24 hours in Kraków

Last week I flew to Kraków after a long overdue visit with my family in the south-eastern town of Sanok, a three hour drive from this medieval city. With little time to explore a place I already knew and loved, I headed to favorite haunts and discovered a few new ones. So how did I spend my 24 hours? Here are my recommendations for those new to the city or for anyone stopping over for a quick visit. The heart of Kraków is the main square where you’ll hear the clanking of hooves as tourists make their way around the city via horse and carriage. Stop at one of the many outdoor cafes for a local beer, and visit Kościół Mariacki, St. Mary’s Basilica.

NOTE: There’s now a train that will take you directly to the city center from the airport, only 20 minutes at 8 zlotys. Take care not to get ripped off by the taxi drivers! Negotiate ahead of time, especially to and from the airport.

24 hours in Krakow

SLEEP: Minutes away from both the Rynek Glówny (market square) and the Wawel Castle sits the Radisson Blu. This modern 5-star hotel was constructed 13 years ago (and designed by an architect friend of mine). All 196 of its spacious rooms have recently been refurbished. Be sure to ask for a room with a view of the castle, and take advantage of their spa and fitness center.

24 hours in Krakow

EAT: My absolute favorite restaurant is one of Kraków’s historic haunts, Pod Aniołami. Translated to Under the Angels, it’s located in an 18th century building at The Royal Route, leading to the Wawel Castle. Once upon a time the the building housed Krakow’s goldsmiths as well as their workshops. You can feel the history when you enter it’s cellar. And the food? Classic Polish dishes ranging from pierogi to an assortment of grilled meats. Smacznego!

24 hours in Krakow

DRINK: After asking a few local friends what was new in the city, they led me to Zakłady Tytoniowe, a 19th century tobacco factory. Intrigued, I headed there with my cousin for a drink and discovered an entire world in the making. Opened this past July, there were just under a dozen bars and restaurants taking over the industrial space, many more to follow in the months ahead. Shared office spaces looked over the cafes and terraces. I enjoyed a drink at Międzymiastowa while my cousin met her friends at an outdoor bar. I returned the following day for coffee and cake at Bonjour Cava.

24 hours in Krakow

SEE: I can’t count the number of times I’ve visited the Wawel Castle, set on the banks of the Vistula river, its director a close friend of my moms. With each visit I become more enchanted by the castle’s history. (Read more about it here.) For centuries the residence of Poland’s kings, the Wawel is the symbol of Polish statehood, and now houses one of the country’s most recognized collections of art. A must see while in Kraków!

24 hours in Krakow

SHOP: For souvenirs, amber jewelry and wooden chess boards being among the best gift ideas, I recommend the Sukiennice in the main market square in Kraków’s Old Town. Dating to the Renaissance, it’s also known as the Cloth Hall. With dozens of stalls your options are plenty and you certainly won’t leave empty handed.

freedom tower

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During a recent family trip to New York, I decided it was time to visit the Freedom Tower, also called the One World Observatory. I lived in New York City during the attacks of 9/11 and remember this day vividly. The landscape of my city, much like the lives of those who experienced this tragic event, would never be the same.

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The Freedom Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. From high up on the 102nd floor I looked down upon this majestic city I call home, with stunning 360 degree views into what felt like infinity.

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My eyes filled with tears as I returned to ground level and walked around the memorial, the names of each victim etched into stone. Behind each name a unique story, a life cut short. I felt extreme gratitude for my own.

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The day was overcast with moments of sun shining through the clouds. As we made our way to South Street Seaport for lunch, I held images of this monumental structure in my mind, both from above and below. A tribute to those who will forever belong to this city.

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when we were young

Recently I was looking through old family photos and stumbled across something my mom had saved from my elementary school years. A photo of me being creative; drawing, designing, making something; my favorite past time as a child. Along with the photo was a typewritten note from my teacher. I blushed upon reading it! Was I really such a joy, and with so much wisdom? Little did I recall. The same way I don’t remember all that much about my childhood other than that it was mostly a good one. It’s true that family always meant a lot to me.

Rereading this made me think about how honestly and purely we know ourselves as children. It’s the time in life when we are free to be, and to become, without thinking too much about what any of it means. Born to artistic parents, I followed suit with a creative mind of my own. This freedom to express was what provoked me years ago to start designing bags, to start writing (even if initially only for myself), to step off the corporate ladder and instead follow my own path of travel which eventually led me to Paris.

