Indulging in Flâner

During our recent viewing of the Paris episode from Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, one segment in particular pricked my ears and struck a chord with my inner idler. It comes at about 24:19, when a local Parisienne discusses one of the more attractive aspects of living life in Paris.

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The Essential Guide to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

Iceland: home of the Huldufólk, lava moss, puffin hunting, fermented shark, entrances to hell, delicious skyr, and vikings. It is the youngest country on Earth (geologically speaking) and has the world’s purest gene pool (all accidental incest aside). Let’s face it though, you could care less about Egil and the saga he rode in on. And maybe you’ll party it up through 24-hours of sunlight, feel morally uncomfortable as you stuff whale meat into your mouth, or get awkwardly naked at the Blue Lagoon with some native Íslanders. But in the end, despite all the good times and wonderful oddities to be found in Iceland there’s only one reason why you’re really going, and that’s to have your Eyjafjallajökull blown by the Northern Lights.

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The 13 Most Inspiring Travel Quotes to Get You Off Your Butt and Out the Door

Sometimes all it takes for my usual state of “Where to next?” to transform into “I just found a $150 round trip flight to Iceland and we leave tomorrow,” is a really inspiring travel story or photo or quote. Also included are those awesome Expedia commercials (like this one or this one) or finding my dirndl in the back of my closet, creased to death from sitting unused for too long. So basically, not much. When you’re always looking for any excuse to get on the road, you can find signs anywhere.

It also doesn’t exactly help when any search on Pinterest or Google will yield hundreds, thousands of wise words imploring you to pack a bag and set off on the journey of a lifetime. Turns out people have had a lot to say about the value of traveling since the beginning of time. So it’s no surprise that if you’re looking for a reason or you need a little push to take the plunge, chances are the things that will speak to you are out there.

Just for fun, I’ve compiled a list of my 13 favorite quotes at the moment that inspire me to do more and see more and which don’t do a thing to cure my incessant wanderlust. But read at your own risk. I cannot be held responsible for flights booked, hostels reserved or jobs quit, though I do fully support you in all of these endeavors.

Adventure is out there. See you on the way. Read More…

Fun with Road Signs: Edition Français

Despite driving through European countries plenty of times before, we found driving in France was in possession of its own je ne sais quoi, translated for your convenience to WTF.

Much like their language, the French have their own way of directing you where to go. And, much like their language, it’s kind of like a test. I know I say, “Ce n’est pas possible,” but what I really mean is, “Make it worth my while.” I know I say go right to get to Lyon, but what I mean is, stay straight, pass the fork in the road, pass through two roundabouts, take that left at Flaurent’s house and it’s actually your 10th right, 20 miles down the road.

This confusion applies to both city and country driving, as it’s not about what the signs look like they mean but more along the lines of what they might mean in an alternate universe where left arrows mean go straight.

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Traveling Back in Time in San Francisco

Dracula. Dinosaurs. Chocolate. Party Time.

One of those words is probably (read: definitely) enough for me to be interested in what you’re selling, never mind all of them together in one place. This magical place where dreams come true is none other than the Conservatory of Flowers. Didn’t see that one coming, eh?

But no, it’s true. Right there in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the closest you’ll come to traveling back in time on your lunch hour. Seemingly stripped from the pages of a Wharton novel, the white washed Victorian style, glass paneled dome towers above gently sloping hills- expertly manicured and filled with perfect, color coordinated flowers. All you’re really missing is your top hat and cane.

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Absinthe, Artists and Apparitions à la Bar Marsella

A whole lot of the appeal of Bar Marsella in Barcelona is that walking through its doors is like taking a step back in time, into an old Belle Époque painting of some run down sordid place occupied by equally as sordid looking figures drinking alone.

So in other words, it’s wonderful.

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The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World

To earn (or self-impose) the title of most beautiful bookstore in the world is either quite the feat or you’ve got some major cojones.

After all, you’re in some serious company here: there’s the super-touristy-yet-still-super-charming-on-the-right-day Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, the famous Strand Bookstore in NYC and the art nouveau gem Livraria Lello e Iramo in Porto- the list goes on. Suffice to say, that’s saying a lot.

So, during out last trip to Venice we made a point to pay a visit to Libreria Acqua Alta and see if it truly lived up to all that hype.

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Paris Pastries

Cœur Frivole.

If I had to pick a pastry, a favorite pastry, a pastry that I would forgo all other pastries for, that pastry would be Gérard Mulot’s cœur frivole. It is a masterpiece, a feat of epic proportions, a winner winner, chicken dinner, if you will. It is the best thing to ever happen to chocolate. Ever.

Milk chocolate mousse, dark chocolate mousse, a chocolate biscuit base all coated with the smoothest, most decadent dark chocolate ganache known to man. The way in which the layers combine to form the perfect balance of not-too-sweet with my-God-I-hope-this-never-ends is mind boggling.

If you like pastries, you will love this. If you don’t like pastries, you will love this. And if you head in for an individual serving and end up with the eight person cake in the window, no one will judge you. We’ve all been there.

Gérard Mulot. 3rd arrondissement.

France’s Unusual Love of Going in Circles

One thing you notice while in Paris is that you tend to go in circles a lot.

To an outsider it can be frustrating, confusing and defeating. Yet the French themselves seem either not to mind or are happily oblivious to the fact that they never get anywhere.

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Pumpkin Problems in Paris

A short comparison of the months leading up to October 31st in two of my favorite places on the planet:

American Flag Icon  July in USA: Halloween decorations begin to appear in stores, prepare yourselves.

French Flag Icon  July in Paris: Paris Plages and glasses of rosé are enjoyed by all.

American Flag Icon  August in USA: Halloween decorations begin to take over stores, pumpkin spice countdown is on, what are you going to be for Halloween?!?!

French Flag Icon  August in Paris: Parisians leave for month long holiday, tourists arrive.

American Flag Icon  September in USA: Pumpkin spice everything is everywhere, there is no escape and it doesn’t matter that it’s still 75 and sunny out, CONSUME THE PUMPKIN SPICE!

French Flag Icon  September in Paris: Parisians are back, favorite bakeries open for business again and all is right with the world.

American Flag Icon  October in USA: Halloween items on discount, winter themed decorations appear (prepare for peppermint!) and DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE ONLY 10 WEEKENDS UNTIL CHRISTMAS???

French Flag Icon  October in Paris: Signs of fall are peppered lightly into normal life with perhaps a small display at the local bakery.

Trying to muster up the Halloween spirit in Paris is a bit difficult. Perhaps not the spirit so much as the decorations, seasonal food and other accoutrements that we’re used to seeing come August back in the States. Cinnamon pumpkin double latte spice candles are replaced by absolutely nothing. That works well until just about the second week of October when my spidey senses kick in and I feel the need to be festive.

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