[paris] day 1+2 highlights

News flash. Parisans are not snobby. And are you sitting? The food is great.

Eight years ago I wouldn’t have said that about the food. Back then Hubs and I had such horrible luck finding food that didn’t consist of goose liver or bone marrow. But my how things have changed – and it’s easy.

I love Paris.

From the wide sidewalks of Barcelona, to the narrow ones of Paris, we’ve been walking a ton. Just ask the girls. They are tired of it. But they’ve been excited about Paris since the start of the trip. We arrived early evening, checked into the hotel, Jules + Jim (what an amazing little hotel, with the friendliest staff), and then got movin’.

Day 1. Crepes, Notre Dame, BAM (the duck + steak tartare were amazing – even the girls liked it!), and Seine river ride.

In that order.

Day 2. First. It was pretty easy to just walk about and find a café for breakfast. Petit dejeuner for us all at Café Crème. Being a tourist in almost any city can be frustrating when shops/things to do don’t get started until 11ish. Note: we are not a jogging/running family. So we walked. Slowly. And the Parisian gods of ‘non-touristy-events’ shined down on us as we stumbled upon a local park hosting a school/community carnival fundraiser.

At first the girls were worried they might not understand what people were saying. But it didn’t take long for them to feel comfortable knocking over tin-cans, and selecting their cheap toy winnings.

Day 2. Second. Versailles vs. Louvre. We struggled, and thought it best to stay in town – so Louvre here we come. Perry and Ava fell in love with the Egyptian wing – Perry trying to sketch as fast as she could, Ava begging me to tell her everything about Egyptian people/culture “stories.” Paris was just on our side for this trip – there was little to no line to get into the Louvre, and no big crowds at the Mona Lisa, and the weather was superb!

Day 2. Third. Edible stuff time. You’ve never seen three girls happier when Dad told them there was a Chipotle in Paris. And boy did we all enjoy it! And at the Hotel Jules et Jim, there were the best little caramels greeting us on our pillows. They come from Jacques Genin (photo: Paris-Lifestyle), they have a dessert café – yay! Then for dinner we enjoyed empanadas. That’s right. From Clasico Argentino – and they were sooo-soooo yummy!


[barcelona] day 4 highlights

Last day scramble to create fond family/Barcelona memories.

…and try to do something the girls will like as well.

First. So Goudi it is, but this time his foray into landscaping at Parc Guell.

Atop a hill, from Parc Guell you can see most of Barcelona including the occasional steeple or monument top. But this park is more than just a great view, it’s another amazing vision transformed to reality. If Goudi had a Facebook page, I’d be friends with him.

Second. Promise not to laugh. Artesian donuts. These were the best – hands down – I’ve ever had. And I’ve known a few donuts in my day.

Third. So we hired the Russian, Spanish speaking sitter again. And with the girls happily chillin’ at the apartment, Hubs and I were off again. La Manual Alpargatera has been making espadrilles for a super long time. And we missed it by four minutes – curse you siesta! These photos are from “the net.” I didn’t notice many Spaniards wearing espadrilles around Barcelona.

Third-and-a-half. So after missing the espadrille store, Hubs and I walked and walked. Enjoyed lobster paella and sangria, and then walked some more. And, like so many great finds, down a quiet side street, we found a great design book store, serving cold brews.

[barcelona] day 3 highlights

We are traveling with kids after all.

Our rented apartment is in the perfect neighborhood (more later). We’re a healthy walk to the beaches, one block away from a ginormous park and zoo, just around the corner from a public swimming pool, and steps away from a slightly gritty, but very cool/hip shopping and dining area. And the apartment has a washer! This day was mostly about the zoo.

First. Parc de la Ciutadella makes for a nice walk (or jog) in the mornings. Dirt paths, orange trees and plenty of old buildings makes it interesting. During siesta, there are people chillin’ everywhere. It is also home to the Zoo de Barcelona. The zip-line in the zoo’s park was by far the girl’s fav.

Second. Walking around Barcelona (and we’ve done a lot of that) you begin to appreciate the city’s support of biking and recycling. You can rent bikes all over the city, the easiest are from biking stations where you pick up a bike at one location, and return it at another.