These words from a teacher who has so many years later left an impact, are what I will reread whenever I feel doubt or confusion as to who I truly am. This little girl knows.

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Who where you as a child? Has this impacted who you are now? Let us think about when we were young…

state of sunshine

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“The days are long but the years are short.” This quote by Gretchen Rubin articulates well how quickly days become years. And within them we must try our best to use the time we have, wisely. (One of the reasons I decided to travel the world for a year, and continue to travel and experience all that I can in the days I have been granted.) Yet as so many of us do, I easily become wrapped up in my work, constantly doing and in turn, becoming. That topic I’ll save for another post… But is this what really matters the most in life? No, it’s the time we share with those we love, and how we treat others. So I decided to surprise my mom for her birthday, a day long journey (which became quite an adventure with an expired passport and a delayed flight) from Paris via New York to West Palm Beach. Needless to say, she was shocked and elated. What greater joy is there?

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Mom and I are enjoying these long days in the sunshine state, with dinners at home, a trip to neighboring Palm Beach (these photos capturing those moments), and of course birthday celebrations coming up. You can follow along for daily updates via instagram. Enjoy each day before it becomes a year… and see you back in Paris!

from south to north fork

Growing up on the South Fork, I rarely left the Hamptons. Possessing some of the most beautiful beaches in the US, it provides the ideal respite from life in chaotic New York City, and with family and friends all around, what more does one need? On this trip home however, we decided to venture north to Long Island’s wine country. With over 35 wineries, we decided to stop for tastings at the second oldest Lenz Winery, and Pindar.

IMG_2127The North Fork is a 30-mile-long peninsula, the easternmost part of the North Shore. Orient Point sits on the tip. Between the two forks are two large islands, Shelter Island and Gardiners Island. Much more rural feeling and not as chic as it’s southern counterpart, the North Fork is filled with vineyards, apple orchards and farms. An ideal weekend or day trip.

IMG_2070Enjoying the views along the way, we drove to Greenport where we stopped for lunch.

IMG_2079IMG_2120Many of the eateries were closed following the long Memorial Day weekend, including Claudio’s, the oldest same family owned restaurant in the United States, opened in 1870.

IMG_2123IMG_2051We took a walk in the village and the charm of Greenport was felt around every corner.

IMG_2102IMG_2093 IMG_2108   On the road home, the fruit and vegetable stands were enticing.

IMG_2160We enjoyed our time and tastings in the north, but were happy to call the south home.

high tea for two

One reason I love when my mom comes to Paris to visit is that I get to spoil her. I spend months in preparation, planning all sorts of events, exhibitions, eating experiences, etc. This year I thought I’d surprise her with a mother/daughter high tea. Where better than at the Four Seasons George V?

IMG_1501Upon entering this ethereal setting, we were taken with Jeff Leatham’s stunning floral compositions.

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My mom and I were in our element, both of us favoring sweet over savory.

IMG_1454We began our indulgent afternoon with one of Lucien Gautier’s fruitful masterpieces.

IMG_1462Is there anything better than French pastries with champagne to compliment?

IMG_1480How happy I was to spend such a memorable afternoon with my mom, and in such sweet splendor!

 

adventures in the keys

Admittedly, I’ve seen much more of the world than of my own homeland. My dream of driving cross-country to experience what is truly America remains to be realized. One day. For the time being my American adventures remain in New York and Florida with family and friends. During our recent trip to the Sunshine State, we did have the good fortune to take a mini road trip to the Florida Keys, along with my mom and her husband, final destination Key West.

IMG_5166Our first stop after nearly 3 hours of driving was just past Key Largo, which left much to be desired with it’s multitudinous strip malls and pharmacy’s, a kitschy fish restaurant in Islamorada. Savouring the catch of the day (and not thinking too much about which day it was actually caught), we continued on our way until we reached our destination for the night in nearby Marathon.

IMG_5224 Our secluded refuge was Tranquility Bay Resort, also home to the iguanas.

IMG_5232And tranquil it was, surrounded by clear blue stillness.

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That evening we experienced a magical sunset along the 7-mile bridge… that alone worth the drive.

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And still in time to sit beneath the glowing sky with a bottle of French wine.

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The following morning we got back on the road, crossed the infamous bridge and made our way to Key West. First stop, Hemingway’s House. Not to mention his cats, all 45 of them.

