Bring in the Elvis Blues

This was a trip for the history books. We had a vacation booked for Australia during the holidays but I was almost 6 months pregnant and did not feel up to make the trip. I have experienced anxiety during flights and such a long trip while pregnant was not on the cards for us.

To make it up and enjoy a vacation still we decided to go a bit south and escape the winter weather with a 10 day excursion: Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham and New Orleans.

Nashville
On December 27, 2017 we dashed off to Nashville and the fun began at the airport when Husband pulled a back musle handling a suitcase. The flight was not a good experience for him and driving the rental car to the hotel did not help. I booked him with a massage therapist the following day but they gently sent him away saying they will not touch the bump that grew on his back. Luckily we found a physiotherapist, a NZ company as fate would make it, and with some exercises he slowly started coming back to some mobility.

During the following days Husband was feeling well enough to go to a football game and walk around the tourist area of the city where honkin’ tonkin’ happens. The game brought in a lot of people and I can see there is a lot of tradition and passion that goes into these events. I was a bit scared at the aggresive Christian preaching while waiting to enter the game with photos of abortions and quotes from the Bible with ideas againts gay people. Considering I was six months pregnant I was probably even more sensitized to how aggresive the messaging was. The game is a mystery to me so it was a good place to have a nap, and hide my Buffalo Bills hoodie. A gift from Husband which is perfect now as it is big enough to carry the son even at 11 months and ideal to grow with the pregnacy belly but it does bring me more attention than any other piece of clothing I own.

See
Even with the backpain we squeezed some hotspots in: the Parthenon, the University grounds, the Frist Art Museum beautiful art-deco building where we caught a WWI Exhibition, the posters for drafting young men stood out.

Shopping
There are many lovely shops around Hilsboro Village, the Hatch Show Print is a great source to see if any prints fancy to come home with you, Manuel is an impressive store if you want to see what celebreties wear on stage and Grimey’s New & Preloved Music is well worth a visit.

Food
We had a traditional diner meal at Elliston Place Soda Shop, a sandwich at Rotier’s Restaurant and a delicious BBQ dinner at a place I do not recall.

We stayed an extra day in Nashville to bring Chris to better health so we cancelled our stop in Birmingham. But we mananged to make it to Memphis.

Nashville.

Nashville.

Nashville.

Memphis
On December 31st we made it to Memphis after a few hours drive. We kept trying to motivate ourselves to go downtown and ring the new year in but we didn’t make it. I usually need an extra push but it was unusual for Chris to be on the sluggish side. He said he was coming down with something. Boy did he ever … It was stupidly cold when we arrived too. The poor staff working in the hotel were wearing their winter jackets inside so I was not in a major rush to celebrate in the streets.

On 1st of January Husband perked up enough to go visit Graceland. There are certain things that trigger childhood memories and this experience was one of them. Elvis, Alain Delon and many others were figures that seemed so out of this world that it felt a bit surreal to walk around his garden. By today’s celebrity standards the house was small but I love that he seemed to have fun with it. There is a huge complex next to the house where you can go see many exhibitions of his clothes, cars and other memorabilia. I kept watching documentaries about him after and it is strange to see all of that now as an adult. I never knew he didn’t write any music but yet he put his stamp on so many songs. Memphis breathes music and I would like to go back in spite of the place making me realize like no other how much privilege my skin colour brings.

Graceland, Memphis.

Graceland, Memphis.

By evening when we arrived home the husband was so sick and shivering that we booked a flight back home next day. The prospect of staying in a emergency room with me pregnant and no local health insurance brought us home.

So this sums up our last vacation together before the Son arrived. For the rest of the week Chris made it to the doctor started antibiotics immediately and slowly came back to a bit of health.

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Americana and Canadiana 2017 – Part 2

Quebec City

Dani spoils me and visits me often so every time she comes we try and see something new alongside all the mall sightseeing we do. This time around we planned a train trip, originally we wanted to hit 3 cities: Quebec City, Ottawa and Montreal but we narrowed it down to two and that was ideal with more time in each one rather than rushing it. I loved my first train experience in Canada. It makes traveling so much more comfortable. We spent 3 days in Quebec City in a nice Bed and Breakfast La Victorienne Urbaine where every morning we would get herbal teas picked by the owner herself, we had a lovely lunch at Aux Anciens Canadiens, walked around the city centre every day, enjoyed the Marché du Vieux-Port and one rainy day we found a Winners and visited it.

