Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The joys of travel, the perils of over-packing, and the happiness of returning home


Is there anything quite as nice as going on a trip?




The answer is yes: returning home! 

I have been back for a week and apologize profusely for not checking in earlier.

I've been busy catching up on housework, writing, exercising and generally enjoying being home again.

I also had to immediately swap my summer clothing for its fall cousins; when I left on the 20th it was 24C, when I returned it was freezing!  Now it seems to have settled into something in between.

I think it is hard to encapsulate a trip, and those of you who follow me on Instagram know I was a frequent picture taker (and an unabashed fan of the quality of the photos my Samsung smart phone took!).

you don't need an Instagram account to see these, just go to : https://instagram.com/wendymacknight/

Highlights for me?


Stopping for that first glass of rose at the St. Regis, our tradition.



Living in a Parisian neighbourhood for almost a week.

It is a completely different experience when you live in an apartment, go to the same Boulangerie each morning, the same marche, the same cafes. We stayed in the Marais arrondisement and found it absolutely delightful.

Our apartment was also topknotch. We originally found it through Air B&B, but what I liked was that the property was owned by a management company that had several lovely properties. It was clean, comfortable and quiet. And oh-so-charming!


The view out our window into our charming Passage...
 


On more than one occasion on this trip I thought of chucking everything
 to move to Paris to run a flower shop!


A garden in our neighbourhood


A stumble-upon for us was a new restaurant right around the corner: Le Mazenay. Only open for four weeks, the food was amazing and the server, delightful. We had planned to go another night, but tourist things detained us. Very inexpensive and very good!

I also loved having lunch at Ralph Lauren's flagship store off St. Germain. It was as exquisite as it could be - food, service, atmosphere conspired to make you feel like Ralph's guest. I am sure he looked in the guest book for my name after I left...




Before we went to Ralph's we visited Ines de le Fressange's store.  Charming, but way over-priced in my opinion...



We did little in the way of museums this time, but we did manage to hit the Pompidou finally. What a great space!  So much to marvel at!!!

Mostly though, we walked. And walked. And walked. And then walked some more. I can happily report that those Naturalizer boots were the bomb. They saved me.

Funkiest place we visited? Deyrolles, home of all things taxidermy:



As for the rest of my packing. Sadly, I overpacked. Two of the three dresses and one skirt were never worn. It was simply freezing most evening and I had no desire to freeze my knickers!  Live and learn I say....

Our shopping was somewhat limited by time, interest and money, but I did manage to find some fun shoes and boots for a cheap price that I loved, as well as a Stella Foret white silk-mohair pullover.


Next we headed to Bruges. I had driven through Belgium en route to Holland several years ago, but  staying in Belgium was a treat. People were so friendly and the countryside was gorgeous! Bruges was like stepping out of the 21st century into the 15th. In fact, the hotel we stayed in, Martin's Relais, was originally five merchants' houses combined and it was exquisite.


They upgraded us to a suite at no extra charge (we did not ask for that) and our room overlooking the canal (and the swans, how I love swans) was movie-set worthy.


We walked the cobblestone streets, rode them in a horse and carriage and took a boat ride along the canals.

The food was good (though no France) and I would go there again in a heartbeat. My favourite tourist spot there was The Historium, which recreates the day in the life of a young man in 1435.


Our view
 

Four hundred year old homes around every corner
 


And the canals...


In the Carriage.
We couldn't stop saying "horses, horses, horses" as we clip-clopped our way through Bruges


Merlin


I expect heaven will look like Bruges, and be decorated by Ralph Lauren


Back to Paris for one more night and one more hotel. Hotel Notre Dame is central, overlooking Notre Dame Cathedral, and whimsically decorated, but noisy, and the night we were there, the Brasserie below had a band, which made it difficult to sleep. So while I thought it lovely, I'd recommend this hotel only to deep and easy sleepers!

I never get tired of Paris...







