The only American in Dubai

Posted: March 16, 2015 in Travels

Dubai Marina, a view from Silverene

The anticipation leading up to my drama-less voyage to Dubai was barely endurable. Nothing but love and pure excitement saturated us all: the Canadian, Frenchman, Aussie, Brit and me: the Yank. High five! 😉


Having eliminated the antagonism of my Dubai past, we were free to play, free to be ourselves, free to sing out loud, free to laugh, free to eat pizza, and free to dance in the streets. All of which there was plenty of! That, and perhaps some heckling 😐 which I barely remember. But it was all in good fun: no drama. 😄

I’m sure it sounds a bit surreal and surprising to sustain… having close and meaningful friendships in places so far away. Somehow it’s just not. Not for me, anyway. My friendships are important and I pay them the attention they deserve. Distance is not a factor… only kindness. So when one of the most dear people I know was feeling ambivalent about an impending move, the idea for a Friday the 13th “moving party” emerged. 😁 In Dubai? Pas de problème… and finally the opportunity for my love to meet some friends. 😍 Way to live positively!

Trams, trains and airplanes from Bordeaux to Toulouse, Munich and Dubai was all it took, and poof! There we were. Such little time in such a bizarro destination… was it legal for us to kiss on the street?! Was it in poor taste to hold hands?!! Shoot, I forgot my pashmina at the hotel! 😬 Leave it to my fabulous posse to show us an incredible time, in true over-the-top Dubai fashion. 😄 Before we knew it we were lunching aside the “world’s biggest water fountain” in the “world’s tallest building” with the “world’s most British” hotelier 😜 and friend. No time for jet lag and rest… we had a Michael Bublé concert to attend! After delivering our large contribution of duty free alcohol for the party, off we went to find the Dubai International Cricket Stadium! Instantly intoxicated by my hilarious friends and unstoppable laughter, we collectively decided vodka was the cocktail of the evening (big shock!) and charmed a friendly bartender. 😆 ‘George’ couldn’t give us ‘triples’… but obliged with doubles plus a little extra to top it off. 😉 We’ll have four please. And then four more🍸and then another four…

We sang along with the ‘bubes’, pliéd and twirled across the ground floor, and danced like nobody was watching. All night! What an amazing time… until I refused to move or find anyone until I was done eating a pizza, uh-hem another pizza 😳 “let the guys find us!” 😁 so I am told. Nice one. I’m so fortunate my frenchman loves me… he survived and tolerated a whole weekend of crazy Liz fun. 😍

Friday the 13th finally came 🎉 and we went to swim in the Arabian Sea. Only my brave frenchman succeeded as it was still a bit cold for me. I prefer the bathtub temperatures experienced in June last year. We managed to sunburn sur la plage within 30 minutes but had to get ready for “Bust this joint dot com hashtag Silverene” anyway. 😆 We arrived to meet the most fascinating and rather hilarious Argentinean couple. One spoke better French than English which is a treat for my love to chat with. The other performed a private special duet of Aladdin for our small group, as Jasmine. ✨

By the time the Arabian sun set, there was an apartment full of Dubai expats: all incredibly kind, interesting and fun. Knowing their host so well, it’s no wonder his guest list would be amazing.com. 😘 I turned out being the only American! Love that. After a ginger-apple shisha it was time to call it a night… or for me, time to start work. 😳 Only in Dubai!

After a half-assed attempt at a Marina 5k the following day, we enjoyed a Malibu smoothie and planned our last day: lounging with my two favourite guys. Off to another hotel for tequila and dinner at Maya: the best Mexican ever in all of Dubai, we prepared for our 01h50 departure. 😄 Planes, trains and trams through Frankfurt, Toulouse and finally back to Bordeaux… it was all quite worth it.

Such a short trip, but incredible! My brain won’t stop searching for more hilarious oxymorons and my frenchman and I already can’t wait to go back. Next time we will frolic in the desert at Al Maha! 😃

Thanks to my lovelies for an amazing quick trip… and for another homemade guacamole send-off! 😘

Bubbles, gifts and laughs before Bublé


Exactly where I want to be

Posted: February 24, 2015 in Travels
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Place de la Bourse… along my jogging route!

Impossible to have predicted yet it should come as no big surprise, I’m rather settled in Bordeaux… for now! I have no anxiety, don’t wish for my life to be more fulfilled (it’s not possible!), or anywhere else than exactly where it is. Actually living in France really is remarkable… like a dream come true. Mon français est encore pauvre, mais je gère très bien. 😃 I don’t care what anyone says… the French are kind, to me anyway. I continue ma étudier à la maison and practice at the nail salon and shops along Cours de L’Intendance. And, occasionally I find a chatty conductor on SCNF 😁 to practice with.

