What do you do when both your kids are off on a field trip and your husband has an extremely busy week ahead and announces he'll need to work during the weekend as well?
You take off to catch the last rays of sunshine and blue sky. You head back to your absolute favourite place on earth. Throw on a summer dress and a pair of pink flip flops and hang out with your Sex and the city girlfriends!
Ok, so maybe an excuse or two helped my case such as a girlfriend flying into town from South America and another very close friend celebrating a BIG birthday... but here I am again ... rather unexpectedly... back in Madrid!
I am feeling very blessed to get an extra little sliver of summer ... but now let me go and work on that tan of mine!
Combatting the heat the traditional Spanish way and the high tech "made-in-China" way
I have never voted in the United States before but the time has come to change that!
The process has been surprisingly easy even for someone like me who had never registered to vote before. It took filling out a form online, two e-mails to the Board of Elections in my county due to some doubts about my last address of residency - you don't want know how many decades ago - a phone call to a very kind clerk on the other end of the pond and a week later my ballot arrived in the post this morning.
So, wherever you may live in the world: are you ready to vote?
To New York with love from Paris, France
My personal absentee ballot received this morning.
What I love about Paris is no matter how long you've lived in this city, there is always more to discover. All you need to do is put yourself out there.
Yesterday I decided to venture across town in search of a rather boring specific kitchen accessoire. Needless to say the sales clerc was utterly unhelpful. Rather than wasting my time, I decided to step outside the shop and explore the area.
Sure enough within minutes I came across an intriguing looking passage. Covered passages in Paris are always worth venturing into, they are an early form of shopping arcades built primarily during the first half of the 19th century. The common characteristics of these covered passages are that they are pedestrianised with beautiful glass-ceilings, highly ornamented and lined with small shops, usually connecting two streets.
Passage Bourg l'Abbé with its muted, pastel interior is enhanced by the natural light that drenches this quaint and charming passageway from its long and unusual curved glass ceiling above.
The combination of pretty tones, delicate detail and light provides a certain sense of serenity and calm that the other Parisian arcades don’t seem to have.
Passage Bourg du l’Abbé may not boast to be the longest or most glamorous covered passageway in Paris but it most certainly has charm and elegance and some wonderfully, enchanting detail, if you take a moment to pause and explore.
Passage du Grand Cerf filters natural light through the spectacular 12 metre high glass ceiling, the highest of all the covered passageways and in my view one of the prettiest in Paris. The magnificent architecture comprising of glass, steel and timber and the quirky artistic shops makes Passage du Grand Cerf a wonderful way to step into a place of times long past.
Passage du Bourg l'Abbé is only 47 m long...
... but full of surprises.
Gotta love the Frenchies!
Small independent specialist shops line the passage
Stuck behind my computer for the past couple of days, today, I decided to take myself down to the world-renowned Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores to have a peak at their home collections.
Nothing new on the horizon one would have thought. However... most of the Galeries Lafayette store windows where covered with a black curtain and the pavement running along this luxury icon was a sorry and rather dirty site.
I carried on to Printemps next door which looked much more upbeat. It's luxury division on the ground floor was bustling with Asian clients and the food hall was full of guzzling gourmets.
Turns out Printemps is undergoing a major facelift which left me with no other option than to take the escalators to the top floor... and boy, am I glad I did!
Who knew Printemps had such a spectacular terrace. A perfect place for lunch with a view.
Legendary French fashion house
Rather deserted looking window displays
Galeries Lafayette's food hall delights
Fresh produce at exuberant prices
Climbing to the top of Printemps
It is so worth the effort!
A spectacular September day in Paris
Looking onto the church of La Madeleine on one side...
... and the church of Sacre Coeur on the other.
The church of St. Augustin with La Defense in the background.
It might have taken a trip back to Geneva to realise that after all these years maybe Paris has become my home.
For the first time I did not "feel" Calvin's city as my own. I called Geneva home for ten years. My career took off there, it is where I met my hubby AND we got married in the Anglican church in the town center nearly two decades ago.
