ciento volando

travel, stories, and other flights of fancy


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El Laberinto, Córdoba (the best way to spend your daylight savings).

El Laberinto

This weekend I travelled south to visit some friends – teachers who worked in the same village as me during my first year in Spain. The expedition involved spending most of Friday in transit, crashing two nights on a couch, and not making it back to Segovia until late Sunday night…  quite the journey for just a casual Saturday lunch. But of course, (and in keeping with the predictably upbeat, possibly saccharine, tone of this blog), it was totally worth it.

The reunion was exactly as I’d hoped and expected*. As for the rest of the weekend, I hadn’t had a chance to give it any thought, so of course it all came as an unlooked for bonus.

The first factor that I hadn’t contemplated was that it would be hot. This stands to reason, Córdoba being a lot further south than Segovia, but didn’t enter my head as I rushedly shoved extra jumpers into my bag before leaving. But better to be too hot than too cold, and my top half (saved by a last minute singlet) spent the weekend bathing in sunny glory…whilst my legs silently roasted in black jeans and long boots.

Secondly, I’d forgotten all about typical Andalusian breakfasts. So good!! Toasted fresh rolls, with (incredible) olive oil and grated tomato, milk coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice…at a relaxed pace, in the aforementioned sun, for only 1.50€. What a way to start the day.

Then of course there were the free tapas, chosen from the menu and not from the bar top (as they are in Segovia, not that I’m complaining). But getting free food a la carte is really something special. Hooray for Andalucía.

basking bargainsBut the true highlight was having a whole unexpected Sunday morning in which to indulge. Thanks to daylight saving (and the surprising absence of hangover), I had time to wander the streets, photosynthesise, and finally peruse El Laberinto, a beautiful second hand bookshop that I’ve been wanting to visit for months.

El Labrinto is special for a number of reasons, the first of these being that in the world of antiquarian bookshops, it’s just a baby. Despite the fact that in today’s technology driven, crisis bound economy, longstanding bookstores are struggling to survive, El Laberinto boldly opened in mid 2012 and appears to be thriving. Surprising? Not really, it’s a wonderful store with a prime location (on the riverside), that’s been well thought-out and is clearly well run. The service is knowledgeable, personalised, and considerate (I was even talked in to buying a cheaper book than what I had originally selected, but one that I will hopefully enjoy reading more***). And as well as a range of foreign language books, Spanish classics, and vintage children’s books (of which a colourful abridged version of Don Quijote definitely tempted me), there were many other curious trinkets for sale or on display. A large collection of amusing/beautiful retro postcards (1€), re-printed Civil War facsimiles in zine form (3€), records, scientific specimens, pot plants, and comics.

Unlike many second hand bookstores (and despite the tonnes of books lining the walls and and floor), El Labrinto is well lit, clean and spacious. There’s none one of the hayfever inducing dustiness or back breaking pokiness that normally needs to be endured in this kind of shop. There are plenty of chairs, and customers are invited to sit down and take their time sorting through the contents of the large wooden dining tables. The background music was cool and reason enough to linger, as were the literary quotes that decorated the concrete walls.

So if you’re in Córdoba, and have time (time is important), treat yourself to a leisurely breakfast in the sun (ideally at El Pimentón on the riverside) and then mosey on next door to El Laberinto to pleasantly wile away some hours. But if slow ain’t your style, I’m sure you could still scoot by and pick up a bargain from one of the outdoor 1 – 3€ baskets, without having to think too hard or take off your headphones.

So I’ve checked the forecast and it’ll be warm in the south for the next quite a while. Weird, but it may as well be enjoyed. As for Segovia, bordered by mountains and currently mizzling… well here’s a good place to have plenty of reading material.

*We met up at 2pm and didn’t part ways til after midnight. “Lunch” included plenty of traditional Cordovan food (salmorejo, aceitunas, flamenquín, and garlic garlic garlic), bar hopping (the highlight being The Jazz Bar, if you’re in Córdoba, go there), watching a clásico (Madrid vs Barcelona football match), and seeing a live rock band (long hair and denim, just so you knew they were legit). The only downlight (?) was the post pub grub…if you know the franchise 100 montaditos (100 little bread rolls), and are curious to try the new Spanish fast food sensation**, 100 pizzitas, don’t!

**100 pizzitas, the only fast food in the world that causes you to lose weight …the fuss of the ordering process (and stress of waiting for the hockey puck to buzz), isn’t worth the actual pizzas (which are wafer thin, and all 100 flavours come out looking the same).