Speaking of SCNF, I was happily aboard the TGV to Toulouse on Friday… a jumpstart to the birthday weekend. Why wait for Illustrious when I can meet him in Toulouse and share a romantic French dinner in the middle of nowhere, southwest of France 😉 before heading back to Aquitaine?! 😍

Thankfully I’ve already figured this whole European train system out. If I’d adhered to the ‘rules’ I would have been sadly stuck in Bordeaux. Of course I was running late, but arrived in just enough time to actually purchase a train ticket in advance. Now that my US rail pass has expired… I must purchase like a normal European person. I was told the TGV was full! What’s the deal!? A winter rush on weekend travel to beautiful La Ville Rose?! 😳 Unwilling to sacrifice another moment apart from mon amour, I boarded the train anyway, and headed to la voiture de la boisson! 🍷 Safely on my way as the train headed southeast… I found a kind conductor, charmed by my attempt à français and bought a ticket. Il avait pas de problème! Love the French! 🇫🇷

I was quite excited for the weekend! After an unexpectedly perfect dinner in Samazan, and the discovery of Pessac-Leognan 🍷 we explored the chateaux of my favourite wine St. Estephe, and Medoc. 😍 What more could I ask for!? I’m exactly where I want to be. Despite the frustrating Envizage payments held hostage in the New York PO Box. It’s the one glitch! I suppose living abroad invites ‘challenge’ from time to time. 😣 Challenges that are easily erased by a charming French chateau, a romantic drive through the vineyards to the Atlantic Ocean, and a warm indoor swimming pool all to ourselves. ❤️ My ad libitum What’s App serenades from birthday #41 will be forever cherished… they are (all seven of them) the best gift ever. 😚

After discovering the contentment of absolute certain love, a Mexican birthday feast à la France, and the secret to a perfect crepe: I look forward to settling even more into my incredible life between Bordeaux and Toulouse. My people keep asking when I will return to New York… and that’s a tough one to answer! I have a moving-party in Dubai to help with, followed by a conference in Portugal. And we must figure out where is best to see Dominique À and Cats on Trees in concert. Life is tough, but ridiculously sweet avec a willing cohort. 😎 It’s a bit crazy to remember last year and realize what a difference one year makes. Now I ‘MAKE A WISH’ je ne suis pas un imbécile, and have to rely on the karma I’ve created in that whatever happens from here… is the best path forward for me. 😬

Merci beaucoup for the overwhelming messages for my 41st… I miss and love my people! 😘

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❤ Our love is easy…

A site for my sore, tired eyes

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Travels
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Awww… my Bordeaux front door!

As I trampled up these 67 steep stairs into my beautiful and cozy perfect Bordeaux flat, I knew I was finally ‘home’. Alas, I was at my door to total bliss after three weeks of absolute madness, several time zone changes and a schedule so full that it did not allow for all the travel upsets that plagued this bit of my journey. 😞 But fear not… I persevered and never gave up!!!

Everything started out smoothly… my two days in New York, perfectly timed to touch as many lovelies as possible, complete with a five-hour hair appointment so I could finally feel my blonde-self once again! 😄 The 06:00h departure for a pop-in to see Kelly in San Fran went without flaw, thanks to the kindness of my San Fran driver. For once, San Fran did me right and I landed with time to spare in sunny Santa Barbara.

After having spent three months in the EU, I don’t know why I was surprised to be tired so early. But my aunties were there to take perfect care of their beloved niece 😁 and it was so nice to just be with them, and to gush over the illustrious frenchman. 🇫🇷 Ahhh… home for Thanksgiving… it was lovely! But the nine-hour time difference from my love was ‘pas bon’. For the first time in my life, I truly missed being in the same time zone from someone. Someone very special. 😍

No rest for the weary though, as the most stunning conference of the year awaited… yes, “I had to go to Cannes”. 😌 Wait! What’s this I hear? A hurricane is headed to SoCal?!! Ahh no, San Fran strikes again: Air Traffic Control (bastards!) canceled my flight from Burbank. I had to get into ‘deal mode’ and sort myself out with taxi to LAX and an unexpected flight to London (which triggered a bank alert), plus a ridiculously expensive trek through Heathrow and flight to Nice. 😠 But I made it!!! And all the amazing people I am so privileged to work with made the memory of any hassles quickly disappear. It really was a fabulous show on so many levels. 💫 It is difficult to express how grateful I am for all the fascinating and kind friends I have made that span this globe. It is truly awesome. In almost any city I land, I could expect one of them to greet me. Unbelievable… and so rewarding! 😊

