That moment you pass security

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Travels

When life throws you lemons…

I wait for the hotel shuttle. Wander through the great depths of Schiphol. Linger in the enormous queue for security. ๐Ÿ™„ My irritation level elevated quickly, thinking I’d have no time for a bite and a Heineken ๐Ÿ˜ฃ Then there’s that glorious moment when you’ve passed security and realize there are no further obstacles to conquer! Ahhh, the luxury of the EU. Et voila! Tournez ร  gauche et il y a le champagne bar. ๐Ÿฅ‚

I’d be lying if I said that my unexpected missed connection (sans one cute french husband) was an abhorrent nightmare. An inconvenience, yes. But not an abhorrence.

After what was a long trip in Buenos Aires, followed by an especially challenging week at home, followed by a long holiday weekend with friends, my slight overnight derailment in Amsterdam doubled as a long overdue mini-adventure for myself and my Envizage. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my husband dearly but somehow I think his business class flight home last night without me, without work, or any kids was mildly appreciated “at the end of the day”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My husband thinks there is no french equivalent for “at the end of the day”, but I think we all get the gist. I couldn’t help but embrace this derailment in the most positive of terms: by getting him securely home, finding my way to a quasi-Pulitzer Hotel site inspection, slash, coffee-shop pop-in ร  Amsterdam ๐Ÿ˜‰ with a Toulouse flight home le prochain aprรจs-midi.

Given all my unexpected excitement, I mustn’t fail to mention the wee beautiful discovery that led to this derailment: Edinburgh with my illustrious husband. ๐Ÿ˜ Aye! What a lovely little city that was! (yes insert Scottish accent there) ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ They weren’t as hard to understand as I originally suspected, and the genuine jubilance emanated by the Scottish people was truly a delight! Alongside our wonderful french amis, we toured the museum, gardens and castle; ate haggis and drank scotch whiskey. We indulged a ghost fettish and joined the late night Day of the Double Dead tour ๐Ÿ‘ป. And leave it to me, who found a delicious Mexican ๐ŸŒฎ called Wahaca which conveniently has shops in Manchester, Leeds and London! ๐Ÿ˜‹. Sadly, we saw no sheep. As is usual for moi et mon amour de mari, the weather could not have been better. We relished in clear sea views and 27 degrees with cool breezes… practically unheard of in Edinburgh, so I’m told.

On departure day from Scotland, fortunately I packed our workout gear in my carry-on. Despite the Ibis Hotel facial/body/shampoo bubbles shower, j’etait prรชt et frais… on my way home! Just one flight and an airport-baggage-plea standing between me and the Tissรฉo airport tram to home! Home to four french kids, tutors and mon mal de gorge!๐Ÿ˜ท

It’s been a while since I got derailed on my own time. Without having to worry about french kids, someone’s boss or any real obligation to anyone else! Though I wouldn’t change anything in the world, it reminds of the good ol’ days and suddenly I urge for Positively 4th Street to blare on my B&Os.๐Ÿ˜Ž

Yesterday in Amsterdam was phenomenal. I’ve never seen it in 27 degree heat, bold sunshine, and with an American holiday buffering my normal sense of obligation. It felt nice. My ever-incredible husband unwaveringly appeased my suggestion to taxi into the Red Light District for just an hour of Dutch Asian noodles, before his miracle ‘last-seat’ flight home. Thanks to his amazing travel-agent wife ๐Ÿ˜‡ life could go-on ‘as normal’ for him yesterday. I totally sacrificed! 1) a night in Amsterdam on my own in a hotel, versus 2) home with spin class, four kids, laundry, a tutor, and prรฉparation de la repas. Pizza for dinner! ๐Ÿ•

And even more unexpectedly now, I pack up for an impulsive tryst ร  Dubai! When Kirkie calls, we answer! ๐Ÿ˜

Our Scottish whiskey experience!

And so it goes…

,

Aix marks the spot… NOT to go!

Posted: October 31, 2016 in Travels

Married to my frenchman!

After what was a whirlwind week of family, logistics and friendly fun, I am now extremely content in wedded bliss. Da daa da daaa: I now pronounce me Liz Georjon. ๐Ÿ˜

Our wedding was amazing, if I do say so myself. We had been running around like crazy the week leading up to it, but our day was filled with excitement, ease and nothing but smiles. We succeeded to bring the French and English together, enjoyed the moment with happy kids and truly relished in our ‘special day’. โ˜บ๏ธ Or a few special days really! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The taco truck outside our Toulouse 5th Avenue flat the day after was absolute brilliance. ๐ŸŒฎ It was El Taco Fancyoso indeed.
The week after our wedding left us with still a few Americans in Toulouse and we finally were able to relax, take it eeeaaaaaasssyyy ๐ŸŽถ and shop a little, tour a little and eat at our favourite restaurants. Although sadly my illustrious husband had to return to work. ๐Ÿ˜ž

Given it was the birthday of my most favourite tรฉmoin and auntie… us gals decided to discover a very well-touted part of southern France that we’d not seen before. I’ve listened to countless stories about the beauty and charm of Aix-en-Provence. We should’ve gotten the hint from the moment our metro journey began that morning… how we failed to join each other until Matabiau Train Station was just silly. ๐Ÿš‡Though we managed to persevere and pop! ๐Ÿพ went the champagne.