Truly, it was a magical experience and a wonderful place to share our 30th wedding anniversary!  We are already planning #35, which I think may be a Rhine River Cruise if we can ever get dear son through uni. Will keep you posted!!!!

How about you? Up to anything exciting?

xoxo wendy

25 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy, it does sound like you both had a marvellous time! Love the photos (even though they are very teeny tiny!). I'm curious - what made you choose Bruges for the second city of your trip?

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    1. I know - they got blurry when they were big! YOu don't have to be a member of instragram to see all the photos, just go here:

      https://instagram.com/wendymacknight/ There are a ton more and the quality is fantastic!

      I've wanted to go to Bruges since seeing "In Bruges" with Colin Farrell and since friends went many years ago!

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    2. Thanks Wendy, that makes a huge difference! Great photos!

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    3. Had to come back to say - the selfie taken in the carriage in Bruges ... Wendy, your skin!!! I am so envious! :0)

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  2. I followed your adventures on Instagram - loved all the photos!!! And congrats on celebrating your 30th anniversary!! I am buried in homework assignments but having a hard time staying motivated as I really miss my family.

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    1. Louise - I can imagine. Skype isn't the same, is it? When can you go home for Christmas?

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  3. Enjoyed your IG posts very much and love this blog post. And though I have been to Bruges (only 2hrs drive for us) I have never visited the Historium, so that's on my must see list now!

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    1. I thought it was really clever! Friends say I need to do Ghent next - what do you think?

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  4. Happy Anniversary! Your trip sounds lovely.

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  5. Welcome back, dear Wendy! What a great trip, I loved your IGs!

    We seem to attract "untypical" weather - wherever we go - heat waves, cold snaps, sudden freezes and windstorms, a hruuicane in temperate gentle Key West - so many cheap tanks and ugly sweatshirts and plastic ponchos have been bought on site in a hurry and then left behind with gratitude and relief.

    We had a great loft in Paris thru AirBnB when we travelled with the teenies, the terrace was directly across the street from the gargoyles and roof peaks of St Eustache, and sadly when we looked for it this past Spring, it had been delisted. The owner had had it with complaints about the church bells (they rang) and the elevator (typical European residential, i.e., small).

    I love Bruges, so glad you had a visit there.

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    1. Arrggghhh-- people "new" to my town complain about the church bells AND the foghorn. Hello????

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    2. I'm with Lane - nuts! We could hear church bells almost the whole time we were in Bruges - they were like fairy music to me!

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  6. Happy anniversary, and thank you for sharing your pictures! I love Paris!

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  7. First I just have to say, that green is stunning on you!! Buy more things that color!! Your trip looks fabulous. The Air B&B is an intriguing option we haven't tried yet. Belgium looks like a must visit. Happy Anniversary!

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    1. Funny - am having a green fall so have taken your advice! Belgium was beautiful. Have heard mixed on Air B&B, but my good friend Ger swears by it and we did very well!

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  8. Thanks for these! Bruges looks very tempting; perhaps MLane has been there before me, on a bike, will check but I don;t think so. Paris-- have not been there together either; what fun to live there in the same spot for a week! And the un-asked for upgrade?!? Good for you. Barry looks most elegant and you look lovely!

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    1. Thanks Lane! I think you and Mr. Lane would adore Bruges!

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  9. Looks like you had a smashing time there!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thanks! Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

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  11. I am living vicariously through your beautiful pictures. How do I find your pictures on IG? I'd love to see more of your wonderful scenery shots! I am glad you and Barry had a wonderful trip- now back to revising : )

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    1. Thanks! Go look here: https://instagram.com/wendymacknight/

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  12. Wendy just adored your Instagram photos. I hope you print some out. Love your chic army jacket- very French! This sounds like a dream trip and I think perfect for your 30th!! Happiest wishes to you two. I love Bruges and agree it's one of the most beautiful spots I have ever been. I missed that museum last time. Very cool you got to Ralphs. That is on my list as well. Kim

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