France: Paris (vol 2)

After lunch at a small café, we set out for Le Fouchon to find my aunt’s favorite tea. Holy moly, that place is amazing! Tons of beautiful macaroons and ornately decorated eclairs. Flavors and variations of all kinds. I bought three different kinds of tea, sausages to smuggle back for my uncle, and B bought meat and a delightful Beaufort cheese. It was very pungent, but creamy and flavorful. The little Frenchman, Olivier, explained to us that it is made at a special time of year when the cows eat flowers and herbs in the mountains. One of my favorite aspects of this particularly cheese is that there are these sort of crystalized spots so that the cheese has just the slightest bit of a crunch. So tasty!


We met B’s crew at Le Baron Rouge. It was a very small wine bar with several large wine barrels against one of the walls. You can choose your wine and they’ll fill up a glass, a bottle, or a jug for you. Outside the bar there was a girl selling fresh oysters and crevettes.


We took a 40 minute stroll to the Latin Quarter for dinner at Grains Nobles et Plus. Our group was seated in a private room beneath the restaurant which we called “the cave.” It was stone and brick, circular like a tunnel. Most of us opted for the “surprise” menu with a wine pairing. Such an excellent option! I had a prawn ceviche with Champagne, ahi tuna with a red, mango panna cotta with a sparkling rosé. So much wine. So much laughter.

Sunday was beautiful and sunny. We walked along the Seîne river, past the Louvre, through a park (or two), saw a bird man, gypsies getting roughed up by some police, the bridge where people place a lock on the fence and throw the key into the river to symbolize their eternal love. I feel like we pretty much saw it all.

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We ended up at a café called Ma Salle à Manger. The waiter and waitress were cute and fun – like the might be pantomime performers and this was their side job. We split ad lovely white wine, so dry that it seemed to bubble. Pâte Basque with a small side salad and yummy cornichons. Duck tartin (pie) with leeks and a confit sauce poured over. Wowza.

After lunch, we took the metro (it was free my entire stay as there was a pollution warning) to meet Mik and Sydney by the canal before they returned to Lyon. We took a stroll along the canal before stopping at a cute bar with an enormous black and white mural of an octopus. After we bid them goodbye, thanking them a thousand times for their hospitality in Lyon and Le Grand-Bornand, we roamed on to a bar in the 11th called Ketch which boasted a top notch Gin Fizz. It has a great, hip atmosphere. Tons of tiny disco balls hanging from the red ceiling. From there we moved on to Chez Paul for our last meal of the trip. Escargot in a garlic butter sauce. Risotto with foie gras. We fell into bed at midnight (at the very latest).

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The alarm went off at 5am, giving us 30 minutes to pack and get to the train station. We locked up the apartment, dropped the key in the mailbox, and walked through the dark courtyard. Goodbye, Paris.



France: Paris (vol 1)

We arrived in Paris by train at noon and took a taxi to Hôtel de Ville. We stayed at Hotel Duo, a contemporary boutique hotel located off of one of the main streets and a short walk to Île de la Cité where Notre Dame, La Saint-Chappelle can be found. Sydney had a meeting shortly after our arrival, so I took that time to roam around and familiarize myself with the neighborhood. The square held a gorgeous carousel which was bright enough to light up the surrounding buildings, a man blowing giant bubbles, puppies, people, and just Paris itself. So magical! We had dinner in the Latin Quarter. We started with a cheese-filled pastery, kiwi, and side salad followed by one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever put in my mouth. It was cooked perfectly, sliced and drizzled with a honey soy sauce and served with a beautifully stacked potato au grain. Dinner was followed by a glass of Champagne. 





The next day was filled with shopping, exploring, and a whole lot of nothing. I find that sometimes, this is the best way to spend a vacation. No agenda. Walking down a street because it looks interesting. Stopping for lunch because you’re famished and fear you will not make it another block without restoring your blood sugar. After almost a full day of this, I checked into the apartment B found on Airbnb, rehydrated, loaded a map and set out to meet some of B’s American pals who also live in Germany.


Apple Maps is the worst.