Nous sommes arrivรฉes ร  Aix-en-Provence and spent the rainy evening in our very comfortable hotel lounge where the martinis ๐Ÿธwere dry and plentiful. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ there was a delicious dinner from a local couple’s charming Le 18 restaurant to follow. But that’s pretty much where all the charm ended. Oh sure there was also that one big fountain in the middle of town, in the roundabout. ๐Ÿ˜…

We awoke with hangovers ๐Ÿ˜ต and massages to remedy them, which really were quite lovely. In centre ville Yelp failed us terribly (three times over) to find anything decently non-French for lunch, lest we settled for canned tomato sauce gnocchi. Inundated by the constant swarm of flies, we sat in awe regarding the weird phenomenon of aix-tra short-legged dogs and the hipsters who walked them. There’s not a whole hell of a lot else to do in Aix unless you’re super aix-cited about Cezanne, or an art student. Un petit plus du vin ๐Ÿทwhile dodging flies was entertainment enough for us.

The next day we roamed aimlessly until our train ride home for husband-made tacos and me in a humex-fog. ๐Ÿค’ Trying to find a bottle of wine for the train was a total aix-ercise of frustration. ๐Ÿ™„ Trying to find the fucking train station was a total fucking nightmare. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ How is it, this ‘charming’ little Provence ville has big yellow signs pointing to literally everything aix-cept the gare des trains?!! And since when do the French call bus stations gares also (bastards)! ๐Ÿ˜ค It was absolutely crazy. Our only shot in hell was a taxi to Marseille, but the taxi-drivers were non-aix-istent. โ‚ฌ65 later ๐Ÿš• we waited in line to change our seats to the later train, and found a little peace in Gare Marseille Saint-Charles… without all the flies.

I felt a little bad for having suggested this charming fucking short-legged dog village, pour l’anniversaire de ma tante, especially when there ARE truly amazing parts of France we could have just as easily ๐Ÿ˜‰ gone to. But thankfully it was only a two-hour delay and just me and AJ, who aix-traordinarily masks her inner-irritation so well. ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ˜˜

We finally did make it home to my incredible husband that night for leftovers and cocktails. ๐Ÿ˜ƒโค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท That’s when he finally decided to reveal that he never thought Aix was really all that interesting. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜œ

I love Paul Cรฉzanne, really… but ๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿ˜ด

These martinis didn’t have any Martini Rossi

Moje ljeto ljubavi, iz Dubrovnika

Posted: August 25, 2016 in Past Trips

Old City Dubrovnik

It’s the final countdown…

When something is truly right, I suppose things fall into place, just right.
This truly has been my summer of love. Not only are we counting down to the end of it, but also to my final days as the perennially single woman. ๐Ÿ˜

And I couldn’t have chosen a more stunning place to get that final stamp in my single-girl American passport. Albeit, my emergency passport ๐Ÿ™„ as my 5-year old one with all the visas, high-security Israeli threat 5 sticker and stamps from literally all over the world never turned up after Disney Paris. Which is actually a blessing in disguise, I think! As I touch wood… ๐Ÿ˜ณ

I needed to go to Paris anyway, to l’ambassade amรฉricaine for some (more) goofy papers required for our French marriage license. Kismet… I picked up an emergency passport whilst there! ๐Ÿ˜† Aprรจs, we spent a weekend in Dublin. My frenchman got down on one knee in front of Dublin Castle, and a small group of young girls… and officially asked me to marry him. ๐Ÿ˜ Soon after that we went to London for my “fiancรฉ” ๐Ÿ˜† to speak at an industry conference, en anglais, for his travail. We met some incredible friends, discovered a perfect London hotel, and bought my wedding dress!!! ๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿผ

As our ‘summer of love’ began, everything fell right into place! Which has pretty much been the status quo since I met my illustrious man a couple years ago. Sorry to speak for my him (oh what the hell I’ll be his wife in 29 days) ๐Ÿ˜‰ but neither of us have ever been so perfectly ‘in love’, ‘in sync’ and ‘in absolute certainty’ of anything before this. We’ve spent our summer planning the wedding together, watching every detail fall… yep you guessed it! Right into place. ๐Ÿ˜ With no stress, in two languages and with inexplicable ease.

Sitting now at the edges of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, there is time to quietly reflect on everything we’ve both accomplished. With our jobs, our merger, our families, our finances and especially our future. โœจ And I’ll tell you what… it is a fucking fairy tale!

We continue to grow more savvy with our immigration comprehension ๐ŸŒ which is the purpose of this little Dubrovnik jaunt. Well… one of the reasons! ๐Ÿ˜… I’ve organized three trips to this incroyable country cette annรฉe and we are just months before it officially enters the Schengen Zone. Both the French and Croatians seem quite lax already with their immigration reciprocity. The young aรฉroport policier at Toulouse Blagnac kindly handed my unstamped American emergency passport back to me. I smiled and intimated my utmost French charm saying “merci monsieur… mais c’est nรฉcessaire pour le timbre, pour moi? Oui?” (insert glimmering smile and batted eyelashes here) ๐Ÿ˜‡

“Oui, okay… pour vous.” STAMP! โœ”๏ธ Phew! Mission accomplished.