Quebec City.

Quebec City.

Montreal

We stayed in a Hostel, which wasn’t as cosy as our Quebec City BnB but it was near the student quarter so a great location to walk around. Considering I was 3 months pregnant during this trip I was quite proud of how much walking we did.
 We went to the Botanical Garden, an impressive light show by Aura at Notre-Dame Basilica, Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal , and to top it all off a fabulous Portuguese meal at Taverne F.

Montreal.

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Americana and Canadiana 2017 – Part 1

Buffalo
This was a quick day trip to pick a sitting standing desk that would fit a small nook in our spare bedroom and my office. Sometimes it is really frustrating the Canadian market is not as rich in options as our southern neighbours.
 It was a fun day trip, with a few stops to a bookshop, some antique stores and some traditional fast food in Allentown.

Buffalo.Buffalo.

New Jersey
Visiting family to celebrate my cousins’ baby shower and later on in the summer Rose’ baptism.

Bruce Peninsula and Owen Sound
This was a fun weekend getaway with Dini and Felix with some lovely walks and boat ride. Plenty to do and see in the area especially late spring.

Trip to Bruce Peninsula.

Haliburton
We have a yearly trip here to our friends’ cottage and it is always the source of some good laughs.

IMG_9882

Prince Edward County
It was our first time here and it seems absolutely lovely but sadly we could not enjoy too much walking around as the mosquitoes were on fire. We had a beautiful lunch with a view, listening in on a conversation about a house renovation that sounded like it would be featured in Architectural Digest. They were snubbing Wayfair so …

Prince Edward County.

Catskill
My sister and brother in law have made it very easy for us to meet up, they live in London, UK and they either visit us or organize trips where we can join them easily. As mentioned in previous posts they are excellent researchers and company for fun shopping, scenic drives and delicious food. Our drive from PEC to the Catskills was supposed to be a gentle 5 hours, but Husband decided for the scenic route which ended up to be an impressive day long trip. We stayed in a lovely house, we always do, and had some fun kayaking on Esopus Creek. Other sites included Kaaterskill Falls, Baird College, Sugarties, Phoencia Diner. On our drive back we stopped in Syracusse for antiquing at Syracuse Antiques Exchange and lunch at Stella’s Diner.

Catskill Cottage & Creek Esopus.

Syracuse - Antiquing.

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Thank you 2018

Dear 2018,

Well here I am on time this year. This time I have to start with personal highlights, one does not give birth in a year and still start with travel highlights.

Personal highlights:

  • Cillian, the Son arrived in a hurry April 6 and made our lives a rollercoaster of emotions. I watch videos of him from when he was born and it is hard to absorb how much approx 9 months with him has changed our lives.
  • Spending time with the Son and family and friends.
  • Visits from family, especially Cillian’s grandparents as well as friends.
  • Entering motherhood with a support group made of family and friends who always keep me in check with everything from food, necessities for the baby and more importantly company and moral support.
  • Stuart, our Norfolk Pine Tree is doing better and made a pretty healthy comeback after a rough spring. I am not sure if it was jealousy for a new member of the family but in late spring he was rapidly going brown. We are doing better now.
  • Ernie, the resident qumquat tree, had an excellent winter in 2017 but not a great summer and so far not a great winter. Fingers crossed his journey improves.

Travel highlights:

  • First cottage trip with the Son to Haliburton.
  • Trip to New Jersey to celebrate my cousin’s wedding.
  • Trip to Maine with the Son and family.
  • Trip to Nashville, Memphis.

Toronto highlights:

  • Walks.
  • Canadian Opera Company and Toronto Symphony Orchestra subscriptions had us going to some beautiful performances early in the year.

While the highs of this year were as high as one would expect, the lows were there to remind me how precious every moment is. We started the year with a vacation cut short by Husband getting sick in the US of A, and then the year continued with us losing people dear to us. There are many things that help you understand life more rationality but then your heart reminds you of the emotions of it all. While I am relieved our family and friends are not suffering anymore, their presence is missed and I hope their energy is moving on to happier pastures.

The pain of losing them will fade, and their spirits will bring joy so time will help but 2018 will be the year my Son entered my life and filled my heart with more love than I thought possible. It has not been an easy journey to motherhood before nor after but the love that comes with it lights up my path going forward.

