Monday, June 28, 2010

Friends in high places

Last week I was joined by my good friend Gabby for some fun touring of Paris and a city break in Amsterdam.  We had a great time and have hundreds of pictures to prove it!

I think Gabby and I would both agree that some of the best highlights of the week were the bike tours (especially the one at night in Paris), sitting in Amsterdam and soaking everything in and the picnic we had on the Seine Friday night.  We did a whole heck of a lot of walking and I'm still recovering from it all.  It was a great week and I'm so glad we got to experience a new city together (in sunny weather no less!).

More pictures and stories to follow shortly...


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gone fishing...

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I'm in Amsterdam with Gabby.  Can't wait to tell you all about my first trip to the Netherlands!  We are heading back to Paris this evening (fingers crossed the massive French transit strike doesn't way lay us!)

Have a great weekend!!!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

One of those days

It's the little things...

The old woman in proper attire having a beer with a young man decked out in neon sneakers, t shirt, wayfarers and a baseball cap at the local corner cafe.

Little French children possessing more aloof coolness than any of us could ever hope for.

Happening upon a break-dance contest in an art space that used to be a city mortuary and feeling like you were somehow transported back to the 80s.

Any of these things could happen on a given day and they aren't very important, but they all make me smile in the way that real Parisians frown upon.  Stuff like this makes me have one of those I love this city moments and then I truly feel I couldn't possibly be happier anywhere else.

I love strolling through the Marais, eating ice cream on the banks of the Seine and sitting in cafes on sunny days.  I could go on doing this forever!  New York has a lot of competition for my city of choice these days...

Hope you are all enjoying the sunny summer weather!  Have a great weekend <3


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Joyeux anniversaire à moi

Paris is a wonderfully place to spend your birthday.  I have a lovely day and celebrated with a mix of Parisian and American influences which was very fun!

Friday night I watched the France football (soccer) game with some Brit friends and then spent the rest of the night swilling wine and dancing in an underground wine cave.  Nevertheless, the next morning I woke up on my Birthday was a nasty little hangover and a huge craving for a cheeseburger or as the French say cheeebeeergeeer...  A friend of mine was kind enough to make that happen and then we strolled around the Marais the rest of the afternoon stopping for a cafe here and a gelatto there.  It was devine!

 Dancing in wine caves like . . . animals?

Peonies are my favorite <3

Cafes and people watching . . . I could do this forever!

Mmm... cafe creme.  What a nice way to warm up on a chilly day.

 That night a group of us got together at a British pub in the Latin Quarter to watch the big US vs UK World Cup Game.  It was rowdy, crowded and soooo much fun!  I was really glad that we decided to go to this place instead of being squished in at the bar I was supposed to go to and this way I got to hang out with my friends and not worry about any of the other people around us.  It was nice to look around and see that I had friends in Paris to share my Birthday with and of course I missed all of you back home.

After the game we decided to join up with a pub crawl group to go bar hopping in the neighborhood.  That was a fun adventure too and a perfect ending to a wonderful Birthday!  

 Part of the gang at the pub watching the big US vs UK game

The US ended up scoring and the game concluded with a tie.

 It was all fun and games until the Americans started chanting "Soccer, Soccer..."

 A victory dance by the Pantheon even though we tied?  You betcha!
Those trumpets are harder to use than they look!

My roommate leaving her mark

Thanks to everyone for a great birthday!  All of your messages and emails and texts were so sweet.  It was the next best thing to having you here to celebrate with me.  Miss you all!


Le Chateaubriand


Sometimes, if you're really lucky, good things come to those who wait (...and wait and wait and...).  Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones last Wednesday when I got to eat at the premiere restaurant Le Chateaubriand.  For those that don't know, I've been dying to try this place out.  First of all it's right down the street from my apartment and it was voted one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.  The best part is that it isn't a fancy, stuffy, self righteous type of place.  It has a convivial atmosphere and a bare bones, bistro type of vibe.  Not to mention the food is AMAZING!

The restaurant is perennially booked for the first seating at 7pm (weeks in advance) and does not take reservations for the second seating that starts around 9:30 pm.  So I make plans to meet my friend at the bar around 9pm.  When I get there the place is abuzz with people claiming space at the bar and eagerly awaiting their spot at one of the tables.  I was so happy when the man of the house kindly sat us and offered us a run down of the menu in English (it is a prix fixe tasting menu of 5 courses for around 45 Euro- a steal!).  We were then joined by our sommelier and chose a wonderfully full bodied red wine from the Languedoc region.

The food, oh the food, this was the best part of the evening!  It did not disappoint in any way, shape or form.  There was a little bit of everything: meat, fish, vegetables.  La pièce de resistance was a paste on one of our final dishes that was made of eggplant.  I came across the video below which shows the making of the ink black paste (and is quite funny too!)

Chateaubriand-Onions in the Eye

The only thing lacking was dessert, but hey nobody's perfect and this meal very nearly was!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

San Sebastian or bust!

While I was in Biarritz, I took a short day trip to San Sebastian in Spain.  Well, short because I was only there for about 4 hours.  In all honesty, I probably spent that much time traveling to and from as there are no direct routes.  The trek made me question going into the tourism business myself!