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Here is one of the 6-toed wonders, drinking from a urinal Hemingway ‘installed’ in his garden.

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We also explored the infamous brothel Blue Heaven, where Hemingway spent many an evening.

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After carousing the scenic town and indulging in key lime pie like proper tourists, we headed south.

IMG_5614To the southernmost tip of the USA. Last stop before the long drive home.

IMG_5697Guided by the setting sun alongside the historic Bahia Honda Rail Bridge… filled with memories.

escape to Japan

Who says Florida only offers palm trees, sandy beaches and shopping malls? On our recent trip to visit my mom, we discovered a little piece of paradise, Japanese style. And we LOVE Japan!

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George S. Morikami arrived to the United States from Japan in 1906, to work as a pineapple farmer. He was one of the last surviving members of the Yamato Colony that settled west of Delray Beach at the turn of the century. It is thanks to Mr. Morikami, for his donation of 140 acres of land to the state of Florida, that the memory of him and his people lives on. Visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens gracefully transports you to another world.

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Upon these grounds you feel free.

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With rock gardens in which to ponder life’s mysteries.

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And a museum in which to transport yourself to Japan.

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Or perhaps best to sit and contemplate.

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Surrounded by bonsai trees.

IMG_5055 And a Buddha.

Château de Chantilly

During my mom’s recent visit to Paris, we decided to take her for a day trip. Where else but to a château? Less than 30 minutes by train lies the town of Chantilly, home to a spectacular château spanning the 14th to 19th centuries, not to mention chantilly cream, which in itself is worth the trip!

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Our first stop was the Grand Stables. Yes, horses do still live within this admirable structure!

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At first sight the Château de Chantilly exhibits an air of serene magnificence.

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The Musée Condé boasts the grandest collection of paintings in France, after the Louvre of course.

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I could not stop admiring (and photographing) the château from every angle, both near and far.

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Chantilly

A idyllically regal day spent beneath blue skies and the historic charm of France.

like father like daughter

Dad and KasiaThere is something uniquely special about the relationship between a father and a daughter. When I was merely five years old I asked my mom in a state of panic, “You married Dad, so now who will I marry?”. Yes, I was in love with my father. And rightfully so, as he was a special man. Gentle in nature, strong in character, handsome in visage, filled with personality and witty beyond words. Unfortunately, our time together was short, and at the age of fifteen he passed away due to illness. I often wonder how my life would have evolved with his support and influence, considering we shared many of the same dreams and visions of life. And continue to.

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Though he is not with me in the physical sense, I continue to feel my father’s presence. During my many months of travel I knew he was there, and felt safe. When I serendipitously met my Italian I knew my dad was behind the scenes, silently directing my path. And now, I am living a life between France and Italy, his two favorite places on earth. Perhaps I am fulfilling his dreams, as I fulfill my own. After all, it is what he has taught me, to always follow my heart and believe in myself, that has led me on this journey. For this life, to my father, I am grateful.

time travel

As many times as I’ve stepped onto an airplane, crossing a continent, it never ceases to amaze me how in mere hours you can be transported through time, or so it feels. Most recently I flew from Pisa, near Monterosso where my Italian and I spent the weekend with his family and friends…

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…to New York City, to visit my family and friends. From what felt like the past, to the future.

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Could there be any two places on the earth more different yet equally loved? Yes, certainly there are. But these are mine. Two very distinct and disparate parts of the world I call home. One for it’s calm and beauty, and one for it’s energy and innovation. And both for their culture. Not to mention all the other parts of the world that became home even for a brief moment. Ah yes, and then there’s Paris…

a new chapter

Every new year I reflect on the days gone by and set goals for the days ahead, often referred to as resolutions. This year, no more. I’ve come to realize that by thinking about what is not (ie. what I need to work on or improve) I continue to struggle with keeping up and lose sight of all that already is wonderful in my life. So this year I am starting out not with a long list of what I need to do, but a long list of what I am grateful for, much like what I wrote in my giving thanks post. It certainly helps to step away from the routine of life and look from a distance, as I was able to do during these last few weeks in Florida. This trip meant even more than sacred time with family and friends. It has also allowed me to acknowledge and appreciate all that I have been blessed with in my life.

I believe that each of us is writing the book of our lives. It is mostly up to us what is written upon the pages, and how our unique story unfolds. As I write (and re-read) my own, I am grateful for every chapter and look forward to writing the next.

happy holidays!