Thank you 2018!

2018.

2018.

2018.

2018.

2018.

2018.

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Home Visit to Remember

Our visit back home was planned in a bit of a rush, with my brother deciding it was time for the twins to visit the homeland. We booked 7 flight tickets and the invasion was planned for May. The timing was a bit of a stretch for me because of a project I was working on, but I decided to take a chance and go anyway.

All my posts are retrospective and with that comes a lot of appreciation for the memories made, especially for a trip like this one. We sadly have lost two family members and this trip was the last time I saw them. There is a dedication to them at the end of the post.

Originally we thought the flights may be difficult with two almost 4 year olds. As it turns out it was quite uneventful; they coloured, watched a movie and they had no problem stretching over their parents to sleep comfortably. We had the connecting flight from hell in Frankfurt but we made it ok and our Romanian adventure kicked into full gear. While on the trip the kids were a bit shy with all the new people around them in a new language too, but they had their parents and uncle Chris to run back to and keep it familiar.

Bucharest

I always want to walk and discover more when I am here. I was too young when I moved to have the curiosity of a tourist about Bucharest and now every visit I want to do a couple of things to enjoy the city itself. Family and friends are the priority when we go back home and when lucky we even catchup with friends who we haven’t seen in a long time like Oana who was there at the same time. Therefore, I had a chance to see her and her beautiful kids a couple of times. One of those times was at Carturesti one of those libraries you can spend hours in. I feel very blessed to still be close to so many of the people I grew up with. Some have started families, some enjoy life in other meaningful ways, everyone has experienced joys or sorrows but it is refreshing to still be able to laugh until your belly aches when we meet. Over the course of time I realize how lucky I was to have them in my life during my teenage years and how safe I was because of them.

We walked around Romanian collections at MNaR -The National Museum of Art of Romania and it was absolutely lovely. We saw painters I kept hearing about as a kid or remember their names from stamps. As a true geek I did collect stamps growing up, that is how my wild highschool self was spending money.

We had some relaxing walks around the city, some with my Aunt around Herastrau Park, had some coffee at trendy spots where young people were buzzing around. As a coffee snob Chris appreciated that Bucharest has some good coffee. Bought my first piece of art from a Romanian artist, a sculpture which reigns supreme on our credenza.

There were quite a few evenings I had to work and we would end up at a ‘posh’ cafe close by to my cousin’s house. So here I was at midnight on a school night with a very patient husband, working while around us 20 year olds were sipping fancy coffees and flirting while pretending they are too cool to flirt, all dressed up for clubbing. This is when we heard Despacito over and over again and the latest dance music before Justin Bieber went and messed it all up.

The Romanian Peasant Museum is a favourite place to go and add to my collection of fotas. A ‘fota’ is a part of the Romanian traditional female costume and I use these to ornate our bed and couch. Also by now I have a tradition with my friend Ioana to go buy books from an used book shop she likes and I always leave there with a few goodies.

Romania.

Romania.

Romania.

Runcu

This is Marina’s homeground and it is a beautiful part of Romania. Walking around her backyard you can see the mountains and enjoy a view like no other. We stayed at a cottage where they cooked as if it was a tasting menu every night and the evenings were filled with stars. There is a lot to do in this area, such as: visiting Targu Jiu and Brancusi’s sculptures there, his first home, Manastirea Tizmana, Cheile Sohodolului, Curtea de Arges, Manastirea and Pestera Polivraci.

Romania.

Romania.

Romania.

Moeciu

Moeciu is a place close my heart. Altghough very popular because of its close proximity to the capital and the location of the Bran Castle, it is still a gorgeous area to walk around and we are treated like royalty there. More friends and family joined us during this time and we also celebrated my mom’s birthday so it was a smashing success.

It was a highlight to see the kids discover family and friends back home, to be serenaded in a restaurant, to play ping pong for the first time and just have a good time.

This post is a dedication to the two women who have been special in my life and sadly we have lost.

Tanti Dorina, my great aunt, a woman who taught me many things one of them the importance of putting your best foot forward. I have known her all my life and I have only memories of her strong and enjoying life, never complaining. She raised a strong daugther and taught me a great deal about instilling strength into those close to you. She made the best chocolate meringue cake and I will miss her dearly.