*** Instead of El Dorado (a slim paperback with a beautiful cover), I walked away with Ramon J. Sender’s Aventura Equinocial, a novelised version of the same history (in a less glamorous jacket).

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tea and tattered pages

is an English language bookshop/café in Paris that’s definitely worth a visit, but has nothing to do with this post – except that I love the name and decided to steal it for my musings.

This Sunday afternoon I sat down with a cup of tea and Good Weekend, the Saturday magazine from The Age, a Melbourne newspaper. Reading the weekend papers, especially the magazine faux-news lift outs, is one of my favourite rituals.

As a uni student I worked most weekends in hospitality, and was always incredibly jealous of the creatures of habit who I’d serve breakfast to on Sunday mornings, as they read the paper, cover to cover, over the course of several ($4 a pop) cups of tea. I remember thinking that If I could one day be rich enough to regularly eat out for breakfast, and not have to work or study on weekends, then I truly would have made it in life. As it was, I’d hold on to the newspapers, guarding the weekend lift outs in a neat, colourful pile next to my bed, and if I was lucky I’d find the time to read them before the next weekend rolled around and the pile grew again. It wasn’t so much about the quality of the publications (which seemed to fluctuate), but the decadence of the pause.

It’s been two years since I’ve got my hands on a real, paper copy of The Age. Not because I have an aversion to newsprint, or paying for my reading material, it’s just that I live on the other side of the world now. And sadly, I no longer read newspapers at all. I’ve picked up the habit of watching the TV news during the siesta, partly to improve my Spanish, and partly cos it seems such an indulgence to watch TV in the middle of the work day. To keep up with Australian news, I occasionally scan The Age online, but in general I’ve found this to be an un-gratifying, fluff-ridden, pop-up plagued waste of time. When I do occasionally stumble upon a good, meaty article, the truth is that my online reading time threshold is much lower than its paper equivalent, and I rarely make it to the end of the story. I’ve heard of the existence of other, more balanced and less revenue-driven alternative online news sources, but have yet to take the time to investigate and form a bond with any of them. So I maintain a tenuous (very tenuous) handle on Aussie current affairs by word of mouth, and the hope that if anything truly newsworthy happens in Australia, they will mention it in the Spanish press (ha!).

So how did this rare and exciting copy of Good Weekend find its way into my Segovian attic ‘living room’, and get itself to be so endearingly tea-stained?

It was the feature (at least I took it to be the feature) of a delightful ‘for-no-reason-in-particular’ surprise parcel, sent to me by my parents. Possibly the most beautiful and unexpected present I’ve ever received. (perhaps even more wonderful due to the fact that I picked it up from the Post Office during a serendipitous class cancellation, and it was one of those sunny Autumn days that warms right through the skin, so I guess I was primed to be rapt with just about anything that lead me on such a lovely afternoon stroll)

So what else was in the parcel? Well it was kinda like a Mary Poppin’s bag of treats, and each item was tagged with a post-it note on which Mum had written a little anecdote about where she’d come across it or why she’d included it. I’ve no idea how so many treasures fit into the cooler picnic bag they put everything in (possibly Dad’s tetris-like boot packing skills?)…but amongst them there was Vegemite and Tim Tams, good quality linen tea towels with Australian flora and fauna, hipster writing paper, some (real! printed!) photos, a puzzle book, a short Penguin Classic (‘the perfect length for an overnight bus trip’), artsy postcards, and an ideal recipe for my limited cooking facilities (already tested, big success). By the time I finally finished unpacking it all, I was so excited that I forgot the time difference and called home at 4am to say thank you, oops! (But better to be woken for a happy thank you call, than anything more serious, right?).

Anyway, the parcel had the curious dual effect of making me want to go home and/or giving me the strength ‘to go on’ (ok, this isn’t exactly the kokoda trail, but I’m sure you get my drift). Perhaps with better communication and the occasional copy of Melbourne papers, I could stay abroad for a number of years…(I shouldn’t say that, there’ll be no more parcels!). But sometimes I really do just want more than anything to sit around at home in Melbourne on a Sunday arvo, in my dressing gown, with a proper brunch, the Good Weekend quiz, and people who know what ‘arvo’ means and who Shaun Tan is.

It comes and it goes.

But what did I learn from this weekend’s light reading?