After following the map about 3 blocks past the actual location, asking a local vendor for directions in my broken French (he was as baffled as myself by the map), I stopped into a pub to use their internet and email for help. While waiting on B’s friends I learned the bartender was from London, had lived in Paris for two years, and his girlfriend is from Dallas (Denton, but close enough). We had a beer and a great chat about all things Texas since he’d gone for his first visit over the holidays. As we said our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but think how small the world is. That we’re all connected.


Austin City Limits

Despite a rather tragic ending to the weekend (aka: torrential downpour leading to the flooding of Zilker Park and cancellation of Sunday’s festivities), my weekend in Austin, TX for Austin City Limits was a success. After an almost year-long absence from the town I lived and loved in for 8 years, it was great to be home. I was surrounded by family and friends, got my taco fix, saw some music, did some brunching, and even had time to get good and sweaty at Corepower Yoga Monarch.

Highlights from the festival include: Queens of the Stoned Age, The Cure (Phoenix, The National, and Typhoon got rained out on Sunday. I’m still crying on the inside about this.), and black truffle pomme frites from Second Bar + Kitchen. While Austin is constantly growing with new restaurants, bars, and yoga studios popping up overnight (Downtown now closely resembles my neighborhood in Dallas – turns out they were both developed by Urban Partners), the people and the general vibe of the city are the same – GOOD. Maybe great in some instances. Austin, TX will always have a very special place in my heart.


Rainy Day

Yesterday it was drizzly, sleepy, and grey outside. So many days, I find that my mood correlates with the weather. I can’t help it! If the sun is out and birds are singing, I find myself doing a mazurka down the sidewalk. If the wind is sharp and air is crisp, I’m active and bright to match. But if the weather is gloomy… I’m melancholy too.

I’ve gotten into the habit of looking at happy photos and reading through journals when I’m feeling glum. Yesterday brought me back to Greece. Corfu to be exact. Because as we like to say, “Every day on Corfu is the best day of your life.” I stumbled upon the following photo. It was taken on a rainy, gloomy day. Theoretically, it could have been spent indoors reading and writing, lamenting the fact that we weren’t at the beach. But the universe had something else in store for us.

rainy corfu

My third or fourth night in Greece, we met another American at our friend’s bar, Robin’s Nest. He was cycling across Greece, but had blown out a tire in an accident and was stuck until he could rent a car and find a bike shop that could fix it. Since he had the car for the entire day, we made plans with him to go exploring.

Exploring. What does that even mean? Well, in Greece it means being mercilessly dragged out of bed by your cousin and piling 5 people deep in a crazy, bright green Fiat.

We set out with no specific destination, and only a vague idea of which village to head towards. We saw gypsy camps, and drove through narrow, winding roads. Olive trees were scattered about with nets underneath to collect the olives (they don’t pick them). Eventually we stumbled upon an old, one-room church and decided this was a good place for an adventure to begin. There were two Greek men sitting outside of the church, and while they didn’t have a key to show us inside, they were able to tell us how to get to the seashore.

So three Americans, a chick from Zimbabwe, and a gay Hungarian took off in Toms and flip flops (my cousin was the only one in real shoes) down an old path. Eventually it narrowed and became slightly more rocky, and we faced one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. I’m really not sure I’ve seen anything more beautiful. The water was the most amazing shades of blue and green, massive waves crashing into the side of a mountain.

I probably took 400 photos that day. A day that could have been lazy, boring and miserable ending up becoming one of the most beautiful days I can remember. I got to thinking about how that concept can be applied to various areas of life. There are times that we encounter less than desirable people and circumstances. But life is just a journey, right? We are in charge of how we react to different experiences. We can either give negativity power over our lives, or allow it to evolve into something wonderful and beautiful.

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Lake Ouachita

Lake Ouachita is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. Even the WSJ says so! Despite an insane summer schedule, I try my hardest to plan at least one trip each summer to the stomping grounds of my youth. Last weekend I introduced 7 of my dearest Dallas pals to “the lake.” The weekend was filled with fun, food, pups, a few awesome games of Head’s Up, boats, and oh so many cocktails. It was such an amazing, easy getaway and I’m so glad I was able to share a place with them that is pretty much sacred to me.

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