Dubrovnik is extraordinaire. It IS crowded, and reminiscent of Venice in that way… but unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. It’s authentic. It’s not expensive. Inside the old city walls there are no Golden Arches or Subway Sandwiches. The stone stairs inside this medieval city are steep, but seductive. The shops are fantastic, it’s nothing like the Grand Bazaar or Jewish Quarter. The views are magical and the glistening sea summons. Once again, the restaurants are really delicious ๐Ÿ˜‹ and I’m not gonna lie… I’m a picky eater!
Just outside the old city walls are some of the most stunning views you could imagine. Red roofs atop ancient stone nestled along a crystal clear turquoise sea. Wow. ๐Ÿ˜ I understand now why my clients here in June, simply were not going to leave as scheduled! This is my true definition of paradise. ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท And only a two-hour flight from home, pour moi!

Uncertain where to stay as it was a quick trip all by my lonesome, I went against my usual judgment. Booking.com and I became quite friendly as I settled on what has turned out to be one of the BEST options imaginable! Sure it would be great to have the luxury, a gorgeous pool and convenient beachside bar service. But those hotels are not plentiful in Dubrovnik and located well outside these old city walls. ๐Ÿค” There are a bazillion options for those needing to get their feet in the sparkling warm water. The ‘guesthouse’ I chose, called Prijeko Palace, is close to an old city entrance with only one small flight of steep stairs to manage. It’s in a 14th century building yet filled with original art. The rooms are spacious, comfortable and quiet. It has the renowned Stara Loza Restaurant attached, just along restaurant row, and hosts the second-only elevator within the medieval borders. And it just happens to be around the stone corner from D’Vino, best wine bar in the city! ๐Ÿท

The only thing that could make this any better is if my frenchman were here… and If I was 4 kilograms lighter. ๐Ÿ˜„ Be that as it may, I have not a doubt in the world that my summer of love will glide sweetly into unequivocal bliss come September. ๐Ÿ˜

I reckon our lives won’t really be much different, as we’ve got kids, work, loads of travel and California Christmas ahead. However I will proudly don a gorgeous (french-made) wedding band and learn to spell Georjon out in french! ๐Ÿ˜ C’est pas facile! Mais trรจs beau.โค๏ธ

Breakfast at Prijeko Palace ๐Ÿ˜

An unforgettable Dubrovnik view

Je suis un converti de UBER

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Travels
img_0868

J’adore my UBER app

What is it that turned me into a taxi sympathist?!! ๐Ÿค” I’d somehow forgotten my severe taxi blues from living in San Francisco. My beloved Nilmar is the only way I survived that taxi hell. Also buried deep was the memory of Rose Cab crazy with their $10 Santa Barbara Airport minimum and shitty red ‘beater’ cars. Somehow my years in Manhattan turned me into a taxi sympathist with the gypsy cabs, exorbitant black cars and seriously dysfunctional UBER. ๐Ÿ˜

 

Whilst living in Bordeaux I felt true empathy for the taxis when they went on strike and even supportive as UBER threatened their French livelihood. How did I overlook that key phrase: ‘on strike’? ๐Ÿด What the f*ck was I thinking?!! I suppose I didn’t pay Bordeaux taxi much attention since sleazy Jean-Luc tried to kiss me after taking my mother’s luggage up three grand flights of stairs. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

 

Not intentionally a shout-out to the brilliant job of my frenchman… but living in Toulouse pretty much never requires the thought of a taxi to enter one’s mind. Our public transportation system is divine, ridiculously clean, efficient and dirt cheap. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Until those bastard taxi strikers decided to block all of it, and the roads. ๐Ÿ˜ 

 

After a relaxing and cozy Easter avec quatre enfants in a beautiful French compagne labyrinth, we headed to Blagnac to greet our dear friend visiting from Zurich. It’s not as if the tram from just beside our flat is less convenient, but we wanted to greet my first visitor ร  Toulouse in person. ๐Ÿ˜Š We passed a lovely week together dans La Ville Rose. We ate cassoulet, drank champagne and wandered the winding Roman streets. We laughed with my frenchman, took the SNCF to Bordeaux ๐Ÿท and relived unforgettable memories of our long history.

 

Come Friday, we were ready to kick off printemps with a little road trip to Costa Brava. Olรฉ! The hometown of Salvadore Dali in Cadaquรฉs is adorable. A perfect Catalan getaway, despite the rain. It is a beautiful small Spanish village which proudly displays their Catalan flags high. It must be amazing in summer! Perhaps we’ll find out because the amount we save in grey goose at the Gran Jonquera Outlet pretty much pays for the entire trip. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just before the Spain-France border is a big store where you can buy 1-liter bottles for โ‚ฌ23, it’s un-f*ing-believable! ๐ŸธSalut! Salud! And santรฉ a la votre! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

 

Once home, we learned of a Toulousain taxi strike for the following morning ๐Ÿ˜  which would block all the roads to Blagnac, and literally stop the airport tram and buses. I thought to myself “phew so lucky” since my frenchman had the day off work and could drive our Swiss Miss using all the backroads. Really, it was fairly calm and seemingly low-key. The next day was my turn to the airport for a highly anticipated cocktail lunch in Paris with an old friend. Definitely not to be missed!