  • An extended trip home is definitely overdue.
  • My favourite illustrator has released a new book.
  • 45 million photos are uploaded to Instagram daily.
  • Some random Australian mining magnate’s family is squabbling over an inheritance, boo hoo
  • The winner of The Voice (which I’ve never heard of, but can guess) was a kid called Harrison Craig, who dreams of becoming a ‘global recording artist’ (good luck to him). He says that “if you have a Plan B then you’re not really serious” (which did make me stop and think for a bit)
  • There is such a profession as a ‘Crime Scene cleaner’, and it really stinks, but it’s okay if your workmate is also your spouse and together you can do anything
  • Australian comedian Tim Ferguson has MS, never picked it, wow
  • Some coins from ancient East Africa were discovered on an island off the North West coast of Australia, which has got archaeologists thinking…hmmm
  • Chronic pain is an ever increasing issue amongst war veterans, due to increased survival rates but poor pain management in the early stages of injury recovery. However, the combination of new medications (which target different sites in pain pathways), meditation, and cognitive behavioural therapy (which adapts the brain to manage pain), is proving to be very effective. (This gave me a bit of flashback to my uni days, as neuropathic pain management was actually the topic of my final year pharm essay, ah yes, it’s all coming back to me…but it wasn’t until after uni that I read The Brain That Changes Itself, now I remember… NEUROPLASTICITY IS THE ANSWER (to almost all your woes)).
  • The dating game is particularly complicated for Jewish Australian girls (but apparantly not for Jewish Australian boys)
  • By the time I get back to Melbourne, the nightlife will have changed completely, no basement or loft space will be left un-converted, and a glass of wine will probably cost a week’s wages
  • Able and Game (a friend of a friend’s quirky stationery company) seems to be doing well, now sells through etsy.com, and now makes funny hand printed linen tea towels. Linen tea towels are the best.
  • Samurai sudokus are still beyond me
  • It’s time to reinstate the Sunday pause… perhaps with a local publication

THANKS MUM AND DAD :-)

The Red Tree, by Shaun Tan


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ITALY

Tuscany, 2011For many people (possibly most people), Italy is a dream destination. With picture perfect scenery and an abundance of art, fashion, passion and prosciutto – there’s no wondering why it’s the choice setting for so many glamorous films, romance novels, and once-in-a-lifetime holidays.

For those who are lucky enough to actually make it there and see the ‘real’ (or just plain touristic) Italy, the spectrum of reactions is always varied.

Italy was the first country I visited when I moved to Europe in 2011, and it didn’t fail to live up to my (very high) expectations. I actually burst into tears when I saw the Colosseum, such was my wonder and joy at the sudden realisation that I was actually there and living my dream, so to speak. I travelled around for over two weeks, and managed to see a number of cities plus some countryside too, you can read about my very enthusiastic first impressions here.

So when Mum proposed going to Italy this summer (it would be her first time), I absolutely jumped at the chance. Of all the countries I’d been to since I got to Europe, it’s where I’d most wanted to go back.

This time, however, my response was completely different. Of course I enjoyed the trip, but this was mostly because I was in good company, in holiday mode, and not working. The country itself left me feeling a bit underwhelmed, sometimes even disappointed.

There are a few reasons why this might be:

– No free tapas. Sigh. I always find this hard to deal with outside of Spain.
– I was reading Gomorrah, by Roberto Saviano. Whilst it’s great to match your holiday reading to your destination, I don’t recommend this book to anyone. Partly because it’s so depressing (everything in Italy, and the world, but especially Italy, is corrupt and fake and run by gangsters and ultimately doomed), and partly because it’s badly written and/or badly translated, and a struggle to read. I ended up giving up half way.
– Some parts of Italy seemed quite dirty. Ok, in comparison to Spain (where old ladies regularly mop the fronts of their houses), most places seem dirty. But I’ve been in third world countries where the filth bothered me less. Perhaps it’s because I saw the griminess as symbolic of complacency (the monuments are already there and tourists will come no matter what), a lack of pride (don’t they appreciate what they have?!), and a result of corruption (see Gomorrah above). Whatever the reason, it’s a shame.
– The restaurants. Last time I was travelling by myself and was generally happy to sit on park benches with 3 euro pizza slices and the tasty fresh produce I got from markets. This time Mum and I chose to eat at cafes, though still on a modest budget. As it turns out, we were really just paying for a place to sit down, with air conditioning and a toilet. The food itself was nothing spectacular, especially for a country that’s meant to be a gastronomic paradise… I love Italian cuisine in theory, but in practice, all the pizza and pasta got repetitive (literally), and the prosciutto, salami and olive oil seemed pretty flavourless. I guess the best Italian food must be found at home-cooked family dinners, or in the really expensive restaurants, or in countries other than Italy…
– Mosquitoes.
– The tourists. Yes, we were two of them. Bloody tourists.
– Being there a second time. There are many advantages to this, such as knowing how the train system works, or being able to orientate oneself. However, I don’t know the country (or the language) well enough to be totally at home in Italy, but nor could I experience the adrenaline thrill of being in a completely new and foreign environment. Curious.