To be honest, as much as I love all these fantastic people… I was most anxious to get to Toulouse. 😁 I had an incredible and highly anticipated weekend planned, taking this ‘love at first sight’ encounter to a whole new level. Despite another flight delay, it could not have gone better. It was a day that in my mind, has changed my life. 😘 Or perhaps it merely justified and solidified what I already felt was true. I spent a perfect French day at Le Cite de l’Espace. ❤️ 🇫🇷 🇺🇸

Being back in France the last two weeks has been somewhat like a dream come true, yet so comfortable, even ‘meant to be’. I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. The illustrious frenchman was in Bordeaux to relax, play in the Christmas market and watch Homeland en français. This weekend, we will travel to exotic Istanbul. 😃 Hammam, Turkish Delight and the Bosphorus await us, and I am so enamoured to be with this man, in a beautiful foreign land, just three long months after we met in Roma. 😍

Je ne ai jamais été plus heureux! 😊

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My beautiful Bordeaux Christmas!!!

Wishing everyone a happy and fulfilled festive season. xx and ooo 😍

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FINALLY! Hungarian microwave popcorn! Thank you, my love.

As I attempt to familiarise myself with the world outside my travel bubble, I feel no strong desire for a re-entry into it. At least not from America’s eyes. 😣 Three full months of having lived in three very different countries has approached rather quickly and I don’t know how I feel. 😳 I can’t wait for my hair appointment. I can’t wait for lunch with my dear client who always keeps it real. I can’t wait to see my goddess Kelly in San Fran even though it is limited to one short hour. Et bien sûr, I truly cannot wait to be with my aunties. 😁

I fell in love with a Frenchman… big shock! 🇫🇷 All these years stalking sexy men in scarves has finally paid off! 😆 Alas, this is not a silly illusion like those of the recent past. But sincere, equal and genuine. In fact, I cannot wait to get my derrière back to Bordeaux. Or… Toulouse. 😊 I will be counting the days (treize) until we reunite for Saint Nicholas cheer with friends! I hope there will be no donkeys… unless they are carrying in the champagne. 😊

It’s a little bit ominous how ‘done’ I am with the US. Sure I miss Hale & Hearty, “Veep”, and the TBS “Seinfeld” reruns, but I’ll sort all of that out. What is in front of me is so extraordinary… it’s difficult to express. It really is that incredible, satisfying and even mind-blowing. It may not be the easiest path, but it is most definitely an easy love. Nothing else matters… because it is so equal. I look forward to a French residency permit, bank account and, well… who knows!? 🇫🇷 Perhaps a special trip to Château de Chenonceau, with a big tchin-tchin to our French formation friends. 😉

D’accord… I left Budapest which is now arguably my second, third or fourth favourite European city. Actually, it has most certainly surpassed Roma. I only love Roma now because it is where I met mon amour. 😍 The Budapesti people are simply incredible! So warm. This city will be truly missed, and definitely revisited! 😃 The culture, diversity and effortless beauty of the city… it just shines brighter. Budapest may sound far away and behind some gray Eastern European block, but it is inviting, enchanting and welcoming. My own little New York of Europe. 😚 Life, at least for me as a temporary expat, was made easy. And the glühwein (vin chaud, mulled wine) is plentiful. 😊 What a joy to share this beautiful city, its baths, microwave popcorn, wines, cuisine and especially kind people… with one very special Canadian-UAE royal spaz; and my love = my equal. 😘 As obnoxious, hilarious, romantic and non-Hungarian speaking we all were, just one exchange was without a beaming friendliness, at Gozsdu Udvar. Packing up my Opera flat was a bit nostalgic. 😕 The memories from Hungary are priceless. It is such a strange feeling. I am anxious to get back to France 😊 but have about seven lives to love before I get there! Ahead of me is two days in Milano, two days in New York, three hours in San Fran, and then finally… I’m with my aunties. ✈️ 😁 😍 All I can say, is that Budapest is magic. And I can’t wait to see my Illustrious Frenchman the very second ILTM ends. 😘

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return”… I always hoped one day I would understand the feeling for myself. 😍

Welcome to my new world!!! Bus-free (with the exception of Toulouse public transport!), and full of life, energy and love. Not even Bob Dylan makes me think twice… because everything is alright. Sigh, back to Italy… I suspect Milano to be more dignified than “pizza, pasta, pizza”. The Dorchester bar will not disappoint, after my short sleep and departure from Hungary. (No Sir KWMc: not Turkey!) Turkey is next month and I’m Hungary now. 😁 😣 😅 I am an asshole for making that joke, I realise.

My perfect Friday night: French lessons, a luxurious bath and Dorchester room service. 😃 Love to all, the next two weeks are sure to be full of crazy, but I am thrilled to see so many of my lovelies so soon. As I was told recently: “I have just one life to live”.  xx and ooo

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I will miss the cheap Hungarian ‘extra-dry’ splits of champagne

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A view across Chain Bridge to the Buda side of the Danube!

