car-free Paris

Imagine a city with no cars or motor vehicles, where cyclists take over the wide lanes, paths are filled with pedestrians, & a public bike system provides the means for transport.

IMG_2309That’s exactly what happened last Sunday when Mayor Anne Hidalgo implemented a car-free day, provoked by a citizen collective called Paris Sans Voiture (Paris Without Cars).

IMG_2327 This decision proves that Paris’ officials are taking a stand against the city’s pollution, and coincides with United Nations climate conference COP21, hosted by Paris in December.

IMG_2356Hidalgo described the effort as “a movement of education and learning,” which aimed to “show that Paris can function without cars.” If only every Sunday would become car-free!

IMG_2348Free of car exhaust and traffic, we biked from the Marais, to and empty Pont Alexandre III, beneath the early fall sun. Locals and tourists alike, enjoyed the calm in the city of lights.

IMG_2385Even riding down the tourist filled Champs-Élysées was a breath of fresh air. Literally.


Melenos Lindos

We arrived to Rhodes and immediately fell under the spell of its majestic medieval city, the largest walled city in Europe. We explored the tangle of roads which led to the Jewish Quarter and paid a visit to the impressive Archaeological Museum. But our main destination was the town of Lindos, an hour by bus and a world of difference.

IMG_0884Rising over the traditional white homes of Lindos sits an acropolis dating back to the 10th century BC. As we ventured up the hill, we arrived to our home, Melenos Lindos, what appeared to be a village within a village; a world of its own that I was eager to discover.

IMG_0891I have stayed at many remarkable hotels, villas, chateaux… but this one was exceptional.

IMG_0638We arrived just in time for the sunset and that was when I decided I just may never leave.

IMG_0682  From our private terrace in one of only 12 suites, we watched as day turned into night.

IMG_0700I was taken with the details of this private Lindan universe, eager to know how it all began.

IMG_0760My inquisitive mind led me to Michalis Melenos, the man behind the vision. He started collecting antiques since the age of 15, during trips to Morocco, Turky and Brazil, which continued into adulthood. Inspired by old Lindan houses, Byzantine and Ottoman design, his dream was to create a place in which his friends could stay and feel at home, close to his roots. And so Michalis set his dream in motion upon a cliff overlooking the Aegean.

IMG_0808Together with his friend, artist-designer Donald Green, Michalis spent 15 years creating his home, where he lives year round, finally opening it as a luxury boutique hotel in 2004.

IMG_0802No details were spared. Ceilings in every room are hand-painted, as are many of the walls.

IMG_0803  The beds are raised wood sleeping platforms built from elaborate hand-carved cedar.

IMG_0827Everywhere I looked I found a story waiting to be told. The storyteller being Mr. Melenos.

IMG_0831He even thought to create a shop where guests could purchase his goods, a mini-bazaar.

IMG_0835Finally, as we left to explore the acropolis, I felt that I had not simply experienced Lindos with its crowded beaches, wild night life and historic air, but a secret world of charm within.

simply Symi

With a quick stop at Kos, another world entirely with it’s myriad of beach bars and rock music, attracting day trippers in search of a spot in the sun. We boarded the next ferry to Symi, my thirteenth island on this, our fourth Greek Island adventure. But who’s counting?

IMG_0092I had no idea what to expect as the ferry approached Symi, part of the Dodecanese island chain. I did know it was a gem with a complex history, occupied by Italy in the 20th century, which could explain it’s colorful facades, and still a favorite to Italians and British.

IMG_9778Before we even stepped foot on land, I was smitten. Symi felt like a place to call home.

IMG_0139It took us no time at all to find lodging. I asked the kind man at the local cafe, he made a call, and before you knew it we were tucked away in a cozy room overlooking the port.

IMG_9907Our first few days were spent exploring the island & it’s beaches, reachable only by boat.

IMG_9802Agios Nikolaos was our first discovery. Followed by Agios Georgios and Nanou Beach.

IMG_9852Days were spent sitting beneath the glow of an afternoon sun, swimming in crystal clear waters, making friends with the regulars from Milan or London… dining in the one taverna.

IMG_0191Aside from the goat we named Henry, there was barely a soul around. Blissful solitude.

IMG_9858As we grew to know and love the island, we didn’t want to leave. Three days became five.

IMG_0260Finding charm in the upper town of Ano Symi, we climbed 200+ steps up to a new home.

IMG_9881Every evening we would watch the sun set behind the hills from our room at Fiona Hotel, run by a sweet older Greek couple, next door to the best breakfast spot, Olive Tree Cafe.

IMG_9879Dinners of fresh fish & octopus, local cheese and honey. Every night a culinary adventure.