The holiday itself was incredibly smooth. We had no transport hiccups, our accommodation was great, and the service was generally good (although the restaurants stop serving much earlier than in Spain, and the waiters made no bones about packing up tables and chairs around people who were still eating. One time they even turned the lights off on us, at 11pm in the centre of Venice. Mum told them very smoothly that if she couldn’t see the bill, she couldn’t pay it, for which they had no counter argument).

As for the highlights of the trip, well fortunately there were many! It was curious to re-visit cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice, and see them in a different way. Some monuments were no less incredible the second time round, others I barely stopped to look at. Here’s a mixed mix of the places I saw, and some of the things that stuck out.

ROME
The Roman Forum: How on earth I missed this last time I don’t know, especially as my ticket to the Colosseum would have got me straight in. The Forum is a collection of ruins in the city centre. The buildings were once temples, shrines, basilicas and government offices, constructed across centuries by various emperors, each trying to outdo his predecessors. I’m not massively into ruins, and to me The Forum looks like a messy shamble from the outside. But I was in the company of people who know and love that kind of history, and their enthusiasm was contagious. Wandering the incredible buildings and gardens was fascinating and very enjoyable, despite the sweltering heat.

duomo of florenceFLORENCE
The Duomo: My favourite building in Italy. This time I climbed the tower, which was much easier in comparison to the claustrophobic steps of Segovia’s Alcázar, due to several rest points and a lovely cool breeze. So don’t be discouraged by the climb, it’s well worth it to view the building from above and look across at the beautiful domed rooves.
Walnut bread, fresh figs and chianti: Florence’s central market is a great place to pick up picnic supplies (and the path up to the Rose Garden across the river is a great place to have a picnic). The highlight was definitely the walnut bread – it was sort of like a chewy, sweet and salty flat bread, made with wholegrain flour. We went back to the market bakery for seconds (a few times), but stupidly didn’t get the name of the bread, and weren’t able to find it anywhere else. If anyone knows anything about Italian breads, please get in touch with me!

TURIN
The shroud of Turin: The cloth that supposedly wrapped Christ’s crucified body is one of the most controversial and most analysed artefacts in the world. It’s held in a shrouded (haha) container behind a lot of security in the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, but you can study a (surprisingly interesting) full scale replica in the nearby Church of San Lorenzo, or in the Museo della Sindone, the Shroud museum.
Mole AntonellianaThe Mole: is more than just a striking piece of modern architecture, it also houses Turin’s ‘National’ film and cinema museum. For me the highlight was the glass elevator, which takes you up through the centre of the museum and out onto an observation deck, for spectacular views of the city.
Caffè Mulassano: This tiny art nouveau cafe is found on the Piazza Castello. Drinks are pricey but well worth it for the nibbles (which came in silver bowls with silver spoons) elaborate decor, and friendly waiters (who only speak Italian). I recommend the spinach quiche, and the olives were the best I’ve tried outside of Spain.
Caffè San Tomasso 10: is creatively named after its address. This was the original Lavazza family coffee shop, and the walls are decorated with stunning, sexy, coffee-themed photography from their various advertising campaigns.

MILAN
Skip all that fashion rubbish, Milan’s Duomo is much more stylish. The Cathedral’s gothic stonework is best viewed from the upstairs galleries, where you can walk amongst the arches and view the statues and gargoyles up close.

LAKE COMO
Well, George Clooney wasn’t there to pick us up from the station in his private, Nespresso powered waterplane, but we had fun in Como nonetheless. I’ve no particular recommendations, other than that if you’re short on time, the funicular and the ferry are both great for taking in views of the scenery, at two very different angles. What else can I say? It’s just a very pretty part of the world. Apparently it looks like Switzerland, and lots of famous people live there.