I ordered a sparkling water and a glass of rosé, to go with my goulash. And apparently this is ‘the’ typical daytime beverage of choice for the Hungarian people. Mixing sparkling avec gas frizzante water, which was invented in this spectacular country, along with their rosé wine. This is pretty much how my life seems to go these days. Everything fits perfectly. Obviously I am full of stories, always true and generally funny… usually with some sort of cringed image of whatever mischief I’ve managed to bump myself into. Unintentionally.

The same unintentional theory is still applicable now, it’s just that it’s all suddenly perfect. 😁 Remember the intro scene to ‘Meet The Parents’ with Ben Stiller? Leaving Chicago with everything sorted out and on time. The weather is perfect. A taxi happens to be right outside, every traffic light flashes green as they approach, random upgrades to first class at the airport. Everything is ‘just so’. ✨ It makes me laugh because I don’t think anyone, myself included, could ever use the descriptive words ‘just so’ with regard to me. Hmm… at least not pertaining to my personal life, to be fair. It’s quite bizarre to live in this world of random perfection for over a month, continuously. Or am I just viewing the world now through rosé-coloured glasses? 😉 Non… il est: “ce sentiment qu’on appelle l’amour”. 😍

What little bit of Budapest I’ve seen thus far, blows doors on several other destinations, especially Prague! But not in a sustainable way, like my new French home in Bordeaux. Budapest is alive, a bit gritty, quite cold out, breathtakingly beautiful and one of the most authentic cities I’ve ever visited. The people are warm and inviting, the food is incredible everywhere, and the culture is rich with a light buzz and true depth. Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps it’s a little bit like New York! The New York of Europe!!! This place has got heart… and the goods to back it up. I had a soft, mellow arrival. The apartment is perfect, well located and I’ve not broken any keys in the five doors and locks required for entry. I had a head cold probably caught in chilly Munich, and some devastating news from Switzerland. 😪 I took it easy in preparation for all the excitement that will take place in my short time here.

Perhaps I am the only idiot in the room, but honestly… I needed to answer the “what is goulash” question upon my arrival. Which just happened to be the 1956 Revolution Memorial Day, and start of a long national holiday weekend. Not yet certain of the logistics, such as: where can I buy wine? 😉 I sauntered over to the Four Seasons where I knew they would accept my sick puffy-eyed disheveled presence. Wow! Goulash is amazing!!! And it’s got a kick, it perked my little pathetic ass right up! Hello Budapest! 😃 I was all warm and fuzzy inside and had seen just enough magical castles across the lit-up Chain Bridge (if you like that sort of thing) 😉 to go back to my apartment and hibernate for a few days.

Now that I’m healthy again and realise I’m carrying an extra 5kg 😣 of Italian gluten and French happiness… now it is back to reality! Squats and jogs and Hungarian Mud Body Wraps for me. How convenient, there are several gyms within a block in any direction, and a beautiful jogging course along the Danube. I will be ready for the half marathon in Bordeaux!! Hint hint, let’s register! 😄 I actually abstained from booking a weekend flight to visit the Illustrious Frenchman, despite how much I miss him. He will be in Budapest soon enough! 😊 sigh…

Instead I will continue this bizarro world of things like: “hmmm, I need a coat” and boom!🚦Green light… there’s the Burberry store with the trench you always wanted, cheaper than in the US and a 13.5% tourist tax refund. And… I’ve wanted to see Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte for quite some time, and boom! It’s featured this month at the extravagantly famous Opera House which my apartment overlooks. Or, “hmmm, I’ve been craving Mexican for about a hundred years now” and boom! There’s a Hungarian taqueria on Teréz kôrût about 500 meters away. 😐 It’s incredible. Incroyable. I now exercise patience (hold your laughter!) in anticipation of all that is ahead. 😁 it is not an easy thing for me: patience.

Fortunately, the lights are all green and I am consistently amazed every time “Illustrious strikes again”. 😍 Now there’s a Liz-story which is practically unbelievable💫 but very true. xx

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My favourite new necklace… which needed a chain, and the first shop I walked in had the perfect match. Bizarro world continues…

Packing up Bordeaux était doux-amer

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Travels
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The beautiful spa inside the Grand Hotel Bordeaux

I remember the precise moment I chose Bordeaux 🍷 as the second destination for waifdom phase III of Fabulouso 2014. It was on the plane from New York to Las Vegas in August headed to Travel Week. Sigh… who knew then all that could transpire!!? My decade-long obsession with France has been no secret, nor should it come as any surprise. Finally, the decade-long half-assed attempts to actually learn the language now pays off. I never expected to fall so deeply in love with Bordeaux… or have the overwhelming fortune of my name on a mailbox in the most beautiful flat at Gambetta Square. I just love the 18th Century Haussmann-esque beauty. I even like the red brick San Francisco-esque Toulouse, nearby. 😊 At least their weather is not shit! Only positives!

