Saturday, October 27, 2007

J'aime Paris - Days 5, 6 and 7

Days 5 and 6:

The last two days I take it easy. This post will be short since these 2 days merely entail sightseeing, ambling through the city and eating ... ummm and shopping.

In Paris it is easy to just walk from place to place. I find myself at the Notre Dame which was a great and spiritual experience. There is also lots to see for architectural art history appreciators and like myself. From there the Latin Quarter is within walking reach. The Sunday bazaar at the Latin Quarter is worth a second look. There are lots of old books, pictures and old lithographs. Lots to see and buy if you want gifts that aren't the cheesy Eiffel Tower statuettes. I next walk through Marais on my way to the Picasso museum.

On a fashion note, I still observe that for Parisiens the bell sleeved look has either come and gone or never really arrived. All the jackets or caplets are straight sleeves with empire waist lines. I think I counted two women with bell sleeves in a highly tourist area - so not sure if they lived in Paris. For certain, eyeware is most definitely a fashion statement. If you have to wear them here you most definitely most make a statement. The different or brighter the better. Wide legged pants on women is not a popular look at all. All jeans and slacks are form fitted.

Marais on a Sunday is great for people watching since its bohemian and all the stores are practically open.

Later that night on the 6th day, the final dinner in Paris was at La Cagouille. The best seafood ever. The meal started with mini courtesy clams. Then we had sardine sashimi and mini fishettes (my word) for appetizers. Red snapper and sea bass - rounded out the meal. The restaurant came highly recommended and the experience was purely divine. It was a satisfying 2.5 hour dinning experience.

Day 7:

Au revoir Paris

Thursday, October 25, 2007

J'aime Paris - Days 3 and 4

Day 3:

On Day 3, I start focusing on shopping and doing research on whether or not stores in Paris would be interested in carrying my Diva Bugs purses.

On this day however, the first stop of the day is at the Reciproque stores on Rue de la Pompe that I discover in the guide book. This I have to say is a must see for an American because its the Parisienne version of the thrift shop that puts any thrift/consignment store I've seen here to shame! Rows upon rows of Chanel, Prada, Betsey Johnson, Louis Vuitton ... you name the couture designer and their clothes - vintage and last season - will more than likely be on the racks! Shoes, jewelry included ... The also have a menswear store. But don't go looking for bargains because there are none. That American concept has not made it to Paris. :)

We next make it too Marais at the other side of town. The first store I enter Ginger Lyly has the nicest lady. I look around the store and notice everything Dominica - flag, pics, shoes in (red, yellow and green) - perplexed I question her about it. She says it is her love and goes on about the island being her favorite place in the world ... instantly she does not know it but we are now best friends forever! I tell her I was born there. We start talking about what I should do about getting my line in Parisienne stores. I go to her store because she is known for carrying young designers. But, she is closing shop and moving to Bali. She gives me great advice. We move on...

Who knows maybe Divabugs might be in Paris....:oneday. :)

After a "quick" day of shopping we head home. Dinner reservations for the Buddha Bar. R has been dying to go there. When she was last in France it was well known for celeb spotting. Dinner at the BB is a delightful pan-Asian experience. We have frog legs for appetizer which can be both Vietnamese and French. There is the option for sushi or bento boxes but we go for the hot entrees. The dinning experience was great, however no stars were spotted.

After dinner, we head upstairs to the bar area and hang out at a small table with random guy who has open seats until his girlfriend comes. The BB seems to be the place to go for drinks. It is packed and seating is high commodity. Bring lots of cash. Our companion is well travelled and shares stores on his excursion. We listen. He is not bad to look at. His girlfriend comes and she is fun to hang out with.

After a few hours of talking to them and some Brits who are here for the Rugby World Cup we head to L'Etoile to end the night dancing.

L'Etoile was fun. I always find clubbing abroad to be a great experience. Young and old dancing. Uninhibited fun! I had a great time.

On Day 4:

I do some marathon shopping (lets see: out to outlets by 8, come back home, shop some more) and finally take notes on the fashion trends that make up the Parisienne scene. The mohawk is there too, country western inspired boots for women, pierced gem moles on upper lip, slim fitted tight jeans, leggings with everything.