 

But… the f*ing strike goes on. ๐Ÿ™„ I awoke promptly with all my Tisseo tools in hand and my frenchman on alert. It was suggested I depart at 8:00am and take metro to Compans and get on the airport bus. I did just that… except for my journey began at 8:17am. ๐Ÿ˜ด Naturally I arrived just 7 minutes after the airport bus and watched my Tisseo app slowly delay the arrival of the next one from 23 minutes to over 2 hours. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ With a few Americans in tow, and an adorable Swede… we raced back to the metro, changing lines and stations to get to the tram, yes: the same tram that begins just aside our flat! I realized I would never make my boarding time unless I jumped out at the closest stop and high-tailed it ร  pied. In the rain! โ˜”๏ธ

 

Tout est bien qui finit bien! I was last on my plane and the only thing those taxi drivers managed to strip from me was my really good-hair day! ๐Ÿ˜‰ As seems to be the norm in France, the strike was quickly forgotten and our subsequent three trips to Paris were unaffected. Yet, it’s once again the taxis which irritate my memories.

 

We sadly and unexpectedly needed to be in Normandy, which requires some careful logistics for the trains, planes and automobiles it requires. With just a little over an hour to get from Orly to Gare St. Lazare in Paris, the plan was to taxi between and pick up a bottle of champagne for the train.๐Ÿพ Bonne idรฉe… until we had the world’s least aggressive taxi driver, who, happened to drive like my dear grandmother. Love you Gram but you know what I mean: there’s no one ahead for a mile yet there’s a quick press on the pedal only to abruptly let go… in a constant yet random pattern which invokes a petit case of whiplash and car sickness. ๐Ÿค• As the clock struck the hour point and the driver fumbled with his little bullshit credit card contraption, it was time for American me to be a little abrupt! I tossed him my champagne money and poked my frenchman to get the hell out of his freaking Asian-car death trap, as he said under his breath, “you really made your asshole-American.” ๐Ÿ™„ Haha… that was nothin’! Needless to say, we had no time for champagne. ๐Ÿ˜

 

Just a couple days later with quatre enfants in tow… we were back on the Parisian streets, but this time headed east for Disneyland Paris. It was sweet, except for the severe tonsil infection ๐Ÿค’ which, conveniently on a French Sunday cost โ‚ฌ130 in car services for a run to the pharmacy! ๐Ÿค‘ Disneyland Paris turned out to be quite fun, yet it was soon time to show the kids a little bit of Paris. So back to les rues we went! With our home-away-from-home Le Meurice as our base, we trotted off for the Louvre, Tuileries, La Seine and Tour Eiffel. We left our fate to the hands of Le Meurice thinking it should be no problem for them to find us a van-taxi large enough for our six in rush hour on a Tuesday. But we were mistaken!

 

Low and behold ๐Ÿ˜ƒ UBER to the rescue! Just a quick click on the app and 7-minutes later our Mercedes van arrived! With nothing more than a quick exchange of enchantรฉ, fresh water bottles and a modest bank account withdrawal… we were off to Orly in no time.

 

C’est la vie! C’est mon nouveau UBER vie! ๐Ÿ˜‰ or is it nouvelle?!! Sigh…

 

Cheers to Americans in France!

 

The view from my room

 

Micky et moi

 

A witness to Turkey at its finest

Posted: February 28, 2016 in Travels

 

enjoying a ‘bubbly martini’ at Istanbul’s first hotel

Just your typical Sunday with another short and easy flight home from an incredibly exotic, culturally rich and endearing country. Yes… living in France โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท really is as fabulous as it sounds! ๐Ÿ˜Š I hate to brag ๐Ÿ˜ but something sunk in this week whilst I was away ‘on business’ in Istanbul. I was invited to participate in an event established to educate, promote and squash any fears about tourism in Turkey.

Third time must be a charm because I have an even stronger love for the country, and especially the people. Except ๐Ÿ˜ my latest flight attendant.๐Ÿ˜†

I was one of maybe one hundred travel sellers from all over the world… except France. Unless you count me! ๐Ÿค— I’ve never been one to think my life is better than the next guy’s, and I still don’t. But I must admit that yes, my story really is extraordinary. Magnifique! I don’t quite have my ‘rap’ down yet, especially when it comes to my business: am I representing the American market or the French? And certainly I’m not the first person ever to move to another country. Yet after answering the standard three questions nearly thirty-seven times, I realized that fuck yeah this really IS an incredible charmed life we live! I’m not arrogant… I’m truly grateful.

1. Are you American… where are you from? “Umm… New York.”

2. Wow! Do you live IN the city!? “Well… yes. I mean… I did, on the upper east side 70s. But… now I live in France.”

3. Oh! What brought you to France!? Who are your clients then? “I fell in love with a frenchman so now we live together in Toulouse… and I work from home, so my clients are the same as always.”