Wishing all my dear readers, fellow romantics and francophiles around the world the happiest of holidays! From the City of Lights (with a glorious display on the Champs-Élysées) to sunny Florida where my Italian and I are spending Christmas with family and the New Year with friends. Time to reflect on the year that is behind us, and think of all that is yet to find us in the days ahead.

Looking forward to sharing many more adventures, travels and musings in 2013!

Warmest regards,
Kasia

city of history

Some of my fondest memories as a child are feeding the pigeons on the main square in Krakow. I always felt well amidst the charm of this city, even during those many years of Communism, when my young mind struggled to make sense of all the disparities. Each trip to visit my family in Sanok included a stop at this city, the place of my mom’s Alma Mater. On my last visit to Poland I returned, though now I do my best to avoid the pigeons. I still love to wander the winding streets and visit my old haunts. Or simply sit at one of the many terraced cafes and watch the world go by.

This former capital of Poland was miraculously saved during World War II, and here now lies much of Poland’s rich historical, cultural and intellectual splendor. As is evident around every corner.

I caroused the thriving, creatively inspired and very much bohemian neighborhood of Kazimierz, which remains one of the most culturally significant Jewish areas in the world.

Hidden courtyards off the main square were explored, revealing charming bed and breakfasts, this one run by a family friend, aptly named Antique Apartments. (My next home away from home!)

I took a long walk across a newly built pedestrian bridge, decorated with love locks just like in Paris!

As much of the world as I have seen, and have yet to see, I will always welcome a return to this vista.

open air history

During my recent trip to Sanok, the town where my mother grew up and where I spent many childhood summers, we took a trip to one of the largest open air museums. Skansen museum, established in 1958, recreates 19th and early 20th century life in this region of Poland. You begin to understand the simplicity and often the hardship of life so many years ago. Along with our tour guide, and my mom who herself studied ethnography, we explored this long forgotten world.

The tour begins with a replica of a Galician town square from the second half of the 19th century.

A historic tailor shop and pharmacy…

Even a horologist, with quite a sense of humor.

Each section features an ethnic group who lived in the region prior to the post-WWII resettlements.

As I walked in and around these dwellings, I imagined the lives that once inhabited them.

Amidst the homes and churches we discovered elaborately sculpted bee urns.

There too was an exhibition of long lost Jewish treasures, some of the few that remain.

Within the stillness of Skansen, I better understood the history of this part of the world.

time away

Sometimes it’s important to disconnect and to live in the actual world. Versus the virtual. Those who are social media savvy know exactly what I mean! Feeling the need to connect myself with the living, in the form of my friends and family, I took off a few weeks and flew to New York.

First stop, my favorite place of carousing and chaos… Soho! Freedom tower in the distance.

Many of our days in New York City, with my Italian in tow, were spent in central park, beneath the sun, picnicing with friends or lost within a heavenly gray mist.

I could not wait to explore my old neighborhood, the Lower East Side, bustling with creative energy on every corner. Once a downtown girl… always.

These last few weeks were filled with memories. Precious time spent with my mom, both in the countryside where I was raised and in the city. Copious amounts of culture in the form of ballet, theatre, art, food… THIS is the New York I miss. But in the end, when I ran from one rendezvous to the next, catching up on lives from across the sea, wondering how I had managed to live for so long is this frenetic city, it dawned on me. A city is indeed a composition of it’s offerings but, most importantly, it’s people. And many of these people remain very dear to me.

Already, I look forward to the next visit. While happy to call Paris home.

postcards from Paris

Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, knows that my mom means the world to me. A world she now shares with my Italian. My well-traveled maman has been to Paris many a time, beginning when my Dad swooped her away to the city of lights on their honeymoon. Little did my mom know she would return many years later to walk the same streets with her daughter. Like father like…

And so in the space of ten days (with a quick trip to London inbetween) my mom became a local and I became a tourist. Happily so! And in so doing we created our own Paris postcards.

La Maman's adventure begins at Place de la République!

With a quick stop at Opera Garnier.

Up the many steps to Sacré-Cœur...

From one museum...

...to another.

A trip along the Seine led by a certain Italian gentleman...

A magestic view of Notre Dame!

With many a stop to smell the roses.

 

And what is a trip to Paris without a macaron tasting?

Even a quick tribute to musical greats Edith Piaf and Chopin.

