Monday, 28 September 2009

Ah Paris

First and foremost: my apologies for not getting around to posting sooner. Sometimes things just get crazy. Well, I am now back home and settled in. I barely had time to check email, let alone blog since I didn't have a laptop. Note to self: make that an investment very soon. Anyways...

Ah Paris, such a beautiful city. Many people balk at things "old" and "antiquiated" but it is that very thing that gives Paris its charm. The buildings built over100 years ago were given such care to their detail. So much so, that many are now musuems and national heritage sites. These monuments and palaces are ornate and built on a large scale.  Take for example The Palace of Versaille, built by King Louis XIV. For some reason, I always thought this was a "small" palace. I'm not sure where I got that idea but it certainly is NOT small. It gives new meaning to the word 'palatial'. Isn't there some saying about men's precoccupation with size? Very clearly seen in Versaille

...and The Louvre

...and The Arc d'Triomphe

...and the Royal Palace

... and the Pont de Alexandre, etc etc.

I have wondered if, those who live in Paris, see the old architecture as I do. Is being surrounded by it part of what makes the french admire beauty and want things "just so"? Or does if fade into the background and go unnoticed until one day they walk by something and it surprisignly takes their breathe away? From my point of view, in the 10 days I was there, I was always amazed at the architecture and the backdrops. Although I do prefer the North Shore Mountains in my backdrop, I still am taken by the stylised architecture of yesteryear. It really is part of what makes Paris, well, Paris.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Seeing all of Paris

Hello, I do apologize for not writing here sooner. I don't have a laptop with me and with all the sightseeing that's happening it's been hard to get into an Internet cafe. No worries though as  I will post all my tales when I arrive home, with pictures to compete the stories. Only a few more days left in Paris and I am sure by that time I will have seen more than even the locals! Now to find some time to rest...if only. Au Revoir for now.

Monday, 14 September 2009

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

Just a quick note. T minus 3 hours and heading to the airport! Paris here I come. I'll post pics and stories are soon as I'm able.

Bon Voyage!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Butterflies & Kitty-cats

"Butterflies & kitty-cats"...doesn't that just sound so sweet and child-like? Hate to disappoint ya (or not) but I'm talking about the butterflies that have taken up residency in my stomach and my dear 'ole cat that is driving me a little nuts. :-s

Let's start with my best furry friend Cairo. Now Cairo and I have been a pair for over 16 years. Yep, since he was 6 weeks old. Of course I am very attached to him, so I have made certain that is in good hands while I am away. My friend Mia is housesitting for me, as she has so many times in the past. Cairo has a full stash of his favourite foods and treats, his trusty pillow is all clean, and Mia will care for him as if he was her own. So the cat should want for nothing right? I mean, he is, afterall, a cat. Well, not the case. I just had to pull out my suitcase and am suddenly struck by a severe case of "kitty cling". That's were my aloof cat decides he wants to be an ornament, permanently stuck to my shoulder. And don't forget the long, low "meeerreeeoooowww" he let out when I put the suitcase on the bed. Yes, he knows: Mommie is leaving!! I do try to reassure him that I'll be back, but really, how much does a cat understand words?? So, as of late I have the cat clinging to me at all times. I've even put off packing until tonight. Oh my little kitty'll be fine & I'll miss you too.

Now for the butterflies. On my days off (Wed & Thurs) I was so busy running errands and getting things organzied that it almost seemed surreal to me that I am going on this great trip, one that I've been planning for over a year. I was wondering if I was going to feel excited anytime soon. Well, Friday morning is when it kicked in. When I woke up realizing  I only had 2 more days of work the butterflies moved in. I swear there must be 50 of 'em in there. I find myself looking up to the sky in search of a plane flying overhead. And since I am near the airport they appear on a consistent basis. The butterflies go crazy! And then there is all the well wishes from those around me. The butterflies think Paris! Even the liquor store is advertising Paris! Butterflies all over the place! So my stomach is fluttering about non-stop, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I want to feel it all!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Guilty Pleasures

So I figure that it would be a cool idea to "prepare" myself for France. You know, drink some distinctive french wine, enjoy a fresh, soft baguette, and nibble on some creamy fresh cheese. Now I'm not talking about the orange-dyed waxy  block of  grocery store cheese (yes, they dye cheese orange). I'm not even talking about the "pseudo-gourmet" cheese in the deli section of the local grocer. I'm talking the fragrant, flavourful cheese that producers take pride in telling you whats in and how it's made; up close and personal. Gourmet cheese!

That is what France and Cambie Street in Vancouver have in common: a specialty cheese store. Neslted between shops, restaurants and movie theatres of a busy neighbourhood stands the Mount Pleasant Cheese shop. Located just off the corner of Cambie and 18th, is the source of my guilty pleasure: CHEESE! Soft, creamy cheese. Smoky cheese. Hard cheese. Stinky cheese!!!!!!!!!! And it's all Canadian, many from Quebec and BC. I am a customer for life! Since I discovered this little heavenly store about 6 weeks ago I have been spoiled for any other type of cheese. I am a cheese snob! And I encourage you to become one too. With such quality the flavours go further and your recipes will go from good to lip-smacking fantastic.

It's not just the quality of the cheese that makes this store great. I've been to other cheese shops and frankly, the staff don't even compare to the knowledge and personal service that Mount Pleasant Cheese offers. With each visit I am greeted with a smile, offered some samples, learn something new and leave compeletly satisfied with my purchases. The manager, Peter, has really put his heart and expertise into helping customers and is offering events such as food tastings and wine tastings. They even have a newsletter you can sign up for at their website. I love this store! If you love cheese as much as I do, you'll take the time to visit this store. You don't even need to be going to Paris to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Countdown to Paris

In August of 1991 I backpaced western Europe with my friend Izabela. That trip I embarked on, at the age of 21, was a pivital point in my life - it's when I realized I was a traveler. I needed to see as much as I could of what the world offers. I had to go! And I did. For many years. Then it came to standstill as I reluctantly, took a "leave of absence", if you will, from travel. Seven years is along time, a lifetime it seems, to wait to do what I love. Happily, that is about to change! In  less than 2 weeks time I am packing my bags, boarding a plane and heading to PARIS BABY!

Few cities can conjure up that immediate reaction of "wow". Paris is one of those cities. For the brief time that I spent in Paris so long ago, I have dreamed of returning so I can immerse myself in all that makes it a such an incredible city. My "comeback" to travel is timely. I will be celebrating the beginning of life, as the saying implies, by climbing the steps of the Eiffel Tower on my 40th birthday. I even hope to smuggle a small bottle of champagne too (hell, it's Paris, they might even offer me one!)

My motto: "If 'Life Begins at 40', then I'm celebrating by drinking champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower."

Only 11 more days.

Iza, me (on right) & her friend in Paris, 1991