Marina, my dad’s wife came into my life later on. By the time we met I was an adult(ish) and living on a different continent so there could have been just a relatively cold relationship which would activate only when we visited once a year or once every other year. I remember the first time we met and Marina as an actress (that was her profession) was more comfortable expressing emotions quicker than I would allow myself. She seemed to do everything with intense emotions, love her friends and her family, debate, support her Russian heritage. Over the years she became a constant in my life, she supported and encouraged me everytime we wanted to do somehting new or travel some place we have not been and she would nurture my love for the theatre. If I would tell her I want to go see a play while I am visiting she would send me to see five. She started battling cancer more than 10 years ago and she kept being optimistic and positive through each round. Things looked very positive for a while. Last year was the first time the word death would come up in conversation and my heart sank. I could see how slowly her positive outlook was cracking and I hid my emotions in a box of denial and wishing that somehow she will be ok this time around too. As the year passed into this summer my calls were met with a suffering voice until one day she stopped answering my messages and calls. I have not been home since and on some level I still think of her there and her booming voice and that on my next visit we will be woken up by her vacuuming.

Romania.

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Reunited with an English Lover

End of August, beginning of September 2016 I spent two weeks with my bittersweet lover, England.

Manchester

I was welcomed by my dear friend Cristina and her beautiful family in their home, originally a registrar office, which is now renovated into a very unique nest. It was wonderful to see her settling into motherhood with such natural aplomb with her little one who is one of the happiest baby girls I have met. Cristina is one of my friends who has been a great inspiration, a woman whose work etiquette is second to none.

Another September, another beautiful wedding to attend, the celebration of Paul & Jenna, in an absolute picturesque location in Bashall Barn, Bashall Town, Clitheroe. You would not believe the number of photos I took of two gorgeous goats playing around putting on a show just in front of the venue. It was magnificent. A beautiful occasion, culminating with an ice-cream bar and a fun car ride back with one of the funniest girls, my sweet Sofia.

Meeting and spending time with people dear to me, was one of the quickest ways to feel back at home. Especially after a dinner at Home Sweet Home with another successful and happy ray of sunshine, Marisa.

I walked around Northern Quarter and I felt something similar to my returns back home in Romania, a lighter version of that but still familiar. A feeling of a place which is so important in my life but somehow now is part of my history rather than my present. Our building complex seems to attract additional new construction around it as well as the removal of some the old buildings. Old deserted red brick small warehouses and factories are being sold around, and best case scenario is that they will be flat conversions. It makes sense for progress to push things further, however it still feels bittersweet. With that being said the Northern Quarter had the same vibe with most of our sweet spots there, including a masterful street art celebrating David Bowie reigning supreme. The same street dancer was in Piccadilly Gardens, an antique bookshop was gone. As expected after a three year break, a mix of old and new. I wanted to go to the Manchester Art Gallery and finally see some of Lowry’s works but sadly I did not make it this time around.

Manchester.

Manchester.

Wedding.

Wedding.

To Buy
The Manchester Craft and Design Center still has a few favorite shops. I spoiled myself with a necklace from the jeweler who made our wedding bands, Eve Redmond. Five years later our simple bands still make me happy. Also left with some beautiful tiles, adorned with birds form Lee Page Ceramics and some record for Husband’s increasing collection from Vinyl Exchange.

Sheffield

While working in Manchester, there were periods of time when I would make a weekly day trip to Sheffield. I made this trip now and the train ride through Peak District is one of the things I miss the most.

I am happy to have spent more than a day in Sheffield, making for a fun week with fun people and chasing up elephants. They were hosting a charity project where different schools create designs that are then printed sculptures of a selected animal. A few years ago when we were in Liverpool with my dad it was penguins, this time here it was elephants. They were displayed all across the city and people chase them a bit like a scavenger hunt, a vote takes place for the best designs and it all ends with them being auctioned off for charity. This is my result:

I had a quick dinner at Pizza Express, as Husband and I used to do on quick Friday dinners and enjoyed an excellent play at the Crucible Theatre.

Sheffield.

London

I could not visit UK without seeing my global family, a core group of friends who have been mentioned multiple times on this blog. We spent a classic fun weekend walking around, enjoying food and going to the theatre. I was spoiled yet again with tickets for my birthday to a play in an intimate setup in Soho with a dinner at Princi. Added to that, a quick catchup with my sweet Laura and her new boyfriend. A young architect, smart and sweet who before 30 has conquered the world and back.