Honestly I never solicit opportunities to spew my information at random and am genuinely humble. But those inevitable questions consistently lead to gasps and envy, and inevitably more questions about how I got to where I am and what I am doing. And cocktails… of course!๐Ÿ˜‰ So, instead of trying to downplay it… I should own it, I earned it! I am an ethically driven woman who isn’t afraid to take risks, venture new places and market my experienced set of skills. As for love, that should be in the cards for toute le monde! ๐ŸŒโค๏ธ๐ŸŒŽ Though if I were too shy to dine out by myself or grab every opportunity and live it to its fullest… I would never have been in that pub in Roma.๐Ÿ˜ So yes. I live in France with a job that is stabilized, with a man who is simply remarkable, and we can travel to over 50 fascinating destinations in three hours or less, for less than the cost of a round-trip to Vegas. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

I was amazed by how much Istanbul has improved itself since we were there just 15 months ago. The renovations at Sofia Hagia are nearly complete, about seven new fabulous hotels have opened and the Turkish Lira makes everything affordable. The airports have even become more secure yet more efficient. The generosity and kindness of Turks is infectious. Listening to genuine sadness and empathy for the refugees who’ve overrun their borders, and their heart and pride in the wake of terrorism… it’s really quite touching ๐Ÿ˜ฅ if not overwhelming. I was ambivalent as I handed over my coat and purse to walk through the new metal detector at the entrance of lthe Four Seasons, where we stayed our last trip. It also struck me as odd on a Saturday sun-filled 17 degree morning how few people were around in Sultanahmet. On a freezing cold rainy December day just two years ago, the queues were deep at all the must-see attractions. My blonde self was confused at first until I realized this is what the incredible people of this amazing country have to endure now, while the world cowers in fear of a Syrian encounter or a suicide bomber.๐Ÿ˜ And Donald Trump.๐Ÿ™„ That is another high topic of distress for the international community.

I sat in roughly twenty 15-minute meetings learning about new Turkish destinations and revitalized existing ones. You could see an almost-deadened passion in each of their tear-welled eyes as they ask how our clients react now to their country, their homes. And it makes me feel angry. Seriously, don’t ever call me up and tell me you’re afraid. Perhaps I fibbed a little but I answered vehemently with what I strongly believe; that Turkey is no different than Paris… Turkey is no different than Bali. The assholes on the planet who avoid your country are avoiding everywhere they believe the Syrians to have taken-over. They’re avoiding all of Europe and the Arabic world choosing to cower in fear and teach their next generation a fear that hasn’t existed since the Cold War. And if they’re American, they’re probably voting for Donald Trump. ๐Ÿ˜ค They think they’re ‘safe’ in the SUV driving their paved streets from Applebee’s to the local basketball game… until some pissed off caucasian who got hold of a gun reminds the whole world of those frightening statistics. ๐Ÿ˜ž

Maybe it won’t make any difference in this crazy world of ours… but I, for one, will travel to these places even MORE now. I will encourage my frenchman to enrich his children and travel with them as well. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ These ‘dangerous’ places we speak of are, as one amazing Turkish businessman put it last night, “where I take my own children to school. Where I get in my car and drive to work every day. Where we play at the park and care for my elderly parents.” Yet, out of no fault of his own… he worries for his livelihood now because the economy is seriously being affected by an outrageous and ignorant fear of travel to his country. It’s sickening. He doesn’t worry one bit about the next terrorist attack or if his daughter plays with a Syrian on the playground. Why should he? So why are people boycotting travel to such these incredible, culturally rich parts of the world? ๐Ÿค” Do you think people are going to stop traveling to Paris?!!

During my one free day which was spent working in my hotel, I dashed out to Istiklal Street to grab a quick bite. Staying in Galata really has its advantages! Within seconds I’m just a part of the people, walking the streets. Passing the kebab houses and small markets… wondering which of these delicious delis or restaurants to pop into. And then I spotted it. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ Shake Shack. Don’t judge me!!! ๐Ÿ” I’m an American living in France with a grueling diet looming this Monday.๐Ÿ˜ Istanbul is still Istanbul. There is still ridiculous traffic. There are still loads of cats that randomly roam the streets. There is still Turkish delight everywhere you look and the whirling dervishes still whirl. The Bosphorus is as beautiful as ever and Katikoy is just as vibrant. But that gorgeous red flag still flies high ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท everywhere you look.

Thank you AIDA for enriching me. Trust I will spread the word! ๐Ÿ˜˜ Faites passer!

 

here….. kitty, kitty, kitty… !

 

Dolmabahรงe Palace , the ‘Versailles’ of Istanbul!

 

 

Saint-Etienne sock monkey and the wine gnomes

 
Settling back into Toulouse in the nouvelle annรฉe, I have a sense of excitement in my every move! ๐Ÿ˜ Seems like all the kinks have been worked out (at least the ones we can control) and all that lies ahead is total happiness, dedicated hard work in our jobs and losing our extra ‘fat day’ kilograms. Oh yeah… I suppose I should work on my French a li’l bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

After an incredible Toulousain Noรซl complete with an American turkey and stuffing, we bid adieu ร  notre famille franรงais, stuffed our suitcases and headed for Denver… Denver, ColoRADO! That’s right folks. After a mere 15 months it was time to ‘meet the family’ ! ๐Ÿ˜† Equipped with his hand-scratched family tree de Liz, my Frenchman stole the hearts of everyone. Why am I not surprised? ๐Ÿ˜ In the words of our Tata on day two in Boulder… Boulder, ColoRADO: “we love him, he’s a keeper!” โค๏ธ His very own Saint-Etienne sock monkey pretty much sealed the deal. 