Packing up to leave was bitter sweet. Even though my staunch return is not far off. The lovely owners stored one of three Tumi at their home in Teste de la Buche… preserving all my spring-time outfits for 2015. Only seven more cities between now and December 7th… and probably 7,000 texts with the Illustrious Frenchman. 😘 Mais… tout va bien. Tres bien.

In anticipation of inevitable Bordeaux homesickness, I decided to celebrate my farewell with pure self-indulgence at The Grand Hotel. After all, it is my job to know how the spa treatments actually are, whether they’ve got hammam and sauna… what the temperature of the jacuzzi pool is, things like that. 😇 It is my job! 😊 and it was magnificent. Alas there was laundry to finish, Peppone pizza (and more fucking fromage) to enjoy… plus a 13:28 TGV to Paris to look forward to. Three blissful nights with Dorchester and Park Hyatt, which will never be forgotten. Nor will my gratitude ever wear thin. 😘 Experiencing Paris in my beloved and crazy industry with the Illustrious Frenchman, was the most sane, funny, grounded, loving and fabulous time I’ve had… perhaps in my whole life. 💕

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I did not squeeze in seven hotel sites a day. Of course Envizage is always my priority… perhaps this trip focused a bit more on the concierge aspects of my business. 😉 There was incredible live jazz in St Germaine de Pres, exhibits at Pompidou Museum of Modern Art, a magical sweet kiss on Pont Neuf and greasy pomme frites avec moutarde at 2 o’clock in the morning. At Le Meurice’s Dali 228, Pascal remembered me and AJ 😉 (duh) from 2011, and they now have the best gin, ginger and Tabasco cocktail. It was a fabulously unexpected French month which is best explained by Pulp’s brilliant song ‘Something Changed’. We celebrated Park Hyatt’s new Michelin-star at Pûr and it was one of the most extraordinary dinners ever. Everything cooked to perfection, reasonable portions and definitely no truffle soufflé to gag on. However I suspect a ‘run to the border’ when I am home for Thanksgiving will be rather extraordinary as well. 😁. Tu me manques France, already.

However, Budapest awaits! With hilarious visitors, French lessons and the Illustrious Frenchman to look forward to. It is strange not to have been in an airport since August, yet I feel like I’ve traveled the entire universe. November and December will more than make up for my airport love. ✈️

Each destination has delivered such incredibly different experiences. I expect nothing less from my month in Budapest, complete with a fireplace and balcony overlooking the Opera House. I am afraid it will go by quickly. For now, I am grateful for Rome (especially my last Friday night), fell unexpectedly in love in Bordeaux… oops I mean: in love with Bordeaux 😉 and intend to make the absolute most of Budapest while working seriously hard, in preparation for all the incredible events that lay ahead. And I’m still just talking about 2014!

I wonder if my French fairy tale is coming true. I wonder… 😘 🇫🇷 and thank you 🇮🇹. x and ooo

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Alain Ducasse champagne and Paprika Pringles! A Le Meurice ‘must’

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The Illustrious Frenchman is multi-talented…

I found my heart in Bordeaux

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Travels
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The Reflecting Pool at La Bourse, along the Garonne River

Sorry Tony Bennett… I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of San Fran and I most certainly didn’t leave my heart there. And while I have vivaciously been in a New York State of Mind for several years now… I think I actually found my heart in Bordeaux. 💘 En français: J’ai trouvé mon coeur à Bordeaux. Get Benjamin Biolay on the phone STAT… I think we definitely have another hit song here in ‘La Belle Endormie’. I don’t ever want to say au revoir.

Bordeaux is not the easiest city to get to, except from maybe Paris or Toulouse 😉 I have to admit I kind of like it that way! This is no place for the faint-hearted. From the moment I dragged my 5th piece of cargo up the 67 steep stairs into my flat… I just ‘knew’. 😍 Isn’t that what ‘they’ say about love? Shortly after, I shared a vin rosé aperitif with the owners and friends to celebrate. I text them the following morning to lock in mon grand retour. Victor Hugo, a fellow Piscean and massively talented Frenchman, felt love for Bordeaux as well. My only worry is that the climate is a bit too temperate. I will miss the snow, and the palace in NYC… the one on Park Avenue. F the one in midtown! !!! I must admit to my excitement for spending Christmas-time and the winter here. Do my beloved European Christmas markets exist in the southwest of France?? Or is it too warm for vin chaud. 😳

I’ve joined InterNations, an expat community as a newbie Bordelaise! 😃 I was so disappointed to miss a dinner on Wednesday due to my invoices and end-of-month. La prochaine fois. I have started month five of the self-induced squat/tricep/ab challenge and am looking forward to working off the noticeable intake of pizza! pasta! pizza! pasta! that is unavoidable in Roma. Baguettes à la France are no help! Jogging along the qais, the Illustrious Frenchman and shopping in centre-ville will trigger motivation! Rosetta Stone and I are back to talking nightly about assiettes bleu et les poissons rouges nagent. 🇫🇷 I must improve my French.

