get attention- I am the real star).


I know they all want to get a photo of me!


They just haven’t seen that I’m here! I need to move to the front and then I am going to be mobbed with reporters wanting to speak to me and photographers wanting my photo!



#23- Italian Vacation: Ventimiglia Day 2

cat Baby

Day two we headed to the medieval part of Ventimiglia which is up on a hill, overlooking the sea. We parked on the outskirts and walked up several stairs to enter the old town, meandering through its winding passageways where the residents live and work. This is not an area that caters heavily to tourists like other spots in Italy- but because of that you can get more of a feel for how people actually live.





Laundry hung out to dry was everywhere…

Venti6IMG_7791  Venti11IMG_7798

as were small shrines.




Around the corner from this shrine was another find- St. Michael’s Church.

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#22- Italian Vacation: Ventimiglia

cat Baby  Continuing on with our vacation in Italy….

We headed towards Ventimiglia, the last Italian town before the french border. Although our route- E74- looked like the most direct way on the map, the drive was much slower than we expected, as we went through traffic circle after traffic circle- not a pleasant back-road drive, but more of a source of anxiety as we realized that we might not be able to make the check-in time at our next B & B, which was between 4 pm and 7 pm. And at one point there was a one way tunnel through the mountains, which made us have to sit for 15 minutes. However the view was truly beautiful, with the mountains rising sharply overhead as we winded our way through them. Unfortunately these photos don’t capture that beauty, as they were taken through the windshield as we were rushing- and Baby was a bit unsteady with the camera.



In hindsight it is hard to think that we did not have full-time access to a cell phone. We were only able to contact the owner of the B & B in Ventimiglia because we had wi-fi access while waiting to go through the tunnel. However, it did not turn out well. When we told the owner we would not be able to get there until 7:30 pm, he told us we should go somewhere else. The b & b turned out to be a few rooms on the 3rd floor of an apartment building- so no one would be there to check us in. I do understand his point of view- he did specify a check-in time. However other B & Bs that we stayed at who had restricted check-in times made it very clear that if you were not there at that time, you would not get the room. So our fault; we paid for 2 rooms that night.

As I may have mentioned before, when traveling we are always looking for as authentic of an experience as one can get as a tourist, and we pick places to stay with that in mind. But instead of staying here- where we originally booked-


with church right next door-


with beautiful textured buildings-


we stayed here.


Instead of this view-


we had this view.


Instead of these surroundings-


we had these surroundings.


Listen- it could have been worse.  We were lucky to have found a room.

But why couldn’t The B & B owner leave the keys with these nice gentlemen who were only 2 doors down from his building?





#21- People’s Climate March in NYC

BirdAvatar Hi all- PQ Bird here. Sorry to interrupt the vacation posts, but I have an important entry to add. As many of you may know I am very concerned about climate change- I will be discussing issues related to that in future posts.

Today I went to the big “People’s” Climate March in New York City. The march was to bring attention to the dramatic changes in the earth’s weather due mostly to the impact of fossil fuels; People came from all over the world to participate in the march.

The march was organized into groups, with those most affected by global warming in the front- indigenous people. This was followed by labor groups, student groups, environmental groups, peace and justice groups and then everyone else. We formed our own small animal contingent and took our place somewhere in the middle- though in truth we should have been in the front, since we are more affected by environmental changes than anyone.

On Tuesday September 23 the UN will host a climate summit at the United Nations building in New York. Let’s hope they heard our message. In the meantime, regular people and animals can attend one of these climate informational events on Tuesday September 23: http://www.ourpowercampaign.org/peoples-climate-justice-summit/.


Here are some of the other groups and places that people came from for the march today.



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#20 – Renting a car in Italy and other driving tips

cat Baby We though we’d first review a bit about renting a car in Italy. You can of course visit the larger towns in Italy by train. (In fact a car is a hindrance there). However to get to smaller towns and villages by public transportation, you have to take a bus. This does gives a different, equally interesting experience- but does not afford you the opportunity of taking back roads and unplanned stops through the countryside. For this vacation- mostly in rural Italy- the car was perfect for us.

At the urging of some friends, we rented through a car rental broker, despite reading reviews that brokers were sometimes unreliable. Both of us had a positive experience with the broker Auto Europe- we ended up with the car company “Europcar”, and our friends ended up with “Sicily by Car” – both rented at the Milan airport. The total cost for two weeks was $540 for a compact car- which is the third size from the bottom, equivalent to the size of a Ford Focus. We ended up with a Fiat 500L which was very roomy but small enough for European parking. (The Fiat was a hatchback, but had a privacy shield for suitcases). Theft and collision damage waiver are included and required for a rental in Italy. You have to pay this even though many credit cards offer this coverage free as part of their service. Also you save tremendously by renting a manual transmission as we did- but make sure you are experienced at driving a stick shift, or you will be no match for Italian drivers. (You will be no match for them anyway).

A few other car related notes.

Parking- as I remember it there were three levels of parking in northern Italy: blue, paid parking; yellow, specialty parking- bus stops and taxis (so ignore); and white, free parking. Also there were some blue spaces in towns that were marked for residents only. We generally did not have trouble finding both free and reasonable paid parking everywhere we went- on the street or in lots.  This link explains all about parking it Italy. http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/driving/parking.htm.

Highways- the main long distance roads in Italy, the Autostrade, preceded by the letter “A”- i.e. A1 etc.- are well maintained and easy to drive on. There are gas/food/rest-stops along the Autostrade, very like in the United States- kind of what we wanted to get away from-but they are convenient when you are traveling long distances and just need to pull off for gas- with much better food than you would find at similar ones in the USA, and real cappuccino.

Driving- We drove on the largest highways and the smallest back roads, winding up hills with curves that are not for the faint-hearted. More than once we came around a curve on a winding hill to be met with someone coming from the other direction at high-speed. In rural areas you can see the frustration of native drivers having to navigate around tourists who are driving very slow and tentatively. In general, Italian drivers tailgate and drive very fast. That being said- they are very skilled drivers. During the 1500 or so miles we drove, we only saw one minor fender-bender accident.

Toll roads- the Autostrade is a toll road. Be aware that there are lanes called “telepass” lanes similar to the “easypass” lanes in the northeastern US, for which you are preregistered and charged monthly. Unfortunately if you go through one of these lanes by accident- make sure you pull over, walk over to the toll booth, pay, and most importantly- get a letter stating that you have paid. You will need this letter when your rental car company, and apparently the Italian government, charge you fines for going through the wrong lane. (Note: we will let you know how that turns out).


Fiat500L3 copy



#19 – Our Italian Vacation: Northern Italy

cat Baby We are posting a few photos from brief stops in Northern Italian towns (in the Piedmont region) on our way to the coast. Here is one from Asti:


. . .from Bra (home of slow food movement: http://www.slowfood.com/international/1/about-us):


. . . two from Saluzzo:


. . . and three from Santa Vittoria D’Alba, a small village we spontaneously visited after spotting it from the road, high on a hill above.

DPPa_1089IMG_0707Lou  tower

Then we went onward . . .


through the poppy fields


heading south towards the mountains.