My Top 5 Places in Europe

If you’ve read this blog for a while, it’s no secret I’m always looking for excuses to get back to Paris. Or Europe. Or anywhere, for that matter. I have a serious case of wanderlust.

Since this is the time of year for lists, I’m sharing my top five favorite places in Europe:

#5 – Montepulciano, Italy

When my oldest son was four months old, we spent several weeks in Italy visiting my family. Since we’d done Rome, Florence, Venice, and the Cinqueterra on previous trips, Bug and I were eager to explore the hilltop villages of Southern Tuscany. For this trip, we rented a farmhouse as our base and explored. This is where I first discover Brunello wine and cemented my love of reds. Definitely worth a trip if you’re a wine lover.

#4 – York, England

Maybe we’re weird, but for our honeymoon, Bug and I decided to tour England and Scotland. On our way up to Edinburgh, we stopped off in York. The ancient walls and beautiful church are must sees. We day tripped to the countryside for a picnic and the seaside for fresh fish and chips. The history of York is fascinating, and I loved all the viking lore. Oh, and they have jam rolly pollies. So flipping good.

#3 – Nice, France


I can’t say enough about Nice. Sure, it’s a little touristy, but when I’m lounging on the beach with a bottle of Champagne, I don’t really care. The best part is that we tend to go in late July when a music festival is held in the public space below our hotel. Nothing beats enjoying good music from your balcony while a warm, Mediterranean breeze floats across your skin. And if you have time, Monaco is a short car ride away.

#2 – The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia


Seriously, Croatia was the best vacation I’ve ever been on. The only thing that kept it from being number one is that we didn’t stay long enough. The wine, the people, the sparkling Adriatic sea – it all made for a memorable trip. From Zagreb to Split, we experienced city life and tasted wine under the Syrian Consulate, ate incredibly fresh seafood, saw the marvel that is Pliviche, and leisurely strolled through Diocletian’s Palace. The highlight, though, was yachting from island to island and seeing the lavender fields of Hvar, exploring the military bunkers of Vis, and finding a secluded bay to anchor in.

#1 – Paris – the Marais

marais street

I’m 100% a city girl, and Paris, specifically the Marais, holds a special place in my heart. I got to know the ins-and-outs of the neighborhood, made friends, and ate my weight in macarons. Yes, it’s touristy during the summer, but where in Paris isn’t? The nightlife in the Marais is vibrant and restaurants plentiful. You can spend hours browsing antique shops and munching your way down the ancient, twisting streets. It’s situated on the Seine and in the Summer, sand covered “beaches” line the river complete with volleyball nets, lounge chairs, and kid games. There are numerous free concerts, and l’Hôtel de Ville always has something interesting going on. Plus, if you like seeing the sights, you can easily walk to the Louvre and Tuileries, or take the M1.


Paris/London Day 12: EVACUATE!


The past two days have been full of excitement. After deciding the French will never fix the locked door and my shin makes me look like I went ten rounds in a cage fight, I let Bug convince me to join him in London. He’s here for business, and the plan was originally, he’d come to Paris when finished. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My five day solo writing retreat was foiled by a group of French people who can’t decide who should pay for the locksmith.

I really wish that was a joke, but I’m being serious. No one wants the responsibility of paying, so the lock remains broken. Instead, we had this improvement: an IKEA stool to help us over the door. AWESOME.

Looks safe, yes?

With just an hour to pack and get to the station, I threw all my important things in a small carry-on and headed over to Gare Nord. The train ride was pleasant, fast, and uneventful.

Bug met me at the station with flowers (he’s a sap like that) and we headed over to Brick Lane for dinner. Brick Lane has the best Indian food ever. We like a place called Preen – if you go, get the butter chicken, it’s amazing!

train station

So, yeah, that was my uneventful day. Then came today. I am jinxed.