Geneva is a rare breed of a city. I have been coming back to this global hub of diplomacy and banking year after year with the intentions of maybe one day settling down in its multicultural environment. French influence is widespread, from the language to gastronomy but with the unmistakable touch of Swiss efficiency and organization.
However, as I walked past Les bains des Paquis, where I use to stake out a spot on the pier jutting into the lake to catch musical performances at sunset after a day spent intermittently sunbathing and swimming, strolled down the rue du Marché which was pulsing with life and admired the Jet d'Eau creating a sky-high plume, kissed by a rainbow on sunny days, the feeling of familiarity was removed one step further than during my previous visits.
Does this mean that Paris is becoming home after all?
This is what happens when you pop by a friend's house for a quick coffee in Paris. You discover that they have the most intriguing neighbours and some spectacular monuments down the road. I am lucky given the sun is out and the weather God has decided to smile upon the city of love granting us warm weather in the middle of September which means all windows are open.
Stepping out onto the balcony I walked into a world
Uhhh, can I spot a Chanel dress on the mannequin?
Let's take a closer look
It seems Chanel have bought up the whole neighbourhood!?!
Perfect spot for a romantic lunch date.
I wonder if his date has stood him up?
Looking down the other direction... La Madeleine comes into full splendour.
I am sure this door would have a few secrets to tell.
Thank Goodness for foodie friends and French cuisine.
When meeting up with girlfriends for lunch there are two ways to enjoy each others company. You either choose a lovely Parisian terrace and soak up the last rays of summer sun while gossiping with your BBFs OR you strap on an apron and start cooking all together attending a 60 minute cook and lunch workshop.
Giggles and surprises are guaranteed. Who knew my friend could chop an onion in 30 seconds flat? Or that - many years ago in a different life - the Dutch friend I brought along lived in the same road as the Dutch friend's sister that my Spanish friend invited and became buddies?!?
L'Atelier des Chefs allows each guest to handle a knife (and a sharp one it is!) as well as quality ingredients. You learn to prepare the recipe by listening to the chefs instructions, simple, fast and tasty!
25 minutes into the class we had prepared a Curry d'agneau minute aux fruit et semoule à la mangue which we then proceeded to devour with a glass of succulent red wine sitting around a long, high wooden table allowing for camaraderie amongst all the participants.
My family doesn't know it yet but I have just added a dash of "savoir-faire" to my culinary repertoire and they'll have the pleasure of a new delicious dish added to their panoply of dinner menus.
When I first arrived in Paris in September 2011 I decided I'd jump in the deep end and signed up for "La Parisienne" straight away. I figured a race specifically for women through the center of Paris was just the ticket to begin my new adventure with a blast.
It has been my "rentrée" event for the past six years. With 37,000 runners in the 2016 edition, "La Parisienne" is now the biggest race for women in the world and I'm in the thick of it...
... only this year I didn't run the 6.6. km by myself. We were three ladies in pink waiting nearly two hours for our turn to start the race at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in a festive and joyful atmosphere. That, of course, allowed for endless opportunity to catch up. One of the girls had travelled all the way from Germany to participate!
This year - due to security reason - the route, lined with over 600 musicians, was altered and we ended up running alongside the banks of the Seine which was a welcome change given the open space, fresh breeze, picturesque surroundings and historic landmarks on either sides of the river.
I could have run faster but we were a team and crossing the finish line arm in arm with a big smile on our face made us feel like we had just run an entire marathon.
It still feels as gooooooood as it did when I ran this race the first time five years ago. No, actually, it feels better because I got to share the victory with my girlfriends!
Here we go again... La Parisienne 2016
Picking up my number and pink t-shirt the day before the race
Sunday morning and the sun has disappeared...
... but where did the palm trees come from?!?
This year's theme was "Carnaval"
My shoes are the same colour as this year's official race t-shirt
Waiting to start...
... chitter chatter all over ...
... more waiting on the Pont d'Iena ...
... nearly at the starting block ...
... the first 100 meters into the race.
One of the many music groups: guess where they're from?