My reunion with England was bittersweet as it does feel like a bit of me is both loved and unwanted there. I felt at home living in Manchester for four years, and many things brought me joy during this time. As a young adult I was shaped by globalization and enjoyed the benefits and freedoms of such a world to the fullest. The experience did not come without pulls and pushes on myself. I had to work on many levels to understand myself as part of such a world. With that sort of journey comes an acceptance of continuous learning and longing. Once it becomes part of you it is like any other drug, I cannot see my life without it. It has been four years in Canada now and while life is settled, a part of me also sees itself being somewhere else.
A lot of people from my generation, and younger, experience the same thing and navigating a world where globalization is now vilified it’s scary. I felt confused during this time in UK. When we left we thought we would always leave the door open to return. I guess you never know.

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Canadiana – Part 2 (Bruce Peninsula)

In late fall 2014 we had a lovely trip at the bottom of Bruce Peninsula, staying at a cosy BnB, an old doctor’s home in Owen Sound. Husband Chris reports it as one of his favourite trips since we moved to Canada. It was spent hiking, sleeping and eating copious breakfasts provided by our host Jamie. Sadly the BnB is no longer running, but one of the takeaway memories was seeing salmon swimming upstream. We had a gorgeous fall hike with amazing fall colours, started at the bottom of the Harrison Park and ended at Inglis Falls.

During that weekend we drove around the bottom of the Bruce Peninsula, reaching Lion’s Head but we did most of the in-depth discovery on the second long weekend with Mum and Dad, using the recommendations of our friend Tamara, a regular in the area. So much so that she and her partner Vince got married in the area and hold it very close to their hearts.

For this trip we stayed at another cosy lovely BnB at Haven on the Bay within a few minutes walk from Lake Huron. Husband Chris had a swim while we were chatting with a lady describing her recent encounter with a snake in the area. Apparently they are not interested in swimmers so Husband could keep enjoying the clear water and feeling the sunshine through the water, an experience he reported somehow different to swimming in salt water.

To see
We enjoyed a glass bottom boat tour in Tobermory with some interesting shipwrecks and lovely views of the Bruce Trail followed by a nice walk around.

Bruce Peninsula.

Some other highlights include an Elk Farm. Here the elks are farmed for their horns, not their meat which made me very happy. As well the horns are not chopped off in some horrific manner they fall off when the time is right. They were absolutely majestic. More time driving around, a pit stop at a beautifully located winery at Coffin Ridge Winery,and some potentially muskrat or otter sightings from our drives.

Bruce Peninsula.

One evening we spent some time waiting to spot a beaver. And we thought we saw one but it was very quickly and he rushed out of my viewfinder very quickly, and never came back. After about an hour of baiting him/her we drove off slightly happy to have potentially spotted one and sad for not getting a close look. There were also many stories shared of bears roaming around and scaring bikers, but we were lucky enough not to see any. I would like to photograph some for sure but I am doubtful I would know hot to seize the opportunity if I did meet one.

Bruce Peninsula.

It was yet another lovely trip together with a lot of driving, stopping for photographs and genuinely making the most of the short time together.

Bruce Peninsula.

Bruce Peninsula.

To Eat
Fish and Chips off the road on the way to or back from Tobermory. This place is run locally using the catch of the day only, it also has a good choice of smoked fish to take home. We also enjoyed a nice brunch in Owen Sound at Casero’s a well placed Mexican restaurant.

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Canadiana – Part 1 (Nova Scotia)

We say we should do more local travelling and sometimes we manage sometimes we don’t. With the visit of Husband Chris’ Mum and Dad we took the opportunity to get serious and we arranged two fun filled long weekend trips.

Enough of Ontario and Quebec, other provinces deserve our attention especially when we incorrectly think we can eat lobster at will and see puffins. We flew in and had no problem getting the car and driving to our beautiful AirBnB home by the lake. Unlike other flight adventures, this was smooth sailing. The home we rented was on the lake, a luxury, plus we shared the same taste in couches so plenty to make us feel at home.

