Friday, September 28, 2012

Deja Vu

Six years later, not much has changed.

                           {Capri, Italy, 2006}                                               {Korcula, Croatia, 2012}

It's funny how life repeats itself.

I'll have lots more to share about our trip to Croatia coming up next week.  Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Croatia {in instagrams}

From left to right: (1) our hotel in Hvar; (2) & (3) Hvar harbor; (4) view from the bar in Parmizana; (5) & (6) we rented a boat!; (7) sunset on Hvar; (8) man desperately trying to save his beer from the waves at the Hula Hula bar; (9)-(11) watching the sunset at the Hula Hula; (12) view from our apartment in Korcula; (13) swimming in Korcula; (14) wine tasting in Korcula.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

That Time We Saw Selena Gomez in Paris


There had been a hoard of pre-teen girls teeming outside our hotel for the last two days.  They stood out there all day long, waiting.  For whom, we wondered, every time we had to awkwardly walk down the "red carpet" to exit the building.  We took guesses, but figured it was probably some French boy band we'd never heard of.

On our third day in Paris, I woke up at 11:30am.  11:30?!?!?!  Cue panic induced by guilt of wasting sweet, precious vacation time, followed by self-pity whining session about how we wouldn't have time to do anything and it was all my fault.  Once I got over that (sheesh, I'm cranky when I sleep in), we recovered with a plan.  We'd go to the d'Orsay today.  There wouldn't be lines on a Monday, right?  Right -- because it's not open on Mondays, as we found out from the concierge.  Neither are restaurants.  Or markets.  And it was drizzly and gray outside and I didn't have a raincoat or a coffee and nothing was going right.  (Like I said, crank-y.)

Following a pep talk from Brian entitled "who needs plans; we're in Paris, bitches!," I stopped being a jerk and we set out to do something.  Buy some presents for people at home.  See a subtitled movie.  Get tipsy at a cafe at least.

As we walked out of the hotel, there was the usual gaggle of girls anxiously waiting for a glimpse of the unknown star.  This time, though, Brian managed to sneak a peek at a flyer one of them was holding and saw that it was a Selena Gomez poster.  Ah-ha!  So she was the mystery celeb.*  Funny, I said, that she was staying at our hotel, and maybe we'd see it in Us magazine next week or--

I looked up, and --

No way, I thought...yes, YES WAY

There she was, Selena herself, right smack in front of us, being ushered into the cheesy, run-down Chinese restaurant down the street from the hotel by her bodyguards.**  How is she wearing those heels when there's so much cobblestone here?  (Yes, that's what ran through my head.)  I looked at Brian, he looked at me, and we just laughed in disbelief.  A celebrity sighting in Paris?  When we live in LA?  And again with the uncanny timing!

From that point on, everything changed that day.  The sun came out, we found an awesome cafe for lunch, explored the Marais, and generally had the best day together.  We decided it was because of Selena -- I suppose there's just something about an unexpected and perfectly-timed celebrity sighting that makes it impossible to stop smiling.  Now when something isn't going well, Brian or I will sometimes say we're going to "Selena Gomez it," and it never fails to make me feel better.  Thanks for that, Selena :)

*Indeed, she was.
**I'm assuming she was going to go out a back door to avoid the fan line-up.  Although it's funnier to imagine that she just really wanted some greasy Chinese food.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paris: Some Notes

Paris is a big city.  And like any other big city, to really know it you have to live there, work there, be there for a while.  Clearly, I don't know Paris that way, but I know it as a tourist knows it, and tourist-to-tourist, I've got some recommendations to pass along.  So here's a run-down of my favorites from our time in Paris!

Fave Meals
If you don't have a dinner reservation, you need to have a contingency plan (or 3) -- places you won't be disappointed to end up at that are in the same area as the uber-popular-ridiculously-overbooked place you really want to go.  Trust me.  The top restaurants book up fast in Paris, and as a long-time follower of the no-plan plan, I can tell you it only works if you have options!

Here are the places we actually got into and loved:
-Chez L'Ami Jean:  old school French cuisine lives on here.  We went for lunch because we couldn't get in for dinner, and it was outstanding.  They have a four-course lunch menu that changes daily - get that.  And a bottle to go with.

-Semilla (St. Germain):  We stumbled upon this place after we couldn't get into Le Comptoir de Relais, and I'm so glad we did.  It's a new place with modern cuisine, and with a stroke of luck we got to sit at the best table in the whole place -- looking directly into the kitchen!  I was in heaven.  They do this mango appetizer with some kind of magical gelatin that will make your brain dance.  It's awesome.

-Robert et Louise (Marais):  We also stumbled on this place while wandering the Marais on our last night in Paris.  There were some people waiting outside with wine glasses, so we thought, if we have to wait, at least this looks like the place to do it!  And so we waited, but just for about 20 minutes, and then got seated at a communal table with another young couple which turned out to be a lot of fun.  All the meat is roasted in an old-style brick oven at the back of the tiny restaurant.  And the FOIE GRAS.  OMG.  I don't even like foie gras, really, it's one of the few things I don't care for.  BUT THIS.  This was other-worldly.  It was served as an appetizer with thin slices of toasted sweet cake to spread it on, and a glass of sweet white wine to wash it down.  It tasted almost like apple butter somehow.  It wasn't meat-y at all.  Just soft, sweet, buttery goodness.  I dream about that foie gras.