We had so much fun goofing around with three rounds of family. We explored Boulder and its breweries, then wined at the stunning new Union Station. Of course we drank beaucoup champagne and even made a little trip to a dispensary! I conceded to my frenchman’s intent regardรฉ of the Denver Nuggets Cheerleaders from a box suite ๐Ÿ˜† at the NBA game. We took the light rail and wandered around downtown and Tattered Covers. Ma mรจre made tacos with real corn tortillas.๐ŸŒฎ We made an inaugural visit to Costco and cuisiner homemade crรชpes! Maybe now it’s easy to understand the need to lose a few kilograms! ๐Ÿ˜‹

My new all-time favourite game is a French game called Dixit. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท There are clever and obscure cards with incredible drawings which players have to invent phrases for. It’s brilliant… we brought it along and played a few times with everyone. With another ‘Fat Day’ behind us, new pajamas and superb memories, we forge forward into my 42nd year. I always thought age 42 would be ridiculously boring, given the extreme even-number. But I suppose 44 is worse… with the double-whammy Chinese death number 4 repeated! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

As cozy and wonderful as it was avec ma famille โ˜บ๏ธ I was happy to be home, in 2016, in my Midi-Pyrรฉnรฉes: La Ville Rose. The cat’s out of the bag now and the time has come to really own my life in France! I will get legal and find some french potential for Envizage! With my bagful of Arm & Hammer toothpaste, beaucoup corn tortillas and Excedrin… I’ve got the best of all worlds. But everyday gets more cozy in Toulouse! My illustrious frenchman is continually more lovable, the kids and I are on a routine kiss-kiss basis, friends are plentiful, interesting travels are imminent and our jobs are propitious! ๐Ÿ˜Ž This is what I call “living the dream”, complete with the luxury of ignorant bliss in the circus election that has absorbed America.

I face more comfortable challenges now. Like how to get my lovely couch, dining table and chairs out of hawk from French customs. And how to speak French well enough to say a few vows. ๐Ÿ˜ Oh… and how to smuggle in more corn tortillas once my 100… ummm… 93 in the freezer are gone! 

 

Let’s go… Denver Nuggets Cheerleaders!

  

a flight of beers in Boulder, ColoRADO

 

All humexed up and nowhere to go!

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Past Trips

 

just another day at the bird zoo

I think I’m in deep. I’m officially in the middle of nowhere France avec sept enfants for Toussaint school holidays! I imagine this must be better than glamping, and can’t wait to hear how the ‘welcome apero’ around the pool went ร  midi… as soon as my frenchman gets back. ๐Ÿ˜
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I managed to shower and drag myself out of bed thanks to Humex, despite my nearly illegible voice. ๐Ÿ˜ท Elle est malade. Thanks to those damn foreigners in my French class who arrive hacking and sneezing all over the place with absolutely no consideration where they leave their snot rags and the direction in which they breathe. Assholes. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

No… actually I understand… the school is expensive and I wouldn’t want to miss it either! Except for a week in the middle of nowhere with seven French children. ๐Ÿ˜œ The truth is that yes I have been sick, but as I’ve claimed for years now: the French have once again cured me! ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท At least temporarily anyway. This Humex stuff is legit! Elle peut parler maintenant.
Three weeks into my daily French courses, I’ve made more than one friend and understand how to put a sentence together. Before, I would just spit out a verb with a noun, and if I was lucky sometimes an adjective. People seem to understand my point ๐Ÿ˜ most of the time. Maintenant, I understand how to structure my words and can even extrapolate enough from conversations to get a sense what’s going on. I am fortunate to have a week pause for vacances avec le frere de mon frenchman, and his lovely family. ๐Ÿ˜Š
We are in Cap d’Agde, France. Situated just south of Montpellier and on the Mediterranean Sea. It really is quite relaxing and quaint. Internet works well enough for work, the games we play ร  nuit are super-fun and the cousins are happy being together. It’s a funny little place and unfortunately not warm enough for la piscine, or the beach. However we’ve seen strolled through downtown Agde, played basket and foot, toured the Agde Aquarium, did a little pre-Halloween face-painting and spent the day at a bird zoo. Yes, a bird zoo. It is rewarding to watch my Frenchman with his beloved older brother. ๐Ÿ˜
I feel very proud to be the first woman to spend a week holidays with my frenchman’s family. ๐Ÿ˜Š They are all incredibly kind, welcoming and I get the sense they like me. I know it makes them very happy to see how happy we are together. In an attempt to Americanize my new family, I made mashed potatoes instead of purรฉe and scrambled eggs for breakfast. I think they liked it! ๐Ÿ˜‹ I wonder what I should do when they are all in our home for Noรซl ๐Ÿ˜ณ it’ll just be 11 French people and me! Piece of cake… or should I say crรชpe.

a stop in adorable Carcassonne on the way home

 

That’s my name on the doorbell

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Travels

Living happily together on our ‘Fifth Avenue’

It’s official! Perhaps not entirely legal yet ๐Ÿ˜ but definitely official. My illustrious frenchman added my name to our door buzzers and the mailbox. ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

Extraordinary research has been performed on every expat and American organisation within the Midi-Pyrรฉnรฉes and we attended our first social event avec beaucoup de plaisir. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ It really is quite exciting. I think my life in France will prove to be a perfect fit. We also happy-hour’ed ๐Ÿธ with fellow Americans, though my stage fright quickly emerged. ๐Ÿ˜ฐ My frenchman saw another side of this scrappy little fun-seeker, all sweaty and timid for no apparent reason. Last time we were at the Crowne Plaza (yes, a Crowne Plaza, don’t judge me, this is Toulouse!) bar, by the time my frenchman walked in, I had a room full of hilarious airline pilots whooping it up. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However this time, I did get to exchange cards with the new Consulate for the US Embassy. We’ve been busy trying to strategize my path forward. I’ve got links to every American company with an office in this little metropolis, and enrolled in language school so I can put on that marketing envizage charm. Yes… school, one of my least favourite things at one of my least favourite time of day. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ Oh come on, suck it up buttercup ๐Ÿ˜ณ it’s only five 4-hour mornings per week, for six weeks straight! Minus one middle-of-nowhere France ๐Ÿ˜˜ family holiday for yet another random French ‘vacance’: Toussaint. Alrighty then. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Viva la France!