Not to mention the gastronomic indulgences...

The last being a bistro where my parents dined so many years ago.

Certainly in these Indian summer days my mom’s love for Paris has grown. How could it not? London will always be her city, like NY will be mine. But she too now has a home in the city of lights.

Pasquetta

One of my favorite holidays growing up was Easter. Not simply for the American tradition of the ‘Easter Bunny’ and a basket filled with chocolates and jelly beans. (My mother being Polish I rarely received these goodies and took to making my own candy-filled basket.) In addition to blessing a basket filled with eggs, sausage and a lamb made of butter, my Easter celebration consisted of sitting around a table with elderly Polish ladies, taking mental notes on their life stories, and painting eggs, called pisanki. My mom’s always being the most beautiful and elaborate. These eggs, symbolizing the revival of nature,  were meant to be proudly displayed in your basket and shared with friends and family. (In our case, we used them to raise money for the Polish school which I attended.) I grew to love this tradition.

Since my life is now heavily influenced by Italian customs, my Easter celebrations have become even more tasty and varied. Last year we celebrated with my family in the US, along with a blessed basket of Polish delicacies, and a dove-shaped Colomba from Italy, a sweet bread that you can spend all day nibbling on. This year we spent Pasqua with the Italians, in Monterosso. I was lucky enough to share in the chocolate egg tradition, a huge festively wrapped dark chocolate egg revealing a surprise.

Being both a fan of chocolate and surprises I unwrapped the egg with the anticipation of a child. Following tradition, I ‘cracked’ open the egg, found my hand-painted trinket inside, and the chocolate feast began! (And could very well continue for many days…)

The Monday following Pasqua is called Pasquetta, “Little Easter”. A day in which people venture out, plan picnics, visit friends… and of course, eat! I tend to believe this day is reserved for finishing the chocolate egg…

dedication

One of the hardest parts of living in Paris, is not the attitude of the French nor the language and cultural barriers, but the distance from the one person that means the world to me (other than my Italian of course). My mom. I used to be able to hop on a train and be at her doorstep in under 2 hours, a quick jaunt on the LIRR from NYC to the Hamptons. I miss that. Equally, I miss those rare days when she would come to NYC for business and the day would end in one of those magical mother daughter encounters. For a moment, NYC became ours to share. (I will always smile when I pass Bloomingdales, our chosen meeting place.)

During my ‘formative years’ beginning at age 15, she was my sole parent, not an easy task with 2 kids in tow. I am grateful that my mom always supported my decisions, to study abroad, to move to New York City… even to travel the world. “You know what is best for you,” were her exact words. And to move to Paris, knowing she would see me less, but most importantly, knowing that I was happy.

Every day I look forward to sharing the pieces of my life with her. Trials, successes, random thoughts and musings, all if it. It is the words of my mother that always seem to bring clarity, though sometimes I may resist them. Stubborn traits run in the family? After all, who knows us better than our own mothers. And simply, she makes sense.

It is also for my mother than I began to write a blog, and continue to. During my travels in 2007 it was she who I wanted to share my adventures with (and anyone else who was willing to indulge in my journey). And now here in Paris, on those gray days when I don’t feel inspired, I simply think about my mom and how much she looks forward to my thoughts and experiences. And I write.

For these many reasons, and simply because I feel eternally grateful to have been raised by such a wonderful, warm and wise woman, and to have her in my life, I dedicate this blog to my mom. Also, it happens to be her birthday and I’m a big fan of surprises. Since I can’t be with her in person, (though soon enough we shall raise a glass), a virtual celebration will have to do.

Happy Birthday Mom!

 

 

 

 

warm sentiments

I’ve returned from the eternal sunshine known as Florida. At least in body. My mind is still filled with palm trees and the cries of seagulls. It was beneath such a landscape that we spent a warm and memorable Christmas in the company of my mom. Many days of calm, conversation and characters. It was ideal, this welcome jaunt into what felt like another space and time.

Rather than fly to NYC and brave a pending snow storm (hadn’t we had enough of that already in Paris?), we ventured to Miami. What better place to celebrate the New Year than South Beach?

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve, as reality always seem to take an opposite turn from my expectations. A lesson in letting go perhaps. It’s the beginning of the next year that I welcome. Rather than make an ambitious list of resolutions as has often been my habit, (and usually recycling them the next year), I decided instead to be clear and mindful of my goals. Most of all, to be aware of what is most important in life. Family. Friends. Health. Love. To name a few. Day 7, so far so good.