Les Cocottes:  Chef Christian Constant's newest, hippest place.  Trendy/casj vibe, and great for lunch.  Get the cocottes (pigs feet), of course!

-Breizh (Marais/St. Germain):  Real crepes.  Casual, cheap, good.

-Berthillon:  Best. Ice cream. Ever.  No joke.

(Also, this website has some great recs!)

Fave Photo Op
It's hard to get the whole Eiffel Tower in a picture when you're too close to it.  For the best photos, head to the Place de Trocadero (Metro: Trocadero).

(Except maybe don't stand in front of the metal grate.  Oops.)

Fave Strolling Spot (besides the Seine)
The Luxembourg Gardens are jaw-dropping.  They have it all: ponds, shady areas with benches, long lawns, and endless trails to stroll on.  Just add wine for a perfect afternoon.

Random note:  We also saw quite a few people jogging through here, which is surprising for a European city.  Notably, none of them were wearing Lululemon, or neon Nike shoes for that matter.  In Brian's words, "this is what working out looked like in the '90s."

Fave Touristy Tourist Stop
Lauduree.  I mean, how could you not love those macarons?  Endless flavors and the prettiest little shop (but no pictures allowed inside!).  It feels very Marie Antoinette (spoken as a real tourist).

Fave Non-Touristy Tourist Stop
The Bourdelle Museum.  Bourdelle was a student of Rodin's who is known for his gigantic sculptures, which were often commissioned by South American dictators.  The museum is in his former home and studio, and feels really authentic.  And there are no tourists here.  (We only found out about it from an older couple we sat next to at L'Ami Jean.)  Go!

I also really loved the Pompidou Center (modern art), although it is a bit more of a tourist hot-spot (but not nearly to the extent of the Louvre or the d'Orsay).  The inside-out design of the building itself is striking, especially in contrast with the old city surrounding it, and it has some interesting works and also offers excellent city views.  We went on a cloudy, drizzly day.

Miscellaneous Notes:

THIS is the line for...
Wait for it...
Abercrombie & Fitch.  On the Champs Elysees.  I wish I were joking.  It's completely inexplicable to me, especially because I saw no one actually wearing A&F in Paris.  Seriously, WTF?

Dress Code
Speaking of fashion, I noticed this time around that Parisians dress like it's fall year-round, regardless of the weather.  It was 80 degrees some days, and I was wearing summer dresses while the Parisians doned their boots!  They are also much more put-together than us Angelenos (at least us Westsiders).  Their jeans are never ripped, their shirts never cropped, they hardly ever go without a scarf, and I'm pretty sure jorts are banned inside the Paris city limits.  So bring a blazer and some fun flats or boots, and leave your flip flops at home.

And BTW, neon is NOT a thing.  Although the Canadian tuxedo may be??  It's unclear -- I saw quite a few offenders, but maybe they were all Canadian tourists ;)

Things Aren't Open Sundays. Or Mondays.

Markets, museums, stores.  Museums are closed on random days.  Markets are generally closed on Mondays, as are many restaurants, and stores are closed on Sundays (again, WTF?).  Also, if I were you, I would assume everything is closed for the entire month of August.  I'm not kidding.  The first day or two of September we got burned by the random closings at a few different places where we just showed up to find "closed" signs on the doors.  It's kind of like life before cell phones, when you'd try to meet up with someone but there was always a chance they wouldn't come and you wouldn't get the message until later.  You know what I mean?

French Kids
They really are "astonishingly well-behaved," as Pamela Druckerman wrote in the most-talked-about-parenting-book-in-the-blogosphere, Bringing Up Bebe.  They don't cry (ever), and are generally stoked on life.  It's miraculous!  Even I thought they were cute!

P.S. More Paris pics here, here, here, and here, if you'd like to see.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Scenes from Paris, Part 2: Around Town

We had sunny days in Paris, and we had gray days in Paris, but all of them were beautiful.  The city comes alive in the summer sun -- the gardens everywhere bloom and the Seine sparkles.  But on a drizzly day, Paris exudes a moody nostalgia that has a romance of its own.

And the street performers!  Nothing like the cheesy Disney-song-belting performers that dominate the 3rd Street Promenade.  They were all amazing musicians and somehow their music was always perfectly in context.  Seriously, Brian and I felt like we had our very own soundtrack everywhere we went!

Here are some of my favorite photos from our days in Paris (you can see Part 1 here, a favorite here, and of course, some instagrams right here).  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scenes from Paris, Part 1: Along the Seine

Every day we were in Paris we found ourselves here, wandering the shores of the Seine.  This is where we spent our time catching up, talking about what we want to do when we grow up (please let me believe I still have time to think about that), soaking up the views, and drinking bottles of (cheap!) delicious French wine.  I'm just sad we missed the Seine beach!