Last Friday we went to Paris, so I could frolic with my two favourite men for the weekend. โœˆ๏ธ Untrue to form, we all stayed in the tiniest little hobbit shoebox sized hotel. We made the best of it ๐Ÿธ with plenty of cocktails. ๐Ÿ˜† We walked the Champs ร‰lysรฉes, drank wine on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower, ‘popped’ ๐Ÿ˜‰ through Montmartre and took enough selfies to prove it was a lovely weekend. A couple days later I decided to randomly join my Canadian for an overnight in Madrid. There really is something to this whole European thing! ๐Ÿ˜

Our grande vacances (as the French call it) in July/August were fabulous. Two weeks ‘just the two of us’ in Paris and then my New York. Upper East Side bliss which my frenchman fell immediately in love with. When we returned to Toulouse, we spent the end of grande vacances with a week in my Bordeaux flat, followed by a road-trip to Saint-Chamond avec all quatre enfants. ๐Ÿ˜œ We ended our summer by saying a final goodbye to Bordeaux with an incredible Joรซl Robuchon farewell dinner. Then packed up the Renault to start our new life, together, in Toulouse. We are settling now into our routine of salads, spinning, school, visa comprehension and work… usually always ending with a thrilling episode of ‘House of Cards’. โค๏ธ

The path forward is looking more clear pour moi! And yes, it is so annoying to be one of those ‘we’ people. “We went to Paris”, “we’ve been busy”, “we stayed in”… and on that note I think we are very excited about this coming weekend in Roma!!! โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น exactly one year later. ๐Ÿ˜

Miss you!!! Love you! Mean it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hilarious what some people will 'bitch' about!

Hilarious what some people will ‘bitch’ about!

Paris with my guys…

My Southwest of France

Posted: June 15, 2015 in Travels

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

SNCF Toulouse Matabiau to Bordeaux Saint-Jean

Wilson Circle in Toulouse

After what was quite a riveting few weeks in late April with an impromptu trip to Southern California, I truly was exhausted… ๐Ÿ˜ด but oh so happy to be back in my chosen country. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

These days, my weeks are more and more split between my beloved Bordeaux and Toulouse. ๐Ÿ˜ It is fabulous now that my stays in The Pink City no longer require trรจs cher l’hotel… or the ridiculously tedious schlepping of toiletries! I can’t help but laugh to remember my girlfriend in Roma last summer, talking about the sud-ouest de France. Who would have ever thought it could become my home!!? ๐Ÿ˜ A mere nine months later… and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. โค๏ธ

I am accustomed now to the perpetual “bonjour”, “bonne journรฉe” et “au revoir” that exists with even the most brief encounter, and actually find it charming. My pronunciation is improving with the help of gentile French children… who je pense are tolerant because of my blonde hair and American heritage! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s kind of cool being the only American they’ve ever met. Though I realise I must improve mon francais. Having thoroughly explored Bordeaux and Aquitaine, Toulouse and Saint-Chamond… we recently ventured even further into Nรฎmes. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

My French love-affair began the moment I arrived Avignon, back in 2008. I’ll never forget it. Un ล“uf sur mon salade!!? ๐Ÿ˜† Subsequent visits to Paris and Cannes solidified that this love is veritable. Now, my unexpected familiarisation with the sud-ouest feels innate! Sure… I’ve sussed out every ethnic restaurant in the region because despite all the love, my palate cannot seem to acclimate to the canard, fois gras et poisson avec bones. Although I must admit BBQed canard is quite delicious! ๐Ÿ˜‹ I am well-suited for the customs of French friends, charming apรฉro and all the courses maman de mon compagnon prepares… which is truly incredible. I love the cheese shop within the castle walls of Carcassonne, the Pessac Leognan at Le Leopard d’Or in the middle of nowhere Samazan and the pooping elephant at Arรจnes de Nรฎmes! ๐Ÿ˜œ I get the meaning of all the vocal sounds like “tuk”, “hup” and “pbbbt”, and know how to deliver the perfect hand ‘ooh la la’ up-and-down shaking gesture that means “holy shit” or “yikes” as I can best translate. It is like living in a fairy tale. Cinderella had to have been set in France, however I’d choose the fairy tale I currently live any day of the week! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ It is more sincere than I could have ever hoped for and easier than any other time in my past… a dream.๐Ÿ’ซ It is constantly filled with surprising coincidences and sweet similarities. I am in love with everyday life. I love living in France. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท I love my SNCF week-end carte pass! Plus, I’ve finally discovered the French equivalent to sour cream…