IMG_9874On day six it was time to leave this paradise behind, knowing we would one day return.

IMG_0216Tanner and happier than when we had arrived, we boarded the ferry, destination Rhodes.

gone sailing

One of my longtime dreams has been to go sailing. To experience the open seas, rising with the sun and rocked to sleep by the light of the moon. I had overcome my fear of water by learning how to scuba dive in Thailand. When one of my dearest friends (being in possession of a 47 foot sailboat) suggested we sail the Aegean Sea this summer, how could we resist? In late August we flew to Bodrum, Turkey and sailing adventures began.

IMG_9147 IMG_9210With plenty of wind, we set out to explore the charming Turkish coastal villages.

IMG_9280Often, in sight of a hidden paradise, we would anchor in the middle of the sea and swim.

IMG_9314IMG_9296 What I loved most was sitting aboard the boat, passing one beautiful vista after another.

IMG_9306The “captain” showed me the ropes and even let me sail. What a pleasure it was!

IMG_9413Most evenings were spent dining on land, the sunset marking the end of a memorable day.

IMG_9434Before we returned to Turgutreis, we stopped to explore Ancient Greek ruins of Knidos.

IMG_9564It was here that we discovered one of the most beautiful “ancient” swimming spots.

IMG_9550Our sailing trip was a great success, confirming my love for the sport. Five days and nights on the Aegean, adjusting to sleeping in a small cabin surrounded by noises and motions of the sea, staying calm while the yacht tipped to one side. What I can well describe as a thrill! I’m already looking forward to the next sailing adventures… But first the Greek Isles. A destination that my Italian and I have grown to call paradise. Next stop Symi & Rhodes…

the roaring twenties

Back from adventures in Turkey and Greece to a Paris filled with life. (More on the travels later.) La rentrée brings with it a city full of openings and events. I had the privilege to attend an evening of cocktails and entertainment at Le Bar du Bristol, one of the chicest addresses in Paris. Le Bristol Paris is celebrating 90 years, having opened in 1925, in the midst of the roaring twenties. Who better to join me than my fashionable mom who’s now in town. Here’s a taste of what the roaring twenties looks like…


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FullSizeRender(2) copyFullSizeRender_4FullSizeRender_3 It was certainly a night to remember! Find my full story on Bonjour Paris.

at the top

Today marks 6 years since I moved to Paris. How time flies while living la vie Parisienne! It’s not all croissants and strolls on the Seine as one might believe, life in the city of lights does have it’s challenging moments, but I’ll save that for another post. Really, I can’t complain. I am surrounded by love in the form of an Italian and dear friends, and each day holds with it limitless inspiration, it’s just a matter of finding it. This time I found it at the top.

IMG_8666I’ve wanted to ride La Grande Roue, Paris’ Ferris Wheel, for years. Imagine the views!

IMG_8710Recently, while a friend was visiting and I was playing tour guide, I grabbed the chance.

IMG_8688Up, up, up we climbed… from four floor buildings to vistas overlooking Paris.

IMG_8686IMG_8697I felt like a child, my eyes wide with amazement as I took in the sights from both sides.

IMG_8690IMG_8703I could have spent all afternoon at the top, with a perfect view of Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

IMG_8708IMG_8713  But alas, our time was up and we returned to views from below. Not so bad either.

bridge of love

I’m certainly an advocate of expressing love in it’s many forms, both privately and publicly, but when it starts to weigh heavily (in this case literally) even I, a diehard romantic become disenchanted. This is the case with Paris’ much loved bridge, also a symbol of love.

IMG_9632In 2008, tourists from around the world began attaching ‘love locks’ to the Pont de Arts. By engraving their initials & throwing the key into the Seine, their love was forever locked.

IMG_9635In February 2014, well over 700,000 locks were estimated to be attached to the bridge.

IMG_9646There was much concern about the possible damage caused by the weight of the locks. In June of 2014, that fear was justified when part of the parapet on the bridge collapsed.

IMG_9647In August 2014, the Paris Mayor’s Office began to encourage “selfiies” in place of love locks, with their campaign “Love Without Locks”. “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. Set them free by declaring your love with #lovewithoutlocks.” Even a No Love Locks campaign was started by two concerned women who call Paris home.

IMG_9674Over 50% of the panels on the Pont des Arts had to be boarded over with plywood.

IMG_9677On September 18, 2014, much to tourists dismay, the City Hall of Paris replaced three panels with glass as they searched for a suitable replacement which could hold no locks.

IMG_9661Starting on June 2015, the locks were removed, with Health and Safety officials stating “the romantic gestures cause long term Heritage degradation and danger to visitors”.