It seems that everyone here is really into recycling. We’ve seen so many people taking care to sort their garbage into the proper bins. I wish it were this easy in Hong Kong and the States.

Third. To end the night, Hubs and I hired a sitter. A nice Russian girl. Who only speaks Russian (of course), and Spanish. We used Google Translator. So did we go clubbing on our free night? Long, leisurely dinner with a bottle of wine between us? No. We went to a local movie theater to see Moonrise Kingdom. Hubby fell asleep.

[barcelona] day 2 highlights

The girls barely noticed.

First. The Mediterranean. I’m sure there are more glamourous points along this body of water, but the girls love any combination of water and sand, sand and water.

As we were leaving the beach, Perry finally asked why some of the ladies didn’t cover their “you know.” I, of course, was not phased by the toplessness. When living in LA I had the luck of being great friends with some Swedes. Actually, it’s not as scandalous as one might think. We Americans, can be such prudes.

Second. Cubism here we come – hola Picasso.

The audio guides were helpful in keeping the girls engaged. Ava had just completed cubism painting projects at school and at her art class, so she was well informed. Perry claimed that not only did she not like making art, but listening about it and looking at it wasn’t her cup of tea. Why don’t you just stab me in the heart little girl. Note to self: music will be Perry’s creative outlet.

Although not a huge display of Picasso’s cubist work, the museum actually showcases his beginning and growth to what Picasso’s most known for. Loved it.

Third. Stocking the fridge at La Boqueria Market. Crazy packed, but a great place to find all sorts of food stuffs. And tapas bars were a-plenty.

[barcelona] day 1 highlights

No photos of food on plates. Promise.

This city is quite spread out. And surprisingly the sidewalks are roomy. And the stones/tiles are mostly level. A walking holiday dream come true.

Jet-lagged girls did well today, with Ava falling asleep at the table during dinner. On a vacation like this I thought it would be helpful to have the girls take their own pictures, so they would look at the city. I’ll share their photos later.

First. Breakfast. Which consisted of all sorts of bready yumminess, cheese, and cured meat.

Second. Let’s be traditional tourists. To Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. Started in 1882, with expected completion date of 2041, this amazing, beautiful vision will be the world’s largest cathedral when finished. Photos are not enough to capture this experience.

Third. Then there’s the people watching.

[sweet girls] i wonder

I’m not placing any bets.

…on what the girls will be when they are grown. But I can’t help wondering.

Teddy has given me a project to support her first art gallery. I’m to buy canvases and paint so she can do a series of paintings. She wants to set up a stand in the lobby of our building to sell her work. Perfect balance of artist and business-woman if you ask me.

It’s been pretty clear from early on that Ava might want to be a singer. She sings in the shower. When we’re out walking. In the grocery store. But Teddy and Perry have banned her from singing in the taxis anymore.

Perry is kinda a jack-of-all-trades. She enjoys doing lots of things, but a recent poetry reading at school has me imagining a life presenting – anchor woman maybe? Of course, she’ll script everything herself.

Damn this is gonna be fun.

photos by Ian Taylor

[sweet girls] bee’s knees

Honey, we’re making bee’s wax candles. I’ve been excitedly waiting (yeah, I really just said that) for this workshop. Hosted by HK Honey and Shanghai Street Studios, this was such a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Michael (a designer from London-town) met up with us at a park near the studio in Yau Ma Tai. He showed us a few of his favorite shops in the neighborhood, and then up some flights of stairs to Shanghai Street Studios we went.

One of the studio features that makes it so special are the original wooden partitions that divided 800 sq. ft. into bedrooms and living space for an entire family when it was a residence. And we complain if there isn’t enough closet space.

Upcycling was also a focus, as we reused many containers while making our candles. Below, Ava is carrying a delicate tea cup Michael purchased at an antique shop, and Michael is melting the bee’s wax in a large ex-tea pot.

It smelled so wonderful – fragrant honey – in the studio, that some of the local bees visited us while we were working.

Gma had just arrived in HK the night before, I’m sure she was a bit jet-lagged, but didn’t show it during the class. And we certainly gave her a very local Hong Kong experience for her first time outside of the US.

All the students (about 8-9 in the class) chatted, and then the best part – basil-honey tea and warm, honey cake for everyone!

HK Honey + Shanghai Street Studios