Husband hates driving in Toronto, and regularly complains about appalling ‘Toronto driving’ but he loves adventure driving, promenade driving so that is what we did most of the days. The first day was spent driving around the coast, a lighthouse here at Chebucto Head Lighthouse, some Pitcher carnivorous plants there and a stop at the Halifax food market. It was on July 1st, Canada day, and while everything was in a good mood, the stalls were closed so we came back home and ended the day with a nice walk around the Lower Sackville Park and in the evening watching fireworks over the lake from our very generous neighbors.

Nova Scotia.Nova Scotia.

Other sightseeing included highest recorded tides at Burntcoat Head, a quick rainy look at Peggys Cove Lighthouse, the beautifully quiet and picturesque Grand-Pré National Historic Site, and a second Unesco site at Lunenburg. The Grand-Pré National Historic site is so beautiful and peaceful. There is an old wooden church on the way towards the coast that you pass, in there in the afternoon with the light shining on the wheatgrass it is perfect.

Nova Scotia.Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia.

We had a fun evening in Lunenburg where we enjoyed a delicious dinner lobster (although the restaurant was a bit disorganized) and a walk around the port admiring the schooner replica Bluenose II.

Lunenburg.

Nova Scotia.Nova Scotia.

To Eat
We falsely thought that it was the lobster season in Nova Scotia, it wasn’t. But we still had a delicious lunch and lobster rolls at a couple of places one of which was Shaw’s Landing. Also, the Halifax Markets are fun to walk around and there is some excellent looking produce.

Next Canadiana episode covers our fun trip to Bruce Peninsula!

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Poppies in Dordogne and EuroCup in Paris

Husband Chris’ family know how to organize some excellent getaways. This year it was abound with visits as we had my dad visiting from Romania for a couple of weeks in March and later, in July, we had Husband’s Mum and Dad visiting for a couple of weeks. Before their arrival they stopped in the UK and together with my sister-in-law and her husband, they planned a trip to the South of France. We were invited to join and after some minimal consideration, we started looking at plane tickets.

Dordogne

The trip was spent mostly in Dordogne.

Before the fun times, we kicked it all off with yet another travel adventure. As I was rushing to catch a bus, whose schedule I did not check ahead of time, I lost one of my favorite sweaters. Realizing I didn’t have it, I was pondering if I should go back to look for it or not. I didn’t and while running to the bus station, the airport bus was waiting there with 1 minute to departure. I, of course, did not have a ticket and to get one in a minute was not achievable. I could buy a ticket on the bus if I had cash, something that rarely happens nowadays. Luckily a young man paid for me (and they say the new generation is not polite). The saga continued when we arrived in France during a rail strike, floods around Paris and the Euro Cup. Something we found out by trying to book accommodation for Paris on the way back to Toronto and found out that our regular hotel was fully booked and AirBnBs kept refusing us. The plan was to arrive in Paris, take a train to Bordeaux, and from there take a regional train to Bergerac, where we would pick up our rental car. The flight was smooth, train to Bordeaux was ok but the strike hit us at the end and the regional train got cancelled although very helpful staff directed us to a bus. A comedy of stress occurred while boarding this as it did not accommodate to all the people due to be on the train and the queuing etiquette so well cherished in the UK, was nowhere to be found here while everyone was trying hard to not miss this last opportunity to get home. We made it in, probably not very elegantly, and it could have been a very enjoyable ride with all the scenic little towns and villages if we wouldn’t have been so exhausted. We arrived in Bergerac to collect the car with no rental office to be seen in a seemingly deserted station. Husband walked around looking for a car rental while I waited fresh as a daisy in front of the station. Out of nowhere a man comes out and it turns out there was an office open just close to the tracks, second door to the right after you pass through another door and go on the tracks and you pass the toilets, and kiss a frog, any way you get the drift.

In Paris when I say my well-practiced ‘Bonjour’, there is an immediate switch to English by my interlocutor, seeing right through my feeble attempts at speaking French. In Bergerac not the same, my few words were kindly interpreted as a true attempt at speaking French and it was the cherry on top of the cake to push the cloud off my brain and try to make some sense of what we needed to do to pick up this magical vehicle. Somehow, hands waving in the air, passports were checked, keys were handed and we ended up picking up a car always smaller than what we booked. For the next hour Husband Chris pushed through and drove with me guiding him from written directions through the beautiful countryside and finally making it to a family reunion over a delicious dinner.