And now, being back in the cold and grey of Paris, those days in Florida feel like a distant blur… 

sunshine calling

We are taking a break from life amidst the caprice of winter in Paris (snow, rain, sleet and all the in between) to seek refuge beneath a welcoming sun. Two weeks basking in the glorious sunshine of Florida. Feasts skillfully prepared by le chef Mom, long, lazy days by the pool followed by evenings of tennis. Perhaps an early bird special or two… Is this what they call retirement?

Last year we spent our first Christmas in Paris. Alone. Together. It was perfect. This year I am looking forward to sharing the traditions we have created. While we relive those of my childhood. Replacing Galette des Rois and chocolat chaud with fresh fruit and mimosas.

From this far away land I send warm thoughts. In honor of the holidays, family, friends, and all that is worth celebrating.

From the Land of Palms to the City of Lights, the adventures continue in 2011…

Meilleurs voeux a tout le monde!

a love story

The most beautiful love story of my life, other than my own, began many years ago in the early 70’s. It was a meeting of two disparate souls, their paths forever altered by a chance encounter. (Sounds familiar?) My Mom and Dad met in London on the night before my father was to return to America. Little did he know that a woman who introduced herself as Cleopatra, would leave such an impact. What happened in those moments will forever remain a romantic mystery, as it should.

Seven days later the young Polish beauty received a letter from the handsome American gentleman. He was returning to London to see her again. And to propose. They were married three months later, and thus began their life together. Almost to this very day, so many years ago.

It was here in Paris that they spent their honeymoon, my father being a devout Francophile. Three weeks of romance on the left bank. Hotel des 2 Continents on 25 Rue Jacob, to be exact. How fitting! On my many carousings in Saint Germain, I often walk on Rue Jacob and imagine the time my parents spent there, the many places they went, the bistros they dined in, the conversations they had, the first chapter of a the life between a writer and his muse…me, a romantic?

It also happens to be the location of one of my favorite sweets shops in Paris, Laduree. Even more reason to dream, with macaron in hand, as I live my very own love story. Inspired by two romantics.

Paris in a day

Is it possible to see Paris in a day? No, but we were determined to see as much as we could. The Italians were coming (my Italian’s family that is) and we had only three days to introduce them to the city we call home. Their first visit. Their first flight. And so many more firsts (little did they know!)

The best, most relaxing (not to mention romantic) way to tour Paris is by boat. More precisely, the Batobus. Unlimited transportation for the day, stopping at eight destinations, at a mere 13 euro (a Privilege fee of 9 euro if you hold a Pass Navigo). I have often seen this vehicle coasting up and down the Seine, transporting an array of international tourists to it’s various stops. Now it was time to become one of them. And happily so! I hope to never stop viewing Paris with the eyes of a tourist.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. In other words, Perfect ‘fall in love with Paris’ weather. We boarded the boat at Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ City Hall. From there we headed along the Seine, first stop Eiffel Tower.

What could be more spectacular than the view of Paris from a height of nearly 1,000 feet?

From there we walked through the Parc du Champ de Mars, dined in a nearby bistro and resumed our tour by boat. Next stop the Jardin des Tuileries beneath a clear blue sky. Magical.

And yes, the Louvre. A quick stop to admire the architecture. The masterpieces would have to wait. 

Back on the boat to enjoy the views of my favorite part of Paris, and one of the oldest, île de la Cité.

This island is the home of Notre Dame and here we disembarked as the sun was getting ready to set. 

Much more of Paris remained  to be seen in the two days ahead. The next tour would be by subway and foot. As we had suspected, the Italians were enamored. Wait until they discovered Versailles…

like father like daughter

I no longer celebrate the life of my father on what is known as ‘Father’s Day’, I celebrate my father every day. A man equally strong and sensitive, private and personable. Coincidentally his initials spell DAD. He is with me in my daily musings. We observe the world with a shared vision. He celebrates my triumphs and consoles me in moments of sadness. Whenever I feel confused or uncertain of my path, I turn to him, this wise and knowing man who uniquely understands me. I am his daughter after all.

My father is omnipresent, yet I miss him dearly. It’s been almost 20 years since he passed away and I feel grateful for every day I spent with him, in the living. As the years without him now outnumber those with him.