IMG_9689As of 2015, over a million locks weighing around 45 tons were attached to the bridge.

IMG_9699These days, Pont des Arts has become less about locks and more about art. Artists Jace, El Seed, Brusk & Pantonio have been commission to decorate the bridge with their work.

IMG_9713As I walked the length of the bridge and around it, I admired the graffiti artwork and the stories being told, knowing that this will in time be replaced by padlock-proof glass panels.

IMG_9702 Love continues to reign in padlock form as tourists attach their locks to the sturdier sides.

IMG_9716 I couldn’t help but think that true love should be set free, rather than locked. Yes, I know it’s only symbolic. But there are many less damaging ways to express our sentiments.

IMG_9726What are your thoughts about love and locks and this new look of Pont des Arts?

adventures in Essaouira

On July 29th I celebrated my birthday. In true leo fashion, I toasted grandly with friends in Paris. Meanwhile, my Italian, forever the romantic, planned another surprise getaway. The last three were in Italy, but this one, he hinted, was to foreign landscapes I had often dreamt of. I arrived to the airport unaware of where I would be spending the next four days. Tears of joy collected in my eyes as I saw the boarding sign: Essaouira, Morocco! In just over three hours we landed and soon after arrived to gorgeous views from our riad.

IMG_7474That evening I experienced my first Moroccan sunset. I was already enamored.

IMG_7587The following day we explored the Medina of this mid-eighteenth century fortified city.

IMG_8147I learned that the prominent blue covering many of the doors and windows were remnants from a Jewish past, and also the symbolic color of a port city.

IMG_7478 IMG_7484IMG_8004I was interested in learning about the local products of the artisans, and even met a few.

IMG_8012The port of Essaouira, known for it’s myriad of blue boats and hundreds of local fisherman, was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and the Americas from it’s foundation in 1770 until the first half of the nineteenth century.

IMG_7739 IMG_7772 Having first ridden a camel in the desserts of Rajasthan during my travels in India, I thought what better way to discover the Moroccan landscape, with it’s miles of sandy beaches.

IMG_7940With the winds in full force, we boarded these gentle dromedary and began our tour.

IMG_8414Our guide stopped to show us the ruins of an ancient Sultan palace from the 18th century.

IMG_7954We continued until we reached the town of Diabat, where Jimi Hendrix’ legacy lives on.

IMG_7957The last day I experienced a local hammam, and we spent the afternoon in the Medina, a place I had grown to love for it’s vibrancy. Many tagines later, it was time to return to Paris.

IMG_8158But not before one last sunset, ending a magical adventure in Morocco.

Portovenere and the poets

In my dozens of trips to Cinque Terre, I had never visited the town of Portovenere, until now. We boarded the tourist boat, filled with anticipatory visitors from around the world. For that afternoon, I became one of them. In just under an hour we arrived to a breathtaking sight. The Church of St Peter originates from the 5th century, both Gothic and Christian, with most recent additions in the 13th century, marked by black & white stripes.IMG_5677 IMG_5679 IMG_5682As our boat turned into the port of this tiny peninsula, a row of vibrant colors greeted us.

IMG_5687These houses were built by the Genovese Republic as a fortress to protect from invaders.

IMG_5810Portovenere, part of the Gulf of the Poets, is where the likes of Lord Byron (whose name was given to a now collapsed sea cave Grotta dell’Arpaia), George Sand and Alfred de Musset spent lengthy periods of time, writing, dreaming, swimming…

IMG_5778 IMG_5795  It was here too, where Percy B. Shelley drowned in a storm and his memory lives on.

IMG_5830It was a summer afternoon steeped in history, and eagerly we returned to life on the sea.

life on the sea

Ever since my first visit to what I then called ‘paradise found’ during my year of travels, I fell in love with Monterosso al Mare. Little did I know that I would meet a man from this very land and come to call it my home. Recently we spent nearly two weeks living on the sea. Blissfully. Days began with yoga beneath a kiwi canopy and visits to the bakery for cappuccino and a fresh cannoli, followed by picking capers in the garden, or lemons in the grove (that task was left to my Italian). A family lunch followed a siesta beneath the shade of a beach umbrella. Evenings spent with friends. Every night I fell asleep to the lullaby of the sea, some nights it bellowed to us, other nights it whispered. I rose to the church bells.

IMG_5638IMG_5932IMG_5374IMG_5277 As I wrote five years ago during my third visit, I have come more deeply to cherish this land where nature reigns and life is valued in the most basic and beautiful of ways.

IMG_5377IMG_6308 IMG_6315 IMG_6318How important it is to slow down and appreciate the art of living.


Until we meet again… and life on the sea continues.