A couple weeks ago in Toulouse, I helped host poker night. ๐Ÿ˜ It’s been a long time since I was able to fully embrace my keen hostessing skills. Despite my poker ‘tard list which is currently hostage in Jersey storage, I actually played well too. Jimmy would be so proud! โ™ฅ๏ธโ™ฃ๏ธโ™ฆ๏ธโ™ ๏ธ Trying to fit into my new franรงais world, I was taught the quintessential French card game of Belote! Ummm… it’s just slightly complicated ๐Ÿ˜ณ and of course that had nothing to do with the beer, wine and whiskey.๐Ÿท

As my French life continues to settle, happiness seems effervescent! My ‘nesting’ in Toulouse is affectionately welcomed, I am consistently surprised with incredible ideas, and am using our machine de sรฉchage et lave-vaisselle with fluency! โ˜บ๏ธ Believe it or not, the incredibly satisfying spontaneous, positive and fun life I’ve built hasn’t really changed much. It just happens to be in France and accompanied by the most amazing equal a person could ever imagine. ๐Ÿ˜ I’ve always wanted to spend Bastille Day in Paris… and merci to the kindness of my Frenchman and Le Meurice that dream is a reality in 2015. With an ever-increasing craving for Manhattan, I was offered a logical 10-day fling just after Paris. Look out New York: HERE WE COME! Imagining all the amazing randomness that awaits us is almost too exciting to contain. Fortunately between then and now we have a friend from Loire visiting, Season 4 de Homeland en franรงais, and a 4th of July pendaison de crรฉmaillรจre to host. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

As happy as it all is… my heart goes out to Ventura remembering eight years of happy memories with a very sweet and beautiful ‘damn dog’. ๐Ÿ˜˜

Fromage et vin in Carcassonne

Arenes de Nimes

Lemon drops!

Bopping around Europe these last few months, I recently discovered the most amazing Witness Protection Program, offering voluntary-enrollment! Intrigued, I signed up for one week… with options to extend. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Whether it’s with the Feds or UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)… well that bit remains confidential. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I can’t remember much about it though, it’s so strange. There were passports and lemon drops, airports and trams. There were French serenades and angry What’s Apps. ๐Ÿ˜† Four Seasons champagne and Jimmy Fallon, Skype and melatonin. Perhaps it would have been wise to write something down, next to the open bottle of Pessac Leognan or checked the credentials of the Bordelaise Sรปretรฉ, before I left ‘home’. ๐Ÿ˜œ Even better still: upon completion of my curriculum, this Witness Protection Program (Programme de Protection des Tรฉmoins) entirely wipes out the reason I even enlisted in the first place! Poof, here I am in Seattle. Love that! ๐Ÿ˜œ

For day two, aesthetics was on the agenda. A full highlight with my 40vol plus 10g Aveda Enlightenment & Dash colour, new makeup and a haircut… I’m certain no one could recongnise me now. ๐Ÿ‘ธ I have to admit, the whole thing was pretty legit. A true ‘walkabout’. My cardboard sign would read: “HAVE CASH – WILL TRAVEL”. ๐ŸŒŽ If I show up unannounced in New York, California, Portugal, London, Toulouse, Dubai or random in Seattle: please forgive my lack of advance warning. ๐Ÿ˜˜ Don’t worry, I bring all the necessary accoutrements: grey goose, champagne and Pringles. I am admittedly feeling a little rock star-esque… especially after reading my Facebook ๐Ÿ˜™ and decided one week was plenty of time for the WPP and me.

I Follow Rivers. โค๏ธ

Back in America for now, I am a little surprised by my jet lag. I’ve only been in Europe four continuous months. You’d think that where you were born, things would just shift right back into place. Like the feeling of comfort food. In my case, aside from stocking up on my Arm & Hammer toothpaste and Excedrin, I miss France. ๐Ÿ˜˜ ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท I miss saying ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir’ to every person I encounter as though it were natural. I will look forward to when I go home, ๐ŸŽถ “home is wherever I’m with you.” ๐Ÿ˜ I miss The Voice: la plus belle voix and cute judge Jenifer. I miss oysters and St. Estephe. I miss men in pantalon rouge. I even miss the signature ‘ding ding ding’ of SNCF… so that should really put it into perspective! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Having come to the surface here in Washington, how perfect to spend time with my nephew’s adorable family! I am so excited. I’ve not met little miss Brooklyn yet or seen my niece this pregnant. ๐Ÿ˜ Two little toddlers loving up their great-auntie, plus that down-home comfort of my nephew and wife… it will be so fun and lovely! I brought Kinder Surprises for the girls. ๐Ÿ˜™ Afterward, I’ll be ‘making the rounds’ with not much of a planned structure. I’ll touch as many of my lovelies as I can while I am in America… and still need to select a fun route home. ๐Ÿ˜„ hint hint.

Sufficed to say, whatever happens in the Witness Protection Program STAYS in the Witness Protection Program. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย It wasย better than actual waifdom last year, plus it includes day time martinis.๐Ÿธ It’s strange to think that I’ve got a home in Bordeaux now and have hopefully begun to build a truly beautiful life between it and La Ville Rosรฉ. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทโค๏ธ Make A Wish! ๐ŸŒŸ

Meanwhile… back on the ranch, did someone say ‘BBQ this Saturday’? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ready to go back to France!