There is not much to say but shopping should be declared a sport! It's Saturday and since I realize that most stores are either closed on both Sunday and Monday or just Sunday so I know right away that I am on a mission. I leave on Tuesday. In the end I am tired and famished.

After shopping I do the cafe thing again. Unavoidable and plus I still haven't taken my - writer at the cafe drinking capuccino while writing in my journal picture. I am on a mission. By the end of today it is chillier than the other days and the reality sinks in that Parisiens will sit outside rain or shine. They are hardcore!

As usual dinner is planned. Great opportunity to try on my new boots and take pics everywhere... ummm yeah.

We have tons of fun at dinner and hanging out with some new French friends ... delightful...

"Carrie Bradshaw Thoughts": Fun is a three letter word that holds a different meaning for practically everyone. For some it holds much complexity that bars them from truly enjoying life. For others it is merely a simple three-letter word. Living in the moment is not as easy for some as it is for others.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

J'aime Paris - Days 1 and 2

Day 1:

I arrive in Paris really early in the morning and realized while making my way through the airport that 1.) I over packed because my heavy bags are not conducive to trekking quickly through CDG - gates A to G. and 2.) putting on my French thinking cap is taking effort.

I am looking for the train. I ran into an airport attendant who tries to get me to take the expensive shuttle to the city. We have those hustlers in DC too....chuckle. But I know the train is the way to go. I will have to find another attendant without a "friend" to help me.

Thankfully my talkative nature was a boon on the plane because a fellow American was kind enough to alert me that tomorrow there might be a transportation strike in Paris. Hmmmm....gotta find out what that means exactly. Well at least I will be prepared for tomorrow.

8:40am: I finally get to the train.

Amazing aspect of riding on the train is that you get to see the beauty that is the outskirts of Paris. Everything is so green and the vegetation lush as the train woshes by. Already I can tell in a way that I stand out because I spot a few eyes on me most of them from various African people in my train car.

Amazingly, my bag is big but people go around it and look at me and wave with the "don't worry" hand motion and nod. Some smile. Do they think I am Parisien or do they realize I am a tourist? Who are these people and why aren't they rude!

9:40am: Rue de Villiers - on my way to the hotel.

9:50am: Ok. So I admit that I am lost. I roads are winding and curvy. I can't tell which way is north or south and my map confusing. I go to a small hair salon and ask the owner for directions. He is not only really helpful but smells really good and is so Parisien - nose and all.

Get to hotel. Check in. Ask for directions to the tour buses. Quick shower. On my way!

Find the Eiffel Tower where the tour bus stop is - but have to wait to visit the ET because R (my travel buddy) wants to go tomorrow. Admittedly I know with my fear of height issues having someone else there with me would be a good idea.

The tour bus was great. I get a full view of the city and can get on or off whenever. We go through Invalides, Champs Elysee, the Arche du Triomphe and the Louvre where I get off.

Louvre: The Louvre was an overall great experience. I got to see many of the art works and sculptures that I studied in undergrad - the etruscan statues, Code of Hammurabi, Medieval art and Venus de Milo - awe inspiring. I am not sure if the French painter section was what I expected especially my visit of the Mona Lisa - but overall the Louvre is a must see on a visit to Paris. I still feel like I did not see everything.

End the day sitting outside of a cafe with glass of wine. The french guy next to me is explaining the wine and the area of France where it is made. He seems really nice. Cafes are so good for people watching.

"Carrie Bradshaw" thoughts: The tour bus gives me an up close and personal look at the many buildings in Paris. Already I can tell there is a lot that is special about Paris - most importantly the amazing architecture. The buildings have that extra swirl and curl, romantic reliefs of latin or Parisienne woman in flowing gowns and muscular men doing what muscular men do - showing off their muscles holding heavy baskets of fruit. Is it being surrounded by all these extra touches that puts the Parisiens and visitors in an indefinite romantic mood? Or is it that these extra touches backfire and can sometimes make Parisiens just plain bitter?

