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.

IMG_1448

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.

IMG_5298

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

IMG_5337

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

IMG_5428

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.

IMG_5498

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

IMG_5551

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

IMG_5557

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.

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!

IMG_6299

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

IMG_6316

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

IMG_6326

DSC02777

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

DSC02743

DSC02758DSC02752

IMG_6350

IMG_6354

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

DSC02734

DSC02787

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.

DAD

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.

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.

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…