VeniceVENICE
Venice is tired, and made me tired. It’s hot, and crowded, and expensive, and I feel sorry for the buildings which are all slowly rotting and sinking under the weight of the tourist hordes with their cameras, gelatis, and tacky souvenirs. However, I did have a few pleasant surprises.
Vivaldi: Mum bought some spur-of-the-moment 25 euro tickets to a concert from one of those street vendors dressed in Renaissance get up. I was sceptical, thinking it might be a scam, or at best, the concert would be terrible. Venice has such a transient population that if the musicians were awful, no matter, tomorrow would bring a fresh, ignorant crowd and it would be a sell out as usual. How wrong I was. The music (The Four Seasons, plus some) was fantastic, and the musicians were fascinating. The performance was held in a small church just off St.Mark’s square, which reportedly had the same acoustics and dimensions as what Vivaldi originally composed his works for. The intimacy of the venue allowed us to study the musicians faces, and speculate on their possible relationships and the apparent musical and psychological battle that may or may not have been taking place between them. Definitely the most interesting concert I have ever been to.
Gondola ride: Many people say this is over-priced and overrated. At 80 euros for half an hour, I’ll admit it’s bordering on daylight robbery, but I really think it’s worth it. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy the city. After scurrying around crowded walkways all day, it was so relaxing to kick back in a gondola and glide for a bit. The best bit was enjoying the music wafting by from other gondolas which had payed extra for the ‘canapé and serenade’ package.
Delivery men: The delivery men of Venice have it tough. The logistics of the island are a nightmare; narrow streets, heaps of steps, and lots of loading/unloading big boxes from little boats. It’s hot and they work hard, mostly with their shirts off. If tanned and muscled torsos interest you, I recommend an early morning stroll in Venice, before the shops open.

LUCCA is a small city in Tuscany that’s famous for its medieval walls, pretty shops, and general pleasant-ness.
Aperol Spritzer: Aperol, Prosecco, and soda, served with a green olive on a toothpick, and with plain potato chips. Lucca’s central plaza is  round, and filled with nice cafes, parked bikes, and happy families. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an Aperol Spritzer and listen to some pretty good buskers.
Bike ride along the top of the walls: The city takes less than an hour to circumnavigate and it’s flat the whole way, which makes it an easily doable ‘exercise’ – even if you’ve had a few spritzers the night before. The views are gorgeous and the bikes are only 3 euros to hire.

Amalfi Coast

AMALFI was apparently the ‘highlight’ of my last trip to Italy. This time, it was the biggest disappointment. I remember the Amalfi coast as being spectacularly beautiful and dramatic, but now it just seemed crowded, cheap (classless), and dirty. Fortunately there were two saving graces:
Santa Croce beach and bar: is a free 5 min boat trip from Amalfi. Go to the left-hand jetty (when facing the beach) and look for the little boat with Santa Croce written on the side; it comes and goes all day. The captain is a big guy with long hair and a belly, I think his name was Antonio. This’ll take you to a small private beach, where it costs 15 euro for two banana lounges and a beach umbrella. The beach is much nicer (and the water much cleaner) than the big ones, and there’s a nice little restaurant that’s pretty inexpensive and has good seafood and pasta.
Il porticciolo di Amalfi: This was our ‘splurge’ accommodation. It’s pension which is a little removed from the town, up on the hillside, with a beautiful terrace that has spectacular views (especially at night). The breakfast is fantastic and the owners were lovely (they gave us the recommendation for Santa Croce). They also let us use the kitchen, and in the end we took all our meals on the terrace (so the ‘splurge’ really paid for itself). On the last evening we were lucky enough to witness a lightning storm out at sea, whilst enjoying spritzers and cheeses in the balmy night on our side of the bay.

ASSISI took me completely by surprise, and was without a doubt the highlight of this holiday. In fact, it was so beautiful, that I’m going to write a separate post about it.

So, that was Italy. I’ve definitely sated the lingering desire I’d had to revisit the country, as well as any buffalo mozzarella cravings I’m likely to have over the next few years. In a way, I’m glad that dream is over.

I’ll upload a photo gallery in the next post, and link them to the travel photos tab in the sidebar.


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Paris – always a good idea

Said Audrey Hepburn. And who am I to argue with one so dainty and sophisticated?