It’s my father that filled me with the desire to write, to feel, to love. (My mother too has always been an advocate of following the heart, and for her I am constantly and forever grateful.) Exploring and understanding the world was also passed on from father to daughter.

It is through my father’s constant presence in my life that I always feel safe. I too, am convinced that it’s through my father’s silent guidance that I met my Italian, someone I know he would have been proud to call a friend. One glance at my father’s impressive collection of books ranging from French philosophers to American classics, and my Italian was certain they would have spent many a late night immersed in conversation. I have no doubt.

Today, as I do often, I reflect on the man I am proud to call my father. 

foreign flavors

The beginning of my Parisian life has proven a proper foreign adventure. The first few weeks have tasted of many flavors other than French, the sweet and savored tastes of family. We traveled to the South of Poland where my roots are firmly planted. Deep in the woods of Bykowce, the place of my youth and still now, my place.

A brief return to Paris and away we flew to taste of Northern Italy. More family and feasting, the setting of this dream in Monterosso on the Mediterranean, his place. The experiences defining dreams and reality are becoming more vague, and I willfully allow myself to be taken. The adventures seem endless as our respective cultures meet and mingle, creating an even more resplendent reality.

Tomek & Ania’s wedding

Tomek and Ania walking down the aisle on September 8th, a grand wedding and family affair!


Tomek, Aga, Michał, Ewa and Julia (Magda was dearly missed!)

Aunt Zosia and Uncle Marek, mother and father of the groom






Uncle Eligiusz, Aunt Marysia, Aunt Aleksandra, my mom, Aunt Gosia and Uncle Grzesio

The Michniowski cousin clan (missing are Magda, Basia, Kordian, Stefan and Bogdan)

A happy family: Basia, Maciek, Bernard, Julia and baby Alicja

a day in Bykowce


The day began in the manner that all days should begin, with a massage. (Dream or reality?) My body was then ready for a little yoga on the terrace, as the sun welcomed me with it’s late summer glow. For breakfast my mom and I filled our palates with raspberries in the garden. Yes, life is good! Nature was beckoning and along with Dagmara we took a long walk into the woods. We reached a grand rock upon which my grandparents inscribed their initials so many years ago. The peace in the woods is truly immeasurable. For lunch we had a date with my eldest aunt Aleksandra who prepared quite a feast.
After lunch we headed to Sanok for a little shopping and preparation for a visit from my mom’s friend of long ago Elizabeth and her brother, a respected and accomplished composer and poet, Wojchiech Rybicki. It was a full and rousing day. And now for a moment I shall sit beneath a sky illuminated by stars, in gratitude of the wonder and warmth surrounding me. As tomorrow I temporarily part with these woody paths for the cobblestones of Krakow…

family affairs

My dear cousin Tomek and his fiance Ania whom I adore! They are to be married on September 8th. A grand family event!

My cousin Basia just gave birth to her second daughter Alicja a week ago. 
I am already in love with her, as I am with little Julia.

My aunt Aleksandra recently turned 70 and looks as glamourous as ever!

children of the wild




As I so fondly recall my childhood in Poland, so many endless summers spent outdoors, playing in the haystacks, finding refuge in the depths of the woods, creating worlds that only a young and curious mind can understand. At one with nature. so too have my cousins Dagmara, Michał, Ewa and Julia found a home in the wilderness, creating a world very much their own, composed of branches, twigs and rocks and great imagination. The line between fantasy and reality exists outside my doorstep.

at home in the woods



I arrived to Sanok to the warm embrace of my dear mother who I have not seen since my departure so many months ago. There is nothing like the feeling of home. Bykowce lies in southern Poland, not far from the town Sanok where my mom was raised with her 6 siblings and where I spent much of my childhood. My aunts, uncles and several of my many cousins remain in close proximity, and there is much activity and laughter filling this ancestral air. Our ‘villa’ is tucked away beneath the woods, designed and built 13 years ago by my mom and her brother Grzesio who lives here with my aunt Gosia and their daughter Dagmara. It is a beautiful life filled with simple pleasures. When my uncle is not healing the sick at the hospital or at home, he escapes to the woods to hunt, sometimes joined by another uncle Eligiusz, a forester. My hunting consists of picking berries in the garden while the rooster crows…I find refuge in the solemnity of the woods, the same woods where the Jews were saved by the local peasants during times of war, so many stories lay upon these lands…in this time which is told by the rising and falling of the sun, I have found quietude.