Having said that, I have been shopping en français! I’ve replenished all my vitamins and coconut oil, tried on and acheté un manteau, and made trois reservations at the train station! All in French! Unlike the lovely VP, I do not dream en français… one can only aspire! 😉 Instead I dream of a grey kitten I fret over… WTF!!? Oh jeez, that dream book mom gave me is packed up tight in New Jersey storage! Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire !!? 😆 Translation: what does it mean!? I think all of it means that I have found my heart in Bordeaux. The beauty is that I really cannot be bothered to be anything other than incredibly happy… unless le chaton gris shows up on my doorstep! Living in France is like magic. ⚡️ It’s better than a fucking fairy tale! The Costellos are all en fuego (oops wrong language). Love in Bordeaux, babies in Washington and a new career in Bangkok. Wow. I just love us! 😊

For the record… everyone can stop with the Eat Prey Love crap. I never saw the movie and couldn’t get through the first chapter of the whiny book.  Pour moi: “It wasn’t money or love I was looking for. I had a heightened sense of awareness, was set in my ways, impractical and a visionary to boot. My mind was strong like a trap and I didn’t need any guarantee of validity.” Sigh… Je t’aime Bob Dylan!

Bordeaux seems somewhere I can stand still for a bit. I’ve only got seven more fabulous cities to love before that happens. Starting with Toulouse today! 😁 Absence makes the heart grow fonder… if it’s meant to be, that is!  x

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Beautiful Gare de St Jean, on route to a truly beautiful weekend in Toulouse x

Torino is bullsh*t

Posted: September 28, 2014 in Travels
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Ah… j’ai pris arrivee France, just look at the beautiful view!

Arrivederci Italia! On the TGV from Turin to Paris, en route to Bordeaux (yes… through Paris!) it was cold like the Torinesi people, and foggy. Quite fittingly, after crossing the border into France through a long tunnel, we popped out the other side to chaud soleil et belle campagne! 😘 Je tu ai manqué France! Our stop in Bardonecchia Italy, to let police on the train for inspection, proved that yes I am finally arriving my favourite country… those policemen were all ridiculously gorgeous! 🇫🇷

At the end of the day, bullsh*t Torino served it’s purpose and provided a few laughs along the way. After a full 30 days in my first European apartment, I was definitely ready to go. The Roma apartment was not up to my standard but well-located for all the touristic spots a tourist is meant to visit, close to the hotels I sited, and Termini Stazione… where I wound up at least once a week. Oh yes… and just blocks from the Frenchmen in the hotel on Via Nazionale! 😉

The day I left Rome was super relaxed, I walked to Piazza Venezia to fetch my new handmade sandals admiring myself as quite the logistical wizard! ✨ I was all packed up and would take a taxi back to Via Modena to collect luggage and then be taken on to Termini. My initial solution for train journey between Roma and Bordeaux turned out to be the best path. Somehow in my mind it all made perfect sense. Italo at 14:00 to Turin, overnight in the charming Olympic city to enjoy my last Italian meal F.O.R.E.V.E.R. But, everybody there just irritated me. With the exception of the cute bartender at La Capannina and the older Carabinieri I met having a midnight martini 🍸 in the lobby of my irritating hotel. Thanks to the kindness of a sweet Nigerian man that I later completely ignored, I was at the hotel in plenty of time to get over to the OTHER train station to secure the unnecessary reservation from hell: Turin to Bordeaux, through Paris… with a changement de la station de train. So optimistic ‘sweet Liz’. 😇 Three brilliant words: Queen of Clubs. At hotel check-in I was told there is a Costello Ristorante in ‘the’ square. I don’t know which square but I never had the chance to look after my argument with the Trenitalia asshole at Porto Nuova Stazione! I wasted more time trying to get this unnecessary train reservation! After nearly being hit by several random unhappy-looking bicyclers… I’ll admit to having a nice Piemonte dinner.