Next day we enjoyed it by simply relaxing and walking around, eating delicious bread, cheese, croissants, roasted chicken and asparagus. La Tourache, our home for the week had a gorgeous garden so I spent my day walking around barefoot and taking it all in.

House.House.

Traveling with my sister and brother-in-law is a treat as they are experienced travelers who research interesting things to do, know where to go for delicious food and also enjoy a nice slow pace. A lot of the places we saw and good food we had were the results of their work.

Les Eyzies is a lovely place to walk around with the magnificent buildings in rock. Les Jardins de Marqueyssac reminded me of French movies featuring royal gardens so well manicured and maintained. It had gorgeous views and it was an impressive place to walk around. We had lovely drives around the countryside with Mum and Dad and one of the highlights was seeing poppies around. We used to have them close to where I grew up and I have not seen much of them since, so it was glorious to photograph them while thinking of my Mom. She is a huge poppy lover so I will definitely have to bring her there one day.

Poppies.Mauzac.

To Eat
There is no surprise that the food was amazing and one of the highlights was the markets, full of delicious goodies. The two we went to were in Bugue and Sarlat. We had two amazing lunches one at the Au Vieux Moulin in Les Eyzies and the second at a farmhouse, Auberge du Belvédère where I managed to have three glasses of wine in front of me at once.

Sarlat.

To buy
The local nearest town Bugue, had a glass blower that did a little demonstration for us, also helped us stock up on some glasses and a bottle to bring home. Some things don’t change we still end up carrying awkward and breakable things as always.

Paris

Afterwards, we squeezed a couple of days in Paris before our return. We have been going to the same hotel for the past 5 years and this time we had to go out of our comfort zone and stay not too far from Rue des Ecoles. I may want to do that in the future and try different areas. We were also right in front of the Natural History Museum with a view of Galerie de paléontologie et d’anatomie comparée from our window. We visited the Natural History museum, which is a bit harder to take in without a proper English guide. It is more of a local museum with the displays mostly in French. The grounds of the museum are impressive with a gorgeous rose garden to walk through, a zoo and just an overall lovely place to spend a few hours. I will say it was very strange to see kangaroos in the middle of Paris.

Paris.

On Saturday we went through about 5 security checks to the Eiffel Tower and together with true football fans cheered for a goal, any goal. There was definitely a lot of chanting through the city with a lot of inebriated fans supporting their countries through thick and thin.

Paris.

To Buy
Rue Jacob had a few shops to keep us amused, one of them Gien, the home of some gorgeous plates. We also went to Merci Merci which was madness due a sales event and the crowd of people flocking to this (a bit too hip) place.

To Eat
We overdid it by booking two good restaurants. The food although delicious in both, lacked a service and a welcoming feeling, which I started to crave in my eating experiences. The first restaurant had an absolutely amazing dessert and dessert wine pairing. Things got a bit friendlier after they mixed up Husband’s order but before that, they were more than happy to snub us. The second restaurant was fish-focused, with delicious food again yet the same lack of friendly and welcoming service. Gérard Mulot provided good brunches to keep us going through the day.

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London, Paris, Cologne, Bucharest

September is our wedding season. For two years in a row, we have been part of beautiful weddings, as you may remember from our adventures in Sardinia. Well, in 2015, we were part of our sweet Mrs. Breakfast at Tiffany’s wedding, I was a maid of honor for the first time in my life. En route we hit a few of our favourite places: London for family and friends, Paris for ourselves, Cologne for a wedding and home in Bucharest for family and friends. To establish September as a bonafide wedding month, I also got lucky to match my week in Bucharest with a dear friend’s wedding. Two weddings in two weeks is an impressive record.

London
We walked around my sister in law’s new neighbourhood in Bermondsey with delicious markets and a lovely Thames walk. They have moved into a new flat with one of the most spectacular bookcases I have seen. The bookcase needs a ladder so that should give you an idea. Our crew here spoiled me on my birthday with a Vivien Mayer exhibition, a visit to the Serpentine Gallery, the discovery of pretty tin boxes full of cookies at Fortnum & Mason.

