Temple of learning

June 13, 2017

Our time in Paris has nearly come to a close, but rather than let our last day in the city slip away, Walt and I played hookie this morning and finally paid a visit to a building we’ve passed by everyday during our stay here: the Panthéon.

Originally this building was created as a church to Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. However at the time of its completion in 1790, the city was gripped in a revolution that rejected the monarchy and the church in equal measure. This beautiful building was seized, and instead of being defaced like the other Catholic structures of the time (including the Notre Dame – its facade was nearly destroyed), it was turned into a secular mausoleum. It houses the remains of France’s great minds of philosophy, literature, diplomacy and science. The space is an interesting combination of original paintings of Saint Genevieve and Joan of Arc, and statues from depicting Voltaire and Louis Braille. As a result, the space really did feel like a place of reverence and worship, just toward thought and reason as opposed to a higher power.

What a beautiful idea.

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Ce matin au petit-déjeuner

June 10, 2017

On our way to work this morning we stopped by the boulanger across the street for a bite to eat. It’s become kind of a tradition for us to grab a sandwich on our way in, nibbling on a baguette as we walk along the dappled sidewalks of the Latin Quarter to our coworking space.

Today, Walt ordered a porc laqué and I asked for a traditional jambon-fromage. The shop keeper smiled and ducked into the kitchen to prepare our order as Walt turned to me, “Would you like anything else?” he asked.

I looked at the case filled with tarts and flaky pastries. “I think I’d like a pain au chocolate,” I replied.

As the shop keeper returned with our sandwiches in tow, Walt added the chocolate croissant to our order and paid.

Stepping out onto the street in a shift of brown paper, baguettes and napkins we sorted out our sandwiches and started heading toward the office. Not halfway down the block I turned back to Walt. The kid was chewing with a pleased expression on his face, holding the two remaining bites of the chocolate croissant.

“Did you just eat my croissant?” I asked, eyes wide.

“Uh. I ate my croissant…” Walt responded.

“Wait, so when you just asked if I wanted anything else, and I said, ‘yes, I’ll take one of those croissants’ and you then ordered one… that order was for you?”

“… um. Yes?” Walt was starting to look really guilty at this point. “Honestly, I don’t remember asking you that…”

There was a pause as I raised an eyebrow in disbelief. With a shifty glance, he proceeded to shove the remaining end of the croissant into his mouth, a rain of pastry flakes catching in his beard.

We both laughed so hard we nearly cried.

Kylie visits the Louvre

June 8, 2017

While planning our trip to Paris I blocked out at least two days of visiting the Louvre. I love visiting museums. I love art, I love exhibit design and I love learning, so it goes without saying that museums are my jam, and the Louvre – I mean, come on. It’s the Louvre.

The problem is, when I visit museums with other folks, I tend to slow them down and usually end up wanting to stay long after they’re done. So the simple solution was for me to visit the Louvre on my own and spend as much time as I pleased getting lost in its labyrinth of masterpieces, only to revisit later this weekend with Walt so I’m not quite as slow floating around wide eyed and star struck.

To document my first day, I decided to try and flesh out an Instagram story of the day. I’m not super great at it, but I thought I’d include some of those videos here as well – I had a fun time making them!

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Do as the Parisians do

June 6, 2017

For me, traveling and tasting go hand in hand. So much can be learned about a country’s history, region and way of life through by trying what’s eaten there day to day. Walt and I have come to love exploring the our ports of call through their cuisines. Whether it be through food tours, cooking classes or simply sampling interesting looking restaurants in our neighborhood, I feel we peal back the stories we read and the suggestions we’ve heard and finally get to experience just a bit of a place first hand.

So before we even arrived we knew we wanted to participate in some food tourism while we’re in France. If we had more time here, I would have loved to enroll in some practical cooking classes. I don’t need to go to the Cordon Bleu or anything, but I would love to learn a thing or two about true French bread… or sauces… or pastries… I digress. Unfortunately, we only had a limited time here, so we opted for an evening class about two of the most quintessential items in French cuisine: wine and cheese. Continue Reading

Paris, je t’aime

June 4, 2017

On my first day of 8th grade at East Jr. High School I walked into Mrs. Cross’s French 101 classroom without truly knowing what I was getting myself into. I had never seriously studied another foreign language, but 13 year old Kylie was enamored by the idea of being so worldly that she could speak dozens of languages, flitting between dialects with ease and perfect pronunciation. Fat chance teenage me, being fluent in a second language takes years of hard work and practice, and to be honest, it was far outside your attention span then… as it probably remains today.

I ended up studying French for eight years in middle school, high school and through half of college, and I have a remarkably laughable grasp on the language to show for it. But more than studying verb conjugations and past participles, my French studies were an entry into the history, art and culture of the countries that speak it. Before arriving I knew that France has an odd mix of cultural conservatism and political progressiveness, that folks visit their local baker at least once if not twice a day, and that egg dishes are totally welcome outside of breakfast (And for the record, I’m totally on board for omelets for dinner any day of the week. Why on earth would you ever limit yourself?). I had grown to romanticize what it meant to be French and all that life style entails without ever having been there.

But let’s be honest. When it comes to Paris in particular, the entire world seems to have these same picturesque notions. No other city in the world has been built up to be so enchanting, halcyon and romantic. I mean, every time I say the word ‘Paris’ I have to fight hard not to make it sound like sigh just aching for a ‘dah-ling’ to immediately follow.

The thing is, my first impression leads me to believe Paris more than lives up to it’s hype. I’m trying to look at it objectively but it’s hard looking past the Haussmannian apartments dripping with green planter boxes, the old gentleman walking his terrier with a baguette tucked under his arm, and the glowing lights of Notre Dame flickering off the waters of the Seine to see faults to this place. It’s as if there’s a spell over this city. Heck, even Walt loves it here. After discovering that our apartment is directly across the street from a green grocer, baker, pastry shop,  butcher, cheesemonger and wine shop, each a different store, one after the other down the block, he turned to me and asked “So when do we move here?” I think he was joking, but I’m not quite sure.

We only just arrived and I’m already regretting only spending two weeks here. Never the less, we are determined to soak in as much as we can of this breathtaking city before we must move on to our next destination… where we will inevitably start planning our return to Paris. It may take years, but I already know I’ll coming back.

 

 

 

Despedida, Portugal

June 3, 2017

There’s something romantic about Portugal. Perhaps it’s the collective longing for a bygone era. A yearning for a time where the power of the Portuguese spanned the entire globe. Or maybe it’s the back to the earth momentum, finding value in crafts like making wine, pressing olives and curing presunto. Then again, it could simply be the sunny hospitality that the Portuguese show toward the gaggle of European and North American tourists that flock to their country.

Whatever it is, I am so thankful to have spent the last five months embraced by such a culturally and historically rich country. Thank you for opening up for us, Portugal. We’ll be back.