All of this is a laughable faint memory now, washed away by the brilliant, extraordinary city of Bordeaux. Perhaps I am in some sort of a strange French incantation!? 😳 That’s fine by me! I’ll take it. I realise each city-move delivers its own set of circumstances, anxieties and adventure. But when everything just falls right into place, without warning or fail… it feels almost predestined. Suddenly, I’m in a warm beorgeois belle ville with a vibe I simply can’t resist. I’m able to get by with the little French I’m comfortable using and the Bordelais are fabulous. I think I have fallen in love. Sadly my deadlines and work load prevented me from much exploration, but… allons! !!! Finally, I was shown my new ‘home’ by the illustrious Frenchman, or more accurately said: possibly the kindest person I’ve ever met. After a week full of honest hard work, habituating with my flat owners, and starry-eyed nights… I discovered I am inherently well-adjusted in Bordeaux, properly toured the city, ate exceptionally well and was honoured to see ‘this’ side of the Atlantic Ocean. Wow! 😍

Bordeaux and I… well, we’ve only just begun! As the St Estephe breathes and the cannelé are savoured … this Bordelais girl looks forward to a busy productive week and a further-look east into the southwest of France.

The sensibility in Bordeaux, for me, is infectious. And I have caught whatever zest it is, massively. Where else can one be steeped into Louis XV beauty, find any cuisine (including baby cow thymus), and get the perfect épilation maillot for €11,00!!?

I hang my new French and American flags (literally) high. Sigh 😘 I could listen to French ALL day and night long…

x and ooo and bonne nuit!

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The mesmerizing view from my Bordeaux flat front window… wow

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The ethnic food aisle in the Carrefour Market, a site for sore Italian eyes!

La dolce vita è a Firenze

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Travels
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a tiny pedestrian walkway on the right bank of the Arno x

The heart of Tuscany, birthplace of the Renaissance and symbolism of the fleur de lis. 😍 However I should not be allowed there without full protection… from myself, and my bank accounts! More money has been spent in Firenze in two days than the last 25 in the south of Italy. The cuisine is just incredible… far more diverse, interesting and gluten-friendly. Medici, and the Four Seasons stole il mio cuore 💘 The city is charismatic, proud and truly autentico. I would definitely have to learn Italian to stay longer than three days. The Fiorentini can be quite snobbish, as was pointed out by several local friends and colleagues. They might take a cool attitude toward yet another american defecting to their unmatched UNESCO perfection. The esteemed guidance was to live on the San Croce side of the Arno to avoid being stereotyped too much.

Given we are STILL in Italy 😳 I must blather on about the food, naturalmente!!! I stumbled upon this fresh, totally provincial and relaxed Tuscan cafe called Mangiofoco, on a quaint Via just behind the enchanting Ponte Vecchio. The products, the people and the vibe was warm and alive… but totally chill. That just seemed to be the way in Firenze. And the true locals certainly know it. I have lived an entire life without whole tomatoes, honey or pesto, yet something about Firenze revolutionised those ingredients. Bringing a little truffle love ‘home’ for Thanksgiving… despite the unfortunate soufflé experience circa 2011 in Paris! 😊

Everything is effortlessly beautiful. The art… even street graffiti, the men, the jewellery, the wine, the hotels and the Arno. Wow! I was rather fortunate to spend time in two very different hotels. One being the brand new Portrait Firenze, a Salvatore Ferragamo conquest, which ironically is how I feel about the handbag he made for me as well. 😉 The family was destined for simple perfection! Next I moved to a 15th century Renaissance palace, which is the breathtaking Four Seasons. Comprised of a Medici palace, five hectares of the most peaceful serene botanical gardens and a 16th century Conventino. Given my very special adoration for the 17th of September, a spa treatment was definitely on the menu! Hot candle wax dripped directly on my skin and then massaged perfectly for 75 short minutes… overlooking gardens that have withstood several popes, wars and centuries. It was a bit of magic, and in an indescribably different way than the magic I spoke of in Positano. Such diversity across a relatively small country!

It was a fabulous experience, and to be honest, a fair amount of work as well. Nine hotel sites in two days! Plus dinners, lunches, shopping, worldwide what’s apps and the business! Sheesh… exhausting! 😲 but I will never forget the corner shop with the non-English speaking jewellery-maker who had little rubber thingies on just his thumbs. He showed me the creative wisdom to almost every piece in his impressive showroom. While I might have become rather expert at the ‘grat-zie-a’ pronunciation of thank you, I basically speak no Italiano. Yet this lovely artist and I managed. And managed to spend a shit load of euro! 💶 👸 🔫 I deserve it.