For example, to get to San Sebastian you have to take a bus from Biarritz town center to the train station and then take a 30 minute train to Hendaye where you will board a 40 minute commuter rail train to get to San Sebastian. This is the EASIEST way to make the trip.  I found this out after visiting the Tourist Information center in Biarritz and started wondering why there wasn't a direct bus that took tourists from one popular destination to another.  Let me quickly mention that I actually ended up taking the local bus in the wrong direction at the start of my journey.  Once I realized how far I had gone in the wrong direction I just decided to get off at the train station in the next town, Bayonne, and travel from there.  It was a cute town and I guess it wasn't so bad that I had an extra 5 minutes to explore it.  The only downside was that by the time I got to Bayonne the next trip to Hendaye was by bus (90 minutes).  It was quite the scenic drive though, so again, not too bad.  The only part of the day that I wish I could have changed was the amount of time I got to spend in San Sebastian.

Lovely stopover in Bayonne

San Sebastian was beyond beautiful and it was really fun to get to practice some of my high school Spanish!  The city is located at the southern part of the Bay of Biscay which makes for an unbelievably picturesque coastline and a thriving beach resort reputation.  The whole city looks like a postcard and it was the first time I had visited Spain, so I was a bit in love and took pictures of everything.  I loved the architecture and was saddened not to have a chance to taste the world famous pintxos (tapas) as many of the bars were closed for siesta while I was in town.  I did have a chance to visit a Spanish "pasteleria" or pastry shop and tried a yummy cookie the size of my head, filled with orange marmalade and dusted with powdered sugar.  Mmm ... Of course I found sweets in Spain!

What an amazing and beautiful city!  Thank you to all of my friends who suggested going, it was worth any and all of the trouble getting there and I wouldn't trade it for anything!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Indecent proposal?

I had a cute little room with a balcony in a small family run hotel five minutes from the beach.  In the morning I had breakfast in the hotel's small dining room.  Both days I ended up eating at the same time as this sweet couple from Lyon.  On the second day, we talked at length about my trip and how I was enjoying Paris etc.  The women from Lyon told me that she thought I was very brave to be traveling on my own and that she thought it was great.  Then, towards the end of our conversation, the wife asked if she could ask me a personal question.  Sure I quickly answered and to that she asked if I was Christian and when I answered yes she followed up by asking me if I was Catholic to which I answered yes again.  So are we she informed me and then reached for her purse. Well, then you must take the phone number of my son who lives in Paris and call him!  Uhh...

I had never been propositioned like this before, especially not until I was vetted by the mother after confirming my religious status.  Who would have guess my new French Catholic mother friend from Lyon was actually a Yenta?

So what do you say, do I contact the son?


Monday, June 14, 2010

Biarritz: Sand and Surf(ers)

 La Grande Plage - Biarritz, France

Last week I spent a glorious few days at the seaside in Biarritz, France.  It was fantastic!  Biarritz is a beautiful little beach town on the south western coast of France close to Spain.  It used to be known as a glitzy beach resort frequented by celebrities and royalty, but nowadays its much more laid back and full of French tourists, surfers and backpackers.

It was a wonderful trip, even though the sun didn't seem to want to come out while I was there.  This only meant that I couldn't really catch some rays or wear my new bikini, but I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around a new city and taking in all of the beautiful views around town.  There were plenty of markets and yummy food to be eaten and sun or no sun I could watch surfing with a cafe all afternoon.  This was a memorable first visit to Biarritz and hopefully not my last.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in...

Regular readers of this blog probably won't believe me, but I want to let you in on a little secret...last week I really missed Brooklyn.  It was a sunny day that I spent in a park by the Canal St Martin and maybe it was the heat or all of the other kids my age, but I swear if I squinted really hard I could almost feel like I was in McCarren Park for a minute.  Honestly that's all I wanted, a couple of hours with a bagel and a huge iced coffee and a blanket with my friends.  Watching kickball and really skinny cute guys on bikes right off Bedford.  Once the moment passed I was happily enjoying Paris in no time, but ladies and gentlemen there you have it, my one little moment of quasi-homesickness.

It's really quite funny.  I have no idea what spurred my Brooklyn longing, but for a moment it felt so strong and then just as quickly as it came- it faded right away... I have come to the realization that this trip was completely worth while and good for me.  Not that taking a few months off of life and living in Paris wouldn't be good for anyone, but I'm really glad I did it.  It's always nice to remind yourself of what it is that you enjoy and what makes you happy and that you ultimately are the only person responsible for finding out and making that happen.  Completely gratifying in every possible way.  It must be much easier to do when you are away from your real life and I don't underestimate that in any way, but I'm hoping this momentum will keep going once I get back to New York.

Happy Birthday to my birthday buddies Lucas & JJ and my lovely Aunt Eileen.

Now friends, go enjoy yourself this weekend!


Thursday, June 10, 2010



I have discovered Keith McNally's source of inspiration, a quintessential Parisian brasserie named Chartier, it's like seeing behind the the wizard's curtain.  Here's a little taste of our visit a few weeks ago...tell me what you see- Balthazar, Odeon, Pastis?!?


Is it ironic that a Parisian bistro, in Paris, makes me feel a little like I'm back in New York?  Except the prices were much better than Monsieur McNally.  Take note Keith!