First, I had a 10:30 am appointment which took 40 minutes to get to because of traffic. My driver kept asking me if he could join me (I was headed to Bliss for some spa treatments) and went into great detail about the difference between French and English lady “landscaping” or “hygiene” as he put it. My response: “Well, thankfully, I’m American.” Then I thanked my lady bits for not being of interest to him – lol.

After my appointment Bug joined me for lunch. We just ate at the hotel restaurant and it was delicious. I had a baked goat cheese and mushroom sandwich with zucchini and pepper. So. MUCH. YUM.

veggie burger

Completely stuffed, Bug went back to work and I sat down to write. Only I feel asleep while editing…ooops.

But have no fear! That’s about when the fire alarm sounded. I jumped up, grabbed my laptop, my purse and my jewelry and paused to read the fire exit info. Apparently, I’m the only person who does that, and I ended up leading most of my floor not toward the elevators but to the stairwells in the opposite direction. (SEE BUG, THIS IS WHEN MY ANAL OBSESSION WITH HOTEL SAFETY COMES IN USEFUL).

I never did find out what happened, but I got to stand outside with my floormates for thirty minutes. Now I’m hanging in the lobby, having tea, and editing.

Not a bad day. Not at all.

Paris Day 9: Lock Down

The day started late yesterday because unlike me, Erin needed more than three hours of sleep to recover from Fete. It was her last day, but all we had planned was a trip to our new favorite puzzle store. We’ve become obsessed with two different mind-teasers and wanted to pick up a few for friends and family.


Harder than it looks.

But first, I valiantly tried to get Erin to eat this:

cheese plate

She was a good sport, but in the end, I concede. Erin will never like cheese. I tried. I really did. I made up for it by taking her over to BHV for some shopping. I scored a sweet pair of Marc Jacobs sunglasses while Erin played it more practical and got a cardigan.

Since it was cold, rainy, and generally miserable outside, we decided to visit the Pompidou. Having never been there, it was an adventure for me, too. The outside of the building is a series of colorful pipes and very modern looking itself, but honestly, I hate it. I think it looks ridiculous next to all the old buildings.


Erin was taken with the Kandinsky’s, but I loved this take on Manet’s Olympia (My favorite painting ever, and sadly, not at the d’Orsay this year because it’s on loan to the Doge). It’s sculpture by Larry Rivers (1923 – 2002) called I Like Olympia in Black Face (1970). Rivers took an already politically charged work and amped it up by a thousand.


I wanted to give Erin a nice dinner on her last night, but the restaurant didn’t serve until 8pm (it was 7:35), so I took her to the old café across from the apartment I shared with the boys last year. We filled up on food and champagne and headed home around 9pm.

That’s when the trouble started. All week, the key to the exterior hall door has been sticking. Tonight, however, it simply wouldn’t turn. We tried for a good ten minutes before another resident came along. She tried too, but no luck. So she called out to her friend who was looked on the inside and he came and tried on the other side.

Again, no luck.

erin and the french door
Erin is not amused

Long story short, the door was broken. I offered to call and pay for a locksmith and was told I was “cute.” After about an hour and five more “helpers,” Erin and I left to go drink and make a plan B in case we couldn’t get into the apartment for the night.

champagne and phone
Sometimes, even champagne doesn’t fix the problem. But fries always do.

We returned an hour later to a still locked door, but the lower pane of glass had been broken out. Shards were everywhere, people were screaming (the landlady and the tenants). The landlady stopped me and accused me of breaking the door. Ummm…no. I wasn’t even there.

broken door
This is how I’m supposed to enter and exit my hallway?!?

Finally, at midnight, Erin and I climbed up and through the window. Did I mention the three-foot drop on the other side. Thank God I’m strong and could swing myself up. Unfortunately, my Walford stockings ripped and I got cut up rather badly on my inner thigh.

And this morning, Erin and I got to do it all in reverse, with her suitcases. Hopefully, it gets fixed soon. Otherwise, I really will be in lock down, writing, for the next few days.