We reunited with our adventurous friends, who recently finished their bike tour from Europe to China, our we-always-have-something-to-talk-about friends who moved in a beautiful flat on a street called Mount Pleasant. We looked for half a year in Toronto for a place on the same name street in Toronto with no luck. Another pair of friends who just moved to London from Australia whose nuptials we attended in February in Brisbane and yet another pair of friends who have been travelling and working around Europe and North America. The combination of family and friends reminds me that a part of me feels at home in the UK. Ironically enough I write these lines after Brexit, almost a month later after a significant number of people have voted against the ease of such a group living and working in the UK. Although 6 of them are Aussies, three of us were from EU countries and one glorious Englishman so maybe some Commonwealth tweaking is next. Too soon maybe for such a joke. It is easy enough to indulge in feeling excluded and snickered as a Romanian national in the UK but the love I had there outshine the random negative incidents so I am hopeful that people in diverse groups as our own will find their support and their future together. And there were many groups like ourselves, a collection of nationalities and experiences from all over the world building lives together.

I digress back to family and friends. Sadly during this trip we also received life-changing news for the wedding we were about to attend in Cologne. It is incredible how life changing moments and their accompanying details remain fresh in our emotional memory. I can still hear and picture Husband Chris receiving a call and one OMG said too many times.

London.London.

London.Cologne
A few weeks ago would have been the birthday of the mom of our Mrs. Breakfast at Tiffany, the bride. Ali was a sweet lady who has met us and spoiled us silly every time we visited Cologne, as well she attended our Romanian wedding with a lot of joy and elegance, all in all, she was a gracious lady who left the party too soon. We have been lucky to have our parents part of our important life events so far, so being there for a friend who has lost her mom was probably one of the hardest moments I have experienced. It was an experience I felt helpless through, also realizing this was about how to best be there for her and help in any way we could. Being there during those days has taught me so much about how strength and vulnerability can both survive and take us through life when the unimaginable happens. The bride was as elegant and gorgeous as her mom would have dreamed of and although not physically present, the touch and her spirit were felt during a day. Weddings are a celebration of a pair’s love and while that is something to be cherished and a valued, this wedding was special in its quiet celebration of a mother’s love and the kind of life appreciation as only loss teaches. Our bride and groom were gorgeous and I even managed to put together a speech that hopefully brings them joyous memories in years to come.

Cologne.

Paris
Before Cologne, we did manage to stop in our sweet Paris for two days. With heavy hearts after the news, we walked around and cleared our heads and revisited a city which always seems to invite me to come and move in for a little bit. I hope one day we can spend more than 2 days here and there.
We stayed in Latin Quartier as we always do, walked around, did a bit of shopping, went to Petit Palais and enjoyed the gorgeous inner garden. Walked around Louvre and Garden Luxembourg with its amazing sculptures and parted ways in hopes to return soon. Not before some desserts from Gérard Mulot.

Paris.Paris.

Paris.Paris.

Bucharest
Speaking of loss in November of 2015 there was a fire at a rock concert in a Bucharest club where approximately 60 young people died and much more still recovering from the traumatic experience. I bring this up during this post because in the days following this tragedy I followed what happened with a deep sorrow, I felt a deep longing to be back there and to be part of the generation I left 15 years ago. I was 20 when I left Romania so my core is still rooted there and it is still a place that anchors me. After living in 3 countries in the last 10 years and realizing I am happy experiencing the world as it comes, I still find a unique connection to Bucharest and my childhood village. During this event and the days following it, I had the realization that the deep relationship it has with my childhood and the teenage years is what pulls me back and keeps it so alive. It will always be the playground of my development and I will always long for it one way or another and that can survive very well in my emotional space with the fact I do not feel the pull to live and work there as an adult, especially not at the moment. And again loss helps put in perspective my life and how to embrace and how to let that longing take over me when it wants as it shines a light on the child and teenager in me.

Onto the memories of the trip, I enjoyed a few days with my sweet Aunt who is a gem and whose laughter has always made life better. With her, I started doing recorded family interviews. Husband Chris has advised me to do this as an inspiration from Story Corps and I am very happy to have some serious footage to cherish in years to come. We walked around through parks, we looked at carpets, and we laughed and talked about my sweet departed grandparents.
I also interviewed my grandmother, my dad’s mom who is as quirky as a 91-year-old can be. I got spoiled by my dad and stepmother and ended the trip on a high note, with the wedding of my dear friend the Dragon, his nickname from high school. This a friendship that has taken us through many stages of our lives from calculus homework to bridge and also to some healthy debates.

Bucharest.

Until the next catch up, hope the two lovely couples are having the time of the lives.

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