So when I spotted a flight Madrid to Paris for 40 euro, at approximately holiday time, I snapped it up without a moments thought. Never mind the official dates of my Christmas break, they could be negotiated (or recuperated) later. Never mind that I already spent a good chunk of time in Paris last year, and it’s an expensive place to revisit just to ‘hang out and kill time’. Never mind that the only people I knew who lived in Paris weren’t going to be there…

Because plan or no plan, I knew it would be a great idea, and either way, it was en route to the rest of my Christmas vacation.

As it turned out, both of my ‘Parisian’ friends (well, Australian/French/Spanish semi nomads who’ve been there for some time) did end up being there, just. We managed to catch up, by the skin of my (their? our?) teeth. One left Paris (for Oz) the same day as me, and the other set off the day after. Lucky.

And how wonderful it was to properly talk, face to face, with old (and semi old) friends. To see each other after a period of time has elapsed, and then fill in all the gaps. Or at least attempt to. Inevitably conversation digressed with the pressure to cover so much in such a limited time. I’m still  a little hazy about some ‘essential’ details of which crucial things are happening in whose lives. But the important part was the laughs.

The only other vague plan I had in mind for Paris was to revisit what is possibly* my favourite bookstore in the world (*I’m still in the process of conducting research…it’s quite a task). Last year, the hunt for an English edition of Les Miserables led me on a wild and fantastic goose chase in search of English language bookstores all over Paris. It was a great way to explore the city, and I came across some real gems. Tea and Tattered Pages definitely scored points for it’s fantastic name (and salon de Té), but it was Shakespeare & Co. that ultimately won my heart.

This time I just couldn’t wait to spend more time there. The bookstore is an institution in Paris, and has been a popular hangout for writers, intellectuals, bohemians, and artists since the 1950s. Of course these days it’s swarming with hipsters and tourists. Call me either, I was more than happy to squeeze in and add one more to the crowd. (Compared to this thriving little joint, the Louvre is a haven of serenity).

Shakespeare & Co. is a quintessential antiquarian bookstore, with a maze of rooms and winding passages. Every square centimeter of wall (and sometime floor and ceiling) space is overflowing with books and eccentric decor. The ambiance is haphazard and cosy, and the windows are decked year-round with fairy lights. I’ve no idea how long I was in there for, probably a good couple of hours, as Paris drizzled away outside, another world away.  Inside the bookstore, there was a guy singing and playing the piano upstairs, whilst amateur theater took place in an adjacent room. And all the corners, couches, old rocking chairs, and cubby house were filled with people curled up reading.


Not long ago my friend and fellow blogger Bronwyn lamented on Facebook that ever time she enters a bookstore she’s “forced to confront the fact that as a mere mortal [she] will never be able to read ALL THE BOOKS.” Which perfectly sums up my own sentiments. Never have I so keenly been aware of the sheer, frightening volume of literature that is waiting me, than this past Sunday in Shakespeare & Co. It’s as if they’d had a sneak peak of my (barely dinted) 2012 reading wish list, and then artfully laid each of these books out for me in a row, in a cruel visual reminder that not this year, not any year, will I ever, ever have the time… and that’s just for the books that I’m aware of wanting to read. My list virtually doubled with curious new possibilities whilst I was in the shop… My 2013 diary is definitely going to need more pages.

And speaking of diaries. (what a convenient link). To check out the beautiful Christmas markets, I wandered into Bon Marché, one of Paris’ luxury departments stores. Like Shakespeare & Co., it had a similarly overwhelming effect on me. So many exquisitely beautiful, cleverly designed, clearly high-quality, frighteningly expensive things. I picked up one very nice leather bound agenda, thinking “well, I am in the market for something like this…”, and actually dropped it in fright when I saw the 200euro price tag. Lucky I wasn’t holding one of the gold dipped ceramic birds that had also taken my eye…..

Then, after a little more roaming, some beautiful Christmas lights and markets, randomly finding myself part of a peaceful upbeat pro-gay marriage rally,stumbling into (and staying to listen to) a concert rehearsal in an ancient church in St. Germain, eating delicious crepes from steert vendors and even better hearty home cooked food (thanks Sylvie), and taking a second squiz at Notre Dame (she’s still beautiful)… just like that,  my time in Paris was up.

That was a week ago… I wrote in Luxembourg and am posting from Antwerp. I think I might wait until I’m off the road to write about the rest of my trip, these crazy keyboards are driving me insane! (but at least the Dutch have exclamation marks…those Luxembourgers were way too serious folk).

In other news? Well I didn’t win El Gordo. But am still travelling happy, with Christmas markets and Glühwein galore.

Felices Fiestas

until the new year xxxx