Paris in 24 hrs.

Guess who’s returning to Chicago for her dear, older sister’s wedding!?!

Moi!

But before flying across the Atlantic, stuffed into the plane like a marshmallow Peep in an Easter basket, I get to spend a long Sunday afternoon in gorgeous Paris. I imagined traversing the city at a spry pace in my trusty, colorful barefoot-running shoes, racking up 20+ kilometers while strategically stopping for espressos and jubilant selfies near overly-visited monuments.

Turns out, after arriving at my very pink hotel, a drowsy, 2-hour nap overtook me, and after downing a quick coffee, I started walking in the wrong direction (as if there were a wrong direction in Paris when exploring). A cold beer for l’aperitif complete with a bowl of peanuts and some serious people watching from my sidewalk perch further slooooooowwwwed me down, so I decided to leave my high ambitions in the gutter. I succumbed to all-you-can eat, Bruxelles-styled mussels and frites (the all-you-can-eat concept still really surprises me in France), and sadly lost speed and motivation to see everything, but that was a dumb idea anyway.

After many, many months of hard work and being constantly on the road, I officially got tired as the sun was going down on Paris. I got on the metro, rather resigned to it all, and went back to my cozy hotel. Really, there’s no other city on earth like Paris, and I anticipate my return. Next time, I know I’ll see it all…

Vive la France!

Vive la France!

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Even though I get to stay in fancy-pants 5-star hotels while I work, I always appreciate the simple rooms I book for myself when I'm not working and can nap!

Even though I get to stay in fancy-pants 5-star hotels while I work, I always appreciate the simple rooms I book for myself when I’m not working and can nap!

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Wind swept Portugal

In South-Western Portugal, the wind is incessant and unrelenting, but it only adds to the wild, almost savage mystique of the beaches and jagged coastline. I spent a magical week exploring this corner of the world with a dear friend, and I’m already looking forward to my return.

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Calella de Palafrugell, Easter Week

After almost a year away from Catalonia, my work as a hiking guide brought me back to the towns of Calella, Llafranc and Tamariu . Easter marks the start of the official tourist season; shutters get thrown open on coastal properties and winter stagnancy and dust get swept from cold floors out sunny balconies to the sea. The beach goes from being deserted to looking like a well-executed game of dominos, as bright colored towels cover every inch of available sand.

It was so lovely to be back!

And part of what made it so good was the staff at Hotel Sant Roc in Calella de Palafrugell. I didn’t think I would be endorsing a lot of hotels on my blog, but the folks who own, manage and work there are so unbelievably hospitable and lovey that the world must know! A family-run hotel, they have years of experience in making their guests feel well-attended to and perfectly at home along the gorgeous, rugged coast-line of Costa Brava. Moreover, there’s nothing better than waking up to the sunrise over the sea (make sure our request a sea-view room), the food and wine are reasonably priced and delicious, and the service is always with a smile.

Along the Cami de Ronda near Calella

Along the Cami de Ronda near Calella

Llafranc

Llafranc

Cap Roig Botanical Garden, Calella

Cap Roig Botanical Garden, Calella

Looking seaward

looking seaward

Morning in Milano

Fashion Week concludes this weekend in Milan, and consequently I’m feeling a bit like a tourist-slob while out on my Sunday morning stroll. Are Italian people always this well dressed? Is it practical to walk around the city in shiny, designer 600 Euro heels on a Sunday morning? Since this is Milan, and it happens to be fashion week, I’m just going to hold my head up high, dust off my cherry-red, ill-fitted puffy jacket that would be better suited for a yuppy Colorado ski town, groom my unruly hair a bit and go get a pastry and Macchiato. There. Now I feel better.

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Morning in Milano