Day 2:

I wake up late! Yikes! Gotta get out of the hotel and to the apt and figure out how much the transportation strike has affected the Paris metro. Ummm ...on second thought I will take a cab ... if I can find one since I have to go from one end of town to the next. I find a cab. The driver says that the trip will cost 15 Euros. Heavy bags and the unknown regarding the strike tell me that 15 euros is a great deal...:) As we drive through the city and quaint neighborhoods I have a "Two Days In Paris" moment. As we zip through the streets on our mission....I could just tell we are were zooming by the different Arrondisements. I squinted instead and focused on the different store windows. I ponder once again my rationale why Paris is considered so romantic. So much goes into the architecture. Even the metro signs have curves. The buildings have so much extra curves and swirly details. You will find no Washingtonian plain gray facade.

When I finally get to the apt. I am amazed not only that it exists ...;) but also that it is quite comfortable. Only major issue was having to lug my bags up four flights of stairs! Way better than the hotel room ... which was too tiny and for the price not that extravagant. It served a purpose.

R and I spend some time catching up and taking pictures but had to leave after sometime because the day was flying by and we had to make it to the Eiffel Tower. We wait in line for about an hour but the waiting was worth it just to experience getting to the top of the tower. It was exhilirating eventhough the physical going up was nerve wrenching.

Afterwards, we walk to the Champs Elysee and hang out with the beautiful people. Sipping coffee and eating pastries .... delightful!

On the way home, I met guy from Martinique in the subway. He was shy but fun and accommodating. He was looking for a job so I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask him about job hunting in Paris as a minority. He says that the climate now was to hire two or three blacks so as to give the impression that the company/firm is not prejudice. He was optimistic because fellow minority engineers who had graduated from engineering school the year before he did were all gainfully employed. I thought that was a positive light for him but mentioned getting in the door was a simple challenge but the biggest hurdle might be climbing the proverbial corporate ladder.

This was definitely a day for meeting interesting french guys. I guess I can blame new 10 minute buddies on the chaotic Parisienne transportation system.

At the next subway transfer point, I meet Chris the astronomer who lived and studied in Hawaii for 5 years. His dad was American - they don't talk. He goes on and on.

R thinks its odd that people share their personal stories and secrets with me. I just shrug and and say they can't resist the smile. In fact I am really interested in learning more french culture and society below the surface. I have heard and read so much and now I have the opportunity to get the word from the horses mouth so to speak.

When Chris gets tired of waiting, he leaves and we meet Frederick who is French-Canadian actor and I strike up a conversation. We speak of politics and his life...of course. He tells me he grew up in Canada but met his wife in Paris and has lived here ever since. He is well read about American politics and is rooting for Hillary ... in fact all French people I meet are rooting for Hillary. Go figure... she is a force. He hates Sarkozy and thinks Bill Clinton would make a good president for France ( myself; Hillary in the US and Bill in Paris...interesting). While we are in France, Sarkozy's divorce is final. His wife has a new man and he a new gal. Frederick is amused by this turn of events.

The train finally comes and we head home, go to restaurant, eat and call it a night. I am tired.

"Carrie Bradshaw thoughts": On delightful days when all is going well people rarely have any time to give each other. But in the most disasterous times we always look beyond the adrenaline rush and reach out. Why is it that we are finally at a place where we put the importance of looks aside and see through facades at what is important?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I love Paris in the Fall!

Hi Loves,

For the most of this week and a little of the next I will be in Paris! Thats paaaa-wreeee - phonetically for the those who don't speak francois.

I plan to post a few stories while away if possible to let you know about my stay. So stay tuned!!


She Bangs!

Hi Divas:

Sorry about the delay in typing... Since my exciting birthday I've been soo busy writing and working. But, now I am back and I have wonderful stories for you.

So loves without further ado I took the plunge last week and got bangs! For scaredy-cats like me and those of you who are hesitant, my hairstylist had the greatest solution. She gave me two layers of bangs - 1.) first she cut a short layer: straight across my eyebrows. A traditional bang look. But not as thick as Halle's or Heidi Klum's. Thin enough so you don't gasp at the loss of your locks, ie it should grow back soon. 2.) second she trimmed my side swept bangs. You know the long, hook behind your ears length that looks great with hair down or up in a bun.

The two bangs are a safety precaution just in case I get bored with the short bangs, I can have more than one option. Since the short layer is so thin it is not difficult to sweep them up with the longer layer. The best of both it!
Ciao Loves.
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