Especially when Make You Feel My Love seems to be played in all forms everywhere I turn. Like by the piano player down in the 15th century gardens of the Four Seasons in Firenze. Sigh…

Five more sleeps and I am en route to j’adore France! Determined to make the most use of the rail pass and further enhance my logistics expertise… I will take the train from Rome to Bordeaux. 😆 It makes me laugh to see people’s reaction to that declaration! If anyone can do it, with two really big suitcases and quite a few acquired Italian treasures that simply won’t fit… it is me! I think it will be funny. Termini to Torino for an impromptu overnight at a Golden Palace… followed by ten TGV hours, including one cross-town Parisian transfer and voila! Je serai en France! Yes, it is quicker for me to go all the way to Paris to change trains than through Marseille or Lyon. Italy has been fabulous, and I’ve seen so much, eaten so much and am ready to move on… I’ve got vendange (grape harvest), an international film festival and St. Estephe patiently awaiting. I look forward to the massive upscale apartment with full professional kitchen in the heart of Bordeaux. Anxious for the loads of men in scarves, France 24, El Taco Del Diablo, and chill time with good friends. No pasta! I wonder how many doors and keys it will require to actually get into the French apartment?!! 😳

Five more sleeps here in the Piazza della Repubblica 🎉 so exciting!

x and ooo

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My very first pesto at Mangiofoco… it was perfetto!

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The view from my suite at the incomparable Portrait Suites Firenze

Surprised charm and molto pizza in Napoli

Posted: September 12, 2014 in Travels
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The view from Parco di Principe across the Mediterranean to Mt Vesuvius

I must admit that Pompeii has always intrigued me. But the whole ‘it’s too close to Naples’ thing continued to deter a visit, and my professional recommendation for anyone else to. Shame on me! 😠

Assuredly, I would not have made the one hour journey had it not been for the pure kindness and absolute determination of a friend who lives there. He convinced me that absolutely yes !!! it is a charming destination and important part of Italy to experience. Did you know they have four castles and more churches within its perimeters than… well, than a lot of places!? Like 200 of them! Huge gratitude to the enamoring Napoletani, and their ridiculously intelligent immigrato francese 😉 who made it possible to completely change the view of at least one currently-defected american. Trust I will spread the word!

Napoli itself is a popular touristic destination for Europeans, and other non-americans. The streets were full and lively. Sure, it was a bit chaotic in its own infatuating way… but I never felt unsafe. Granted I had my very own local to show me around, and am so pleased to have done so! Now I highly recommend it! Likely as a stop-over and with the luxury of a trusted and fun guide, which Envizage can now recommend with 100% confidence. I have not experienced Italy extensively by any stretch of the word, but for those of us who actually enjoy exotic authentic destinations and want to experience true culture – Napoli is a must! 🇮🇹 Taking a bit of time to wander around the Spanish Quarter, Old Town and Il Lungomare with all its ‘corno’ good fortune, motorbikes and oh my gosh the freaking pizza 🍕 well, it’s just one of those amazing moments I will forever cherish, and likely never replicate elsewhere. Nor would I want to! Yes, you’ve got to be vigilant. But aren’t us diehard travelers always? Just zip up the fucking purse and don’t engage with the randoms!! It’s not rocket science.

There is so much more to it than the pizza, which I must admit was light, amazing and worth every part of Italian gluten I ate. It’s different than any other pizza I’ve had, in taste and consistency. Here I go, incessant about the food still! After a crash course of Napoli and all its fabulousness, I was fortunate to visit Sorrento for the day, and experience it’s stunning beauty. Naples and Sorrento are the gateway to all those seemingly complicated perfect parts of Italy that we all (or at least I did) thought required €1,000 a night for hotel, scary expensive car rental and a P.Diddy yacht to experience. Capri, Positano, Pompeii, Ischia, and Amalfi: done, done and done! Sorrento itself has a serene charm and magnifico view of the ‘sleeping’ Mt Vesuvius 😊 and gorgeous tufo rock black sand in the Mediterranean Sea. It is quite peaceful and inviting. Mt Vesuvius is the only active volcano, albeit not currently active, in Europe. A perpetual concern of the Napoletani as an ‘awakening’ could be a replication of Pompeii in AD 79.

I could go on and on, about the captivating generosity and benevolence of the Italians, my industry and enchanted experiences! Instead yet another gluten experience of a ‘lifetime’ back in Roma at JK Place awaited. Burgers. 😳 Time to get out the fat-girl clothes… except oh shoot I gave all that to the thrift store before my temporary departure from NYC. Nah it’s just time to hit Villa Borghese and the spin place on Barberini before heading to Florence for a few days next week! You better believe I will be fit in time for those hot French men in scarves! 😚

I’ve grown a little bit anxious as I realise my last days in Italy are quickly approaching. I purchased my Italo ticket for the random overnight in Torino as a last hurrah. Until Milano in November anyway. Yet like a real European… I’ve learned how to do laundry without using a drying machine! Sort of. Any pro would surely have a laugh at my rack. My clothes rack! Equally European I’ve decided, is that my fingernails have grown just barely. Not even enough to file yet!

x and ooo

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He tried to make me eat the whole thing at Gino Sorbillo, and I nearly did! 😨 Napoli style.